Vrbo vs Airbnb

The time for a vacation has come, and you still haven’t chosen the ideal destination or have an idea of how and where to start looking?

No need to panic — we’re here to give you some ideas.

Welcome to the world of Airbnb and Vrbo — two American online marketplaces for listing and finding lodging.

By using Airbnb or Vrbo, you can book a place to stay or rent your own home or other property. But how do these platforms work? What are their pros and cons? How similar or different are they?

These are just some questions our article will discuss.

Stay tuned to find out more.

Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Side-by-Side Comparison

Check out the key features of both platforms:

Vrbo Airbnb
Founded in 1995 2007
Available in 190 countries 220 countries and regions
Number of listings Over two million Around six million
Types of properties Entire spaces Shared and entire spaces
Fees 5% commission fee

3% processing fee

Split-fee: hosts pay 3%, and guests pay up to 14.2%

Host-only fee: hosts pay between 14% and 16%

Cancellation policies Varies from property to property; several options to choose from
Book with Confidence Guarantee for guestsLiability insurance coverage for hosts (covers up to $1 million in damage)
Varies from property to property; several options to choose from
AirCover for guestsAirCover for hosts (covers up to $1 million in damage)
Insurance Book with Confidence Guarantee for guests

Liability insurance coverage for hosts (covers up to $1 million in damage)


AirCover for guests

AirCover for hosts (covers up to $1 million in damage)

Reviews One-year timeframe for a review to be written 14 days time frame for a review to be written
Unique features Trip Board Experiences

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: General Facts

When were the platforms created? How popular are they? Let’s find out.


The story of the Airbnb creation is a very interesting one. In 2007, two roommates needed money to pay the rent for their San Francisco apartment. When a conference happening in the city left virtually all hotels fully booked, they decided to offer lodging to three guests who had trouble finding a room and charged them $80 each.

Soon after, they found a partner and created the company we know as Airbnb by the name of AirBed & Breakfast. From an unexpected side gig idea that included offering airbeds and breakfast to guests, the company has grown into one of the largest online marketplaces where hosts and guests connect.

Since then, the platform has become one of the most popular places for offering and finding lodging. By now, hosts have made a total of $150 billion.

Currently, Airbnb has more than one billion guests and over four million hosts. There are over 100,000 cities in virtually all countries around the world that have Airbnb listings.


Vacation Rentals By Owners, or Vrbo for short, was founded in 1995. Originally, the website was a man’s attempt to rent out his condo. However, it over time grew into a way for homeowners to rent out their properties short term.

Currently, Vrbo is part of the Expedia Group, Inc. along with many other vacation rental companies such as Hotels.com, CheapTickets, and more. The company has more than two million listings ready to be booked in 190 countries around the world.

Types of Properties

Airbnb is quite a new rental company compared to Vrbo. And yet, it has three times more active listings than Vrbo.

But is there any difference between Vrbo and Airbnb when it comes to the types of properties listed by hosts? Let’s see.

Airbnb offers both — entire and shared places. So, if you don’t mind sharing a space with your friends or are on a low budget, you can always opt for staying in a shared place. However, if money isn’t a problem or you just want a place all to yourself, you can always book an entire property just for you.

Now, what kind of properties does Airbnb offer? Let’s take a look:

  • Apartments
  • Houses
  • Unique spaces (creative spaces such as treehouses, yurts, farms)
  • Boutique hotels
  • Bed and breakfast

Unlike Airbnb, Vrbo doesn’t offer shared spaces but only entire properties. Some of them are:

  • Houses
  • Apartments
  • Cabins
  • Condos
  • Castles
  • Barnes

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Fees

The process of creating an account with Vrbo or Airbnb is easy and simple. Visit their official websites and find the option of becoming a host or guest for free.

However, although hosts can register for free, there is a fee they have to pay if someone makes a booking of their listing — a service fee.

This fee is actually the most common way for these platforms to make money. In fact, the majority of Airbnb’s revenue comes precisely from the service fee it charges on all bookings.

Airbnb and Vrbo charge this fee to ensure the platforms run smoothly and can be used by both guests and customers without any problems.

Now, let’s compare Airbnb and Vrbo’s fees and see what kind of fees guests and hosts can expect when using these two platforms.


Airbnb has two fee structures — a split-fee and a host-only fee.


