House Swap Website Reviews

Guest to Guest review May 2017

Guest to Guest

Founded in 2011

Free, with charge for add on services including verification and security deposits.

Single founder, created by 22 families from around the world

English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch

289,000 listings in 187 countries (92,000 active listings)

Listings by region:

  • Asia: 7,720
  • North America: 33,208
  • South America: 59,429
  • Europe: 199,233
  • Africa: 24,569
  • Australia & New Zealand: 2,028

Guest to Guest continues to grow in size at an impressive rate. This year the organic growth (acquiring new members) was at a slower pace than last year. But they also bought a few home exchange networks, including the second largest one (next to Guest to Guest): They also bought HomeforHome, a relatively large network focused on Europe. While GTG plans to keep Guest to Guest and separate, I expect to see them integrate HomeforHome into GTG some time in the next year.

It’s worth noting that because membership is free the listings on GTG never expire, so while the overall number of listings on this site is very large, the proportion of inactive listings will be much greater than on paid home exchange websites. I recently wrote about this problem and did a test calculation for the city of Budapest to see what proportion of listings on GTG are really active. I concluded that about 32% of Guest to Guest members are active. Nonetheless, even just looking at active listings Guest to Guest is the biggest network out there (over 92,000). And their geographic diversity, especially in South America and Africa, is impressive.

Searching: Searches start with typing in a location and optionally entering the number of travelers and travel dates. The searches return the home profiles that meet your criteria with a map with pins for each listing. These search results are sorted by the relative activity and verification status of the members, which roughly translates into the likelihood that you will get a response to your request. Alternately you can filter out homes without pictures and with low response rates, limiting your search to just active listings, which I’d recommend. Additional filters can be added including desired dates matching availability on the host’s calendar, reverse searches to look for people who want to swap to your area, and desired features of the home.

Listings: Search results return listings with just a picture and few details about the member so you have to click into each one to see the details of the home. I’d prefer to see some more details within the thumbnail to help me decide which ones to look more closely at.

Individual listing details include a lot of information about each property in a readable format. My only criticism here is that it would be nice to have summary information on the owners (family size and number of kids) on the initial page in case you’re looking for a reciprocal swap and not planning to use swap points. Listings do indicate whether you have already contacted a member.

Guest to Guest recently introduced a calendar feature I’ve been asking for: you can set your availability for simultaneous exchanges separately from your availability to host using guestpoints. This means you can note when you’ll be away staying with family or friends and so can host a guest, but also can indicate the dates you are hoping to do an exchange and will also need lodging yourself.

This site offers the following variations on house swapping:

  • simultaneous or non-simultaneous house swap – this is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates. Non-simultaneous works best with second homes, but is also useful for people going on vacation and leaving their home empty. In this case each party picks different dates for the swap.
  • guestpoints – earn points by letting people stay in your house when you will be away, and redeem points to stay in other people’s homes

Guest to Guest sells itself as a social network for people who want to exchange their homes during vacation. This site gives away guestpoints for setting up your account, referring friends, and becoming a verified member. While this ends up with more points out there than available properties, the business model works because of their high volume of listings and the fact that everyone won’t be trying to redeem points at the same time. By offering to verify members (for a fee) and to hold a security deposit (for a fee) or to purchase insurance they help users feel comfortable letting strangers stay in their homes. In reality a minority of members pay to get verified.

Primarily you earn guestpoints by letting people stay in your home. Average properties charge anywhere from 30 to 100 points a night. The rate is suggested by Guest to Guest based on information you enter about your house, but this can be modified by the user up or down from the suggested amount.

Guest to Guest does allow people to purchase GuestPoints but they make it impossible to use their site just for rentals by limiting this purchase to no more than 50% of the points required for a swap: The first 20% of the total GuestPoints needed costs 10 cents per GP. For the remaining GuestPoints needed the cost is 1 euro per GP.

Site design: Modern look and feel with good responsiveness.

Additional features: The email facility is functional and reasonably well organized. They have some built in translation tools to try to display messages in the primary language of each user, but I have noticed it sometimes defaults to the wrong language. Each message is displayed with details of the person’s home, a picture if available, and requested swap dates, which is very helpful.

Guest to Guest offers two forms of insurance: a deposit and an insurance policy. Owners can set the required deposit and decide if a policy will be required or not. Both of these must be paid for by the guest. For the deposit a 3.5% fee is collected by GTG and the remainder of the deposit is returned to the guest if no claim is filed. Guest to Guest also offers optional travel medical insurance, the first home exchange network to provide this service.

