Here’s How to Score a Cheap Airbnb Rental!
Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.
Read my personal tips for scoring a cheap Airbnb and other Airbnb rental tips!
Renting an Airbnb can be a money-saving way to travel, especially if you have kids!
I was slow to jump on the short-term rental trend, but, over the past two years since the pandemic started, my family has stayed in three separate Airbnb rentals instead of opting for hotels when traveling. I can honestly say that each stay has been amazing, and we’ve been super happy with our experiences!
Myself and many members of our Hip team find ourselves researching Airbnb options more often. So far, my family has enjoyed two fun weekend getaways and a weeklong family trip.
Important Note: This is not a sponsored post, and I paid for my stays each time. I am hoping that sharing my personal experience can be helpful and also FUN to read about!
Not only has it been a great way to socially distance and stay away from crowds, but the accommodations have been very comfortable and for sure money-saving compared to renting multiple hotel rooms for the family. Fitting all of us in a small hotel room is sometimes not very relaxing. Spending time in a home is so much better!
As an example, last year we booked an entire 3 bedroom cozy cabin last minute through Airbnb in Prescott, AZ over a previous Labor Day weekend. Not only did it have beautiful mountain views, but it was less than the cost of two local motel rooms. Having comfy couches, multiple bathrooms, and room to relax is such a great perk when traveling with kids.
Even our furry friends came along to our Airbnb!
At this beautiful cabin, we were able to bring our dogs, which meant we saved money by not having to board them or pay a pet sitter. I loved that it had plenty of space, and a full basement with a pool table, media room, and karaoke which my teens enjoyed. 😄
We were able to grill steaks on their beautiful deck and cook a bunch of meals in the fully-stocked kitchen which was also money-saving compared to dining out for every meal.
I especially loved waking up to enjoy my coffee outside while watching the deer from the backyard. 🌅 It was incredibly relaxing, and I know staying at a local motel would not have been as special.
I also have been super impressed with each Airbnb host and how responsive they usually are if we have questions. I am one to read each and every review of other Airbnb travelers to ensure the risk of being surprised is low.
The summer before that, we stayed an entire week at this brand-new condo in the town of Silverthorne, Colorado for a great mountain vacation in Summit County for the family. The balcony faced toward Blue River, and my son went fly fishing each day, which was just steps away from the rental.
It was an awesome experience to fall asleep to river sounds each night, and another fun getaway thanks to Airbnb!
To help you save next time you book a cheap Airbnb rental, here are some easy ways to make your money go further!
1. Look for newer Airbnb rental listings.
One reader mentioned that although newer rentals may be cheaper, they may not necessarily be ready! It’s important to make sure the rental is fully furnished, so check the general area on Google Earth to make sure there’s no construction. This same reader got a notification two days before her trip that the rental was not ready, so better safe than sorry!
Collin loves Airbnb also, and has had great luck booking new listings to save money! Here’s her advice:
“When I was searching for a cheap Airbnb rental in the Boise area to visit family, I was really curious about why the particular listing I was interested in was priced really low compared to similar rentals in the area. After checking out the listing page, I realized this Airbnb property had zero reviews, so it was likely that the homeowner was offering a lower-price stay to entice renters to book (and add great reviews).
Luckily for me, I’m very familiar with the Boise area, so I felt comfortable booking this home with no reviews.
That said, if you don’t already know much about your destination city, enlist the help of a friend who lives there or checks your destination city’s subreddit (like this one for Boise) for more information. Sure, it can be kind of intimidating to not know what to expect given the lack of personal reviews, but I think of it as helping that homeowner launch their Airbnb rental with me as their first PR person in exchange for a deal! Just look for the blue ‘NEW’ box tagged on the listing to find the no-review homes.” – Collin
2. Adjust the length of your stay.
Many listings offer an extra discount when you stay longer or depending on the time of year you stay — Airbnb users have seen percentages up to 30% off if you book for seven days or longer. If you can swing it, try to extend your 5- or 6-night stay to a full week to take advantage of the discount.
One time, my family really only needed the rental for six days, but the extra discount actually made it cheaper to book for seven days instead of six! Don’t mind me while I add an extra day to our vacation. 🙌
We’ve also seen discounts when renting out an Airbnb for longer. While most people aren’t looking for a rental as long as her and her family, here’s what she had to say:
“We used a great Airbnb last year for 6 weeks because we were in the middle of a major move. It was cheaper to take a longer reservation than try to break it up into smaller reservations. We also used Airbnb another time for 2 weeks when we went to Arizona for a wedding. We noticed that it was the same thing — the longer you stayed, the cheaper it was.
