VRBO vs. Airbnb

VRBO and Airbnb are two useful sources for travelers and homeowners looking for new vacation experiences for the right price tag and payout. So which company will best suit your needs? Let Tripping.com break it down for you. Read on for a comprehensive comparison between the vacation rental giants featuring top guest and host concerns.

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VACATION RENTAL INVENTORY: WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM VRBO & AIRBNB?

As of 2014, VRBO has more than 794,000 active listings all around the world with a particular emphasis on entire homes and apartments. The average home for rent is 1,850 sq.ft. and has a backyard. This provides plenty of space to transform a foreign residence into a home for a vacation that accommodates quality time between family, friends and pets ( see below, "Pet Friendly Pads").

As of 2015, Airbnb has more than 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 plus cities spanning 190 countries. The listings are categorized into three categories: shared rooms, private rooms, and entire homes or apartments. The website accommodates instant bookings as well as long-term stays.


HOST FEES & PAYMENTS: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN VRBO & AIRBNB?

VRBO offers three fee options to potential hosts: annual subscription, pay-per-booking and outside management service. VRBO has third party management partners that hosts can browse and employ on the VRBO website. Discover the advantages of the three VRBO guest fee options below:

Model Price Best For
Annual Subscription $349 Annually Year Round Rentals
Pay-Per-Booking 10% / Booking Infrequent Rentals
3rd Party Outsourcing 13% / Booking (on average) Those who don't have time to manage listing

The next step to listing a property on VRBO is deciding what payout method is best for you. VRBO hosts can receive payment through "Advanced Payment Service" where their funds arrive in their bank account 3 to 7 business days after booking OR through the "Check-in Payment Service" where funds arrive 3 to 7 business days after the first day of guest check in.

Airbnb charges hosts 3% of the price once a booking is completed. The total cost to hosts is calculated from the reservation subtotal, including cleaning fees. Cleaning fees are determined by hosts, and sometimes they choose not to charge this fee. Airbnb handles the transaction from guest to host. Guests cannot make a reservation without paying in full for their accommodation on Airbnb's secure platform. In return, hosts do not receive the payment until 24 hours after guests check-in. This system ensures both parties' expectations are met and that they are protected under Airbnb's Terms of Service, cancellation policies and Guest Refund Policy.


GUEST FEES: WILL I BE CHARGED TO BOOK MY VACATION?

VRBO does not charge guest fees. This is one of the distinct advantages of booking a VRBO property. Regardless, is important to do all of your research before booking your accommodation due to the VRBO refund policy ( see below, "Cancellation Policy").

Airbnb charges a guest service fee ranging from 6 to 12%. The fee percentage shrinks as a reservation amount increases. VAT might be charged for users from the European Union as well ( see below, "Taxes").


CANCELLATION POLICY: CAN I GET A REFUND?

Every VRBO property has an individual cancellation policy. It's extremely important to notify a host of any cancellation plans as soon as possible. Most hosts do not give full refunds, but VRBO offers an optional vacation rental protection (check it out here). The rate is relatively low considering the money at stake in a vacation rental.

VRBO Vacation Rental Protection: Options for a $10,000 rental (for other estimates, see here)

Cancellation Protection (Up to $50,000) $450.00
Carefree Rental Guarantee (Up to $10,000) $199.00
Damage Protection (Up to $1,500) $49.00

Airbnb Cancellation Policy Levels

Airbnb has a four-tier system for full refunds: flexible, moderate, strict and super strict. The policy can be found on each listing's "Pricing" section under "Cancellation." If a guest does not check in, cleaning fees are always refunded.


Full Refund Partial Refund Refund after Check-in
Flexible 100% refund 24 hours before check-in After check-in, can cancel future days of trip after 1st 24 hours Nights not spent within 24 hours of cancellation are refunded 100%
Moderate 100% refund up to 5 days before check-in Within 5 days of check-in or 24 after: 1st night non refundable, remaining nights 50% refund Nights not spent within 24 hours of cancellation are refunded 50%
Strict 50% refund up to 7 days before check-in No refund within 7 days of check-in No refund after check-in
*Super Strict 50% refund up to 30 days before check-in No refund within 30 days of check-in No refund after check-in

*The super strict policy is for special circumstances such as long term stays and is by invitation only.