The split-fee includes a split of cost between a host and a guest.

Most hosts pay a 3% fee of the total booking price. However, Airbnb Plus hosts as well as those that have strict cancellation policies or listings in Italy pay more.

Guests pay a maximum fee of 14.2% of the total booking price — the exact amount depends on several factors. They can see the total fee amount before paying. This is when Airbnb will inform them of the subtotal booking price formed based on:

  • The nightly rate
  • Cleaning fee
  • Split-fee
  • Taxes
  • Any additional fees (if applicable)
Host-only fee

As the name says, this is a fee that only Airbnb hosts incur. The platform charges hosts around 14%–16% of what they earn from a booking. However, Airbnb Plus hosts and those that have strict cancellation policies will usually pay even more.

This fee is obligatory for traditional hotels that have Airbnb listings and for software-connected hosts whose listings aren’t in the US, Canada, the Bahamas, Mexico, Argentina, Taiwan, and Uruguay.


Vrbo has a pay-per-booking structure payment for hosts and a service fee for guests.

Pay-per-booking fee

This structure includes a commission and a processing fee:

  • The commission fee is 5% of the rental amount (which may include additional fees, such as cleaning or pet fees).
  • The processing fee is 3% of the total amount guests pay to hosts per booking (including taxes and refundable damage deposits).
Service fee

This fee is calculated as a percentage of the total booking price. It doesn’t include the taxes and refundable damage deposits that guests pay.

The fee amount usually depends on the booking price. If the total amount is higher, the fee will be lower, and vice versa.

Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Cancellation Policy

No matter how happy you are about the holiday or vacation that you’ve booked, you may need to cancel your reservation due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., illness, stolen travel documents, canceled flights, and more).

That is why before making a reservation on one of these platforms, each guest should get informed about a host’s cancellation policy.

Read on to find out what cancellation policies you can expect to find on Airbnb and Vrbo.


Take a look at the cancellation policies that Airbnb offers:


A guest can request a full refund if they cancel their reservation 24 hours before check-in. However, if they cancel it after the check-in, they won’t get a refund, and the host will charge them for one more night.


If a guest cancels five days before check-in, they will get a full refund. However, if they request a refund after this period, they won’t get it. In fact, the host will keep the full amount and charge the guest for one more night + 50% for all unspent nights.


A guest can receive a full refund if they cancel the reservation 30 days before check-in, or a 50% refund if they cancel it 7–30 days before check-in. Any cancellations after that make it impossible to receive a refund.

Note: If a guest cancels a reservation within 48 hours after making it but 14 days before check-in, they are eligible for a full refund.


Guests who cancel a reservation within 48 hours of making it but 14 days before check-in will get a full refund. For cancellations made 7–14 days before check-in, they will only get 50% of the refund, while the host will keep the remaining 50% (or the whole amount if guests cancel after check-in).

Strict long-term

The policy refers to long-term stays — more than 28 days:

  • If a guest cancels a reservation within 48 hours of making it but 28 days before check-in, they are entitled to a full refund.
  • If a guest cancels after check-in, they won’t receive a refund and will have to pay for 30 additional nights.
  • If there are fewer than 30 days left on the reservation after the guest cancels, they will have to pay for the remaining nights in full.
Flexible long-term

This policy is also refers to long-term stays and includes the following conditions:

  • If a guest cancels more than 30 days before check-in, they will get a full refund.
  • If a guest cancels after the check-in date, they aren’t entitled to a refund and will have to pay 100% of the nights they spent there and 30 additional nights.
  • If there are fewer than 30 days left on the reservation after the guest cancels, they will have to pay for the remaining nights in full.

Note: A full refund refers only to the nightly prices.


Here are the cancellation options that Vrbo hosts include in their listings:

  • No refund policy at all
  • Strict policy – a guest gets 100% refund if they cancel more than 60 days before the check-in.
  • Firm policy – if a guest cancels a reservation more than 60 days before check, they are entitled to a full refund. If they make a cancellation 30 days before check-in, they will receive a 50% refund.
  • Moderate policy – a guest will get a 100% refund if they cancel more than 30 days before check-in or a 50% refund if they cancel more than 14 days before check-in.
  • Relaxed policy – if a guest cancels a booking at least 14 days before check-in, they will receive a full refund. However, if they cancel it at least seven days before check-in, they will only receive a 50% refund.
  • Custom policy – this option allows hosts to create their own cancellation policy, the terms of which could differ from the ones mentioned above.

