27 Tips, Tricks, and Travel Hacks to Save Money on Airbnb Rentals

Whether you are on a budget, love a bargain, can’t stand to pay full price, or are addicted to travel hacking, you will find something useful in this exhaustive list of tips, tricks and travel hacks to save money on your next Airbnb rental.  These tips will save you money on long-term travel as well as short getaways.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to constitute professional advice. Deskless Nomad makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date. Please see the full Deskless Nomad Disclaimer

Table of Contents

Stay flexible about your dates and locations

In general, the more flexible you are with your dates, the more you can avoid peak prices.  Summers, ski seasons near ski resorts, Friday and Saturday nights, and school holidays are often more expensive.  Some hosts will increase their prices during times around local festivals or events.  

Look at the property listing calendar to compare prices for different dates.  It might be worth shifting your trip by a couple of days to get a lower price. 

Traveling during the main tourist season will almost always cost more.  Do an internet search to find the low season or shoulder seasons for your destination.  For popular summer destinations, try traveling in late spring or early fall.  Prices may drop by as much as half during off-peak times.  

The more flexible you are with your location, the more you can save as well.  You may be able to save hundreds of dollars by looking at a town or village nearby or even neighborhood a just a couple of blocks over.

Book ahead if you are looking for something specific

You’ll have the best selection of quality listings if you book your trip early.  Remember that, unlike hotel rooms, each Airbnb listing is unique so quality places with the best prices are going to be booked first.  With Airbnb’s update in Winter 2021, quality placed with the best prices will now be listed higher in searches.  If you are looking for something specific, whether it’s a location, a certain amenity, or a certain design or style then it is often best to book well in advance.

Limit what you see in the search

If you need to stick to a budget, use the price slider to narrow down the properties to a price range you are willing to pay.  This way you will only see the accommodations within your price range and you won’t be tempted to book a more expensive property.  

Check other vacation rental sites for the same property

Hosts may list properties on other sites at a lower price because those sites don’t take as large a portion of the revenue.  Other sites may not charge the same service or cleaning fees.  You’ll find this is more common for hotels and hostels.  The property may be listed on any alternative websites to Airbnb like booking.com, Vrbo, and Agoda. If the property is offered by a rental agency or property management company, try locating their website to book directly with them.

To help you find the listing on other sites, do a reverse image search on google.  Drag and drop the image or paste the URL to see the other sites where the host has listed the property.  You can also find the property by finding its location on the Airbnb map and then searching a similar area on the map of another site.

Avoid paying occupancy taxes by booking longer stays

Occupancy taxes might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about how to save money on vacation rentals but these taxes can be a big surprise when you see the final bill.  Some cities will charge hefty tourist tax or transient occupancy tax for stays of less than a minimum number of nights.  Each city or region may impose different tax rates for different lengths of stay.  The tax may be charged on cleaning and service fees in addition to the listing price.  

Before you book, check to see if your destination imposes occupancy taxes, and if so, under what conditions.  You can find the destinations where Airbnb collects occupancy taxes on their website.

Want to stay in Vancouver?  Consider booking a stay 27 nights or longer to avoid the 8% provincial tax plus an additional 3% municipal and regional district tax. San Francisco charges a hefty 14% for reservations 29 nights and shorter.  

For travel to certain destinations, it may be worthwhile to look at renting an apartment or house through a real estate agent or investigating alternative accommodation types if you are planning long stays as a remote worker or digital nomad. Bermuda charges 4.5% of the full listing price of any property classified as a vacation rental regardless of the length of stay.  In the British Islands, the tax charge is 10% regardless of the length of stay. 

Book 28-day or longer Airbnb stays for discounts

Many Airbnb hosts are now offering discounts for longer stays.  These discounts may be triggered for stays longer than a week or longer than 28 nights.  The discount offered will vary from host to host but may range from 5 to 20% if you rent for one week or longer and 30 to 50% if you rent for 28 days or more.  

If you were initially planning to stay in a place for 6 days, change the dates to include 7 nights to see if the prices drop.  If you were going to stay 3 weeks, try changing the dates to include 28 nights and see if the price justifies staying longer rather than moving on to your next location.  

Negotiate a discount with the host for longer stays

If a host does not list discounts for longer stays you can contact them to negotiate a lower price.  Before you contact a host, make sure to scan the listing’s description to see if weekly or monthly rates are already listed.  Even if there is already a weekly or monthly discount listed, you can try asking for an additional 5-10% off if you plan to stay longer than a week or month.  I would recommend only doing this for a place that you actually plan to book.  It is bad karma to ask a host for a discount and then once the host has agreed to your price, decide you won’t book the property after all.   

Read my article on How to Ask an Airbnb Host for a Discount.  When you are ready to negotiate with a host, go to the listing on Airbnb.  Instead of clicking on the “reserve” button, scroll to the “Hosted by” section and click on the “contact host” button.  This will take you to your message inbox where you can write your message to the host. You might want to break the ice by asking the host a question or two about the property.

