These 7 sites can be cheaper, safer, have better rating systems, or other great features that set them apart from HomeAway.
HomeAway.com is one of the best online vacation property rental booking websites, allowing you to choose from over 1 million listed properties. It often allows you to book a vacation cheaper than with typical hotels or booking websites. With no booking fees, a two-way rating system, advanced security measures, and guarantees and insurance that protect both renters and guests, HomeAway is a great alternative to other similar websites. However, with so many listings, it can be overwhelming when trying to find a suitable property. And with a lack of verification of the identity of guests or property owners, it does pose some security risks.
HomeAway’s competitors address its core drawbacks. For example, Flipkey.com verifies its property owners, while Airbnb.com has the biggest user base. A handful of other websites have great features to compete with HomeAway, and we’ll go over each below and put them head-to-head, telling you all about:
- Ultimate list of the 8 best HomeAway alternatives
- HomeAway alternatives comparison table: coverage, guest protection, and more
- Are property rental websites safe to use?
- Is short-term property rental legal in my area?
- Which HomeAway alternative is best for property owners?
- What additional or hidden fees come with property rental?
- Helpful articles about property rental sites and apps
We’ll get right down to it; here is our list of the 8 best websites like HomeAway, and what they can offer you.
Ultimate list of the 7 best HomeAway alternatives
Same company as HomeAway – with some added benefits
- Has worldwide coverage and over 2 million individual listings in 190 countries
- Offers a Book with Confidence guarantee so you are always covered
- Contains a lot of full-sized homes and apartments so it works great for families too
VRBO.com or “Vacation Rentals by Owner” is very similar to HomeAway because it is owned by them! With over 2 million listings, VRBO offers many full homes and apartments for rent, making it a great choice for families. VRBO also offers the same guarantees and insurance plans as HomeAway, so you can feel secure making payments and booking through their online service. If you want to learn more, check out our course on how to use VRBO.
Well-reviewed hosts and daily deals
- Has a daily deal so you can always get an amazing offer
- Uses the TripAdvisor rating system so you get the most sophisticated traveller rating system
- Well-reviewed hosts are always prioritized on the website
Flipkey.com is one of the largest alternatives to HomeAway, with over 50,000 listings in 1100 cities around the world. One of Flipkey’s best attributes is its verification system, as all property owners are verified by the staff, making your chances of booking with a dishonest renter — or being defrauded — much lower than it is with other booking websites. Featuring over 5000 booking deals each day, Flipkey is one of the best rental property booking websites to find a great deal with! Flipkey is owned by travel giant TripAdvisor.
The most available offerings of any property-rental website
- The world’s most popular property rental website
- Over 4 million listings in 191 countries
- Verifies users so it’s safer for renters and owners
Airbnb.com is one of HomeAway’s largest competitors, with listings in 34, 000 cities in over 191 countries. Serving over 60 million guests, with 4 million listings, Airbnb is one of the pioneers of the online vacation rental listing business. It is very similar to HomeAway, and is certainly the largest and most established online rental booking website; Airbnb is sure to have a listing for you. However, because of its reputation, Airbnb listings tend to be slightly more costly than other websites with fewer renters. Check out Airbnb’s website now to see if you can find a listing that’s right for you, or visit our Airbnb course to learn more.
Don’t pay until after you check in and verify everything is fine
- Hosts are encouraged to show you around the area you’re staying in
- Accepts Bitcoin
- Offer official receipts, which helps people travelling for business
With less than 500,000 properties, 9flats.com is one of the smaller competitors to HomeAway. However, it provides some online rental property booking features that no other websites do. For example, 9flats offers multiple ways for you to carry out your secure payment, including using the anonymous Bitcoin currency. The hosts are also responsible for paying the booking fees – not the guest – so you can save money when you book with 9flats. 9flats also requires hosts to respond to rental requests within 24 hours, as well as holding off on payment until 24 hours after your check-in, like Flipkey and Wimdu.
Renting to feel like a local
- Some properties are verified by Wimdu staff, who take photos
- Has prime-location offerings in large, popular cities
- Focuses on making you feel like a local
Wimdu.com is one of HomeAway’s biggest alternatives, with over 300, 000 listings in over 150 countries, serving over 1 million registered users. Similar to HomeAway, your stay is insured, and like Flipkey, your payment isn’t released to the property owner until 24 hours after your check-in. This leaves you plenty of opportunity to report any inconsistencies with the property and its advertisement – without losing your money. Wimdu has begun doing on-site checks of their properties, and does periodic spot checks to ensure the quality of the listings is maintained throughout the year. This makes sure the listings on Wimdu are always relevant.
When you want a nice place that has been verified
- OneFineStay staff organize in-person visits to verify homes and hosts
- Approval rate for hosts is a mere 1 in 10 to ensure quality
- Only full-access exclusive spaces are offered – not rooms in big homes
OneFineStay.com is a HomeAway alternative that takes a more invested approach in the quality of stay of each of its guests. The OneFineStay staff hand-pick the available rental properties, ensuring you will always choose a great location for your stay. With OneFineStay, you also never need to share spaces, as you sometimes do with properties listed on sites like HomeAway or Airbnb. With OneFineStay, you also get advice about attractions and popular tourist destinations from locals in the area, so you can better plan what to do when you leave the property. Because the OneFineStay staff have recommended these locations, the number of available listings on OneFineStay is much more limited than other websites. However, you’re sure to be staying at a quality location, and are extremely unlikely to have a negative experience with any of the properties.
