Home Exchange

The Four Home Exchange Points Systems

home exchange points

This is part two of a series of posts on home exchange points. Check out Part 1 of Home Exchange with Points for an overview of how and why this system exists.

There are several different systems for points-based home exchanges. Each one has it’s own nuances and appeals to different folks. In this post I explain the variations on points-based home exchange, with info on which networks offer each option.

You can compare the cost, membership and other details of the networks listed below on my spreadsheet of home exchange websites. And I have written detailed reviews of most of the networks discussed.

1. The member sets the points value for a night

Networks using this system: HomeExchange, LoveHomeSwap, iTravex

In this system the points “cost” is on a per-night basis. Networks usually make a suggestion for the appropriate valuation based on characteristics of your home. But you can increase or decrease this value as you see fit. HomeExchange constrains the value to 30% above their base valuation.

HomeExchange explains their GuestPoints system

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.

In practice there is tremendous variability in the points value of similar homes. And it’s unclear to me if this is because the suggestion algorithm doesn’t work, or if people are trying to game the system. I have long maintained that the ideal points-per-night system would value every home equally (i.e. 100 points per night). This mirrors the way we think about home exchange with reciprocal swaps. Unfortunately, there are currently no networks using a fixed points value system.

2. All stays are of equal value

Networks using this system: People Like Us

The People Like Us Globe system values all stays equally, whether for 1 day or 3 months. You earn a Globe by hosting guests in your home, and you spend those Globes to stay in other peoples’ homes.

This is a graphic from HomeExchange.com explaining balloon swaps, a system that no longer exists but is very similar to the People Like Us Globes

My take: I like the equitability of the system, but I’m going to save my Globes for use on longer stays because that’s a better value. If other people think like me, this could be a challenge for the system.

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

Networks using this system: IVHE, 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 Points System

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.

4. Nights are earned by reserving weeks 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 prevents hosts from screening people who want to come to their home. But it means that calendars are all up to date and booking is as easy as finding a property somewhere you want to go.

Bottom line

Points-based home exchanges aren’t for everyone. But if you like the idea, the list above will get you started investigating networks you might join.

Points swapping systems take a little time to understand and get the hang of. But I maintain that home exchange with points is a great addition to traditional home exchange because of the greater flexibility. If you can find a system that works for you I think you’ll be pleased with the additional travel options.

1 Comment

  • Interesting article but there is a fundamental difference between the two largest -Lovehomeswap and Homeexchange in that Lovehome Swap lets you choose your points yourself but Home exchange has a logarithm which does not take into account many things such as the property value and the furnishings.
    Some of the other property sites mentioned are for luxury owners only (over $500,000 for example) and I know that there is a separate spreadsheet for looking at the number of properties on the site but i do think it would be useful to put that info each time a site is mentioned.