Third-order nonlinear optical (NLO) properties of polymethine dyes have been widely studied for applications such as all-optical switching. However, the limited accuracy of the current computational methodologies has prevented a comprehensive understanding of the nature of the lowest excited states and their influence on the molecular optical and NLO properties. Here, attention is paid to the lowest excited-state energies and their energetic ratio, as these characteristics impact the figure-of-merit for all-optical switching. For a series of model polymethines, we compare several algebraic diagrammatic construction (ADC) schemes for the polarization propagator with approximate second-order coupled cluster (CC2) theory, the widely used INDO/MRDCI approach and the symmetry-adapted cluster configuration interaction (SAC-CI) algorithm incorporating singles and doubles linked excitation operators (SAC-CI SD-R). We focus in particular on the ground-to-excited state transition dipole moments and the corresponding state dipole moments, since these quantities are found to be of utmost importance for an effective description of the third-order polarizability γ and two-photon absorption spectra. A sum-overstates expression has been used, which is found to quickly converge. While ADC(3/2) has been found to be the most appropriate method to calculate these properties, CC2 performs poorly.