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)

Everything I have read about the new VRBO platform is scary, but true. They are trying to scare guests into booking and paying directly through them (at a high price) by offering a “guarantee” that they can’t even provide. Only the homeowner knows 100% if the property is available, what the correct price is, if the home meets their guests’ needs, if their dog is allowed, etc. Our homes are not hotel rooms and guests shouldn’t be forced to book sight unseen without open & private communications with the owners or property managers. 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. Consumers should use VRBO and these large conglomerate booking sites to find a property they like and then just search the internet to locate the owner, property name or property website – super easy!! OR, like I will be doing in the future, contacting a local real estate rental office directly. Please be aware – after I told a guest that I didn’t charge additional booking fees and that they could find more photos at the property website, VRBO suspended my listing saying I had “violated” their terms. I didn’t know they had done that until weeks later when all inquiries stopped coming in. They monitor ALL emails that go through their site!! VRBO used to mean Vacation Rental By Owner – what a farce – there is no more “Owner” allowed in their new platform. If any other property owners can recommend another good site to list my property on, I am all ears.

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. I can no longer accept checks or PayPal. My clients are charged an extra fee that amounts to hundreds of dollars. If they rented from my other site they would save hundreds of dollars. As a homeowner I find VRBO to be totally lacking in ethics. If you are looking to rent find any way possible to locate the property on other sites. Most owners have their own website, do a search and contact the owner directly and save 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” (my home is worth several hundred thousand dollars) 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 on their site due to the algorithms they have set up to reward those who pay for the Subscription and punish those who do not.”


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