Vrbo is a popular vacation rental site with entire homes listed around the world — here's what to know before you book (2023)

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  • Vrbo is a vacation rental platform where homeowners list their homes directly, similar to Airbnb.
  • Only entire homes are listed on Vrbo, so you'll never have to share with the host or other guests.
  • We break down everything to know about Vrbo, from pricing and fees to how it differs from Airbnb.

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Although it's commonly pronounced as "verb-oh", Vrbo is actually an acronym that stands for "vacation rentals by owner," which tells you a lot about the rental site right off the bat.

(Video) Building your vacation rental site listings on Airbnb and VRBO

These days, travelers are pretty accustomed to direct communication with hosts thanks to the rise of online booking platforms like Airbnb, but when Vrbo first launched in 1995, it was a relatively new concept that helped homeowners bypass the cost of a management company. Today, the site boasts over two million private homes in over 190 countries.

While HomeAwayand Vbro used to be separately branded sites that shared the same listings and were both run by Expedia Group, as of a year ago, HomeAway has been entirely folded into Vrbo.

For those more familiar with Airbnb, Vrbo has many similarities, but there are a few key differences when it comes down to the booking experience, service fees, and COVID-19 protocols.

The main distinction between the two websites is that homeowners on Vrbo only rent out the whole property, which means you won't find anyone else sharing the space with you. This is unlike Airbnb where you may also book a room in a shared house. There are a few other factors that set Vrbo apart and we break down exactly how the rental platform works below.

How booking on Vrbo works

The booking experience of Vrbo is very similar to what you'd find on Airbnb and other booking platforms. You may filter by the number of bedrooms, property type, house rules, and amenities.

But, it gets a little finicky when it comes to pricing. Prices won't populate on the page unless you specifically filter by price, and unlike Airbnb, you won't know the total price of your stay until you click through to the main listing page where you can then see a breakdown of the total price and fees.

Each property is given an overall rating out of five stars and you'll be able to read reviews at the bottom of the page. If you like a place but aren't ready to commit, you can save it to a "Trip Board" and come back to it later.

Once you book and the homeowner accepts your booking, you'll be able to communicate directly with them about the property's details and check-in process.

Vrbo also offers a Book With Confidence Guarantee, which provides every traveler with payment protection against fraudulent listings and access to a team of re-booking specialists. If the owner cancels at the last minute or you can't get into the house for some reason, the re-booking specialist can help you find somewhere else to stay. Bear in mind that this is not trip insurance and if you decide to cancel your trip on your own accord, you won't be refunded unless you purchase additional trip insurance.

Vrbo is a popular vacation rental site with entire homes listed around the world — here's what to know before you book (1)

Vrbo
(Video) Should I List My Property on Airbnb, VRBO and Booking.com

How is Vrbo different from Airbnb?

In many ways, the experience of sorting through properties on Vrbo is exactly like Airbnb. The main distinction between the two platforms is that Vrbo is strictly for entire home rentals and you will always have the entire home to yourself. Airbnb, on the other hand, tends to emphasize hospitality and market the value of a good host, while Vrbo is strictly about the property.

In fact, hosts and travelers do not have their own profile pages like they do on Airbnb. This means you can't click through to a reviewer's profile to see whether or not they leave overly negative or positive reviews, nor can you click through to a host's profile to see the other properties they have and read the reviews on those.

However, Vrbo does have its own version of Airbnb's Superhosts, which they call Premier Partners. These are owners with a low rate of cancellations and an average guest rating above 4.5.

However, even these qualifications are not quite as strict as Airbnb where Superhosts must average a 4.8 rating to earn Superhost status. Additionally, it's more difficult to compare prices on Vrbo than on Airbnb. For many Vrbo listings, you must click through to the final listing page to see the full breakdown of costs, while Airbnb is more upfront about this information on its listings.

Read a full breakdown of the differences between Vrbo and Airbnb here.

What is pricing on Vrbo like?

The pricing is very reasonable on Vrbo when you compare similar properties in the same area across rental sites.

In some cities, you can find apartments for as little as $78 per night, like this designer bunaglow in Austin, Texas or you might splurge on a unique property like a home built by a famous architect or a actual castle.

Nightly rates will vary depending on where you're searching and the time of year, but prices are rarely lower than $50 per night or higher than $500 per night, unless it is an exceptionally large or unique home, or located in a coveted area in peak season.

A good way to judge whether or not the rate is competitive for the area is to compare the rate to nearby hotels. For example, in New York City, even shoebox-sized hotel rooms typically start at $100 per night, but on Vrbo, you can find some apartments for less than that in all five boroughs.

Vrbo is a popular vacation rental site with entire homes listed around the world — here's what to know before you book (2)

Vrbo

Generally, the nightly cost for standard-quality listings is competitive with other listing sites like Airbnb and often cheaper than hotels. However, keep in mind that like Airbnb, the base listed price on Vbro doesn't include fees. Those fees can add up, so be sure to take that into consideration when browsing listings with a budget in mind.

