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Airbnb, Vrbo and More: Comparing Popular Vacation Home-Booking Sites

Aug. 09, 2020
6 min read
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Even the most-devoted hotel aficionado still has a time when a short-term home or villa rental makes more sense due to location, privacy, amenities or group size. With so many sites now offering home rentals, you should know the difference between four of the largest that range from an average $31 per night to $2,000 per night, and from concierge service to shared bathrooms, so that you can find the right site for your next booking.

Airbnb

Two million people check into an Airbnb every night, so chances are that you've already stayed at a place listed on the rental behemoth.

Airbnb created sub-brands to differentiate between its six million properties. For example, you'll find Airbnb Plus (vetted listings), Airbnb Luxe (high-end listings averaging $2,000/night) and differentiators such as its Superhost program. Airbnb famously started as renting airbeds and continues to have shared and hosted accommodation.

Travel writer Jarvis Marcos, who typically stays at luxury hotels, also recommends Airbnb. "As much as I love hotels, some of the best-ever stays have taken place in private rental properties," Marcos told TPG. "If you want to go off the beaten path, value the added privacy of your own villa or just want somebody to give you unbiased local advice, Airbnb really comes into its own."

Downsides of using Airbnb include that you don't always know what you're going to get. There can be safety concerns and the fees are paid by both the guests and the hosts, with guest fees reaching as much as 20% on top of the nightly rate.

The upsides of staying in an Airbnb include that you can do the whole process through the app. You can search, book, pay, get check-in info, message the host and leave a review all from your phone.

(Image by Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

Vrbo

Vrbo, or Vacation Rentals by Owner, rents only entire properties. The company has been operating since 1995 and properties are often only available for weekly bookings and have a booking fee of 5%-15% for guests.

"I’ve heard about so many issues with Airbnb," Clare Keimig of The Traveling Empty Nester explained to TPG. "Listing not giving the entire picture, bad surprises after the renter gets there, last minute cancellations. With Vrbo, I have never had these issues. We have rented probably 15 homes with them and each time, the home was exactly as pictured."

Where Vrbo stands out is in its robust filters. Unlike Airbnb, you can drill down into lots of specifics of what you require in a property before seeing your results.

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VRBOs are not always paid through the interface and still sometimes require a contract and a paper check mailed to the owner.

(Photo courtesy of Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/TPG UK)
Our flat rental in Lisbon. (Photo courtesy of Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/TPG UK)

Onefinestay

Onefinestay started with six homes in London in May 2010 is now owned by AccorHotels, making it the only hotel-affiliated — and hotel points-earning — homeshare site on this list. With 10,000 premium upscale and luxury homes worldwide, from resort destinations to major cities, Onefinestay has a large emphasis on its hospitality and concierge function. The platform boasts that it is the only short-term home rental site that has visited and vetted every property in person.

Since April 2018, Accor’s LeClub loyalty members have been able to earn and redeem their points for stays with Onefinestay, and later this year, Accor is debuting a new loyalty program, called ALL (Accor Live Limitless), in which Onefinestay will also be included.

Homestay

While Airbnb started as a hosted home exchange site, it's now mostly professionally managed properties. The site Homestay was founded in 2013 to bring back that experience with its 55,000 listed rooms. At a global average of $31 per night room rate, it is certainly a budget-friendly option.

"Homestay is like Airbnb but with the option of it being a true homestay, meaning engaging on a regular basis with a host, or even a host family," Gabby Packs Light told TPG. "More than other short-term rentals, I think Homestay really focuses on interaction and connection just as much as having a place to stay. You can do short- or long-term stays, which means it's a great option for a student studying abroad, professionals traveling for work or people who just want a more communal energy on their trip with more privacy and calm than a hostel."

Specialty Sites

Nadine Jolie Courtney, a luxury family travel adviser with Elite Travel International, said not to forget about the specialty home-rental sites, especially in major cities.

"In cities like Paris, where half the fun is pretending you're a local, I like to book with specialty rental sites such as Paris Perfect that focus solely on that location. You'll get a more tailored experience than with, say, Airbnb, often including hotel-like amenities, and the apartments are killer: think Eiffel Tower views from giant balconies."

There are also specialty family-centric curated home rental sites like Kid & Coe and destination-specific sites such as FeelFree rentals in San Sebastian, Spain or Parrish Collection for home rentals on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.

Na Pali Coast in Kauai (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)
Na Pali Coast in Kauai (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)
Featured image by An Airbnb in Portugal (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023