Most people think of home exchanges as simultaneous swaps. I go to your home while you stay in mine. But points-based exchanging is another popular way of house swapping. You earn the right to stay in other people’s homes by hosting people in your own. It’s like putting free lodging in a piggy bank to spend later.

From my unscientific observation, I think this system of non-simultaneous exchanges is growing in popularity. I’m happy about this because find it very convenient. Points swapping eliminates the difficulty of finding people who want to come to my home exactly the same dates I want to visit theirs. In this post I update my list of networks offering points-based exchanges.

In 2014 I wrote a three part series on points-based home exchanging. It included:

These posts are all still relevant today, but there have been some additions to the list of networks offering points exchanges in part 2. A few have also shut down. And some of the systems have been changed.

Four variations on points swap systems

1. The member sets the points value (with suggestions from the site) for a night at their house.

Networks using this system: GuestToGuest, LoveHomeSwap

Guest to Guest explains Guestpoint swaps

My take: I appreciate the concept of letting people create a market for their property based on how much they want to attract visitors (lower your price) and how much they value their home (raise your price). When I find a place a little outside of the center of a city that I want to visit, but priced much lower than those in the center, I might take it to save my points for other uses. This would be an example of the system working well. But in practice users on these sites set the points value with a lot of variability, and Guest to Guest even implemented a system recently to address this problem.

2. All stays are of equal value

Networks using this system: graphic explaining balloon swaps

My take: The system values all stays equally, whether for 1 day or 3 months. You earn a balloon by hosting guests in your home, and you spend those balloons to stay in other people’s homes. I like the equitability of the system, but I’m going to save my balloons for use on longer stays because that’s a better value. If other people think like me, this could be a problem with the system. Here’s a more extensive post on the balloon system.

3. The value of a night is based on an algorithm developed by the website

Networks using this system: IVHE, Trampolinn, MyTwinPlace, Trade to Travel

IVHE Executive Director explains: “We believe that basing the Credits on the value of the exchange gives the most equitable solution for all parties.  A modest property can save up their Credits to visit a more expensive property, etc etc.  This allows all home owners to feel comfortable with the value of their exchange / swap.  Giving the member maximum flexibility in date and versatility of locations enables more trades and vacations for all!”


IVHE graphic explaining swap credits

My take: For second homes, using the rental value of a property makes sense since they could otherwise be making actual cash renting out their home. And by including desirability of the travel season in this value calculation the system might encourage use of a wide variety of properties, locations, and travel dates. For people staying with hosts in a spare room, paying fewer points than they would for the full place also makes sense to me. For the networks that aren’t exclusively for vacation homes it seems more difficult to come up with a fair valuation in points. I wonder if this leaves some people unhappy with their assigned valuation.

4. Value of a night is based on an algorithm and nights are earned by reserving weeks in your home for home exchange use rather than booking exchanges

Networks using this system: ThirdHome

3rd Home Explanation of Keys System

3rd Home Explanation of Keys System

My take: This system removes the ability of the swappers to screen people who want to come to their home. But I love the fact that calendars are all up to date and booking is as easy as finding a property somewhere you want to go.