(Video) Vrbo only offers whole vacation homes. So it’s always just you and your people.

How much is the service fee on Vrbo and what does it cover?

When you're comparing properties in the list view, you'll only see the cost per night. But when you click through the listing, Vrbo will show you the total cost of your trip based on the dates plugged in and the applicable fee and taxes.

Beneath the price, you may click "View details" to see how this total cost is broken down. Owners can charge varying fees for cleaning, taxes, and even pets, but the service fee will be applied by Vrbo for every booking. The owner has no control over how much the fee is and does not have the power to waive it.

According to the Vrbo, the service fee goes towards providing "a safer and more secure booking experience coupled with 24/7 customer support throughout your trip." The fee is based on a sliding scale, although it is unclear how exactly they are calculated.

On some listings, it can be as low as 5% of the total rental amount, and on others, it may be as high as 12%. There's no way to avoid paying the fee on Vrbo, but if you really fall in love with a place, you may be able to find it for a lower price on another booking platform. However, you won't get the benefit of Vrbo's Book With Confidence Guarantee.

Is Vrbo safe to book right now?

Vrbo does not have any mandatory cleaning procedures for hosts. However, they have released guidelines for homeowners that encourage:

  • Having a proactive plan to manage and minimize risks.
  • Implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting between stays.
  • Providing sufficient hand sanitizer and soap for guests, as well as cleaning and disinfecting products.

Among listing resources to health authorities and outlining the proper way to clean the property, the information is pretty thorough — but they're just guidelines. While Vrbo encourages its owners to communicate their cleaning measures in the listing itself and with their guests, there's not much they can do to enforce or guarantee that the guidelines will be followed by hosts.

You might compare this approach to Airbnb's Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, which is requiring all hosts to follow a five-step cleaning process developed in partnership with health and hospitality experts.

With Vrbo it's up to the travelers to look into each listing's sanitation measures before they book. You can also looks specifically for listings recent users have rated highly for cleanliness by sorting for "Highly rated for cleanliness" under the "More filters" section.

Neither booking platform can guarantee safety, but Vrbo's guidelines do mean that you must have good communication with the homeowner to properly ensure that the property will be clean and safe for your arrival. If the host does not outline their cleaning regimen in the description of the home, try to contact them directly before you pull the trigger and book.

(Video) How to get started on Airbnb or VRBO - 6 Steps

What is Vrbo's cancellation policy?

Much like with Vrbos cleaning policies, you'll need to check individual listings' cancellation policies, which include the following options according to Vrbo:

  • No Refund - This is the strictest policy and means no refund is offered at all for any reason.
  • Strict- Bookings must be canceled at least 60 days before the start of the stay to receive a full refund.
  • Firm- Bookings canceled 60 days or more before the start of the stay will receive a full refund. Bookings canceled between 60 days and 30 days before the start of the stay will receive a 50% refund.
  • Moderate (recommended) - Bookings canceled 30 days or more before the start of the stay receive a full refund. Bookings canceled at least 14 days before receive a 50% refund.
  • Relaxed- Bookings canceled 14 days or more before the start of the stay will receive a full refund. Bookings canceled at least 7 days before the start of the stay will receive a 50% refund.

You can compare this to the Airbnb cancellation policy here.

Are vacation rentals safe right now?

The CDC recently announced thatfully vaccinated people can safely travel in the US.

Experts also consider private vacation homes, such as those onVrbo, one of the safer lodging options, especially whencompared to hotels. This is because you are booking an entire home protected from interaction with others.

Jamie Ditaranto

Jamie Ditaranto is a freelance travel journalist who has traveled to all seven continents in search of the best trip ever. She has gone bungee-jumping in Australia, sipped tea in centuries-old Japanese teahouses, and gushed over penguins in Antarctica. She is a full-time traveler working and living remotely. Her writing has been featured on Buzzfeed, TripAdvisor, SmarterTravel, Fodor's, and USA Today. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here.

(Video) Our vacation rental cleaning process | VRBO & Airbnb cleaning tips

FAQs

What is Vrbo known for? ›

We started pairing homeowners with families looking for places to stay in 1995, and Vacation Rentals By Owner (Vrbo) was born. Since then, we've grown into a trusted global vacation brand with a unique selection of 2+ million whole homes all over the world.

Why do people use Vrbo instead of Airbnb? ›

Aesthetics aside, however, Vrbo offers far better filter and sort functionality than Airbnb. For example, Vrbo lets you filter by user reviews, including properties rated highly for cleanliness and properties rated 4 stars and above. Vrbo's filters are also more intuitive.

