Home Exchange

Buying Points for Home Exchange

buying points

I’ve written a few posts about the rocky integration of HomeExchange.com into the GuesttoGuest swap network. They are now jointly called HomeExchange. In the GuesttoGuest network many home exchanges are done using GuestPoints. This system is carried over into the new HomeExchange network. This GuestPoints system facilitates exchanges that are not simultaneous and not between the same people. I wrote a three part series on home swap points a few years ago that explains points-based swaps in detail.

On the HomeExchange network, members can purchase GuestPoints for cash. This concerns some people who don’t want any money in the home swap equation. Here I want to look at that option in detail. I think some of the concerns are justified. Some are based in misinformation.

How does points purchasing work?

GuestPoints purchasing is only possible when a member is finalizing an exchange and is short some number of GuestPoints. Members can pay 0.1€/GP up to 20% of the total needed for the exchange. Any points on top of the 20% cost 1€/GP. I really don’t think the network intended to make money on this points selling system. They are purposely pricing the first 20% very cheaply to maximize the number of swaps people can do with their GuestPoints. However, the system leaves open the possibility that people could never host anyone and only pay to “swap,” essentially renting homes on the platform.

This is the answer from the HomeExchange folks to the question: “Is there a difference between guest points I earn and guest points I buy?”

Here’s an example with my home. My house is priced at 110 GuestPoints per night. To stay for a week would cost 770 GuestPoints. Theoretically someone could buy that week stay in my house. The first 20% of 770 would cost €15.4, and the other 80% would cost €616. The total cost to rent my home for a week is €631.40. Interestingly, that’s pretty close to what people in my area charge for an Airbnb rental. At that point I’d say my swapper would be better off just going through Airbnb since it’s quick to book and availability is clear. Arranging a home exchange typically takes some negotiating and requires the personal approval of the swap partner.

Is points purchasing bad?

So is this points purchasing a problem? Well if you don’t mind the GuestPoints system maybe not. Letting people pay to stay in your home is just one more way to earn points. It increases the number of people who might be guests and increases your ability to take spend points on your own stays. But I do agree with those who say that there is a fundamentally different ethos around home exchanges vs. home rentals. People staying in Airbnb rentals expect more of a hotel-like experience. While home exchangers tend to be quite a bit more conscientious about property care and cleaning. And home swappers are far more focused on the relationships: making friends with swappers, sharing tips about local things to do, etc. Airbnb is essentially an anonymous exchange. I personally don’t want swap partners who are just paying for exchanges and never hosting.

However, I think allowing people to top up their points balance so they can stay 7 nights when they only have 6 nights worth of points seems reasonable. So if I could change the system I would still allow topping up, but I would not allow more than 20% of the points to be purchased.

In the end, most home exchangers are judging their potential guests on previous swaps. So if you can’t show a history of swapping, and you’re not new to the whole home exchange system, it’s going to be harder for you to find exchanges. I agree with those who want to keep pay-to-stay options off the home swap networks. And for the most part I think it’s a self-limiting community that will drive renters off to real rental networks like Airbnb.


  • I’ve just joined Home Exchange. I love the idea of points – basically Airbnb but not anonymous, everyone has their own (or second) property in the game. I accepted a reservation on points from someone who lives in a city I wasn’t planning to travel to – and now I can’t find anyone to accept my guest points in the cities I want to visit. People have it listed in the title or description in all caps “NO GP’s”. I knew there must be a reason so I started Googling it and came across this. I am clearly legit – it’s my primary home. Why are people so against them? Is it strictly the principle of them allowing point purchase? Is there another reason? Is there another site that people are moving to?
    I don’t want to earn a bunch of points that I may never be able to use!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Jennie, There are definitely some folks who are opposed to points-based swaps on principle. But I think this is a minority of the folks in the Guest to Guest network. Many of the GP opponents are folks who were pulled into this system through an acquisition of another network and so had it foist on them (here’s some background: https://sharetraveler.com/the-great-divide-home-exchange-traditionalists-vs-the-new-school/). But most people in HomeExchange did not come from that merger so there should still be a lot of people accepting guest points. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll find a match with your desired travels but I’ve had some good luck over the years. Are there really no listings in your desired cities accepting GPs or is it just a subset of the listings? If you like the concept of points, there aren’t many home swap networks offering that option. But if you are interested in a network that just does exchanging (simultaneous, non-simultaneous, etc) then you can browse through my spreadsheet of networks and the reviews as well as the recent interviews I’ve done with some of the owners to get a feel for which one might be a good fit for you.

      • Thanks for responding! I’ve contacted every listing showing availability in Edinburgh or Glasgow and none of them will accept GP’s. Many of the listings say it right in the listing title: NOT ACCEPTING GUEST POINTS. I tried to ask one of the guys that seemed friendly, and he said it’s just because Edinburgh is so popular – they are only interested in reciprocal exchanges. Another guy put in his description that he has a “surplus of guest points.” That’s what was concerning…I don’t want to end up with a bunch of GP’s that I can’t end up using later…

        I’m open to giving it a shot, and honestly, in the spirit of home exchanging I’m happy for someone to stay in my home if I’m not going to be there. Would rather do it this way than list it on Airbnb because at least everyone in the pool has their primary home in the system as “collateral”. Airbnb used to feel that way, but they want to compete with hotels and I’m not comfortable with that. Will stay positive and hope that we get to stay somewhere at some point! 🙂

        • I started with Home Exchange 2 years ago and even though I had trouble with the interface when they merged with Guest to Guest, I love the additional of Guest Points. Many people, if they weren’t able to do an exchange during their vacation can now open their home up to points. It is still with other members that are verified and often have reviews. We found a wonderful property in Seattle on guest points and I hope others in the future. I don’t know how I feel about GP purchase though. I don’t think the exchange site should be making money off that. Maybe as one reviewer said, only if they are missing a few to get to their desired stay timeframe but not anything above the 20%d