Plus, the house was huge so we shared it with other family members and split the cost. Both Airbnbs were way cheaper than staying in a hotel and I love that you have a kitchen and other amenities of a home.”
3. Don’t be afraid to barter.
If you have a specific budget in mind, you can send a message to the contact for that particular listing and just ask if they can lower their rate. If they’re open to lowering the price for your stay, they can send you a special offer! Your new special price that they send to your inbox should contain all the dates for your stay, and any additional fees such as cleaning fees, pet fees, or any other fees you’ve agreed upon.
While this technique isn’t always guaranteed, the worst that will happen is that they say no. Plus, you’re not breaking any of Airbnb’s terms and conditions just by asking.
“I did this last year without even knowing it to score a cheap Airbnb rental! I was searching for Airbnbs around the beach we were planning to vacation at and found the perfect house! I had messaged the homeowner about possibly getting a discount since we were planning to stay longer than a week. Luckily, she was thrilled to agree and sent us a special offer! It only took me sending one message to save on two nights of vacation! Woohoo!” – Sara
4. Be loyal to your host.
Be an excellent guest and try to build a relationship with the folks who own the Airbnb you’re staying in. Hosts are known to offer incentives, discounts, and more flexibility when they know you’re a repeat customer. It’s a mutual benefit, as my family and I will be taken extra care of during our stay, and I’ll gladly refer other friends to this listing should they need to rent a place for their family and friends!
Emily from my team also has had a great experience using this trick. Here’s what she had to say:
“I highly recommend developing a relationship with the host. A group of my friends and I stay at the same place during a popular weekend in the ski town south of me. Since we’ve stayed in contact with the Airbnb host and have left positive reviews, they always give our group priority for booking, which is great because it’s always such a busy weekend and locations fill up quickly!
The hosts have even opened up other areas of the house to use additional rooms at no extra cost. Plus, they keep our rate the same each year even if other properties around it have raised their prices.” – Emily
5. Book the Airbnb rental last minute (or super far in advance).
Airbnb hosts tend to drop the nightly cost when it comes down to the last minute to help their listings stand out from others. This is also a good time to practice your negotiation skills if you notice the listing you’ve had your eye on still hasn’t come down in price. Sure, the host could ignore or deny your offer, but many are willing to barter, especially if it means that their space will be occupied rather than sit empty.
Booking far in advance can also have its advantages to try and score a cheap Airbnb. If you know an event near an Airbnb location will cause booking prices to jump, make your reservation early to lock in the low price.
6. Or don’t book with Airbnb at all!
Large hotels are starting to do more and more advertising on Airbnb. This normally gets them lots of extra traction that they normally wouldn’t see when just using their site or other sites like hotel search engine sites.
But what you might not know is that even though you found them on Airbnb, it doesn’t mean that you have to book with them. In fact, oftentimes they might even be cheaper when booking directly through the hotel since they won’t have to pay Airbnb their fee for giving them a spot on their site.
For example, I was recently browsing for an Airbnb in Philadelphia for a week-long trip and it would have been $1,043. Come to find out, Sonder is an up-and-coming chic hotel so I did some digging…
When taking an extra minute to look them up on Google, I found that for the same room and the same exact dates, the cost was only $938 total! On Airbnb, they’re charging $137/night while on Sonder’s site, they’re charging $122/night. That’s a savings of $105 – that’s almost an entire night, FREE! 🙌 In conclusion, always book a hotel directly on their website. Yippee for a cheap Airbnb rental hack!
And to make matters even sweeter, this particular hotel offers a 15% member discount, so there are even more potential savings when booking directly through them.
7. Cross-check other rental websites like Vrbo and Homestay.
Many home renters actually use a variety of vacation renting sites for the same listing. Sometimes, they actually list them for even cheaper! Vrbo is a vacation rental contender that’s reliable and offers a variety of listings similar to Airbnb. Homestay is another option to check out. To see which has the most affordable offering, check all three and price compare!
Some hosters list their properties on a variety of booking sites, while some choose just one platform. It’s a good idea to check multiple sites not only for the cost savings, but for the selection of homes available, too!
8. And if that doesn’t work, check Airbnb Plus.
If all else fails, there’s always Airbnb Plus. Airbnb Plus is a selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail. While you may not score a cheap Airbnb rental per se, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
From self-check-in to all the full amenities of your own home, you’ll gain a greater sense of comfort all around. Every home is verified through in-person quality inspection to ensure quality and design. Just look for the “PLUS” badge.
In closing: I love staying with Airbnb!
I know that Airbnb rental costs can drastically vary depending on where you’re going, how long you’re staying, how much space you need, and other factors, but it’s definitely something to consider when traveling or hosting extended family. I love when a stay offers a unique experience like having fun games and things to do as a family.
