Check out Part 1 of Home Exchange with Points: why I like points
and Part 3: Home Exchange with Points: Answering the critics
In this post I explain the variations on points-based home exchange and review the websites offering a points option for house swapping.
I am aware of only a few home exchange sites that currently offer points swap options. GuestToGuest, LoveHomeSwap, Trampolinn, ILikeYourSpace, MyTwinPlace and Cosmopolithom offer a points based system for the general traveler. IVHE, HolidayExchangeHomes and 3rd Home offer points based swaps for people with vacation homes.
You can compare the cost, membership and other details of these sites on my spreadsheet of home exchange websites. I’ve had several successful points swaps on both GuestToGuest and LoveHomeSwap, and I have written more detailed reviews of these sites and Trampolinn.
GuestToGuest has offered points based swaps since they were founded in 2011, while LoveHomeSwap just started offering points swapping about a year ago as an expansion of their traditional home exchange services. Trampolinn launched this year so they will need some time to build up membership but they are making a big marketing push and so I wouldn’t count them out based on small membership numbers today. Trampolinn and Cosmpopolithom both promote hosted stays where people can “swap” a spare room while they are home, in addition to offering their full house when they are away. I find both GuestToGuest and LoveHomeSwap very useful for points-based swapping and am often able to find options in places I want to visit. I can’t offer personal commentary on the other points-based sites but I explain the systems they use below.
Variations on points swap systems
1. Every night is worth a set number of points. All homes are valued equally.
Sites using this system: LoveHomeSwap
My take: after using multiple systems this one is my favorite. People may argue that nicer homes should be worth more, but I think this is a self-regulating system. If you have a lousy home no one will spend points staying there and so you won’t earn points (just like you won’t find traditional exchanges). If you have a fabulous place you’ll earn all the points you want and have your pick of other places to go. In traditional home exchange we don’t value homes differentially so I think it makes sense to do the same thing with points swaps.
2. The value of a night is based on an algorithm developed by the website
Sites using this system: IVHE, Trampolinn, Cosmopolithom, MyTwinPlace
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!”
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.
3. Value of a night is based on an algorithm and nights are earned by reserving weeks for home exchange use rather than booking exchanges
Sites using this system: 3rdHome, HolidayExchangeHomes
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.
4. The member sets the points value (with suggestions from the site) for a night at their house.
Sites using this system: GuestToGuest, ILikeYourSpace
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 GuestToGuest set the points value with too much variability, and it’s unclear to me if this is because people are trying to game the system or if they don’t understand the system. When I search for a place for 2 people to stay in Paris I can see why a home that sleeps 6 might cost more points than one that sleeps 2, but I’d expect all the 2 people homes to be around the same price. Instead they are so variable that I wonder if people understand how to set the value.
Bottom line: 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 in travel dates and locations. If you can find a system that works for you and use it well I think you’ll be pleased with the additional travel options you have.