          • We just signed up at HomeExchange in March and have already arranged for 16 swaps and completed 7 trips as of the end of summer. 9 of these booked trips used Guest points to nearby cities to our home in Vancouver for long weekends (Seattle, Victoria, Sunshine Coast) as well as Toronto, Paris, San Diego, London, Bali and Cape Town. We have hosted several guests using guest points without incident and most treated us like reciprocal exchangers with the same intimacy and friendliness you would expect from a traditional exchange. We are currently planning to add Sydney/Melbourne for Christmas 2020 to our list for next year and are actively looking for Guest Points as we feel like we never have enough. I’d say keep trying, it takes around 15-20 requests before a match can be secured. I also try to do my requests in batches. Long term requests take several tries as people need time to plan so I am diligent about following up with potential partners. Hope this helps. We are huge fans of the point system.

  • I find the whole GP thing irrelevant and confusing. I don’t want to stay with anyone in their home nor do I want anyone staying with me. Sine GP started I’m getting tons of requests for stays at our home. Is there still a straightforward home switch available (timing can be different) on HomeExchange?

    • HomeExchange still allows simultaneous and non-simultaneous exchanges without using guest points. Some people are setting their guest points to 0 or 1 and including a note in their profile that they are not accepting guest points for stays. I suggest you do this, and then just use the platform for non-points based swapping.

  • Hi. This possibility was offered with guesttoguest with a different business model. It will be evaluated later if it’s still need to be on the platform now, but it was almost never used, and even us as ambassadors advised the members to not use it. It was just for a few members and occasionally to help conclude some exchanges.

  • Actually I am really uncomfortable with the idea of the website selling points and collecting money to rent someone else’s private property, only providing a form of virtual currency (Guest Points) in return. There is no guarantee that a host can ever use these guest points as it is at the good will of other members to accept them. As a homeowner, can I use GuestPoints to pay my mortgage or insurance? Can I use my GuestPoints to pay my electric bill? No of course not, yet Home Exchange profits both on the $15 per night charge for Essential members and on the purchase of GuestPoints while I bear all of the actual costs of my home and hope I can use these GuestPoints in the future. This is a very fragile system, at best, and encourages the rental property owner and mindset. Should the website or exchange service ever go out of business there will be no value whatsoever to this “currency”. Witness what happened to balloons when this change was made.
    I will never accept GuestPoints to rent my home, especially as I know it is very possible these people have no investment of their own in the trade.

    • Dawnzerly mentioned an exchange site called
      “People Like Us”.

      I’ve just signed up with them as they offer a very similar service to that which WAS on offer from the Old “HomeExchange” site before this takeover by “Guest to Guest” changed the whole relationship between exchangers.

      “People Like Us” is FREE.
      At this moment it has a relatively small membership of exchangers but is growing rapidly.

      I believe that huge numbers of dissatisfied “HomeExchange” members will be moving over to “People Like Us” when they realise what has happened.

      The comments by Amy Daley (above) highlight the change in the Contract that this takeover has imposed on all of the paid up “HomeExchange” community.

      Should we not have been consulted about these massive changes in advance and then given a choice about paying or not for a new, transformed service and contract? Are there legal and ethical issues here that need exploring?

  • The statements made here are totally false, not only are they not true, but they seem ill-intentioned.
    First of all, if we look coldly, the balloon system is even classist, since you could only travel if it was not reciprocal because the balloons that only the house could obtain with a certain category. In guesttoguest everyone had possibilities although their house was more humble.
    As for buying the GP is totally false because the first requirement was that you should have at least 50% of the total and nobody was forced to buy them.
    That’s my opinion and what I do not understand is how you can talk about something without knowing, that’s what they call it or lie or at least uncultivated.

    • Thanks for the comment Fernando. Can you point me to where you found that it is only possible to buy up to 50% of the GP for a swap? Here is the FAQ from HomeExchange which does not say there is such a limit: https://homeexchangehelp.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000622018-Can-I-purchase-GuestPoints-

      As far as balloons go, you’re right that it was only for non-reciprocal swaps. But the old HomeExchange.com network didn’t put homes into categories so I’m not sure why you say it was classist. Home swaps are always going to be based on perceived value. You might not want to swap with me because my home is too small for your family, or you think it doesn’t look nice enough. But perceived value is relative. Not everyone with a fancy home is looking for a fancy swap, location may be more important, or other features like nice friendly swap partners. So I don’t think having a balloon or point system is inherently any more unequal than letting people reject exchange proposals because they don’t like the looks of the home proposing a swap.

  • I introduced the possibility of buying top-up points (“moons”) for People Like Us Home Swap on our FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1952476815051268/) and it was received very poorly. I had exactly the same idea, that you may just need a couple of extras but our community did not want money being exchanged for moons, under any circumstances. Members spoke of it breaking the spirit of home exchange and I understand their point entirely. We won’t be doing it.

  • This new HomeExchange feels and looks like a totally different idea. It’s hard to understand their system. Personally, I disagree with the introduction of cash payments and points into the process. That’s not what I automatically paid to re-join recently. I am now looking for an alternative, straightforward home exchange site. What a pity this merger has, in my view, negatively transformed what was a very successful product and brand.

  • I absolutely agree with the comments Dawn makes. It is fundamentally unsound for Homeexchange ( incl G2G ) and Lovehomeswap to sell or lend for fees the points. They are both taking revenue on the back of those of us who then give our homes to Exchangers who have paid the sites for room equivalents which we are then expected to honour.