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Airbnb has opened up the world of travel like never before, because you can stay where the locals live instead of just where tourists go.
It’s cheap, it’s everywhere, and it’s not a hotel stay. But what are the best Airbnb hacks if you want to save money? We’ve got you covered there!
1. Get $55 off your first Airbnb stay.
When you book for the first time, you’ll get a coupon for $40 off. Then you can get an additional $15 off the first “experience” you book when you sign up for Airbnb.
This works if you sign yourself up or if you receive a referral link from a friend. Either way, you’ll get $55 off your first time using Airbnb.
2. Consider booking an Airbnb “experience” if you’re looking for total immersion.
Speaking of which, “experiences” are hosted by locals in every area and can be a great way to learn and enjoy the culture of the area you’re staying in even more.
Unlike classes at a university or community center, which are taught by experts and professors, experiences are led by Airbnb hosts.
For example, you might take a Chinese cooking class in China from an Airbnb host, or take a walking tour or a history lesson from a local.
3. Sign up for Giving Assistant and get 10% cash back.
Giving Assistant is a cash-back website like RetailMeNot, but instead of making a profit, Giving Assistant donates their earnings to charity. You’ll still get cash back on your purchase, but any commission Giving Assistant would make goes to charity.
Initiate your Airbnb purchase through Giving Assistant, and you’ll get an additional 10% off your booking on top of other Airbnb discounts and coupons!
4. Only book with Super Hosts.
Super Hosts receive this distinction because they offer a superior experience over regular hosts.
Plus, they are held to higher standards by Airbnb and can lose their status or get it suspended for lots of reasons. For example, Super Hosts cannot cancel a booking on a guest or they will lose their status for at least a full year.
5. Memorize the cancellation policy so you know what you’re getting into.
You don’t want to get caught assuming you’ll have up until the last 48 hours before your stay to cancel. If you want the ability to cancel last minute (within one day), go for a Flexible policy.
Here are various cancellation policies:
- Flexible: Full refund up to one day prior to arrival
- Moderate: Full refund up to five days prior to arrival
- Strict: 50% refund up to one week prior to arrival
- Super Strict 30 Days: 50% refund up until 30 days prior to arrival
- Super Strict 60 Days: 50% refund up until 60 days prior to arrival
- Long Term (28+ day reservations): First month is non-refundable and there’s a 30-day notice required for cancellation
6. Refer a friend and get $20 off your next booking.
When you refer a friend and they book a stay through Airbnb, you’ll get $30 in travel credit.
You can do this as many times as you want. It’s a great way to get free stays because you can stack your referral credits and spend them on one stay, making it free if you have enough!
TIP: Refer a host and you’ll get a $100 credit!
7. If you’re a first-time guest using Airbnb, fill out your profile and include a picture.
Airbnb has a mutual rating system similar to Uber — you can rate hosts and they can rate you.
Many hosts use your guest rating to decide whether or not to accept your booking, but if you’re a first-time guest, you won’t have a rating yet, making booking more difficult in some cases.
You can boost your chances of landing a good booking by adding a profile picture and giving as much detail as you can in your profile so hosts feel comfortable with you — they know you’re a real person and generally what you’re like.
8. Find out if breakfast and snacks are included in your booking.
It’s true — many hosts stock their place with enough food for breakfast and snacks during the day, saving you the cost of at least one meal a day.
9. Ask for a discount.
This is a controversial topic especially among hosts who sometimes feel put off by people asking for a discount.
So if you go this route, your mileage may vary and you’ll need to have a backup plan in case a host says no. On the other hand, experienced Airbnb’ers ask for discounts all the time and it’s particularly successful with overseas (non-U.S.) bookings.
Send the host a message to pitch a discounted price — for example, if the place is $150 per night, say something like “if you were to offer me three nights for $120 per night, I’d book it right now.” They may respond by sending you a “Special Offer” with the discounted rate.
TIP: Try this with last-minute bookings to increase your chances of success.
10. Ask for an off-season price.
Airbnb hosts change their pricing based on the time of year.
This will take time and tweaking, but if you find a property you like, check the prices for a stay during the high season to a stay during the low season.
If the property isn’t booked and it’s during high season, message the host and politely ask for the low season price.
This is another take on asking for a discount, but when you’re armed with the real amounts they charge in the low season, you may have more luck.
11. Contact Airbnb directly if you’re having any issues with a host.
Hey, it happens. Hopefully it won’t happen because you’re staying with a Super Host, but if it does, reach out to Airbnb. They’ve been known to give full refunds — even thank you gifts!
12. Book a longer stay in order to get 10% off.
Many hosts offer a 10% weekly (7 nights) and a 10% monthly (28 nights) discount.
Check the listing to see if this is an option, and adjust your plans accordingly. For example, if the discount makes it cheaper overall to stay 7 nights instead of 6, do it.
13. Use Instant Booking if you’re an Airbnb regular, but contact the host if you’re a first-timer.
You might prefer to always reach out to the host before you book. But you don’t have to if this isn’t your first Airbnb rodeo.
Use the Instant Booking feature to see what dates are available and book directly online.
If you’re a newbie, I recommend you do reach out to the host. A conversation with the host will help put them at ease about renting to you since you don’t have an Airbnb rental history.
14. Google the property you’re interested in to see if you can get it cheaper.
Sometimes Airbnb hosts list the property on a personal website, and you may be able to book directly through that website.
You’ll avoid all Airbnb fees this way.
15. Just want to rent a room? Airbnb’s got your back — VRBO only rents entire homes.
There are quite a few differences between Airbnb and VRBO, but the main one is that with Airbnb you can rent a room in a home.
VRBO only rents out entire units — apartments, homes, condos, etc.
16. Rent a place with a kitchen to save money on food costs.
Something to keep in mind as you are looking for a place to stay.
If it has a kitchen — especially in a metro area where there’s a market nearby — consider living like a local and walking to the market to get your groceries. You’ll save on dining expenses!