How to maximize earning on vacation home rentals
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Editor’s note: Now is not the time to travel. TPG’s CEO Brian Kelly made his thoughts clear on this topic, and almost all of our editorial coverage has been focused on a time (not yet known) when travel is safe again. However, we are publishing travel and credit card deals and content because we should all use this time to plan what’s next.
For some people, the best part of traveling is experiencing luxurious hotels around the world, but many people (myself included) prefer to book vacation home rentals through sites like Airbnb or local rental companies.
Large families or other large groups may like the idea of sharing an apartment or home on the road. I love having a kitchen when I travel so I can save money on dining and buy food from local farmer’s markets to cook when I don’t feel like eating out. Plus, homestay sites like Airbnb can connect you with locals who can give great travel advice while you’re staying in their city.
Most credit cards count hotels as travel, but not all travel credit cards earn bonus rewards on home rentals — especially local rental properties booked through real estate companies, which will potentially code as something other than travel. Here are a few of the best cards that earn points and miles on most home rentals to help you maximize your earning.
Best cards for vacation home rentals
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- American Express® Green Card
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
- Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (no longer available for new applicants)
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The information about the Amex Green Card, Wells Fargo Propel has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.
Comparing the best cards for vacation home rentals
|Card||Welcome bonus||Home rental rewards||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.||2x on travel||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.||3x on travel||$550|
|American Express Green Card||30,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of account opening.||3x on travel||$150 (see rates and fees)|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards||50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.||2x-3.5x on travel||$95|
|Wells Fargo Propel||N/A||3x on travel||$0|
|Capital One Venture||Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.||2x on all purchases||$95|
Learn more about the best cards for home rentals
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of these cards to see which might be the best fit for you.
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. — worth $2,000, according to TPG valuations.
Why it’s great for home rentals: You’ll earn a solid 2x on all travel purchases, including homestays like Airbnb and VRBO. Home rentals booked through travel agencies and discount travel sites will also earn 2x. But keep in mind that if you book through a local condo rental company, you may or may not earn rewards depending on how the company sets its merchant code. Charges with many companies will end up posting as “real estate” or “property management” instead of travel.
Things to consider: You can redeem your points in a number of ways, but you’ll get the best value when you redeem for travel either through the Chase Portal for 1.25 cents per point or by transferring at a 1:1 ratio to one of Chase’s 10 airline or three hotel transfer partners. Typically, hotels and flights are your best redemption options for Chase points. So, although you can use this card to maximize earning on hotel rentals, you’ll want to redeem your points for other types of travel.
Annual fee: $550
Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening — worth $1,200, according to TPG valuations.
Why it’s great for home rentals: The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on travel, which will include the same purchases listed under the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Additionally, you’ll get a $300 annual travel credit which can be used toward eligible purchases like Airbnb and other homestay rentals.
Related reading: How to use the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit
Things to consider: Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem your points through the travel portal (but for 1.5 cents each) or by transferring points. Keep in mind that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel credit card that offers an array of perks and benefits to help offset the card’s steep $550 annual fee. It’s a versatile card for frequent travelers who spend a lot on travel and dining and enjoy using airport lounges and other luxury benefits. But for someone who is a casual traveler and just needs a card for basic travel earning and burning, this may not be the best choice.
Annual fee: $150
Welcome bonus: 30,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months — worth $600, according to TPG valuations.
Why it’s great for home rentals: The Amex Green card is one of the only Amex credit cards that earns Membership Rewards across all travel purchases, not just airfare and hotels. In the terms and conditions, Amex includes all purchases made through “third party travel websites” in its travel category, which means you should earn 3x across homeshare sites like Airbnb, plus on home rentals made through sites like Hotels.com or Expedia.
Things to consider: Like Chase cards, American Express offers the best redemption rates when you book travel, specifically by transferring to one of Amex’s many travel partners. American Express regularly offers transfer bonuses that can get you outsized value, which is one of the reasons why we value Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each.
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days — worth $500 toward travel.
Why it’s great for home rentals: With the Bank of America Premium Rewards card, you’ll earn at least 2x on travel purchases. Although the terms and conditions do not explicitly mention home rentals, Airbnb and VRBO typically code as travel. Plus, the terms specify that travel agencies and real estate agents both fall into the category, which potentially means that condo rentals booked through local real estate companies would earn bonus rewards as well.
Things to consider: Although the standard earning rate for travel is 2x, you can earn even more rewards if you are a member of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. At the top tier, you can earn 75% more rewards on each purchase, meaning you could get up to 3.5x on travel purchases. Remember, though, that Bank of America doesn’t have transfer partners, so you’re only getting 1 cent per point when you redeem for travel.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express card
Annual fee: $0
Welcome bonus: N/A
Why it’s great for home rentals: The Wells Fargo Propel earns 3x on travel, which includes homestays, travel agencies and discount travel sites. Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s likely that some condos or other homes booked through local real estate companies won’t code as travel, but there are still plenty of opportunities to earn rewards on home rentals with this card.
Things to consider: The card itself is a no-frills, no-annual-fee credit card best suited for beginner travelers. Wells Fargo does not have transfer partners and you’ll redeem points for 1 cent each toward travel.
Annual fee: $95
Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, — worth $1,020, according to TPG valuations (not provided by the issuer).
Why it’s great for home rentals: The Capital One Venture earns 2x across all purchases, regardless of bonus categories. This means you’re getting 2x on any home rental you purchase with the card, from Airbnb to rentals booked through Hotels.com to rentals booked with local real estate companies. When you redeem miles for a fixed value through this redemption feature, you can also redeem your miles for eligible travel purchases like Airbnb stays.
Things to consider: You can also redeem miles by transferring them to Capital One airline and hotel transfer partners, most at a 2:1.5 ratio. If you know how to maximize those transfer partners, you can get even more value than redeeming for a fixed value. That’s one of the reasons why TPG values points at 1.4 cents each.
Using portals to earn more miles
You can actually double-dip your rewards when you pair the right credit card with an online portal.
Delta actually has its own Airbnb portal where you can earn additional SkyMiles on every stay, regardless of what credit card you use to book. You’re only getting one mile per point, but you can double-dip this with other credit card offers and bonuses.
For example, let’s say you book a stay on Airbnb through the Delta Airbnb Portal with your Amex Green. That’s 1x Delta SkyMiles, 3x Membership Rewards points (which can transfer to Delta) and potentially even more rewards or a cash rebate if you happen to have an Airbnb Amex Offer.
Occasionally, you can also find home rental sites on other online shopping portals. You can use an aggregator such as CashBackMonitor.com to see if there are any current shopping portal offers on the site you are using to book your home rental. At the time of writing, for example, Alaska Airlines and United were both offering 1x miles on VRBO purchases through their respective portals.
When you think “maximizing travel purchases,” you may think only of airfare and hotels. Those are definitely two major travel categories when it comes to earning and redeeming points and miles, but you can also earn rewards on other travel purchases — including home rentals.
I love using homestay websites (especially Airbnb) when I travel, both domestically and internationally. And the right credit cards and online shopping portal hacks help me maximize every stay I book.
Featured image courtesy of Airbnb.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, please click here.
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