All in all, Airbnb is hands down my favorite way to stay whenever I travel — the savings, convenience, and comfort can’t be beat!
Read about our family trip using RVshare to stay at Zion National Park!
Thank you for the wonderful post! We like doing Airbnb also, as of late we have been enjoying the state parks, they also rent cabins for very reasonable rates. We’re in Ga and most Cabins run about 125.00 a night for two bedrooms. You just need to bring your food everything else is provided.
I love airbnb and have probably stayed in a dozen or more. I love that even if it is only a 1 bedroom you still have some space from the kids if they can sleep on the pull out couch, plus a living room and kitchen and often a washer and dryer. My biggest complaint with airbnb is the beds arealmost always super uncomfortable 90% of the time…. I wish this wasn’t the case because they are superior to a hotel in every other way. Granted I stay in the more inexpensive range ones but still I wish they invest in some memory foam mattresses from amazon!
I agree with that.
Yes and I actually bring my own pillow to these which helps! LOL Great point!
Amen to that! I have mentioned that I know some people like firm beds but for some (like me) they are miserable. At least have a topper to use if needed. I have put all the pillows under the sheet to get a little softness. Once we found lots of blankets and I don’t know what all under the mattress cover to try and fill in the divot in the middle of the bed. It was miserable!
I love AirBnB! We are in one right now with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean! 🐾❤️
ohhh awesome! Enjoy! <3
I’ve been using vacation rentals for decades, at first with just our kids, then added the granny, now we’ve grown to daughter in laws and grandkids of our own. It is by far the cheapest way for families to travel. Not only is there room for everyone to have their own space, many rentals come with added amenities and cooking meals is much cheaper than eating out. There are a couple of things I’ve learned over the years that I would like to share. First, not all properties are managed by the owners. If a company is listed instead of the owners name, booking directly through that company saves paying double fees. Second, new properties without any reviews are cheaper, but, if it’s a new build, make sure it’s actually completely finished and ready for renters. I rented a property on the beach 6 months before the trip date and received notification 2 days prior to check in that the property wasn’t ready. The listing showed a completed home fully furnished. That was a holiday week and it was difficult to replace it with a equal property. Now I check google earth to make sure the general area on the map doesn’t have any construction.
That is all excellent advice! Thanks so much for sharing!
My husband and I vacationed in Portugal for 6 weeks BC (before covid). We traveled from Lisbon and throughout the algarve region and even a little of Spain. We stayed in BNBs exclusively except for 3 nights. We cooked our meals and ate in restaurants sparingly. With plane tickets and everything the cost was around $5000. We got back in October and Covid reared its ugly head in December. I highly recommend BNBs.
Wow that is awesome! Thanks for sharing Sherry!
Another opinion: I’m not a fan because I’m a little skeeved out not knowing if they clean with the same protocols a hotel does (aside from Covid). Is it just me? I do check them out regularly as a lodging option but find that once you add in the cleaning fees, etc. it’s more than a hotel with a pool and other amenities. I don’t have a crowd of people though, just three.
I agree as it is only two people on my trips and often find hotels to be a better option. I personally don’t want to cook while on vacation so the kitchen amenities are not a factor for me. I can book hotel with fridge and microwave and that’s all I will need or use. Part of my vacation is trying the various local restaurants so I prefer eating out. I only stock drinks and fruit in fridge and microwave for leftovers.
Hotels only clean visually as guests only think if it looks clean then it’s disinfected/sanitized/safe, if it looks dirty then it’s dirty. I would have to guess that many AirBnB hosts hire out cleaning services from people who clean for a living.
Hotels are not clean as well as you think they are, they may not even change the bed linen. I stayed at on and walked in and the cleaning person had picked up a used bath towel that we placed on the floor and was wiping a glass that was in the bathroom and put the paper over (the paper they place over the glasses). I have never used any of their drinking glasses, cups or ice buckets. I also know for a fact they do not change or clean a lot of the bedding and towels.
I agree that cleaning is a mixed bag with Airbnb’s. The majority I’ve stayed in have been good. But I had a nightmare of a situation last year where the bed had been peed in (not by me) and the host blamed me in my review even though I was the one that brought it to her attention. Airbnb was less than helpful at resolving all of it.
Airbnb host here with 300+ reviews. This list is 💯 % accurate! I would also add that Ibotta offers around 3% cash back (changes occasionally) when purchasing a gift card to Airbnb. Add it to your Airbnb account, and it will automatically apply on your booking.
Oh that is a great tip! Thanks for sharing!
