Tips & Tricks: How to Save Money on Airbnb

Booking an Airbnb stay is the best money-saving technique and best value for your money. I have never gone an international travel without staying a night at an Airbnb. As Airbnb allows me to save more than hotels because they are always going to be cheaper if you’re paying cash out of pocket. Here are my 5 tips and tricks on how to save money on your next Airbnb stay.


1. Redeem Your AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Airbnb Gift Cards.

How To Save Money 1

Redeem 10,000 or 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards for $100 or $250 Airbnb Gift Cards

This wouldn’t be a website about points if I didn’t at least show you one technique on how you can save money by using your points.

You can redeem $100 Airbnb Gift Cards for 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points or $250 Airbnb Gift Cards for 25,000 AMEX Membership Reward Points. With this redemption, you are earning 1 cent per point. I value AMEX MR points more than 1 cent so I would not necessarily burn all my points in order to jump on this redemption. However, I would suggest to utilize this redemption when a traveler has an abundance of AMEX MR points, staying in a location that does not have a chain hotel, or does not have a future redemption in mind with their points.

Location is key because there are some locations where there aren’t any chain hotels. That destination may only have local hotels and usually these local hotels cost a fortune for a nights stay. Thus, redeeming AMEX MR points for an Airbnb Gift Card is a great value.


2. Search for listings with few reviews or no reviews. 

A lot of Airbnb listings in Petra

A lot of Airbnb listings in Petra with few or no reviews

Airbnb is everywhere. For an example, Petra, Jordan is a popular destination to visit the ancient rock-cut city deep in the valley. No chain hotels are located here and your only choices are local hotels or Airbnb.

While some of the listings show they are new or have very few listings. Don’t be afraid to inquire them. Since these are new hosts into the market you have what the business world call “bargaining power”. You can negotiate with the host to bring down their prices and in return you will write an honest review. Most hosts are looking to build up a portfolio so to them more reviews = more sales. Depending on the host, a majority of the time you can make them budge on price.


3. Don’t be afraid to negotiate & counteroffer.


You can directly contact hosts before booking

The going rate on Airbnb is not set in stone. The prices on there is set by the host. So if you go to the bottom of a listing and click on “Contact Host”. This allows you to message the prospective host and ask any questions in regards to the listing you may have. In addition, this opens up the opportunity to negotiate.

I come from a business perspective. So when I negotiate, I like to look at myself in a host’s point of view and try to bargain with a win/win mentality. Two major ways in which I negotiate:

  • Long term – If I’m staying longer than 7 nights I will try to negotiate for a 1 night discount stay.
  • Short term – If I need a place to stay within the upcoming week. Then I’ll find a host that has availability on the days I intend to stay and offer them a 50% discount of the going rate if no one reserves their listing a day before my stay.

Both of these offers come with a win/win mentality. The host gets more money for the longer stay and they generated half of their potential revenue for no bookings reserved. As for the guest they essentially save money on Airbnb stays.


4. Book in advance.

If you’re like me, I like to plan things in advance. Sometimes even a year out in advance. The benefits of planning ahead is that you get spectacular deals and great availability. Take the following listing for an example.

Here’s an example booking for an Airbnb listing in Phuket. I inquired a booking over Thanksgiving in 2015 vs. 2016 with the same amount of guest, nights stayed, and location.

Airbnb booking over Thanksgiving 2015 for $548

Airbnb booking over Thanksgiving 2015 for $548

Airbnb Listing requst for Thanksgiving 2016

Airbnb booking over Thanksgiving 2016 for $329

As you can clearly see staying in 2015 and 2016 will total out to $548 and $329, respectively. That is a $219 difference in price when planning a month versus over a year in advance. The reason for this is that hosts do not update their prices that far in advance so their calendars are showing bare minimum rates before their adjustments. If they confirm your booking then they have to honor that price.


5. Search the host outside of Airbnb. 

Search for the hosts outside of Airbnb to avoid the fees that Airbnb charges if you decide to book with them. This one requires you to do a little more research on the listing you want to book. Some hosts treat their properties as vacation rentals. So they list their properties on multiple vacation rental websites like VRBO, Homeaway, etc. Some hosts sometimes mentions their company name or property name in the description. Subtle hints that can identify that this property is deemed a vacation rental. I took the following Airbnb property called “The naked house” that had a $96 service fee charge for 4 nights over Thanksgiving.


An unusual Airbnb title listing with a $96 service fee

The naming convention of the property title is kind of unusual. So I decided to type “The naked house” in google and out popped out the following results.


Search results trying to find “the naked house”

As you can see multiple links showing different website of the same vacation rental showed up. This is just one technique in finding out if a house is on another website.

Now I went to the first link that linked us to Welcome Beyond website and within that website I found the prices for the same vacation rental. This website was quoting me the same $250 a night but in clear terms mentions “there are no fees to book”.


Welcome Beyond website of the same Airbnb listing

Essentially, you’re saving an extra $96 in your pocket by simply searching for whether a host puts their vacation rental outside of Airbnb and booking through there.


Bonus: Claim up to $40 off your first Airbnb stay. (Updated as of 2/13/2017)

If you sign up for Airbnb with my referral link. You will save $40 off your first stay and I’ll save $40 off my next stay as well. This is only valid for first time users who have never signed up with Airbnb. Nonetheless, it’s a great offer as it’ll automatically get you $40 off your first stay.

Bottom Line:

You can save money on Airbnb by utilizing one of these 5 simple traveling tips.

Where are some of your traveling tips and tricks on saving money on Airbnb? Please leave a comment below. 


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Jon Jovi

Jon Jovi Olaveja is the founder and editor in chief of Points of Early Retirement. He is passionate about saving money by traveling the world on points and teaching others how to accomplish this. He loves to write about travel and personal finance.

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