What: VRBO is a well-known site to advertise vacation rentals by owner, but has made some recent homeowner-unfriendly policy changes

Commissions & Fees: 5%, plus 3% credit card transaction fees (or annual fee of $499)

Husl$core: $$$

Where: Worldwide


Before there was AirBnb, VRBO and it’s affiliated companies (Home Away and VacationRentals.com), were the only games in town if you wanted to earn a little extra money renting out a vacation home — or a room in your own home to travelers on vacation. The services are similar.  Both AirBnb and VRBO allow you to list your rental and just pay a service fee when someone books. But VRBO, which lists you on all its affiliated sites, charges a bit more than AirBnb.

The service fee is 5% (vs. AirBnb’s 3%), plus you pay the 3% transaction fee when your guests use a credit card. If you rent your house frequently, VRBO offers the option of paying an annual subscription of $499 instead of the per-booking fees.

AirBnb also covers your home with their insurance policy when it’s rented; VRBO does not. (From the company’s terms and conditions: “Users are solely responsible for obtaining insurance coverage sufficient to protect their properties and guests or their trip, as applicable.  Members agree to provide us with copies of relevant proof of coverage upon request.”)

The site also added a new “service fee” on travelers that can range between 4% and 9%, which is likely to add hundreds of dollars onto the cost of the consumer’s booking. The higher fees, lack of insurance and some highly critical recent reviews caused VRBO to fall in our Husl$core to $$$ vs. Airbnb’s $$$$.

It remains a decent opportunity, but we’d recommend you also check out AirBnb or one of the other home rental sites on our platform, such as WeNeedaVacation.

What their homeowners say: (From Consumer Affairs)

“I used to love VRBO, was happy to pay their yearly fee, and have gotten 99% of my guests through them for years. No more! I am going to try other sites like HomeEscape that has the old VRBO model.”

“I used VRBO to advertise my property for 15 years and was very satisfied. As of this past year they have taken control of my home. I am not allowed to talk to my clients before renting nor accept checks or PayPal. My clients are charged an extra fee that amounts to hundreds of dollars.”

“We bought a small condo and wanted to rent it out on VRBO and Airbnb. After the first 30 days VRBO had no bookings or inquiries. Airbnb was filling up fast with over 10 books in the first 30 days (same photos same description). A few months later we came to the conclusion that Airbnb met our needs much better so we called to cancel VRBO only to be told we can only cancel in the first 30 days and receive a refund. Not satisfied with the customer service or how I was blamed for them not booking the unit. Never will they have my business.”

“Simply said, VRBO, or Homeaway, and Vacation Rentals.com, want those they “use” to pay for the subscription. There are certain parameters that penalize those, like me, who do not. Basically, if you do not pay for a subscription, they put you in the bottom of the search results. I used to get half my business from Homeaway/VRBO until they changed a while ago to a harsh unequal format, that makes Property Management companies their most important customer, meanwhile leaving me, a owner operating rental, scraping for attention.”

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