To save more money, next time you stay find out if the host has a book direct website. You’ll save the Airbnb booking fee that way. Many people who host their homes on Airbnb also have their own website.
YES! That is great advice. I will be checking that.
I agree Dora!! I have a short term rental on AirBNB and VRBO, but also have my own direct booking site. It’s 20% less without all of the platform fees!
Thanks Lina for your post, I’ve been using Airbnb’s for about 3 years now and love them. I tend to go with the ones that have superhost listed beside them or the badge those are great ones. As Lina stated, look at the reviews or ask friends/family who may live in an area you are not familiar with a location. Also when staying at airbnb’s I take my own sheets/pillowcases and if I am driving to the destination I take pillows as well. I truly prefer the Airbnb’s over hotels more space
Thanks for sharing that! Yes great idea to look for a super host. It’s neat to see the unique ones you can stay at. I agree with the pillow. I am that person who takes my pillow everywhere LOL It beats having a stiff neck!
Thanks for all the information on AirBNB. We’ve yet to try it out as we have a time share that we use or trade out to go other places. I do find having the extra space and a kitchen is very handy as a family of 4. On a side note, I love the glass calendar in the picture. May I ask where did you get it?
Here is the post about the wall calendars! https://hip2save.com/product-reviews/acrylic-calendar/
I don’t like how some properties are charging $175 for cleaning and $ 200 administrative fees on top of the rental taxes and the pet fee. We wanted to book a condo for a week at jersey shore for next summer. It was multiple listings w hefty fees.
OMG, Luna your daughter looks so much like you and your son like your husband! I’m sure you hear that a lot. You have a lovely family and even though we love booking with Airbnb I learned a lot!
Oh thanks so much for the sweet comment! I am so glad!
I like to buy Airbnb gift cards on Raise while going through Rakuten (Ebates) to save even more money. Sometimes they even send extra % off emails which helps lower the cost even more!
Hi! Does anyone use or also check VRBO? Why just Airbnb?
Great question! Was wondering the same thing also. I use both.
Airbnb is just the newer thing where Vrbo is the older one. People tend to gravitate to the newer, more trendy thing. If you check both, you’ll find most rentals listed on both sites.
With all the added fees per listing night, airbnb and vrbo have become very expensive. This summer I found a nicely restored Victorian home in Iowa, we stayed 8 nights. I found it on airbnb. I contacted host directly and offered to pay her direct to avoid all the fees. She accepted.
We’ve stayed in so many AirBnB’s over the years; most have been great; love having the extra room when the whole family is along too. One thing I really love is having a washer and dryer for longer trips as hotels don’t usually have these. (Not a laundromat fan.) My DH and I just got back from a 9 day trip to CA to visit some National Parks and the Pacific Coast Highway. We stayed in six different places; only one was a hotel. We booked a couple of nights in the middle of the trip at an AirBnB with a washer/dryer so we were able to pack less. I brought some detergent pods as some places don’t provide supplies; was great to have clean clothes! Two of the places we stayed were on raisin farms and we were able to talk with one owner about the process (and sample freshly dried raisins). Another owner wasn’t home but called and told us where we could pick some fresh pomegranates and grapes on his farm. So fun to be able to find neat places like that!
Wow how unique and fun! I love that Tracey! Sounds like a great time. 🤗💕 Thanks for sharing!
Great info! I love airbnbs over hotels.
Great! Thanks Crystal!
Ive been staying at Airbnbs for years but have become increasingly annoyed at the amount of work that some hosts ask, i.e. washing sheets and towels, emptying all the trash, sweep the floors. Sometimes it’s no big deal sometimes it’s alot.
Another issue Ive become more aware of is the housing crisis. So many people can’t buy homes because of demand. I try to avoid AIRBNB in more populated areas where i know that people are really struggling to find housing. Alot of times AIRBNB investors own several homes in several states and can pay cash for homes for more than they are worth. This is driving up home costs for families like my own who are trying to buy their first home.
Oh interesting, ya I haven’t thought of that. All three times our stays have been in a family’s vacation home or cabin but I can see a big city would be different.
Ya some check out rules are very specific, that annoys my husband too…Ha I’ve never had to wash sheets though!
Here is a Hip Tip, we are military, and I always message the owners and ask if they give a discount nine times out of 10 they do.
It never hurts to ask!!
Wow that’s a great tip Wendy! Thanks for sharing!
Please be careful. We stayed at a decent basement VRBO. The place was not up to building code. Only one smoke detector (2BR), only one egress (re: fire escape) and numerous other violations. It had great reviews! Again, please be careful.
Yes, good advice. Important to have smoke detectors and fire safety.
