Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb: What’s The Difference?

Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb: What’s The Difference?

Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb: What’s The Difference?

With the easing of travel restrictions, it’s the perfect time to plan for your much-awaited vacation to your favorite destinations. Part of travel planning is choosing your accommodation. Nowadays, travelers prefer booking on vacation rental platforms. Airbnb and VRBO are the most popular rental hosting platforms for travelers. Whether it’s a serviced one-bedroom apartment with a fireplace in New York or a vacation rental in stunning Goodyear, Arizona; travelers prefer vacation rentals as it offers a cheaper, unique, and flexible travel experience. In our Airbnb 101 topic, we help you choose which platform is the best for booking your travel accommodations. Let’s discuss the important things you should know about booking on VRBO vs Airbnb: What’s the difference? 

The Difference Between Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb

What’s the difference between an Airbnb or a VRBO? Though both provide rental accommodations, there are some differences between VRBO and Airbnb. Knowing the differences between the two helps you choose which rental hosting platform meets your accommodation needs and preferences. 

Type of Property

The number one difference between VRBO and Airbnb is the type of rental properties listed on their platforms. 


Airbnb booking offers more variety as it has a wide range of properties listed on its site. Airbnb provides different accommodation types to meet the diverse needs of travelers. As of December 2021, Airbnb has over 6 million active listings on its platform. Its active listings vary from shared spaces to private rooms and entire properties. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly listing, then Airbnb is where you can find unique and affordable spaces and rooms.


VRBO booking does not allow shared spaces. It only allows the listing of private and entire properties. VRBO offers more traditional accommodations like villas, houses, and mansions. VRBO is best for large groups, families with children, and people who prefer spacious and private spaces.

Cancellation Policy

In case of unexpected cancellations, Airbnb and VRBO follow different cancellation policies. Both rental hosting sites allow hosts to choose their preferred cancellation policy. When booking on VRBO vs Airbnb, it is important to know which rental hosting site offers the cancellation policy you think you can work around in case something comes up and you need to cancel your trip. Guests must double-check the listing’s cancellation policy before booking.

Airbnb Cancellation Policies

  • Flexible

This policy provides the most leverage to guests as it provides a full refund to bookings canceled not less than 24 hours before check-in. 

  • Moderate

With this type of policy, you can cancel your booking no less than 5 days before the check-in to get a full refund. 

  • Firm

For a full refund, guests must cancel 30 days before the check-in date. 

  • Strict 

The strict policy only provides a full refund if you cancel a booking made less than 48 hours and the check-in date is over 14 days. Bookings canceled within 7-14 days before check-in will receive a 50% refund. Bookings canceled less than 7 days before the check-in date is non-refundable.

  • Super Strict

The super strict has 2 types of policy:

  • Super strict 30 days

This policy provides a 50% refund if you cancel your booking no less than 30 days before check-in.

  • Super strict 60 days

Guests are eligible for a 50% refund if they cancel their bookings not less than 60 days before check-in.

  • Long-term

Booked stays with 28 straight nights or longer are under the long-term cancellation policy. Guests must cancel the reservation booked within 48 hours and at least 28 days before the check-in date to get a full refund. If guests cancel later than that date, guests must pay for all the nights spent and an additional 30 nights from the cancellation date. If a reservation has less than 30 nights remaining, all the remaining nights are non-refundable.

  • Non-refundable

Some hosts offer discounted listings but with a non-refundable policy.

VRBO Cancellation Policies

  • No refund

Some listings do not offer refunds after cancellation. That’s why it is important to verify the listing’s cancellation policy before booking.

  • 60-day

Bookings canceled not less than 60 days before check-in will receive a full refund. 

  • 60/30-day

Under this type of policy, refunds are:

  • Full refund for bookings canceled not less than 60 days before check-in.
  • 50% refund minus the service fee for bookings canceled not less than 30 days before check-in.
  • No refund for cancellations made less than 30 days before check-in.
  • 30/14-day

This policy states that:

  • Guests will receive a full refund if they cancel their booking in not less than 30 days.
  • Guests will only receive a 50% refund (less service fee) if they cancel their booking no less than 14 days before the check-in date.
  • Guests will not receive a refund if they cancel their booking less than 7 days before check-in.
  • 14/7-day

The refund procedure for this type of policy is:

  • 100 % refund if guests cancel the booking at least 14 days before check-in.
  • 50% refund for cancellations made at least 7 days before the check-in date.
  • No refund for cancellations made less than 7 days before check-in.
  • Custom

Some hosts prefer their own cancellation terms and fees. It is important to always review the cancellation policy of every listing before making reservations.

