Best credit card for booking Airbnb and vacation rentals

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Websites like Airbnb let individuals rent out their personal home to travelers, either a single room (where you can stay with a host family) or the whole house.

Staying in someone else’s home might feel a little strange, and even scary! Several of my travel buddies over the years have been hesitant to try these services — their imaginations paint scenes of duct tape, zip ties, and hidden cameras. But the truth is, Airbnb is very safe. It’s a great choice for folks who prefer a local feel when they travel, or want to explore off the beaten path.

It’s also ideal for longer stays, like a couple of weeks or more. You can trigger a discount of 50% (sometimes even more) when renting for at least a month. If you spend a lot on purchases like this, you’d better be using the right travel credit card to get the biggest bang for your spend.

Best credit cards for booking Airbnb and vacation rentals 2020

Credit cardBest forBonus offerReturn rate with Airbnb/vacation rentals
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Best for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points with Airbnb50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening3 points per dollar
Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardBest business card for Airbnb spend100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening3 points per dollar
American Express® Green CardBest card for earning Amex Membership Rewards points with Airbnb30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening3 points per dollar
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® cardBest card for earning cash back card  Airbnb20,000 bonus points (worth $200) after you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of card opening3 points per dollar
Airbnb has lots of unique and luxurious properties. I stayed in this tree house in Barbados. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

An important note before we get started — sites like VRBO and Homeaway sometimes code as real estate (or a variant thereof) instead of travel. If this happens to you, you’ll likely have success calling your bank and telling them you didn’t receive your bonus points.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Bonus

When you sign up for Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include the ability to earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 10x points on Lyft rides (through March 2022) and dining worldwide and one Chase point on all other purchases.

The best perk for this card is the annual $300 in travel credits, which are automatically earned whenever you make a qualify purchase — including Airbnb! You also get an application fee credit (worth up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. The card even includes a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and up to two guests access to 1,200+ airport lounges.

Additionally, the card offers:

  • One complimentary year of a Lyft Pink membership when you activate the benefit by March 31, 2022
  • $60 in DoorDash credit in 2020 and another $60 in credit in 2021.
  • At least one year of complimentary DashPass (normally $9.99/month), which you must activate by Dec. 31, 2021

All these benefits, from rideshare discounts to free delivery, come in handy when you’re staying at an Airbnb.

Annual fee

The Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee is $550.

Insider tip

You’ll only have to pay a $450 annual fee for this card in 2020, thanks to coronavirus-related benefits Chase has added to this card. Read this post for more details.

Why it’s worth it

We often tout the Chase Sapphire Reserve as the best premium travel rewards credit card. The Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus is worth at least $750 in travel. With the $300 annual credit for travel purchases every cardmember anniversary, that’s $1,050 in value in the first year, not counting other money-saving perks you enjoy as a cardholder.

Total value

Be sure to run the numbers when deciding between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. For example, you’re effectively paying a $250 annual fee with the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550 annual fee – $300 travel credit). You’ll pay a $95 annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. So you’ll effectively pay $155 more each year ($250 – $95) to get many extra perks, like lounge access, more bonus points on travel and dining purchases, rental car discounts and much more.

The card also allows you to transfer Chase points to travel partners, which can be more valuable than you can imagine. Read our post on the best ways to use Chase points.

Note that Chase enforces restrictions for their Sapphire-branded credit cards. You cannot have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card open at the same time.

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith)

Best small-business card

Bonus

Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This is the highest public offer we’ve ever see for this card and is a big reason why the Chase Ink Business Preferred is our #1 pick.

Benefits

The Ink Business Preferred card earns 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend on travel (including Airbnb), shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year). You’ll earn 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022 and one Chase Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases.

The card has an array of travel coverages including, rental car insurance (primary when renting for business purposes), baggage delay insurance, trip delay protection and lost luggage coverage. Also, eligible purchases will get extended warranty coverage of an additional year when the original warranty is three years or less.

And just like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Ink Business Preferred allows you to transfer Chase points to travel partners.

Annual fee

The Ink Business Preferred card has a $95 annual fee.

Insider tip

When you pay for you cell phone bill with the card you’ll get cell phone protection for up to $600 per claim (up to three claims per year) against covered theft or damage with a $100 deductible.

Why it’s worth it

The Ink Business Preferred is our overall best business credit card because, in addition to the huge introductory bonus, it also has generous bonus spending categories and great built-in insurance. Million Mile Secrets staff and readers alike have saved by using perks like the card’s trip delay coverage, rental car insurance and cell phone insurance.

Total value

If you like basic cash back, the 100,000-point bonus offer is worth $1,000 (when redeemed for cash), but can be worth more when it’s used for travel. For example, with this card your Chase points are worth 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through the Chase travel portal. That’s $1,250 in flights, hotels, rental cars or activities from one bonus.

American Express® Green Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith)

Bonus

You can earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your Amex Green card in your first three months of account opening.

Benefits

The Amex Green card earns 3x Membership Rewards points on travel, restaurant purchases worldwide and one point per dollar everywhere else. You’ll earn 3 Amex points per dollar with Airbnb.

Along with the good earnings rate on travel purchases, cardholders will get perks like up to $100 in yearly statement credits when you use your Amex Green card to pay for a CLEAR membership. Plus, up to $100 in LoungeBuddy statement credits per year. For frequent travelers, benefits like these can certainly make your flying experience a better one.

