Why you should consider VRBO instead of AirBnB for your next staycation booking

Mar 3, 2022

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Although Airbnb seems to be the household name in booking privately owned homes and properties nowadays, there is a competitor out there that has been around much longer: VRBO. Originally set up as a centralized place for people to rent out their own homes (Vacation Rental By Owner), the platform now boasts over 2 million listings in almost every country in the world.

Let’s take a look at how you can use VRBO to your benefit and how it stacks up against other services in the market.

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In This Post

What is VRBO?

VRBO has been a key player in worldwide vacation rentals since the ’90s. Starting in 1995, the website showcases listings to potential renters, with a heavy focus on houses for families and larger groups. The platform was acquired by HomeAway in 2006. Currently, VRBO is a part of the Expedia Group.

How do I find somewhere to stay and book with VRBO?

Image of VRBO search screen and booking process

After finding a property on the website through its intuitive search, proceed through the steps to make your booking. If you’re struggling to to find the right place for your planned trip you can add additional filters, much like AirBnb.

VRBO search filter options

This allows you to search for specific features such as pools, villas and pet-friendly options. Scrolling through the filters you can also select the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, plus locations such as waterfront and beach properties. There are also options for nearby activities such as horseriding or sports facilities. As far as options go, it’s incredibly extensive, although it’s worth noting that the more filters you add – as with all bookings sites – the fewer options you will likely have available to choose from. Still, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and if you’re looking for a French Château that’s pet friendly, with a hot tub, pool, nearby golf course and on the oceanfront, it’s always worth a shot. You can also rank all the properties by their star rating, or other options such as cleanliness.

Once you’ve found your property, set the dates and check for availability and proceed as you would on any other booking site.

What are the VRBO cancellation and refund rules?

While booking it’s wise to pay close attention to the cancellation policy which states if and when you can cancel the booking.

VRBO generally offers a couple of different options, depending on the owners’ preference:

  • No refund policy; fully non-refundable
  • 60-day policy; full refund if you cancel at least 60 days before check-in, no refund if you cancel less than 60 days before check-in
  • 60/30-day policy; 100% refund if you cancel at least 60 days before check-in, 50% refund (minus the service fee) if you cancel at least 30 days before check-in, no refund if you cancel less than 30 days before check-in
  • 30/14-day policy; full refund if you cancel at least 30 days before check-in, 50% refund (minus the service fee) if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in, no refund if you cancel less than 14 days before check-in
  • 14/7-day policy; full refund if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in, 50% refund (minus the service fee) if you cancel at least 7 days before check-in, no refund if you cancel less than 7 days before check-in

If you booked a property that indicates 24 Hour Confirmation, the host has 24 hours to accept or decline, at which time your card is charged and you receive an email confirmation. Instant book properties return a confirmation instantly.

Can I earn points and miles with VRBO?

Yes, you can! British Airways and VRBO have an agreement with which you can earn 3 Avios per pound spent on any rental. To make use of this offer, go to the British Airways website, click the Book Now button, and enter your BA Executive Club number in the payment stage of the booking.

You can earn 3 Avios per pound spent on VRBO. Image courtesy of British Airways.

 

Another option is using an airline shopping portal, including through shopping.BA.com, though interestingly this will earn you 1 less Avios than it would booking through BritishAirways.com, offering 2 Avios per £1 spent.

Both Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plan) and United Airlines (Mileage Plus) also offer 1 mile per US dollar spent through their respective shopping portals. To make use of this offer, go to the airline shopping portal first. After login, click through to VRBO and make your booking — the miles are automatically added.

Please note that these two ways of earning do not combine — the last click-through (BA Avios or one of these portals) will be the one that registers.

Related: Everything to know about maximising online shopping portals for bonus points and miles

To find active shopping portal options at any time, check CashbackMonitor.

When should I pick VRBO over Airbnb?

While Airbnb boasts lots of quirky, weird properties and unique sites as well as single rooms and multi-user set-ups, VRBO exclusively lists full properties. Also, VRBO focuses more on steady, reliable properties where uniqueness and quirkiness are of less importance. This makes VRBO perfect for a friend or family getaway with a group, whereas Airbnb is also suitable for a single or couples trip where you might be looking for a special place to stay.

Airbnb focuses more on speciality stays, VRBO aims to serve the market for groups and families looking for a complete larger property. Photo courtesy of Airbnb.

 

Next to the difference in property listings, Airbnb also focuses more on experiences, now boasting a whole section on specific experience opportunities in any location you might be looking for a property to stay at.

VRBO on the other hand did not move in that direction but focuses more on information towards you as the future renter. For example, the filters section on VRBO is much more extensive, allowing you to find the exact right house for your group and trip (with a grill or one that is pet friendly, as noted above).

Related: 14 tips that will help you score the perfect Airbnb every time

Also, VRBO allows homeowners to publicly respond to any review left for their property. This allows you to get a feeling for the way they conduct business before booking. On Airbnb, hosts can only reply privately.

Both platforms charge fees ranging from 5 to 15% in total, distributed between guest and owner. This depends a lot on the type of subscription a homeowner has, so if you are trying to look out for the owners’ best interest and want to stay at their property again, it might be worthwhile to ask them which platform they prefer for a follow-up next booking.

Lastly, if you are an avid Avios collector, you might want to see if your chosen property is available on VBRO even if you found it on Airbnb first – the 3 Avios per pound are a nice perk. Especially when you are booking a trip for a group and spend hundreds or possibly even thousands of pounds on lodging, the earnings rack up quickly. Properties often don’t have the same name on different platforms, which makes it hard to find them elsewhere. A neat hack to still be able to find a property on other listing websites is right-clicking one of the images and using Google Lens, which will find results online using the image as a reference point. Take note that this feature is only available in Google Chrome.

Related: How to maximize your stays at Airbnbs, hostels, campgrounds and more

Bottom line

Whenever you are looking to accommodate a group, such as a family or a group of friends, VRBO might be the better alternative to Airbnb. The added bonus is the ability to earn 3 Avios per pound spent, which is a great value.

Featured photo of Villa Bima Sena courtesy of VRBO.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.