On my recent London home exchange I met a family who borrowed some points from LoveHomeSwap to book their next vacation. This week LoveHomeSwap sent out an email advertising this points-borrowing service so I looked more closely at what they are offering.
Here’s the deal:
You pay a fee to borrow up to 10,000 points. Below are a few price points that show the fee, which is roughly 8 cents per point.
500 points = $62
1000 points = $126
2000 points = $243
5000 points = $634
You must host members to earn back these borrowed points within two years. Once you have borrowed points you can not borrow again until you repay the loan.
That fee is a great way for LoveHomeSwap to make money! But is it good for the home exchange community using LHS?
Here’s an example to think about. You are planning a big trip for your family, let’s say two weeks in the south of France. And the family that has agreed to host you in their vacation home charges 200 points per night for a fabulous mansion overlooking the water (a real possibility on LHS). Perfect for your family of 5. This will cost you 2800 points. If you’ve just joined LoveHomeSwap you probably got some points to get you started. But let’s say you have a balance of zero. It will cost you $354 to “buy” 2800 points. That’s a lot cheaper than 2 weeks in a hotel for a family of 5. And I’m sure this house will be nicer than most hotels you could book.
If you buy these points and then fail to earn them back by hosting guests, you will pay a $300 exit fee when you quit LoveHomeSwap. That’s still only $554 for two weeks in a lovely home. A very good deal.
I think there are two possible outcomes of this points borrowing system for members of the home exchange network: good and bad.
The good: It’s possible points borrowing will encourage more people to host guests. For instance, my host in London was eager to earn back the points she had borrowed. I think this is why she was willing to host me over Easter weekend when the family was all at home. It was a bit of a hassle for them rearranging bedrooms, and sending their eldest daughter away to stay with friends for a night. If she didn’t need to earn back those points I wonder if she’d have agreed to host me.
The bad: On the other hand, it’s also possible that letting people borrow points will flood the network with people seeking lodging, without increasing the number of people hosting. What if you live somewhere that just isn’t very popular. You hardly get any requests for exchanges, and hence haven’t earned any points. You borrow points for your next vacation, but in all likelihood you won’t be able to pay them back. If the fee is a better deal than hotels or other lodging, you might just assume you’ll pay it and quit the network after taking this vacation. LoveHomeSwap makes some money so they’re happy. But members should be worried about this: it will mean fewer hosts with available lodging.
I would have guessed the bad outcome is more likely, and based on LoveHomeSwap’s history of customer-unfriendly practices I’d just assume they are doing this to make extra money. But with my experience in London I see that I might be wrong here.
Before selecting a home exchange network to join, read my reviews of LoveHomeSwap and other home exchange networks.