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Insurance

How do Airbnb and Vrbo protect their users? Let’s see what insurance options are available for hosts and guests on these two platforms.

1. Airbnb’s insurance for guests

Although most commonly hosts and guests resolve any issues that arise between themselves, sometimes that’s not the case. This is why Airbnb offers AirCover for guests — protection for guests at Airbnb’s expense. Let’s see what that includes:

  • Booking protection guarantee – if a host needs to cancel a guest’s booking within 30 days of the check-in, Airbnb will try to find them similar lodging or give them a refund.
  • Check-in guarantee – if a guest is somehow prevented from checking in to the place they’ve booked and this matter can’t be resolved by the host, Airbnb will find them a new place similar to the one originally booked or give them a refund. The same is true if someone’s already occupying a place you’ve booked and paid for via Airbnb.
  • Get-what-you-booked guarantee – if after check-in a guest notices the place they booked isn’t in the same condition as advertised or isn’t clean or habitable, they can request Airbnb find them similar lodging or give them a refund within three days.
  • 24-hour safety line – if guests don’t feel safe during their stay at the booked property, Airbnb will assign them to agents trained for such situations.

There is another form of coverage Airbnb offers to guests — travel insurance. However, unlike AirCover for guests, this type of insurance isn’t free — guests can buy it during the booking process.

So, when a guest buys Airbnb travel insurance, the platform can give them up to 100% refund if they cancel their trips due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g., bad weather, stolen documents, illness, and more). For example, if a guest cancels their trip and the host gives him a 30% refund, the travel insurance would cover the remaining 70%.

Note: Airbnb guest travel insurance is currently available in only ten countries.

2. Airbnb’s insurance for hosts

Airbnb also offers AirCover for hosts — coverage up to $1 million. This package includes:

  • Host damage protection
  • Host liability insurance
  • Experiences liability insurance

Now, let’s see what they cover.

We’ll start with the Host damage protection. This one covers the following damages:

  • Damages to a host’s place – if a guest damages a host’s property or their belongings, Airbnb will reimburse the host for the damage made.
  • Additional cleaning costs – due to a guest’s bad behavior, if the property needs more cleaning than usual, Airbnb will cover the costs of cleaning it.
  • Lost income – if a host needs to cancel an already confirmed booking due to damages made by a previous guest, Airbnb will pay them the amount they stood to earn with that booking.

As for the Host liability insurance, it covers:

  • Bodily injury to a guest, co-host, or cleaner – if something happens to some of the mentioned people while they are at a host’s property, Airbnb will cover all the costs.
  • Stolen belongings to a guest – if a guest’s belongings get stolen while they are staying at the host’s house, Airbnb will cover all the costs.
  • Damage made by the guest outside the host’s property — if a guest accidentally damages a common area of the property where they are staying, Airbnb will pay for the damage to get repaired.

The last one from the AirCover package is Experiences liability insurance. This insurance covers:

  • The damage or theft of a guest’s belongings during their Airbnb Experience.
  • Cases of bodily injury to guests during their Airbnb Experience.

3. Vrbo’s insurance for guests

How does Vrbo protect its guests? When a user books a trip through the Vrbo platform, they automatically qualify for Vrbo’s Book with confidence guarantee.

With this guarantee, guests get assistance with matters such as:

  • Property access – when a guest arrives at the booked property and cannot access it for check-in, Vrbo offers emergency assistance (only if the host is unreachable).
  • Payment protection – when a guest pays for the booked trip through Vrbo, the platform secures the payment from any kind of fraud
  • Owner cancellation – if a host cancels a guest’s booked stay within 30 days after check-in, Vrbo will find a similar place for them to stay.
  • Property description – if during check-in a guest finds that the property they booked needs repair or is not the same as the one listed on the platform, Vrbo will help them make a new reservation.

4. Vrbo’s insurance for hosts

Vrbo’s hosts are eligible for Vrbo’s with $1 Million Liability Insurance completely free of charge. Let’s see what this insurance covers:

  • Bodily injury to a guest – if a guest gets accidentally injured while staying in a host’s property and a claim is made against the host, this insurance will cover all the costs.
  • Damage made by the guest outside the host’s property — if a guest accidentally damages a property neighboring the host’s and the host gets sued for that, this insurance will cover all the costs.

