Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Which Is Best for Travelers?

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Travelers frequently use Airbnb or Vrbo — two of the most popular vacation rental websites — to book short-term vacation rentals. Deciding which of these options to use for booking a place to stay can be challenging. Keep reading to learn about Vrbo vs. Airbnb and which one typically works better for travelers.

Vrbo vs. Airbnb at a Glance

Originally called Vacation Rentals by Owner, Vrbo was launched in 1995 and is owned by Expedia Group. Airbnb came along in 2007.

Vacationers often use Airbnb and Vrbo for travel accommodations instead of staying in hotels. The platforms offer some similar features and experiences for guests. While Airbnb has more listings, Vrbo typically offers more traditional accommodation choices, including property and room types.

Here’s a quick comparison of the two platforms’ features, including their similarities and differences.

Feature Airbnb Vrbo
Instant booking Available Available
Number of listings 6.6 million global listings Over 2 million global listings
Typical guest profiles Travelers with flexible schedules looking for adventurous getaways Families with children
Types of vacation rentals – Shared rooms and spaces
– Entire properties
– Large variety
– Entire properties
– Family vacation homes
– Traditional properties
Cancellation policy – Guests must log in to cancel or make changes to reservations
– Policies vary by property
– Guests must log in to cancel or make changes to reservations
– Policies may be relaxed, moderate, firm, strict or offer no refund
– It typically varies by property
Fees – Split fee: Hosts pay 3% and guests pay under 14.2% of booking subtotal
– Hosts may charge additional fees, such as cleaning or pet fees
– At least 8% of the booking costs; excludes taxes
– Hosts may charge additional cleaning or pet fees
Guest reviews Up to 14 days after a stay to leave a review Up to one year after a stay to leave a review

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Booking Flexibility

Both Airbnb and Vrbo allow property owners and managers to choose the type of cancellation policies they would like to have on their properties. The range of options means that Airbnb and Vrbo have very similar flexibility. However, while Vrbo has five types of cancellation policies to choose from, Airbnb has nine.

Which Is Safer To Use — Vrbo or Airbnb?

Safety is a common concern when using websites and mobile apps to search for travel accommodations. Here is how Airbnb and Vrbo address some of the safety concerns their users may have.

Airbnb Safety Concerns

Many travelers are wary about staying in a stranger’s home, regardless of whether the host is present on the property or not. In this case, booking a hotel room may be preferable. To do this, simply select “Hotel room” when filtering Airbnb accommodations.

Another safety concern involves the sharing of personal information. Airbnb guest and host profiles contain personal details that users might not want to be disclosed to other site users, such as addresses and contact information. Fortunately, this information remains concealed from both parties until a booking is confirmed.

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It should be noted that Airbnb processes PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and debit and credit card payments. Hosts are not privy to guests’ bank card information and aren’t allowed to request money from guests outside of the Airbnb platform.

Airbnb also offers a 24-Hour Safety Line that offers assistance with quick re-bookings for guests who feel unsafe in their current Airbnb booking.

Vrbo Safety Concerns 

On Vrbo, vacation rentals are booked as contractual agreements between guests and property owners or managers. A property owner is ultimately responsible for resolving any safety issue during a guest’s stay. Guests are entitled to a refund of their booking payment and may include a security deposit refund if one was collected at the time of booking.

To further prevent travelers’ risk and ensure safety when booking a stay, Vrbo recommends that travelers take the following precautions:

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Which Is Less Expensive — Airbnb or Vrbo?

Airbnb’s guest service fees are typically more expensive than Vrbo’s fees. Guest service fees on Airbnb are typically under 14.2% of the booking subtotal. Vrbo’s booking fee is at least 8% of the total cost of the rental. These fees do not include taxes.

There are a few things that could drive the cost of Vrbo rentals higher than those from Airbnb. Some of these include:

Vrbo also offers a payment plan to travelers who qualify with a “buy at your own pace” payment provider, Affirm. Users pay between 10% and 30% APR based on their credit profile to use the Affirm payment plan. Airbnb does not offer this plan.

Which App Is Better?

The Vrbo and Airbnb apps are pretty similar. Users can search their vacation destination, their planned travel dates and the number of guests that will be staying. Users first see the search results in a split-screen list and map format. The results can be further filtered by different features, including house rules, host language, what’s nearby and property amenities.

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One difference between the two apps is that in Airbnb’s map browser view, the nightly rate for accommodations is shown to help users compare prices at a high level, whereas Vrbo doesn’t have that feature.

Airbnb also has a Categories search function, which allows users to search by type of accommodation — such as surfing, farms, iconic cities or vineyards — in addition to location, dates and number of guests.

Final Take

Travelers who prefer city life and experiencing new adventures may consider Airbnb the better choice. Airbnb offers a wide variety of low-, mid- and high-priced vacation rental properties and accommodations, from single rooms to shared spaces.

Because Vrbo travelers tend to vacation in large groups, it might be a better option for big families and friends. Guests can only book entire private spaces. However, Vrbo offers fewer listings, meaning less variety and fewer choices for guests.


  • Do more people use Airbnb or Vrbo?
    • Vrbo currently has around 48 million active users. However, Airbnb is much larger in comparison, with over 150 million active users
  • How do you spot fake listings on Vrbo and Airbnb?
    • Some property listings on Vrbo and Airbnb are from scammers. A few red flags to look for when spotting fake listings include:
      • -Lack of credible reviews
      • -Grainy photos
      • -Attempts to move the transaction off the app
  • What do Airbnb and Vrbo do to counter scammers?
    • Airbnb provides safety information on its website, including details on what it does to prevent fake listings, such as using machine learning to check listings and safeguarding contact and payment information.
    • Vrbo offers information about safeguarding your personal and payment information. Vrbo also offers a Book With Confidence guarantee, which will provide you with a refund in the event that you are scammed.
  • Why do people use Vrbo instead of Airbnb?
    • Someone might select Vrbo over Airbnb if they are looking for a selection of private residences or a whole-home rental as Vrbo does not allow shared-space rentals.

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Chris Ozarowski and Cynthia Measom contributed to the reporting for this article.

Data is accurate as of March 27, 2023, and is subject to change.