Paradoxically, traveling quickly makes you part of a community and what better way to become part of it than by renting your home out on a site like Airbnb? Moreover, who doesn’t need a little bit of cash to fund that next trip?

In my case, I just got back from Switzerland when I suddenly got a hankering to go on a month-long Himalayan expedition. Since I was just traveling, my funds are pretty low, and I don’t have any sponsors for this trip. This time, I’m on my own.

So, what’s a traveler to do? Something that’s really helped in the past is having one of my properties listed on Airbnb, so now I’m considering listing another property. The question is, is Airbnb the best place to do that?

You might not be aware of this, but there are two other sites out there that can compete with Airbnb: HomeAway and VRBO. These are sites that give comprehensive listings of rooms, flats, and houses to rent in various places around the world. I’ve purposefully excluded couch-surfing from the conceptualization here since that is a whole different concept.

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The difference between Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO:

This question was first brought to my attention by a friend from Poland, who was struggling with the same decision between Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. The original poster asked specifically about the site’s policies on reviews, but here we’ll focus more on how to use the sites and which might be better for your needs on the whole.

First off, let’s all agree that Airbnb is awesome. They’ve got great inventory, from cheap mattresses to entire islands. As of 2015, Airbnb has more than 1,000,000 listings in 34,000 plus cities spanning 190 countries. The listings are divided into three categories: shared rooms, private rooms, and entire homes or apartments. The website accommodates instant bookings as well as long-term stays.

But there are a couple of things to consider when deciding, so here is my comprehensive comparison between top vacation rental options.

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What Does It Cost to join Airbnb?

Joining Airbnb is free, but it charges hosts 3% of the price once a booking is completed. The total cost to hosts is calculated from the reservation subtotal, including cleaning fees. Cleaning fees are determined by hosts, and sometimes they choose not to charge this fee. Airbnb handles the transaction between guest and host.

a list of prices when using airbnbGuests cannot make a reservation without paying in full for their accommodation on Airbnb’s secure platform. In return, hosts do not receive the payment until 24 hours after guests check-in. This system ensures that both parties’ expectations are met and that they are protected under Airbnb’s Terms of Service, cancellation policies and Guest Refund Policy.

How Much Do AirBnb and VRBO Charge to Book a Vacation ?

Airbnb sucks in this point. It charges a guest service fee ranging from 6 to 12%. The fee percentage shrinks as a reservation amount increases. VAT might be charged for users from the European Union as well.

VRBO, on the other hand, does not charge guest fees. This is one of the distinct advantages of booking a VRBO property. Regardless, it is important to do all of your research before booking your accommodation due to the VRBO refund policy.

Refund Policies


list of terms when asking for refund in airbnb

Airbnb has a four-tier system for refunds: flexible, moderate, strict and super strict. The policy can be found on each listing’s “Pricing” section under “Cancellation.” If a guest does not check in, cleaning fees are always refunded.


the refund and cancellation policy of vrbo

Above you can see VRBO’s cancellation system. Every VRBO property has an individual refund or cancellation policy. It’s extremely important to notify a host of any cancellation plans as soon as possible.

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How Good are Airbnb and VRBO’s Customer Services?

Both have amazing customer services.

What is the Difference Between HomeAway and VRBO?

Let’s talk about HomeAway and VRBO now. Both VRBO and HomeAway are great services. There is not much in terms of truly substantive differences. If a poll were taken of the users of each, I’m sure high ratings would be given to each site. My less positive, personal experience had a lot to do with managing two properties on each site at the same time. Predictably, a few customers would respond with negative feedback about either property because they were listed at the same time.

These are the sites’ own explanations of why they’re the best:

Home Away logo

  • Top ranking on industry-leading search engines, such as Google
  • 24 FREE photos as part of your subscription
  • Expert tips and advice for renting your property
  • Broad-reach advertising programs and public relations programs to promote our site to millions of travelers, including our 2011 Super Bowl advertisement
  • Additional protection options for your vacation rental
  • Advanced searchability to allow travelers to quickly find the property they are looking for
  • Customer service over the phone, online, and via email
  • Established in 2006

Vrbo logo


  • More than 95 million travelers visit VRBO each year
  • Over 160,000 listings worldwide – the largest vacation rental-by-owner site on the Internet
  • Each month, travelers can find VRBO through more than 600,000 keyword searches on major search engines
  • Ranks high in Google and Yahoo search results
  • Customer Service over the phone, online, and via email
  • Established in 1995 – over 20 years helping members successfully advertise vacation rentals online
  • Founded and run by Vacation Rental Owner