We should note that this insurance doesn’t cover any damage to a host’s property made by a guest.

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Reviews

The reviews guests can leave after their stay at a property they’ve rented via Airbnb or Vrbo are of great importance for both guests and hosts.

For example, when looking for a property to book, some guests will have trouble picking one. Therefore, many of them will look for help in user reviews, where they would get more details about experiences other guests had with a particular property or host.

Meanwhile, hosts can greatly benefit from enabling user reviews. If these are mostly positive, this could influence other guests to book their property too.

Moreover, the reviews given by hosts on their guests are equally important — these will allow other hosts to get an idea of who will be occupying their property.

So, now that we established how important reviews are, let’s compare Airbnb and Vrbo and their policies for reviews for stays.

Airbnb reviews

When it comes to Airbnb reviews, owners and renters have a 14-day period to review each other. During this time, either side can edit their review until the other side submits theirs.

Reviews are usually posted if both sides have completed them or when the 14-day period expires.

Aside from giving public reviews, hosts and guests can also leave private feedback and share it just with their host/guest.

Vrbo reviews

As for Vrbo reviews, both a guest and a host have one year to review one another. After one of them provides a review, the other one has 14 days to respond. When the review is complete, or the 14 days have passed, the review goes live on the website and can’t be edited anymore.

Unique Features

Although these two platforms have many similarities, there is one crucial difference between Airbnb and Vrbo — their unique features.

So, what are the special things that Vrbo or Airbnb offer for owners and renters?

Get ready to learn about Airbnb Experiences and Vrbo Trip Board.

Airbnb Experiences

This feature is available for both guests and hosts. If a guest wants to partake in a fun, creative or educational activity while on a trip, they can purchase an ‘experience’ through the Airbnb platform.

These activities are provided by Airbnb Experiences hosts. However, the hosts in question needn’t necessarily be property hosts.

In fact, anyone can offer ‘experience’ services via Airbnb and get paid for it. Each person who feels that they have some entertaining skills to offer to other people can sign-up as an Experience Airbnb person. Some of the hundreds of skills and activities offered on Airbnb by people all around the world are:

  • Cooking traditional meals
  • Sports activities
  • Showing different ancient cultures
  • Nature activities
  • Parties with different music genres

Vrbo Trip Board

Vrbo’s Trip Board option is essentially a tool people can use to plan their individual and group trips. With it, they can browse through a great number of properties and save them to later make comparisons between the ones they picked as favorites.

Individuals can invite their families and friends to the trip board they made so they could choose the ideal property together. All participants can comment, chat, vote, or share their opinions on the properties.

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Which Is Better for Owners?

So, listing on Airbnb vs. Vrbo — what is more beneficial for owners? Let’s see.


When it comes to host insurance, both platforms offer $1 million coverage in damages for free.

So, no matter the platform they choose, a will be covered if a guest or a third party makes a claim against them. Of course, this only refers to claims for the amount of up to one million dollars.

However, there is one crucial difference between Vrbo and Airbnb in this respect — unlike Airbnb, Vrbo doesn’t offer coverage for hosts whose property was accidentally damaged by a guest.

Payment methods

Let’s see how Vrbo and Airbnb hosts can receive payments.


Vrbo has two payment options for hosts:

  • Via Stripe – if a host chooses this payment method, Stripe will automatically process and collect the payments guests make while making a reservation. For that to happen, guests will have to provide their banking information during the reservation process.
  • As an invoice payment – if hosts decide on this option, their listings will state which payment methods guests can use to pay for their reservations (cash, checks, credit cards, and debit cards). Once a guest makes a reservation, the host will have to contact them to arrange the payment and process it outside of the Vrbo platform.

Note: Should they decide on that, Vrbo hosts can choose to offer both payment options to guests.


Now, what about Airbnb? The platform offers the following payment methods:

  • Bank transfers
  • PayPal
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Western Union
  • Google and Apple pay

Airbnb hosts can’t receive payments outside the platform. Should they do so, they risk getting banned from the platform due to violating its terms and conditions — Airbnb has a strict on-platform payment policy.