Which is more popular Vrbo vs Airbnb? ›

More listings equals a better variety of places to stay, although Airbnb has more users — 150 million compared to Vrbo's 48 million — so there is more competition for available listings.

Why is Airbnb more popular than Vrbo? ›

Airbnb might be a lot newer than Vrbo, but it has quickly stood out as a rental platform that offers more unique experiences for guests compared to Vrbo and other vacation rental sites. For example, unlike Vrbo, Airbnb also offers shared spaces.

Is Vrbo safer than Airbnb? ›

Airbnb offers a specialized safety feature for solo travelers. It allows them to share their reservation itinerary with family and friends. The feature also offers safety tips and provides questions to ask hosts. Vrbo has fewer complications regarding guest safety since they only offer private rentals.

Can you trust Vrbo? ›

Yes, Vrbo is a legitimate online vacation rental site. As with any similar site, pay attention to amenities, reviews and cancellation policies.

Do Vrbo have hidden cameras? ›

VRBO allows for cameras and other surveillance devices only outside a property. The one exception: Smart devices that cannot be activated remotely. Guests must be informed and given the option to deactivate them.

What fees does Vrbo charge? ›

A 5% commission fee is charged on the rental amount and any additional fees you charge the traveler (such as cleaning, pet, and boat fees). Bookings that originate from our expanded distribution partners may have higher fees.

Do travel agents use Vrbo? ›

Travel Advisors can now search private home inventory directly from Vrbo inventory on ClassicVacations.com, including condos, villas, cabins and more in the United States—including Hawaii—Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Is it worth it to do Vrbo? ›

Is Vrbo worth it? In short, yes. Like Vacasa, it is an excellent choice for travelers looking for entire properties for short-term or long-term rent. But for low-budget travelers looking for shared spaces, not so much.

How successful is Vrbo? ›

Vrbo is one of the largest vacation rental sites around, attracting 15.9 million worldwide visitors monthly. * However—since the platform is owned by the Expedia Group—the potential audience for bookings is even larger.

What is competitor to Vrbo? ›

In this article, we'll compare Vrbo/HomeAway to its closest competitors: Airbnb, Tripadvisor Rentals/FlipKey, and Booking.com.

Who is Airbnb biggest competitor? ›

Vrbo. As Airbnb's biggest competitor with over 2 million listings and vacation rentals in 190 countries and counting, Vrbo is the next most important website, following Airbnb, to be familiar with for your vacation rental business. Vrbo is an acronym that stands for “vacation rentals by owner”.

Why are vacation rentals so popular? ›

Flexible work means travel is becoming a lifestyle. This translates to increased preference for vacation rentals over hotels and longer stays. Unique experiences and larger properties for gatherings are becoming increasingly popular, giving vacation rentals even more advantages over hotels.

Does Vrbo screen their guests? ›

Vrbo isn't very strict in terms of enforcing ID verification checks for its guests. They don't complete background checks outside the personal information a guest provides. A host can request a government ID to stay at their vacation rental site but this is completely optional.

Which has cheaper fees Vrbo or Airbnb? ›

Why is Airbnb more expensive than Vrbo? Airbnb charges guest service fees typically under 14.2%, but when searching for properties, we found consistent service fees of 16%. There are no guest service fees for experiences. Booking with Vrbo, guests are charged a 6% to 15% service fee of the subtotal (minus taxes).

Does Vrbo verify hosts? ›

No, on Vrbo the host only sees whether the user is verified or not. This protects the guest's privacy, which is a valid concern, but it also opens the host up to potential issues as they can't verify the guest's ID or background themselves, or see which details have been verified.

How can you tell a fake Vrbo listing? ›

Common signs of a scam
  1. Incorrect or unusual spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation.
  2. More information provided than usual.
  3. A request for you to communicate offsite.
  4. A request to pay by certified check, cashier's check, or unsecured wire transfer.

Is there a class action lawsuit against Vrbo? ›

East Texas Woman Brings Federal Class Action Lawsuit Against VRBO's Travel Insurer. An East Texas woman has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company that serves as the VRBO travel website's exclusive travel insurance provider.

Why is Vrbo fee so high? ›

The service fee is a percentage of the total amount of the reservation, excluding taxes and refundable fees paid by the guest. This fee helps cover the cost of secure transactions, product development, and 24/7 customer service.

Can a cell phone detect a hidden camera? ›

Yes, a cell phone can detect a hidden camera. Download a hidden camera detector app. Once the app is installed, open it and scan the area for any hidden cameras. The app will then create an alert if any cameras are found.

Can a VRBO owner kick you out? ›

Cancellation of a reservation is still the discretion of the owner.” So, if you rent a vacation home through the services of VRBO or Homeaway, you will pay 100% of the booking price in advance, but the owner can casually cancel it at anytime, at his or her discretion without any penalty or compensation to the tenant.

