A guide to the best credit cards for Airbnb stays

Jun 3, 2020

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Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new information. As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.

As states begin to reopen, few are taking to the skies just yet, but road trips are likely to be popular getaway options. The inevitable question then arises — where to stay?

Related reading: 10 tips for anyone taking a road trip right now

Both hotels and individual Airbnbs are undergoing strict cleaning regimens to not only ensure safe stays for guests but also to reassure — and lure — potential travelers that may be making a booking. If you’ve decided to go the Airbnb route, which travel rewards credit card should you be using to make the purchase? Let’s take a closer look.

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In This Post

What is Airbnb?

Courtesy of Airbnb
Photo courtesy of Airbnb

If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, the site offers an alternative method of lodging when you’re traveling. In many cases, Airbnb will provide you privately owned rooms, apartments or houses that are available for both short- and long-term stays.

While prices are sometimes more affordable than equivalent hotel rooms, it should be noted that Airbnb is not exactly a hotel on-a-budget. There are tradeoffs: things such as room service, daily housekeeping and other full-service amenities aren’t usually found. However, if you are on the hunt for unique accommodations — or want the feeling of being in a home while away from home — Airbnb could be a good option. Groups and those traveling with others also tend to prefer Airbnb, since it’s easy to reserve multi-bedroom lodging.

Airbnb doesn’t have a loyalty program, so the best way to make the most of these types of purchases is by using the right credit card.

Related reading: How to find the best Airbnb 

The best cards for Airbnb

Earning rates on the top cards for Airbnb

Card  Earning Rate  Earning Currency 
American Express Green Card 3x Membership Rewards points
Chase Sapphire Reserve 3x Ultimate Rewards points
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 3x Ultimate Rewards points
Wells Fargo Propel American Express card 3x Go Far Rewards points
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card 5x (if purchasing gift card through Amazon) Cash back

The information for the Amex Green Card, Wells Fargo Propel, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card have been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

A closer look at the cards you should use for Airbnb

Airbnb typically codes as “travel” on your credit card statement. This means it will trigger any bonus points or annual credits offered in the travel category. Here’s a deep dive into the best cards for Airbnb.

American Express Green Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $150 (see rates and fees)

Welcome offer: Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchase in your first three months of card membership.

Earning rates: You’ll get 3x Membership Rewards points per dollar on restaurant purchases, 3x on transit including ride shares, subway swipes, tolls, and most importantly for Airbnb, plus 3x points per dollar on the broad category of travel which includes things from flights, car rentals, hotels, and home shares (yes, including Airbnb).

Why we like it: Amex’s other charge cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card, both have more limited travel categories that don’t go beyond the scope of airfare and hotels. While the Platinum card has a higher bonus earning on airfare (5x), it only applies to airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amextravel.com (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). In the Platinum’s case, you’ll also get 5x on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.

The Amex Green is the most flexible of the bunch, in terms of earning 3x Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on Airbnb. Those 3x points equate to a 6% return based on TPG valuations. If you’re flying to get to your Airbnb, you can also take advantage of a $100 Clear annual statement credit and a $100 LoungeBuddy annual statement credit.

Related reading: Best cards for airport lounge access

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $550

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Earning rates: Besides getting a $300 annual travel credit (that can be used toward Airbnb), you’ll get 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel after using the credit and 3x points on dining at restaurants worldwide.

Why we like it: First and foremost, you get to use the card’s $300 travel credit towards a broad range of travel purchases, including Airbnb. With 3x on Airbnb, this card is useful for earning maximum Ultimate Rewards on your purchases after hitting your $300 allotment.

Those 3x Ultimate Rewards points equate to a 6% return based on TPG valuations, the same as the Amex Green. Additionally, the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus is worth $1,000 based on TPG valuations.

Related reading: Chase adds limited-time Sapphire benefits to help grounded travelers

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $95

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Earning rates: You’ll earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases in the following categories:

  • Travel (including Airbnb)
  • Shipping purchases
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines

Why we like it: This is another Chase card that earns a fantastic 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel, including Airbnb stays. The huge 100,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonus is a great perk, although note the hefty initial spending requirement. While this isn’t a consumer card, getting approved for a business card may be easier than you think.

Related reading: Best business credit cards of 2020

Wells Fargo Propel American Express card

Annual fee: $0

Welcome offer: Earn 20,000 Go Far Rewards bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Earning rates: You’ll earn 3x Go Far Rewards points on a wide range of travel (flights, hotels, Airbnb, etc.), dining (which Wells Fargo defines as “eating out and ordering in”), gas stations and popular streaming services.

Why we like it: This is an impressive no-annual-fee credit card . Go Far Rewards points, the Propel rewards currency, are worth a fixed 1 cent each. You can redeem your points for travel, gift cards, charity donations or cash back, but no matter how you plan on spending your rewards, redemptions will get 1 cent per point.

However, if you also have the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card, you can redeem for airfare via its portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. (This jumps to 1.75 cents per point if you spend $50,000 a year or more on the Wells Fargo Visa Signature.) Using this one-two Wells Fargo card combination, your standard 3x bonus categories with the Propel can multiply to 4.5x points, or even as high as 5.25x points, depending on your spending patterns. The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: Wells Fargo Visa Signature credit card review

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Annual fee: $0, but you must have an Amazon Prime membership

Sign-up bonus: $70 Amazon gift card valid for purchases at Amazon that is available as soon as you are approved

Earning rates: You’ll get 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, and 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drug stores.

Why we like it: How does the Amazon card make our list of best cards for Airbnb? Two words: Gift cards. Airbnb gift cards are available on Amazon and you can easily get 5% back by first ordering the card and then applying it to your Airbnb reservation. You can redeem your 5% back on cash back, gift cards, or travel rewards, but it’s all worth the same.

Related reading: Best credit cards for Amazon purchases 

Maximizing your purchase

Courtesy of Airbnb
Photo courtesy of Airbnb

One of the most important factors in making the most of your everyday spending is choosing the best travel rewards credit card for every purchase. This isn’t always an easy task, as some cards earn valuable transferable points while others give bonus points for certain categories of purchases. Deciding what is more important is a personal decision. 

For any Airbnb stay though, be sure to see if you can double dip. For instance, Delta and British Airways both have their own Airbnb portal where you can earn additional SkyMiles on every stay, regardless of what credit card you use to book.

These cards are all great options for Airbnb, but there are many others out there. For instance, if your local grocery store also sells Airbnb gift cards, you can use a card that earns bonuses at groceries to maximize your purchase.

Bottom line

Airbnb is a great option for arranging lodging for trips, as the site represents a nice alternative to traditional hotels. I’ve personally stayed in over two dozen Airbnbs, and usually prefer it to a chain hotel.

In addition to the unique properties you can book, there are also some solid credit card options that allow you to earn a decent haul of points or cash back. Just remember during this time of COVID-19, it is especially important to review each listing’s cancellation policy.

Featured photo courtesy of Airbnb. 

For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, please click here.

2019 TPG Award Winner: Premium Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

SIGN-UP BONUS: 50,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.99%-23.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.