Overall I’ve had some good success using Guest to Guest to find swaps when I need lodging for only a short period of time and so am unlikely to find a simultaneous exchange. For instance, while traveling in Spain we were in some towns for just 3 days, and points are a great option for this. However, the large number of members on this site doesn’t seem to increase the probability I’ll get a response. This may be a problem with offering free membership and therefore ending up with lots of people signing up who aren’t really very interested in  home exchange.

Read my interview with the founder of Guest to Guest for more information about GTG.

If you’re trying to figure out which one to join, check out my reviews of all the major home exchange networks.


  • Why do you expect GtoG to merge it’s listing with HOA if they have said they will be keeping the sites separated?

  • We joined Guest to Guest about six weeks ago and, after sending 44 requests to members in Italy, Australia and Mexico, have had very little success. No one seems to want to exchange for points. And no one has contacted us about staying in our place in the US, so we don’t have a way of earning more points. We found one person in Italy who will allow us to stay in her apt., but she will be there also (which is not what we expected). She couldn’t translate our messages, so it was difficult to organize. One person in Mexico said we could stay in her apartment if it was not rented when the time came, but we have to wait until January to know for sure. So, as you say, it seems most of the members are not really interested in exchanging and it is time consuming to weed out the non-serious.

  • Guesttoguest is a fraud. I was videotaped illegally by the host in Paris and they didn’t do anything to rectify the situation nor did they publish my negative review. They also didn’t refund me for the two nights at a hotel after I was chased away by the host for confronting them about the camera, even though I purchased the insurance. Their employees were ineffective and rude, and lying to me even after I provided all kinds of evidence that it was a regular camera and not a ‘motion detector’ as the host claimed. They also said I cannot be refunded because the host didn’t chase me away due to death in the family, as stated in their insurance claim example, completely misinterpreting how insurance policies work. When I send the inquiry to the insurance email, they never responded, so I assume they are not even a legal entity but part of the same business. The worst part is that the owner is still active on their site, here is their profile:
    Please stay away from this business and especially from this host.

  • I would like to add my comments concerning. Guest to Guest and Love Home Swap mentioned by Dawn in her write-ups. That is they both give away or lend points which they actually do not have the ownership of since they in
    fact represent nights of our (the hosts) lodgings.
    LoveHome Swap gives or lends points for which they charge the visitors. They will lend upto 10000 points the equivalent of 60 nights in an average 150 points home. Depending on the country they
    will give away points as an incentive to join – upto 2500 points.
    The only penalty if not paying back the points they lend is supposedly £250 although whether they would or could pursue in case a lending client does not repay would seems unlikely.
    Guest to Guest are even more gung hoe with our nights giving away points to get started so that in effect for my Paris apartment a client could be given freely upto the equivalent of 20 nights with no
    obligation other that showing an opening on their own place. But as I found out by putting up a week at my place at short notice (unlikely to be requested) I could get the free points. In effect this means
    people can get a free holiday and simply not offer their palace at all.
    I have no evidence how many people abuse these free or given nights but what is clear is that it is a form of pyramid selling or giving since they are creating open days offered where there is no guaranteed return nights in place. The result is that more and more people are chasing fewer and
    fewer available places.
    GuesttoGuest illustrate this by stating you may have to request 15 places to get a positive result.
    In fact that is additionally highlighted by the number of places that put on their site no availability at all.

  • Another gripe I have with GuestToGuest is their arbitrary formula for fixing the points our places are worth (allowing only 20% adjustment by owners versu their evaluation rather than leaving it to us to fix based on our needs and the market of others. They say it is calculated pseudo scientifically considering all aspects of our property. But they can’t evaluate the Home comfort or precise location or property price effect.
    To illustrate my issue our small comfortable wooden beamed well equipped Paris home in the heart of the city with a market value around €400,000 gets rating of 80 and a large limited to holiday-letting equipment home in the Balearics valued at €300,000 gets a valuation from GtoG of 250 points!

  • Another small gripe I have with G2G and which I have addressed to them in the folowing Email

    “Being new to G to G but having more than 50 exchanges behind me from other sites I would like Management to think about a request.

    Receiving this
    “We are happy to inform you that your deposit will not be charged”

    at the end of every exchange is to my mind an insult. I have never had a problem over 50 exchanges and because G2G uses insurance to get its revenue does not mean we should be congratulated for not making a mess or breaking something.
    We don’t get a letter from our car insurers every month congratulating us for not having an accident nor from our house insurer thanking us for not burning the house down!!!

  • We do like the point system of GuestoGuest and wish that that was the only option. Having a filter for second homes has We think that members are confused about the exchange options. to find homes available for guest point exchanges. The biggest problem with GTG is listings not expiring. IF a listing has no photo and no text it SHOULD NOT become live on the site. It is a complete waste of time to have blank listings to search through and should not be allowed.

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