Negotiate with the host for a last-minute booking

Booking last minute can be a great way to save a little extra money, although you do run the risk that the specific property you want won’t be available.  For times when there aren’t many bookings, some hosts will decrease prices a week or two beforehand to encourage guests to book.  This is even more common for mid-week bookings.

If you are looking for a last-minute booking (less than 7 days until check-in) you could try negotiating a lower price with the host, even if there has already been a price reduction.  Remember that hosts may be more willing to lower the price if they won’t otherwise be able to rent out their property.  The closer you are to the check-in date, the more likely the property won’t be booked, and the more likely a host will agree.

Search the calendars for the properties you are considering and look for gaps in bookings.  The larger the gaps around the time you plan to stay, the more likely you will be successful.  You can also improve your chances of success by offering to be flexible with your check-in and/or departure times, booking in the low season, and booking a newer listing.  

Look for new listings without reviews and negotiate with hosts for a discount

Look for new listings that haven’t gotten any reviews yet.  Winter 2021 update allows hosts to discount new listings by 20% for the first 3 guest bookings as they are trying to build up reviews to attract more guests.  If hosts are not already offering an introductory price, you can reach out to them and ask them to bring it down while referencing the Airbnb promotion recommendation.  Many new hosts are desperate to get those initial reviews and will be willing to negotiate.

Read the fine print on fees and cancellation policy

Make sure you read the entire listing so you can anticipate any additional fees.  Hosts can opt to have a cleaning fee, charge for hot tub heating, charge for extra guests over a maximum, among other possible fees.  Extra costs can add up quickly.  You only pay a single cleaning fee so it may make sense to stay in a single property longer rather than multiple properties to avoid having to pay multiple cleaning fees.

Read and understand the cancellation policy for the listing.  You can lose a lot of money if your plans change and you have to cancel or change your booking dates after the policy deadline.  I keep a spreadsheet of my future booking details and include the cancellation policy with corresponding dates.  

Airbnb has 6 levels of refund policy strictness.  Each host will choose their own cancellation level of strictness so read the listing carefully.  Learn more about the different levels of refund policy strictness on the Airbnb website.

Book a place with a kitchen and washing machine

If you stay in a place with a kitchen you can cook your own meals and save money on going out to eat.  Even if it is just breakfast and snacks, you can save a lot. Having a kitchen is a must if you are traveling long-term.  Check with the host to make sure the kitchen is equipped with the necessary utensils and cookware.  

If you are traveling long-term, having the option to wash your clothes in the rental will save you money, not to mention the time of carting your clothes to a laundromat.  

Cottage kitchen interior. ArturVerkhovetskit/DepositPhotos.com

Book a room rather than a whole place

Staying in a room with a host family rather than booking an entire place will generally cost less.  Make sure to read the listing reviews so you know what to expect from your new housemates.  Some hosts will rent multiple rooms to a constantly changing set of guests.  This is a good option if you are traveling alone, giving you the opportunity to make some friends and get great advice from locals and fellow travelers about where to go and what to do.

Avoid Airbnb vacation rental scams

While Airbnb has made an effort to reduce various types of vacation rental scams on their site, scams are still taking place. Educate yourself and learn how to avoid vacation rental scams that can end up costing you money and ruining your trip.

Save with Chase credit card Airbnb discount offers

If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, keep an eye out for the chase Airbnb offer.  Chase announces various discount offers on a regular basis.  These will change throughout the year.  Past Chase Airbnb offers allowed cardholders to save 5% on an Airbnb stay up to $28 cashback. 

Unfortunately, the discounts are not announced ahead of time and are not automatic.  Offers are targeted to customers based on how you use your card.  You have to keep checking your available deals and go into the website or app and activate it once it is listed.  After you have activated your Chase offer and made your Airbnb booking you will see a statement credit on your account within 7-14 business days.

Use Chase Ultimate Rewards “Pay Yourself Back” program to cover the full or partial cost of your booking

Airbnb is now a part of “Pay Yourself Back” at Chase.  To use this feature, book your Airbnb like normal with your Chase credit card.   Within 90 days of your purchase, go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards page in your account and redeem your Chase points to cover your booking at a rate of 1.5 cents per point (for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders) or 1.25 cents per point (for Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business cardholders).  For example, 100,000 points would cover a booking of $1,500 for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders or $1,250 for Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders.  This offer currently runs through March 31, 2022, but may be extended.

Use Capital One Venture Rewards miles to cover the cost of booking

While there isn’t currently a direct way to book with points, you can eliminate travel purchases, including Airbnb stays, from your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card statement at a rate of 1 cent per mile.  For example, 100,000 Capital One Venture miles would cover a booking of $1,000.

Book through a shopping portal and earn miles with Delta, Qantas, ANA, or British Airways

By booking through a special Airline partner portal you can earn bonus miles in addition to any miles you’ll earn by using your credit card (excluding taxes and fees).  Airbnb partners with Delta, Qantas, ANA, and British Airways.  The price for each Airbnb booking is identical to if you booked on the Airbnb website.  The miles offers are only valid when your booking originates from one of the portal websites.

