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Tuesday Travel Tip: How to negotiate (and save) on your next Airbnb stay

June 16, 2020
7 min read
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While the coronavirus pandemic continues, many travelers may be itching to go on their first vacation in months. A home-rental platform, like Airbnb, might be the ideal place to find your next stay. That's because it is easy to find properties that have enough personal space in our era of social distancing.

Whether you're an experienced Airbnb guest or just a novice, did you know that there may be an opportunity to negotiate on your next booking? It only makes sense to do in certain situations, but with 42 Airbnb stays under my belt, I have been able to negotiate — and save — on reservations around the world.

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How to message a host before booking

While searching for the perfect Airbnb, you can actually message the host prior to going through the booking process. After selecting a property from the search results, scroll down to information about the host. Here, you should see the "contact host" button, highlighted below.

Photo courtesy of Airbnb
One of my favorite Airbnb hosts. (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

From there, you can explain why you're reaching out. Since this article is all about negotiating the rate, read on to learn more about how — and when — to do so.

Negotiate delicately — and be respectful

First, I want to make this clear: don't message every host that you come across and demand a lower rate than published. Like with any negotiation tactic, restraint and respect are necessary. In fact, Airbnb can outright ban you if enough hosts complain that you are aggressively asking for a reduction on the listed price.

Many hosts have thought pretty carefully through their pricing and — especially in light of the pandemic — will be looking to recoup some of the lost revenue from the downturn in travel. However, that doesn't mean you can't negotiate at all.

Although by no means exhaustive, here are a few things to consider when negotiating your Airbnb stay.

Related reading: When Airbnb is better than a hotel for families

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When you're staying for a week, a month or more

(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)
An ideal social-distancing home. (Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

If you're planning on staying for weeks or months at a time, let the host know this ahead of time. If you can guarantee revenue for the host for an extended period, the host may be willing to discount the total cost of your reservation. Keep in mind that hosts already have this functionality — you may see a "weekly" or "monthly" discount when searching for these respective time periods.

But it can still be worth messaging the host, as long as you're straightforward about your intentions.

When you're staying during off-peak time periods

A non-peak period is another opportunity to message a host to inquire about a discount. If it's summer and you're renting in a ski town or it's winter and you're traveling to the beach, you're more likely to come across hosts that may be willing to shave off the cost of a nightly rate.

When you're staying at new rentals with few ratings

Airbnb in Sri Lanka (Photo by Chris Dong / The Points Guy)
One of my favorite Airbnbs in Sri Lanka (Photo by Chris Dong / The Points Guy)

New hosts just trying to get their properties on the map, so to speak, may also make for good candidates to negotiate. If you notice that they have few reviews or ratings, politely message them to see if there's any wiggle room with the reservation.

Again, do not cold-message all hosts who don't have any reviews. If you're seriously interested in a property, inquire within.

Related reading: Best credit cards for Airbnbs

Bottom line

There are numerous other factors to consider when negotiating your next Airbnb stay. Do you have a good rating as a guest? Many hosts may work with you only if you have established yourself as a reliable Airbnb customer.

Are you booking last-minute or far in advance? If a host is desperate to fill their space and the reservation is imminent, they may be more willing to negotiate.

The biggest rule of thumb is to put yourself into the shoes of the host — why would they be interested in discounting their property for you? Be tactful, clear with your intentions and drop the negotiation if it's obvious the host isn't interested.

Featured image by Getty Images

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  • 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
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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 Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
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  • 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

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    $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.

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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