So, if you aren’t sure which platform to choose for listing a property, just think about what you’d prefer in terms of payment methods: to offer guests more options, or to allow them to pay you off-site?

Airbnb vs. Vrbo: Which Is Better for Renters?

For all the renters who aren’t sure which platform to pick, we’ve prepared the most important pros and cons that can help make the choice easier.

Property types

As previously mentioned, Airbnb allows renters to stay in shared properties as well as to rent an entire one. Meanwhile, Vrbo only offers the latter option.

So in this respect, Airbnb is the clear winner, as it has an advantage over Vrbo. Airbnb offers more options to guests with lower and higher financial situations.

Making reservations

Creating an account as a guest is free on both platforms. On top of that, both platforms offer guests two reservation options: regular/online and instant booking.

Those guests who choose the former can send a reservation request to a host and wait for them to accept or decline it within 24 hours. If they want everything to be done more quickly, they can choose the instant booking option and have the reservation confirmed right away.

So, at least when it comes to the process of making reservations, both platforms offer the same options.

Payment methods

If you are a renter, let’s see how you can pay for reservations made via Airbnb and Vrbo.


Airbnb supports online payments through PayPal, Google and Apple Pay. In addition, the platform supports payments with debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, and more).

Airbnb doesn’t permit off-site payments (e.g., cash, checks, etc.). Therefore, renters aren’t allowed to make payments outside the platform, as this is seen as violating Airbnb’s terms and conditions.


As for Vrbo, the platform also supports payments with debit and credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express).

Moreover, Vrbo also allows guests to make payments outside the platform with cash, checks and via MoneyGram and Western Union. However, such payments can’t be secured and protected by Vrbo.

So, bottom line — if you, as a renter, prefer cash payments, be careful which platform you use for booking. Airbnb has a strict ‘on-platform payments only’ policy.

Wrap Up

Whether you’re a guest or a host, Airbnb and Vrbo offer great options for both. So, how to know which one is a better choice?

It all depends on your role and what you’re looking for. As a host, some factors you have to consider are the types of properties you can list, the insurance the platform offers, and payment methods allowed on the platform.

At least when it comes to these factors, Airbnb offers more for hosts. However, Vrbo also has many advantages. For example, Vrbo hosts can receive off-platform payments.

As for making the Vrbo vs. Airbnb choice as a guest, the most important question is — which platform offers more? The obvious answer would be — Airbnb. Due to having a higher number of listings, Airbnb provides renters with more lodging options.

However, Vrbo has its advantages as well. For example, you can make payments off-site and use the platform to plan your trips.

Bottom line is — both platforms have great options to offer to both owners and renters. All in all, making a choice between the two is essentially a matter of personal preferences and needs.

Related reads:

Is Airbnb Profitable?


Which is better, Airbnb or Vrbo?

Both are among the best vacation rental platforms. However, having a greater number of listings, Airbnb might be a better choice for people who want to have more options. Meanwhile, because of its Trip Board option, Vrbo might be more suitable for individuals who want a more personalized approach to planning trips.

What's the difference between Vrbo and Airbnb?

Both platforms provide the same services. However, they differ in some aspects. For example, Airbnb allows renters to book both shared and entire properties, while Vrbo only allows the latter. Moreover, they differ in the number of listed properties and countries where the platforms are available. Airbnb has around six million listings and is available in 220 countries and regions, while Vrbo has over two million listings and can be used in 190 countries.

What does Vrbo stand for?

Vrbo stands for ‘Vacation Rentals By Owner’. It is an online vacation rental marketplace that has been around since 1995.

Which is a better investment, Airbnb or Vrbo?

Listing a property on either of the platforms can be a good way to make money. However, Airbnb might be a better choice for people who only want to rent out a room or a part of a shared property. Meanwhile, hosts who want to allow off-site payments might prefer using Vrbo, since Airbnb only allows on-platform payments.


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Maybe you dreamed of being a doctor, a singer, or an athlete. Well, believe it or not, my answer was always loud and clear: “I want to be an economist!” So, here I am, not a typical office worker with a pile of documents to sort or a lot of complex data to analyze, but a financial content writer exploring all things money-related. And, I must say, I really enjoy sharing my financial and economic knowledge with all of you.

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