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Hotels aren’t your only option for stays when traveling abroad. Consider using Airbnb next time you’re visiting one of the top 10 cities outside the US with the most Airbnb listings!
Because you’ll often save money compared to chain hotels. And possibly stay in unique accommodations!
I’ll explain more about the pros and cons of using Airbnb versus staying at a chain hotel. Along with ways to save money on your stay!
Airbnb’s Growing Popularity
Traditional hotels and bed & breakfasts used to be the most widely available options when traveling.
But Airbnb has become hugely popular and now has over 2,000,000 listings worldwide. That’s a lot of rooms, apartments, and houses for rent!
The neat thing about Airbnb is the unique spaces you can choose from, like houseboats, tree houses, and even castles! But most folks don’t use Airbnb to sleep in a tree house, they use it because it’s cheaper or the same price as a hotel and you often get a better kitchen and a bigger space for the price.
Because you’re renting space from a local, you can also get a more authentic experience.
- Rio de Janeiro
My friend has used Airbnb to stay longer overseas than he could otherwise afford with points or cheap hotel stays.
He’s had good experiences in places like the Dominican Republic, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Paris, and more. He’s rented an affordable studio condo with a pool, private balcony, and a 5-minute walk to the beach in Punta Cana. And an entire Parisian apartment with a fireplace! They all included kitchens and Wi-Fi, and most had washing machines.
What Are the Main Differences Between Hotels and Airbnb?
A lot of Airbnbs have a 2+ night minimum stay requirement, so be aware of that when planning shorter stays. Of course, this is never a problem with hotels.
There’s also the issue of check-in and check-out times with Airbnb if you’ll need to exchange keys.
If you arrive at midnight, is there an easy way to get keys from your Airbnb host?
A friend of mine has listings on Airbnb, and she uses coded locks. That way there are no keys to track and guests can check-in whenever it’s most convenient for them! So ask the host about check-in procedures before booking.
2. (Sometimes) More Personal Interaction
Because you’re renting a space from a local when you use Airbnb, you’re more likely to have a real conversation about the city and its culture, if the Airbnb host wants to.
Airbnb hosts are essentially running their own small business too, so they’re motivated to impress their guests! My friend had an Airbnb host give him a free guided tour of the neighborhood with his local knowledge.
And most Airbnbs give you information about cool things to do and places to eat. And offer added perks like professional cleaning during your stay.
Some Airbnb hosts will even hang out with you. But lots of folks rent entire spaces (as opposed to just 1 room), so you’re less likely to have much interaction with the host unless you seek it out.
3. Fewer (or More!) Perks
Use Airbnb’s easy-to-use filter to see which amenities come with the apartment you’re considering renting. If you’re a business traveler, for example, and you need fast internet, be sure the Airbnb rental includes it!
Hotel chains have other things like pools, gyms, and on-site restaurants. You’re less likely to find perks like this at your average Airbnb rental.
But not all Airbnbs are average. 🙂
And while you can usually grab a small bottle of shampoo from a hotel, those things (sometimes) aren’t available at Airbnbs. So plan ahead!
That said, nearly every Airbnb my friend has stayed in gave him a welcome bottle of wine. That’s a nice personal touch!
Here’s how to filter your Airbnb search for specific amenities:
You’ll have to expand the list of amenities to see all of your search options.
And then decide exactly what you want.
Airbnb will then show you which apartments and houses have the amenities you’re looking for!
4. The Safety Issue
Airbnb is a great choice if you want a more local feel when you travel. But folks might not like that some Airbnbs only have a few reviews, unlike the thousands of reviews you can find for hotels.
But Airbnb verifies its hosts by connecting to their social media networks, scanning their IDs, or confirming personal details.
The fact is bad things can happen everywhere, even fancy hotels. But renting an entire apartment or a place with a secure entrance might help if you’re concerned.
Read my tips on how to find a good and safe rental on Airbnb.
How to Save Money on Your Stays
Using a credit card sign-up bonus is a great way to save money on your Airbnb stay. For example, you’ll earn 40,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles (after minimum spending) with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. That’s worth $400 off travel purchases (like Airbnb stays!) of $100 or more.
Here’s my review of the card.
You could also consider the Capital One Venture card. You’ll get 40,000 Capital One Venture miles (after minimum spending) also worth $400 when redeemed for travel purchases, like an Airbnb stay. The minimum redemption amount is 2,500 Venture miles ($25).
Because Venture miles and Barclay Arrival miles don’t transfer to airlines or hotels, using them for Airbnb stays is a good idea!
And if you’re a small business owner, consider using the $250 sign-up bonus from the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express card to offset your stay.
You’ll earn $250 cash back (as a statement credit) after spending $5,000 or more on purchases within the first 6 months of opening your account.
Use Points or Mix & Match Stays to Save
Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points, from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus, for cash back to offset the cost of your Airbnb stay is another option. You’ll get 1 cent per point cash back.
But I wouldn’t recommend it because I’d rather use them for Big Travel with their airline & hotel transfer partners, like United Airlines and Hyatt where your Ultimate Rewards points will be worth much more.
Another way to save money on your trip is to mix & match paid and award stays. Maybe you want to spend 5 nights in Paris, but you only have enough hotel points for a 3-night stay. You could use Airbnb for your last 2 nights!
You can also use AMEX Membership Rewards points for Airbnb gift cards. Read my post about how to do this and whether it makes sense for you.
Negotiate a Better Price and Pay With a Points or Miles Earning Card
You can sometimes negotiate a better price for your Airbnb stay. Especially if you’re booking the same week or same day as your stay!
And don’t forget to pay for your Airbnb rental with a card that gives you bonuses on travel purchases.
Using your Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, you’ll earn 2X points on your purchase AND you’ll be able to use your Arrival miles as a statement credit towards any Airbnb stay of $100+, because it will count as a travel purchase.
And new Airbnb users can sign-up with Emily’s link for $20 off their stay!
Consider the differences, like flexibility and amenities, when you’re deciding between staying at a hotel and an Airbnb rental.
You can also save money on your Airbnb stay, by using the sign-up bonuses from cards like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture, or AMEX SimplyCash Plus card, negotiating a better rate or buying Airbnb gift cards with AMEX Membership Rewards points.
Tell me about your experience in the comments using Airbnb overseas!