  • Delta Airbnb portal – Earn 1 delta mile per dollar
  • Qantas Airbnb portal – Earn 1 Qantas point per dollar
  • British Airways Airbnb portal – Earn 2 British Airways Avios points per dollar on Airbnb accommodation bookings (6 points per dollar if it is your first Airbnb booking).  You can also earn 3 Avios per dollar on Airbnb experience bookings.
  • ANA Airbnb portal – Earn 1 mile for every JPY 200 spent (1 mile per around $1.76 spent)

Get a discount from Airbnb if you are signing up for the first time

If you or someone in your travel group has never booked with Airbnb before you can get a discount depending on the price of the reservation, excluding taxes and fees.  

Unfortunately, the Airbnb referral program, where you could refer friends and get travel credits, has ended. 

Find an Airbnb coupon to apply to your booking

The most reliable coupons I have found for Airbnb are listed on the Wall Street Journal website.  Make sure to check out their other hotel and vacation rental coupons and discounts.

Add your business email and get an Airbnb $25 business travel coupon

Airbnb offers this coupon to individuals or businesses who add a work email to their existing account details.  To get this coupon, go to your account settings page, click on “Travel for work,” and enter your work email.  Next, confirm your email with the email link sent to your inbox.  Once you have booked a stay that totals $250 or more, the coupon will be added to your account.  On your next stay, as you are confirming your booking details make sure to click “Traveling for work?” in order to have the coupon applied to your bill.

Holiday or birthday coming up? Ask for Airbnb gift cards

Instead of waiting for a random gift, ask for Airbnb gift cards for your next holiday or birthday gift.

When attempting to use an Airbnb gift card, remember that they need to be loaded into your account before you make a booking.  Once you have made a credit card payment, you can’t apply a gift card to that booking.  Check the latest Airbnb gift card terms and restrictions that can sometimes make them difficult to use.

Purchase discounted Airbnb gift cards to pay for your stay

Use sites like raise.com and cardcash.com that offer between 2 to 4% off gift cards.  Raise will periodically run additional sales.  They also sometimes offer an additional discount on your first purchase.   You can buy a full-priced card and get 15% back in Raise cash to apply toward a future purchase.

If you access raise.com through the United MileagePlus X app or chrome extension, you can earn 1 mile per dollar you spend on gift cards.  United MileagePlus X will often have other offers for shopping at raise.com (like 15% off purchase) so make sure to check it periodically.

Have an unwanted non-Airbnb gift card?  You can trade in your gift card for an Airbnb one on raise.com, giftcardgranny.com, or other similar sites.

Purchase Airbnb gift cards from grocery stores or office supply stores and earn points or cash back

Airbnb gift cards are also sold at various grocery stores and office supply stores.  To maximize your savings, use a credit card like the Chase Business Cash Credit Card to earn 5X points on all purchases at office supply stores or the American Express Blue Cash Preferred to get 6% cash back on grocery store purchases.  If your grocery store has a fuel rewards program you can earn credit towards free gas for the same purchase.

Purchase Airbnb gift cards through MileagePlusX to earn points or use your United points to purchase gift cards

You can buy Airbnb gift cards through United MileagePlus X and earn 2 miles per dollar spent.   If you have a co-branded United card, you can receive your standard mileage bonus for using the credit card plus an additional 25% bonus on MileagePlusX purchases.  

You can also use United miles to purchase Airbnb gift cards.

Pay in the local currency

First, make sure you are using a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.  When you use a credit card issued by Visa, your money is generally converted at the exchange rate set by Visa.  You can use the Visa currency conversion calculator to see what you would be charged when you use the card.  Mastercard has a similar currency conversion calculator.

When you are ready to book your Airbnb property, compare the prices in your home currency and the local currency.  Under “Price Details” click on the currency underlined next to the total and change to the local currency of the property.  Use this new number to calculate what the cost would be in your home currency when paying with your credit card.  The combination of Airbnb’s 3% currency conversion fee plus their adjusted exchange rate may make it worthwhile to pay for the booking in the local currency.  You can also change the currency before searching by going to the bottom of the Airbnb home page.

Book your trip with a credit card offering trip insurance

Book your stay with a credit card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Platinum Card from American Express to make sure your Airbnb bookings have the extra protection of travel insurance. In the event that your trip is delayed, interrupted, or canceled, travel insurance can provide compensation and get your money back. Make sure to read each card’s terms and conditions.

Protect yourself and take photos before you leave

Avoid getting surprised with extra cleaning fees after your stay.  Before you leave your Airbnb on the last day, take several photos of the property in the (clean) condition you left it.  This is especially important if you bring your dog or other pet to an Airbnb. You could also film a walk-through video on your smartphone. 

This should help to protect you in case the host tries to charge you additional cleaning fees or keep part of your deposit.  We had this happen to us at an Airbnb despite the two hours we spent cleaning the place before we left. Luckily we had taken photos of how we left the house.  We also made sure to keep copies of all communications with the host to help our dispute with Airbnb.

There are a number of ways to save money on your next Airbnb booking. Get creative and combine multiple tips to maximize your savings!

Jamie Dubois

I am a freelance writer, wanderer, kayaker, rock climber, and adventurer.

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