Does Vrbo charge cleaning fee? ›

Cleaning Fee

Almost all Vrbo properties charge a cleaning fee which may differ depending on the location, size of the property, and the cleaner's rates. Cleaning fees could include basic cleaning, laundering linens, restock amenities, and anything else that helps the renter create beautiful staging for the next guest.

How much do you have to pay upfront on Vrbo? ›

In most circumstances the rental agreement will require a deposit of 10% - 50% to confirm the reservation, with full payment received 8 weeks prior to arrival. It is important that all payments be submitted as specified in the rental agreement in order to avoid losing your reservation and/or your booking deposit.

Does VRBO report rental income to the IRS? ›

Don't panic if you get an IRS letter

However, because of reporting laws, companies like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO may report to the IRS all income you receive from short-term rentals, even if you rent for less than two weeks. If reported, this income will likely be reflected on a Form 1099-K.

Is vrbo cheaper than hotels? ›

Hotels are probably a little bit cheaper overall, especially if you can find a budget reservation. But when it comes to renting a larger house for more than a few people, or getting a great deal on a prime location, VRBO is best.

Does vrbo make you pay all at once? ›

They set up their preferred payment schedule. When you book a property, you will see in your quote if the host requires one, two, or three payments for the booking. The first payment gets paid at the time of booking. Due dates for any additional payment(s) will be set to a date that the host chooses.

Does Vrbo charge a monthly fee? ›

It's a big vacation rental channel that receives millions of visitors and bookings every year. Property owners can list their properties on Vrbo, paying an annual subscription fee of $499 or choosing a pay-per-booking model.

How much do Vrbo owners make? ›

When a guest books your listing, you earn between 95% to 100% of the booking fee minus a 3% credit card processing fee. Hosts can also add fees to their nightly rate. VRBO lets hosts charge standard fees (extra guest fees, cleaning fees, pet fees) and 14 other custom fees.

Is Vrbo more expensive? ›

Differences in Service Fees

Both structures equate to about the same but hosts tend to prefer the low host fee structure offered by Airbnb. Most hosts listing on both channels often inflate the nightly rates on VRBO to reflect the higher cost of acquisition (COA).

How do vrbo hosts get paid? ›

You get paid through our secure payment platform which allows you to take advantage of Visa, Mastercard, and American Express processing.

Is VRBO owned by Marriott? ›

Unlike AirBnB or VRBO, which is owned by Expedia, the properties in Marriott's Homes & Villas program are all professionally managed by housing management companies.

What companies are owned by VRBO? ›

Our family of travel brands includes: Brand Expedia®, Hotels.com®, Expedia® Partner Solutions, Vrbo®, Egencia®, trivago®, HomeAway®, Orbitz®, Travelocity®, Hotwire®, Wotif®, ebookers®, CheapTickets®, Expedia Group™ Media Solutions, Expedia Local Expert®, CarRentals.com™, Expedia® CruiseShipCenters®, Classic Vacations®, ...

What happened to VRBO? ›

Expedia now owns VRBO and the first change they made was to introduce a (VRBO) Service Fee in February of 2016 of 4-12%. The VRBO Service Fees are applied to your payment when you complete the booking online on any of sites owned by Expedia and the percentage you'll pay has risen.

What is a cheaper alternative to Airbnb? ›

AirBnB Alternatives
  • Vrbo.
  • Booking.com.
  • The Plum Guide.
  • Agoda Homes.
  • Homestay.
  • Sonder.
  • Blueground.
  • House Sitting.
Dec 24, 2022

Who is the richest Airbnb owner? ›

Chesky is co-founder and chief executive officer of Airbnb, the room-sharing service with 6 million listings in 100,000 towns and cities worldwide. The San Francisco-based publicly traded company has had more than a billion guests since it was founded in 2008 and reported revenue of $6 billion in 2021.

Why do people use Vrbo? ›

VRBO is a website that allows people to find vacation rental properties all over the world. People use VRBO for a variety of reasons, including finding a place to stay for their vacation, finding a place to stay for an event, or finding a place to stay for a temporary job assignment.

What is the purpose of Vrbo? ›

Vrbo is short for Vacation Rentals by Owner, and it's a website that does exactly what it sounds like. Vrbo is an online vacation rental site where property owners can list their homes for rent, travelers can book them and Vrbo handles the transaction.

Is Vrbo cheaper than hotels? ›

Hotels are probably a little bit cheaper overall, especially if you can find a budget reservation. But when it comes to renting a larger house for more than a few people, or getting a great deal on a prime location, VRBO is best.

What is the difference between home away and Vrbo? ›

What's the difference between Vrbo and HomeAway? Both are online travel agencies and have the same functionalities, there is a difference when it comes to users. Vrbo tends to be used more by homeowners in the US, Mexico and Canada, whilst HomeAway has more active users in Europe, India and Australia.

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