Save on Airbnb with Credit Card and Airline Rewards

Use points or miles to save on Airbnb and VRBO rentals. You can also rack up rewards to save on future travel.

A couple with four children walks out of a vacation home across the deck to the beach.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Traveling families and groups can generally save on Airbnb and VRBO rentals compared to hotels. And longer stays are often cheaper when booked at vacation rentals. However, if you’re a frequent traveler and you’ve racked up points or miles on travel rewards credit cards or through other loyalty programs, you typically won’t be able to use them to book a vacation rental. But you can harness Airbnb and VRBO co-branded loyalty programs to earn even more points, which you can use for airfare or other travel expenses.

Here’s a guide to earning and redeeming points or miles by booking an Airbnb or VRBO.  And not to get too existential, but are Airbnbs really cheaper than hotels? We have answers.

How to earn points or miles on an Airbnb stay

Two airline loyalty programs will allow you to earn points or miles for Airbnb stays

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Earn rewards for a VRBO stay

VRBO, the vacation rental competitor to Airbnb, also has partnerships that can earn you rewards.

United MileagePlus: Book your VRBO property through the United/VRBO portal to earn three United MileagePlus miles for each dollar spent at VRBO. MileagePlus miles are each worth about 0.9 cents. Access the portal through the terms and conditions page of the program.

One Key Rewards: VRBO participates in the One Key Rewards program. When you sign up for the free program, you earn OneKeyCash when you book eligible travel on Expedia,, and Vrbo. One Key bookings earn 2% points back for each dollar spent. You can use these rewards on future bookings. If you book on, you may be able to use your travel card or enter your airline loyalty program to stack your rewards. 

Can you redeem rewards for an Airbnb or VRBO stay?

Some travel experts may recommend buying Airbnb gift cards with reward credit card redemptions, but that approach is complicated and rarely worth the trouble. Others may suggest cashing out miles or rewards to pay for Airbnb or VRBO rentals, but that's a waste of rewards that will likely get a better return when spent on travel. For example, if you have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you could cash them out for one cent per point to pay for an Airbnb rental, but depending on your card, you might get 1.25 or 1.5 cents for purchasing other travel on the card.

If your travel credit card has an annual travel credit, you may be able to get credit for your Airbnb or VRBO purchase. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card provides $300 in travel credits per year, allowing you to get reimbursed for up to $300 in Airbnb or VRBO expenses. Be sure to check with your credit card company that these vacation rentals will qualify for the travel credit, as terms change often.

Another way to make your Airbnb or VRBO stay count is to use a flat-rate cash back credit card; at least you will earn 2% or 3% back on your stay.

Are Airbnb and VRBO rentals cheaper than hotel rooms?

It has been a given that vacation rentals like Airbnb would save money over a hotel room. That assumption, at least for one or two travelers, may now be wrong. A 2023 study by the U.K. consumer website, Which?, found that a hotel room is cheaper than a one-bedroom Airbnb or VRBO rental in 38 of 50 destinations. 

However, the study did not consider how much travelers could save by having a kitchen in a vacation rental. For those staying in expensive cities like London or Paris, eating in can save substantially over dining out. And many vacation rentals have washing machines and dryers. If you're in a hotel, you could pay a premium to have a laundry service wash your clothes. Or you might have to trek to a laundromat  — the last thing anyone wants to do on their vacation.

The study also failed to compare the cost of large vacation rentals to the corresponding number of hotel rooms. Families often opt for vacation rentals because they tend to get a better deal than on multiple hotel rooms.

However, the outlook for Airbnb and VRBO properties is in flux, especially in large cities.

Given the tight housing market and lack of affordable housing in the U.S. and abroad, several cities are trying to reduce the number of vacation rentals, which could raise prices in the long term. 

For example, New York City implemented strict short-term rental rules last September, saying that the 10,000 such units diminished the city's supply of rental housing. By the end of September, the city had approved just over 400 applications from landlords seeking to register their apartments legally as Airbnb or VRBO properties, according to Gothamist

Other locations are changing development laws to discourage Airbnb or VRBO. The city of Providence, RI has approved a new housing development with the caveat that the apartments can never be used for vacation rentals.  

Vacation rentals have also piled on the fees in recent years. Those fees for cleaning a property after you leave or for extra guests can add up. And starting on April 1, Airbnb is adding a 2% cross-currency fee. This fee applies to guests who book rentals in a different currency than that of the host country. 

To Airbnb or not to Airbnb?

If you are traveling as a large family or group, Airbnb or VRBO may still be your cheapest bet in some locations, especially if you plan on doing your own cooking and laundry. But with current market conditions and fees, it makes sense to compare the price of a vacation rental with a hotel. 

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Ellen Kennedy
Personal Finance Editor,

Ellen writes and edits personal finance stories, especially on credit cards and related products. She also covers the nexus between sustainability and personal finance. She was a manager and sustainability analyst at Calvert Investments for 15 years, focusing on climate change and consumer staples. She served on the sustainability councils of several Fortune 500 companies and led corporate engagements. Before joining Calvert, Ellen was a program officer for Winrock International, managing loans to alternative energy projects in Latin America. She earned a master’s from the U.C. Berkeley in international relations and Latin America.