Home Exchange

Updated list of points-based home swap networks

Guest to Guest explains guestpoint swaps

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: HomeExchange.com

HomeExchange.com graphic explaining balloon swaps

My take: The HomeExchange.com 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 HomeExchange.com 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!”

ivheswap

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.

 

4 Comments

  • Thanks for this info. I have read a few of your posts on home exchanges, and I am just beginning to explore GuestToGuest. I wonder is you might be able to clarify something for me about that site. I signed up for an account and filled out my basic profile info, so my profile now says I have 500 GP. I am not sure if I will ever get any interest from people wanting to stay in my house. But it is correct that I could now use these GP “earned” by simply completing my profile to cover the cost for a few nights at another home, even if I never have anyone stay in my house?

    • That’s correct Sara. Though I wouldn’t be so sure about no one ever wanting to stay in your house. People want to travel to lots of places for many different reasons.

  • I would like to add to Dawn’s comments on the somewhat immoral aspects of LovehomeSwap and Guest to Guest in that
    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 opeing 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 roving the point

    • This is a good point Peter, and I agree it’s possible for people to game these points systems. At least for their first stay. But on the other hand, if the system isn’t seeded with some points, there will never be swaps (for instance, the HomeExchange.com balloon system, which was recently launched, had to give out some balloons to get it started.) The trick is striking a balance between getting new people engaged and ensuring that people really do make their places available for swap. I haven’t yet seen evidence that there is a problem of less and less availability on Guest to Guest. If anything my success rate finding swaps on there has gone up over the past three years. But you’re right this is a potential problem. And I’m only one person so don’t take that as general data on their success rate.

      I also want to point out that I haven’t found a network where you don’t have to put in at least 15 requests (on average) to find a positive result. Even if you’re willing to go anywhere at anytime, there are other factors that might make your home, in your city, not be a good fit for the family with whom you’re requesting a swap. If you know of a network that has a higher success rate for requests I think that would be of interest to everyone! Of course I’ve had the lucky experience of finding a match on my first request, but that’s not typical on any of the networks I use. And I find I have better odds on the points-based networks than the ones that do simultaneous/non-simultaneous swaps without points just because the later is far more restrictive by requiring the other person to want to visit my home/city.

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