Annual fee

$150 (see rates & fees)

Insider tip

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Amex has added statement credits of up to $10 per month through December 2020 when using your Amex Green card to pay for wireless telephone services directly from U.S. service providers.

Why it’s worth it

The Amex Green Card is worth it if you can use the card’s unique benefits that can save you time and money on your travels. The card does carry an annual fee of $150, but it’s not hard to come out ahead.

Total value

We estimate Amex points value to be around 2 cents each. That means a 30,000 point bonus is worth $600 in travel on average. Throw in the monthly $10 statement credits due to COVID-19, the $100 annual LoungeBuddy credits, and the value you’ll receive from the annual up to $100 statement credit towards CLEAR membership, and you’re getting nearly $800 in value AFTER paying the annual fee during your first year of cardmembership.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Bonus

The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card comes with 20,000 bonus points (worth $200 in cash back, travel, gift cards or other rewards) after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of card opening.

Benefits and perks

This card earns 3 points per dollar on travel purchases (including Airbnb), eating out and ordering in, gas stations, rideshares, transit and on eligible streaming services. You’ll earn one point per dollar for all other purchases.

In addition to having no foreign transaction fees, you’ll also get cell phone insurance when you pay you cellular service provider with your Propel card (up to $600 per claim with a super-reasonable $25 deductible).

Annual fee

This card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Insider tip

If you pair the Propel card with the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card you can increase the value of your points if you pool your points between the two cards. With the Visa Signature card you can redeem points toward airfare booked through the Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards portal for 1.5 cents each. And if you spend $50,000+ on your Visa Signature card in a calendar year that rate bumps up to 1.75 cents each.

The information for the Wells Fargo Propel and Wells Fargo Visa Signature card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Why it’s worth it

Your points are worth one cent each for rewards like cash back, travel, or gift cards. If you spend a lot in these categories, earning 3% back in rewards is a good deal, especially for a card with no annual fee.

Because the card has no annual fee, anything you earn from this card is pure profit. For example, I reserved a vacation home near Yellowstone in August for my in-laws. The property cost a total of $2,400. By using this card, I could have earned $72 for making a purchase I would have made anyway.

Total value

The card is worth at least $200 the first year, not to mention the hundreds you’ll save in cell phone coverage for you and your family.

What is an Airbnb or vacation home rental?

As stated in the intro, Airbnb and vacation home rentals are great alternatives to hotels. You won’t get the cookie-cutter experience, and you’ll find exponentially more locations for rent through these sites than with hotels.

Especially the adventurous travelers will love Airbnb, as you can find properties from deep wilderness of Alaska to the Australian Outback — hundreds of miles from the nearest hotel. These sites often prove a large discount over hotels for extended stays, too — not to mention more comfortable and spacious living quarters.

There are certainly downsides, however. For example, you won’t receive housekeeping services and other luxuries that you’ll find at hotels.

Maximizing Airbnb purchases

You can go above and beyond credit card earnings with Airbnb. Before you make any purchase online, be sure you aren’t leaving miles and points on the table by going through an online shopping portal.

Usually, the easiest way to find the biggest return is with site aggregator Cashback Monitor. However, Airbnb has unique partnerships with Delta and British Airways that will provide you with bonus miles simply by starting your search on their website. The price is the same as if you navigated straight to Airbnb. Here are the portals:

Again, these rewards are in addition to the points you’ll earn with your credit card. In other words, if you used the Chase Sapphire Reserve for your Airbnb, and you shopped through the British Airways portal, you’d receive:

  • 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar
  • 3 British Airways Avios points per dollar

Additionally, be watchful for bonuses on Airbnb gift cards through sites like Amazon, Target, Kroger, etc. Some cards offer big spending bonuses at these stores. For example, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card earns 5% back at Amazon (if you have an Amazon Prime account).

Also, a couple credit cards earn 5% back on rotating bonus categories that sometimes include grocery stores, department stores, and online shopping. These cards earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in rotating bonus categories during the promotional dates — and you must activate the bonus.

How we chose the best credit cards for Airbnb and vacation home rentals

Welcome bonus

Big bonuses are the most attractive elements of a credit card — at first. The above cards all offer bonuses worth hundreds — and in some cases potentially thousands — of dollars in free travel. Remember, you don’t have to choose just one of the above cards. You could technically apply for them all, if you wanted.

Earnings for Airbnb and vacation home spending

If you reserve Airbnb often, you’ll potentially earn thousands and thousands (and thousands) more points simply by spending three minutes concocting a credit card strategy. The above cards are fail-safe options for your travel style.

Travel perks

You’re probably not going to open a card SOLELY for how much it earns on Airbnb. Besides, if you stay with Airbnb often, you’re a traveler. You’re going to want a card that earns lots of points and gives you strong benefits on travel-related purchases.

For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.

Let us know your favorite card to use when reserving Airbnb and vacation rental homes! And subscribe to our newsletter for more info like this delivered to your inbox.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Jordan
1 month ago

I’m curious why the Wells Fargo card is seem as a better card to this type of transaction than the Citi Premiere? The sign-on bonus for the Premiere is better plus Thank You points seem to have more value and flexibility. Can you please explain?