Leaving Reviews: VRBO vs Airbnb

Airbnb and VRBO have a two-way review system that helps build trust and transparency between guests and hosts. Reviews help guests learn more about the host and its listed property. Therefore, positive feedback helps guests choose the right property for their travel plans. Leaving reviews helps hosts improve their listings. Moreover, VRBO vs Airbnb reviews differs in some ways, such as:

  • Time frame

Airbnb allows hosts and guests to write reviews of their stay within 14 days. In addition, once both parties submit their reviews or 14 days have elapsed, Airbnb will post the reviews on both parties’ accounts. On the other hand, VRBO allows guests and hosts to leave a review within a year. But when one party submitted a review, the other party must respond within 14 days. After 14 days, VRBO will automatically post the reviews on its site. 

  • Ratings 

In VRBO, hosts rate their guests based on:

  • Overall experience
  • Communication 
  • Adherence to house rules
  • Cleanliness 

Airbnb also allows guests to rate their hosts. Guests will give star ratings based on:

  • The overall experience of the stay
  • Value for money
  • Cleanliness of the property
  • Accuracy of the listing
  • Convenient check-in process
  • Host communication
  • Amenities 

Service Fees

Rental hosting sites make money by charging service fees to hosts and guests. The service fee Airbnb and VRBO charge for their guests are:

  • VRBO

VRBO’s guest service fee ranges from 6% to 15% of the total amount of reservation. The service fee does not include taxes and refundable fees like security deposits.

  • Airbnb

Airbnb typically charges guests around 14% of the booking subtotal. The service fee includes the nightly rate, cleaning fee, and additional guest fee. In some travel destinations, the local government requires payment of VAT. Depending on your travel destination, an additional fee for taxes may be added on top of your service fee. 

Host Network

The extent of each hosting site’s network also differs mainly because of the type of listings and target audience. Airbnb certainly has a wider network compared to VRBO. Currently, Airbnb has more than 6 million active listings in 220 countries and regions. In contrast, VRBO has over 2 million listings in 190 countries. Certainly, Airbnb has a larger network than VRBO. But we also need to consider that VRBO only lists entire properties, unlike Airbnb.

Special Features

Airbnb and VRBO platforms provide a special feature to help guests have a better booking and planning experience. 

  • Airbnb Experience

If you want to explore and truly immerse in your destination’s culture, you can book an Airbnb Experience. Airbnb collaborated with some of Airbnb’s host experts and organized different activities guests can enjoy on their trip. It includes:

  • Cooking Experience
  • Animals 
  • Adventures 
  • History 
  • VRBO Trip Boards

What standouts about VRBO are its Trip Boards. Guests can create a trip board of their favorite vacation homes that they can share with their friends and family. 

Site Affiliations

Currently, Airbnb has no affiliations with other companies. VRBO is under the Expedia Group. Expedia Group has many affiliations with different vacation rentals, like:

  • HomeAway
  • Orbitz
  • Trivago
  • Travelocity
  • CheapTickets

Guest Protection

Both hosting sites provide guests protection guarantee. Here’s how Airbnb and VRBO protect their guests:

  • Airbnb

Customer service is available for guests at all times during and after the booking process. In case of disputes, Airbnb guarantees refunds to guests. Airbnb provides refunds if there is sudden cancellation by the host before check-in, inaccessibility of the listing, inaccurate description of the listing’s amenities, and unsanitary condition of the listing. Airbnb also provides hosts with liability insurance. Hosts can use liability insurance in case guests file claims of injury, stolen, or damaged belongings.

  • VRBO

VRBO provides guests with a Book with Confidence Guarantee. It provides a team that will assist guests before and after the booking process, payment refunds in case of fraudulent listings, and support in case of listing misrepresentation. VRBO also provides liability coverage to guests who booked through HomeAway checkout.

The Similarities of Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb

There are also similarities in booking between VRBO and Airbnb, as both offer vacation rentals. Here are some similarities when booking on VRBO v Airbnb:

Online Platform

Airbnb and VRBO have online platforms to cater to hosts and guests. Both have numerous user-friendly features, such as filters, a search box, saved previous search functions, etc. 

