We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
I’m a fan of Airbnb because it’s easy to find lots of great places to stay for a lower cost. And you can use credit card miles and points instead of money to pay for your Airbnb stay!
I like that I’m usually supporting everyday people instead of big corporations. But recently when planning for a trip to Chicago, I found Airbnbs became so expensive that they rivaled the cost of a hotel room, and might even end up costing me more.
The added fees accounted for almost 40% of the total cost of an estimated stay!
Since I’m a mom now, I have to be a bit more flexible with my travel plans because of my daughter, and that means an increased risk of cancellation and change fees. Airbnb is much more restrictive of cancellations than a traditional hotel. Even if Airbnb hosts are flexible and agree to refund the accommodation fees, you’ll still be charged the Airbnb service fee. In one Airbnb listing, the Airbnb service fee is $105!
The Hidden Price of Airbnb Rentals
Fees Added ~40% to the Cost of My Last Airbnb Rental Price
The added fees of a recent Airbnb search in Chicago accounted for almost 40% of the total cost of an estimated stay! The added costs included the following fees:
- Cleaning fee, ~$110
- Service fee, ~$105
- Occupancy taxes & fees, $190
I don’t mind paying a cleaning fee, but $110 is a little steep for me. I’m more OK with paying the cleaning fees versus the Airbnb fees and the occupancy fees because the cleaning fees go back to the property owner. Chicago recently forced Airbnbs to register their rental properties, but it’s not without controversy.
Airbnb’s Strict Cancellation Policy Means You Pay the Service Fee, Even If Your Host Is Flexible and Fully Refunds You
The other reason I don’t like booking Airbnbs is because of the cancellation policy. Hotels allow you to cancel without penalty usually 24-48 hours before check-in, but Airbnb usually charges a service fee for cancelling. That service fee is refundable, up to 3 times per year, within 48 hours of booking.
Even if Airbnb hosts are flexible and agree to refund the accommodation fees, you’ll still be charged the Airbnb service fee. In one Chicago listing, the service fee is ~$105! I understand that Airbnb hosts rely on guest reservations for income, and I’m not one to change my travel plans often. But since having my daughter, I appreciate the flexibility of having options. This has made me less likely to book Airbnbs than I have in the past, despite that Airbnbs can sometimes be more family friendly.
Airbnb does allow full refunds for emergencies or extenuating circumstances, but they are strict about these.
One time I had to cancel a reservation because of a blizzard/ severe winter storm. I took video and photo footage of my partner and I driving in our car, and received a full refund on the reservation.
You Can Get Free Airbnb Stays With These 2 Credit Card Intro Bonuses
Get $40 off your first Airbnb trip when using our referral code.
Have you encountered some unexpected higher than anticipated costs when booking Airbnbs recently? Share with us in the comments below!