Long term rentals from Airbnb fall under their own cancellation policy. Reservations for accommodations 28 days or more require users to make a down payment when they book which usually covers the first month. If the guest decides to cancel before the start date, they lose the down payment and are not charged the remaining amount. If the guest checks in and decides to leave they must pay the host up through the next 30 planned days following the cancellation date.


DO VRBO & AIRBNB HAVE GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE?

Both VRBO and Airbnb have extremely reputable 24/7 support teams. It is advisable for guests and owners to work out problems before involving VRBO or Airbnb support staff. Nevertheless, both VRBO and Airbnb are there to help through their telephone number.

You can access the VRBO support center here, or contact directly by phone: 1-877-202-4291

You can access the Airbnb support center here or through their app, or you can contact the support team directly by phone: 1-855-424-7262


REVIEWS: HOW DO GUESTS RATE THEIR EXPERIENCE?

VRBO and Airbnb also encourage guests to write reviews of their stays. These reviews are made public and can be viewed on each individual listing. Owners have the opportunity to reply publicly or privately to show their appreciation for an outstanding review or to sort out any problems or mishaps that may have occurred.

VRBO uses a 5-star rating system with comments boxes. Potential guests read feedback on the second tab of each listing under "Reviews." VRBO hosts cannot edit or remove reviews. This facilitates an honest environment that protects future vacationers and holds hosts accountable for providing an experience on par with the VRBO's high standards of travel.

Airbnb reviews are also based on a 5-star system. Unlike VRBO which gives an all-in rating, AirBnb allows guests to rate various aspects of their stay in six categories: accuracy, communication, cleanliness, location, check in and value. Similar to VRBO, Airbnb reviews must be appropriate and withhold personal information. They can be edited up to 48 hours after it is posted or until the other party completes their review. However, hosts cannot alter a post from a guest.


PET FRIENDLY RENTALS: DO VRBO & AIRBNB HAVE A PET POLICY?

Both websites allow guests to see if their chosen getaway will permit their furry friends to join in the fun. Additionally, hosts on both websites have the power to make their vacation home pet friendly, and they can also charge a pet fee.

VRBO guests can easily browse "dogs allowed" properties by selecting "pet friendly" in the search filter. A typical VRBO home is great for dogs since a majority feature a backyard. Most results will list "pets considered" under the "Overview" section. This does not grant every traveler permission to bring their pet, but it identifies the owner as someone who is open to the possibility of hosting animals. If you are want to book a stay in a "pets considered" home, discuss the stipulations with the host first. Sometimes the owner will charge a pet fee.

Airbnb guests can determine if a home is pet-approved by viewing the full list of amenities under each selected property. If an Airbnb host chooses to charge a pet fee it will not be calculated in the initial rates listed on the right-hand side of the page. Guests looking for a pet-friendly vacation must discuss extra fees with hosts before booking. Once both parties have agreed upon a dog friendly or cat friendly (or other sort of creature!) price, owners can make a 'Special Offer' to the traveler/s. To receive payment, the host must request it through the Airbnb 'Resolution Center.'


VRBO AND AIRBNB TAX POLICIES: WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW AS A HOMEOWNER?

VRBO and Airbnb may require hosts to give taxpayer information to stay in compliance with US law by recording earnings. Certain states and localities might be subject to an additional tax on the rental of rooms, so make sure you are up to date with the legislation in your area.

If VRBO collects any money on the hosts' behalf (such as processing credit cards through the Reservation Manager platform) and the total amount is greater than $600, they will send hosts a 1099-K. Customers who either process credit or receive at least 200 debit card payments exceeding $20,000 in total will also receive a 1099. VAT will be charged when applicable.

Airbnb will ask hosts to fill out their US tax status under "Payout Preferences." US persons must file a W-9 and will receive a 1099-K. Non-US persons with a US taxpayer identification number must file a W-8ECI and will receive a 1042-S. Non-US persons without a US taxpayer identification number must fill out a W-8BEN and will receive a 1042-S.

Value-added tax (VAT) might be charged to Airbnb hosts depending on the jurisdiction of the guest's local country of residence. VAT will always be charged for hosts from the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and South Africa. The rate is based on the total guest fee for the reservation.

Browse Listings in Top Travel Destinations

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Portland Ocean City
Austin Gatlinburg
Santa Cruz Indian Shores



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