Short term rental homes from AirBnb and VRBO are helping create an affordable housing crisis. Charging $100+ per night is irrestible to landlords. Tons of extra fees, notoriously bad customer service if the rental has problems and scam listings are some other issues. Many times the keycode to the door is never changed so many people have access to the house. Be cautious.
Agreed, tracy, but I’d also be concerned with the impact of homeowner’s insurance. I mean, I would assume that one might have to look at their homeowner’s policy in that “fine print” for exclusions.
Perhaps it’s just me but I have zero faith in Air BnB.
First off, my family rented a house in upstate NY for the 4th of a July. We coordinated with the owner about our arrival etc. We started making dinner on our first night there and my son saw a car pull up. The person knocked on the door after just trying to turn the handle. My brother in law greeted him and he told us he’d reserved this Air BnB and he was all the way from Indiana.
The owner had the property booked on another vacation rental site. If we had arrived just an hour later we’d have been in this person’s position! They say in the driveway for an along time talking to air bnb. We offered them drinks etc. We were in a small lake community and all the rentals were booked because of the holiday. I can’t imagine being in that situation.
Another time I booked a stay on Mother’s Day weekend. When I contacted the host two days before he told me he had nothing available. I told him I had this reservation for months. He said sorry and issued a refund. I contacted airbnb and they did nothing to help me. Resort rates at nearby hotels were skyrocketing at this point. I was differed nothing but a refund. Then I noticed the man listed the booking on another site for over $250 a night more than I paid. When I sent an email to airbnb they said they’d look into it. Never got a follow up.
If you don’t mind being left at the last minute even with good communication this is a risk you take. Also the fact that the man that showed up had the key code to the door was pretty scary. I saw a tik tok where a woman set up blink cameras in her room and I suggest you do that if you plan on staying anywhere like this. I will never use this business again.
Oh darn! Ya that doesn’t sound like a great experience. I would be upset too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience.
I have successfully used airbnb in the past and had some wonderful stays, but I’ve personally found airbnb to be in a downhill slide. The lists of things that the owners request before checking out, coupled with the ever increasing “random fees” and exorbitant cleaning costs (sometimes as much as 50% of the total cost of the rental) are a big NO for me. I think the problem is further exacerbated by the fact that they give you the nightly fee up front, which looks so enticing, but then by the time you’ve clicked over to book, the price can more than double with fees. If I’m going to pay a $450 cleaning fee for three days, don’t expect me to take out the trash, start a load of laundry, strip all the linens, close all the window blinds and empty the dishwasher. Lina, your post is just as lovely as you are – I’m just not happy with Airbnb lately! (And honestly, vrbo and homeaway are about the same.)
Oh darn. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I agree the fees can kill the deal aspect if super high. 🙁
Great tips, my son has a gorgeous treehouse on Airbnb in NC .
Oh thanks and that sounds amazing!
As an Airbnb host, I appreciate this post! A lot of good advice! My favorite is book last minute or really far in advance and I’ll get you a deal! SO TRUE! Check us out! http://www.airbnb.com/h/wildwoodvineyard
Anyone looking at vacationing in NC, located between the mountains and the beach. Gorgeous treehouse hosted by my sons family. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/730950733783649715?fbclid=IwAR3AK2wgYdmnaLz6-UUmRUWLefAqGG5OZUOJwhkjIl-EWuSHOnkzAmzgluk&source_impression_id=p3_1669403702_YkszzRkivzo9RVRI&guests=1&adults=1
I’ve used Chase Sapphire card and the Chase “Pay Yourself Back” to save on Airbnb twice this year. Basically you pay for the Airbnb with your Chase card and redeem points to pay off that transaction. Your points are worth 25% more so it’s a bit complicated to figure but I saved around $250 on 2 stays.
Oh wow that seems like a nice perk! Thanks for sharing!
If I were you, I’d stay away from Philadelphia. Crime is out of control. Two Wawa stores closed because of rampant crime. Carjacking and shootings are out of control. The district attorney was removed because of lack of prosecution. Recently, 100 teenagers ransacked and stole from a local Wawa.
I own a cabin rental in the national forest and have been doing it for over 7 years. Actually from experience on the business side, it has much better listings from VRBO. We also have our listings on tripadvisor and homeawayfromhome. The companies do tack on expensive taxes on all of them. When we have people that have stayed with us before, we give them our number to go through us directly next time to save them money. We can save them at least $100. We have a lot of people return with us that love being in the beautiful national forest. Look at their reviews when looking for a property, it will give you an idea on how the property is being taken care of.
We list our short term rental on an alternative site with no added fees, taxes. Airbnb has become unaffordable.