Booking Reservations

Both sites have a booking function where guests can make reservations. They also have an instant booking feature which allows fast and seamless booking transactions. 

Host Communication

Both platforms provide secure online communication between guests and hosts. Guests can ask questions to hosts by clicking “Contact Host” on Airbnb and “Ask a Question” on VRBO. Once you made a reservation, you can directly contact your host through a call or email.

Cleaning Fees

Both sites allow hosts to set their cleaning fees. On Airbnb, you can see the cleaning fee once you check out while VRBO requires hosts to show cleaning fees on their property listings.

The Things I Love About Airbnb

In space sharing, Airbnb comes in the first spot. Many travelers like me are raving about Airbnb because of these reasons:

  • Low cost

Airbnb has flexible listings that can accommodate everyone’s budget. 

  • Location 

Airbnb’s over 6 million listings in 220 countries and regions offer various prime listing locations. 

  • Convenience

The availability of different amenities makes traveling more convenient.

  • Variety 

Whether you’re needing a shared space, large space, or private space, Airbnb has a variety of listings that can accommodate your accommodation needs.

  • Uniqueness 

Airbnb lists different types of property. From traditional homes to unique accommodations like bubble suits and caves, Airbnb has a lot to offer. 

The Things I Love VRBO

  • Large space

VRBO only lists entire properties, which ensures enough space for all the guests. This is beneficial for families or large groups.

  • Family-oriented

As VRBO offers more traditional accommodations and larger spaces, it is more suited for families.

  • Amenities 

Just like Airbnb, VRBO offers listings with different home amenities you can enjoy during your stay.

  • Location

VRBO’s vast host network offers listings in excellent locations. As listings are mostly in neighborhoods, you can experience living like a local.

  • Value

The spacious and furnished listings in VRBO will surely give value to your money.

Price Standpoint: Vacation Rentals vs Hotels

Is Airbnb or VRBO cheaper than hotels? Using Airbnb or VRBO is cheaper than staying in hotels. Vacation rentals are cheaper than hotels because of various factors, such as location and operating costs. Booking vacation rentals help travelers save more money during traveling. Remember, travel expenses don’t end in accommodation. You also need to consider your transportation, food, and other travel-related expenses. Here are some ways vacation rentals can help you save money when traveling:

  • Staying in vacation rentals with kitchen amenities allows you to cook and avoid dining out. 
  • Vacation rentals typically offer discounts, especially for long-term stays.
  • Hotel rooms have a maximum occupancy. Booking multiple hotel rooms for large groups is more expensive than booking an entire property on Airbnb or VRBO.

VRBO vs Airbnb vs Hotels

Is Airbnb or VRBO better than hotels? Aside from the price point, there are more benefits of booking rental accommodations. The benefits of booking on Airbnb or VRBO rentals are:

  • Amenities

You can book accommodations with hotel-like amenities such as pools, hot tubs, and gyms. Furthermore, vacation rentals usually have kitchen and washer amenities. Having a kitchen allows you to cook whatever food you like. Cooking your own food instead of eating in restaurants will save you lots of money. Accessibility to such amenities will surely help you save some cash, especially when you’re on a long-term vacation. 

  • Freedom

Hotels typically follow meal schedules, especially breakfast. When you’re renting vacation homes, you have more freedom on how you want to spend your daily travel. 

Travelers Preferred: Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb

Is VRBO better than Airbnb? Choosing which is better when booking on VRBO vs. Airbnb is a matter of preference and budget. When traveling, what works for you may not work for others. To know which is better for your travel plans, consider:

  • Type of property preferred
  • Cancellation policy
  • Price 
  • Amenities

Booking on VRBO vs Airbnb: Which is Safer for Travelers?

What is better VRBO or Airbnb in terms of safety? Both hosting sites conduct proper host verification and background checks to ensure the safety of their guests. They also provide a guest protection guarantee in case of fraudulent listings. Furthermore, extensive research such as background checking and reading reviews will help you secure your safety during traveling. 


To make the most of your trip, travel smartly. Using Airbnb and VRBO maximizes your travel budget and your travel experience. With enough research and planning, you can book spacious, safe, and furnished listings for a fraction of the price of hotels.