When you’re looking for the resort life
- Offers rentals for resorts within North America
- Is known for good customer service and less legal confusion due to small area of service
- Offers ‘pay-over-time’ financing options for your vacations
Vacatia.com is (relatively) new to the property rental game, but it offers a unique service you won’t find anywhere else. With Vacatia, you can find room at for you and your family at resorts all over North America and the Caribbean. You can compare resort prices and amenities, as well as learn about things you can do at each resort. Book instantly; no need to contact the owner – Vacatia will take care of everything.
HomeAway alternatives comparison table: coverage, guest protection, and more
Check out how these rental property websites stack up next to one another – with all the features you care most about.
|Website/App||Best Feature||Coverage||Guest Protection||Biggest Downside|
|Cares about safety and security, and guarantees your stay||Listings: 1m|
|Elaborate Book with Confidence Guarantee||Mainly family-driven, homey listings|
|Has the largest number of available homes, other than Airbnb|
|Elaborate Book with Confidence Guarantee||Prices are generally higher|
|Part of the TripAdvisor network, including unparalleled reviews of properties|
|Helpful TripAdvisor Payment Protection||Some bookings require phone or email direct to host|
|Has the largest worldwide network of hosts offering properties|
|Airbnb Cancellation Policies, host verification||Prices are generally higher|
|Hosts encouraged to make you feel like a local and offer tours around the area|
|Property damage coverage||Encourages more contact between host and guest (less private)|
|Verifies and photographs select properties to ensure quality|
|Host verification, quality-check of listings, property damage coverage||Focusses its attention on Europe|
|In-person visits of homes means quality units and little chance for fraud|
Countries: Europe only
|Visits homes in person to verify quality||Very limited number of listings|
|Allows you to make payments over time, so you don't have to pay a large sum at once|
|None - standard customer service only||Only operates in North America and the Caribbean for resorts|
Are property rental websites safe to use?
Vacation-rental websites are safe to use, in general, as they provide protections for both renters and owners. If you practice basic diligence before booking by always reading reviews of property owners, and contacting them to find out all relevant information, you should have no issues when booking.
You can also always utilize customer service if you run into any issues. To help you feel more at ease, here are some of the safety measures property-sharing websites utilize to protect you:
- Secure payment platform – These websites offer you a secure way to make your payments.
What you need to do: Never pay a property owner outside of the secure service, no matter what kind of ridiculous story they give you about why you need to.
- Don’t release payment until check-in – Some property sites now hold your payment until 24 hours after your check-in so that the owner loses their incentive to commit fraud or a phishing scam – if there’s a problem upon arrival, they won’t get the money.
What you need to do: Try using sites that offer this feature if you’re booking a listing that has few or no reviews of it or the owner.
- Verify identities – Many sites allow users to upload documents verifying their identity, either making it a requirement, or favoring those who do.
What you need to do: Upload a supported form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) so the website can verify who you are.
- Help you find a replacement dwelling – If you’re taken for a ride and now have nowhere to stay overnight, some services will help find you a comparable home for the night – for free.
Is short-term property rental legal in my area?
This question has a different answer depending on the country and city that you currently reside in. To find out if you can rent your property out, check your local laws to ensure it is legal. In general, booking properties as a guest would not be illegal – the legality concerns only the property owner.
Which HomeAway alternative is best for property owners?
The best HomeAway alternative for property owners is either Airbnb or VRBO. VRBO is run by the same company as HomeAway, and has similar practices focusing on safety. Airbnb has the most offerings, and the most active users, so it increases the exposure your home will have to potential renters.
What additional or hidden fees come with property rental?
This depends on the terms and conditions of the individual website, as well as the host you are booking with, as most hosts have the liberty of adding additional fees if they choose, and some websites have added booking fees. Some common fees that are added after you see the base price include:
- Booking fee: for making the transaction (which helps the website make money to provide this service)
- Check-in fee: for helping you check-in when you arrive
- Cleaning fee: to cover the costs the host takes on to clean after you leave
- Deposit: to cover the costs of damage if there is any (if not, this is returned to you)
- “Pool” or “Hot Tub” fee: for using that item within the residence
- Taxes: for booking within the particular region you choose
Helpful articles about property rental sites and apps
These articles can help you with your search for the best in vacation rentals:
- The 15 Best Vacation and Property-Rental Apps to Book On – an overview of the best sites and apps out there for vacation rentals
- Best Travel Apps Guide: Make Plans, Book Flights, and Find Deals – the ultimate guide to booking travel online
- 9 Best Sites and Apps to Find a Cheap Last-Minute Hotel Room – if you’d rather stick with hotels, here’s how to book one for low prices at the last-minute
- Vacation Rentals – our helpful articles and tutorials with everything you need to know about booking vacations online
- Flights and Hotels – our collection of articles on the best sites and apps to help with booking flights and hotels