If you’re sick of being let down by hotel-room photos that misrepresent the quality of the place you’re going to be staying, we have the solution for you: property and vacation-rental apps. According to this survey, in 2015, 1 in 3 Americans had used a property-rental service, and the majority use them for travel and leisure, for visiting family, and for business.
It’s no surprise why these apps have become so popular; they let you save money, you can see real photographs of them before you book, hosts can help you get acquainted with the area you’re in – the reasons go on and on. But the question that’s much more difficult to answer is: which property-rental app is the best?
We’ve compiled a list of the best 15 apps, sorted into categories based on your travel needs. Whether you’re looking for a good price, a focus on safety, or something with variety, we’ve got you covered with what we’re going to cove in this article:
- Best property-rental apps for getting a good price
- Best vacation rental apps for families
- Best property-rental apps for international travel
- Tips for booking using a property-rental app
- How to stay safe while using property-rental apps
Read on to learn more about the best property-rental apps on the market, and help decide which one is best for you and your next vacation.
Best property-rental apps for a good price
These are some of the most popular apps on the market that are well-known for offering good services for a fair price. If you’re looking for a well-established service that you can get great deals on because of their popularity, these apps may be the right choice for you.
Airbnb is one of the most popular property-renting apps out there, and they claim to have the most listings. Millions of rentals have been facilitated and completed through their website and app, and there’s a good reason why. Airbnb helps regulate prices by making suggestions for their hosts, they have an expansive online community for guests and hosts to help one another, and they give you absolutely all the information you could possibly need through their app.
FlipKey is an online property-rental site and app with over 300, 000 listings around the world that you can choose from. They also provide inspiration for vacations based on your searches and the places you are interested in, and can help guide you through the process of booking. They are also partnered with TripAdvisor, so if you love that site for its reviews, you’ll love Flipkey too!
Booking.com has grown from a small Amsterdam-based startup in 1996 to a well-known travel-based ecommerce website in recent years. Their booking locations are available for over 1.5 million properties in 120, 000 destinations in 229 countries throughout the world – and their services are available in over 40 languages! They have no booking fees, and a price-match guarantee – so if you find a lower price somewhere else, Booking.com will match it for you!
Couchsurfing is an app that helps you with exactly what you would think: meeting locals to stay at their place with them. However, it’s not nearly as dangerous of an idea as you might think! This app helps you match with locals who want to host, make new friends, and show travellers how great their city is – all for free! The expectation is that you show your host appreciation in some way – maybe by taking them out to dinner or for drinks. You can also get identity verified on the app, to make sure you’re staying with legitimate people who want to show you a great time!
5. 2nd Address
Formerly HomeSuite, 2nd Address allows you to rent fully furnished, quality homes, for a 30-day minimum stay. This app targets long-term stays, especially those travelling for business, as many of the properties they offer are what most people would consider “premium.”
With thousands of homes, apartments, and condos available for rent, you choose the city you want, the length of stay, and you could be temporarily moving into a fully-furnished home with everything ready for you. The benefit is that because there is a 30-day minimum stay, the prices are lower in general than if you were to use a regular property-rental service and try to book for a whole month.
Best Feature: You get total privacy, and a fully-furnished stay.
Download It Now: App coming soon! Use their website for now!
The best vacation rental apps for families
These apps all put a focus on safety and reliability, which is more important than price for some – especially if you’re travelling in large groups or with families. These apps offer something in the category of guarantees, refunds, security, and everything else that gives you piece of mind while booking.
HomeAway is one of the leaders in property-rental apps, and is the parent company of many other apps listed in this article. With over 2 million available homes in 190 countries – it’s has one of the largest varieties of properties to choose from. One of the best things about HomeAway is its extensive “Book with Confidence” guarantee, which offers a 100% refund on your security deposit if it is wrongly withheld, 100% protection of your payment if you fall victim to scam, fraud, or phishing, property misrepresentation, or withholding of access, and they offer emergency rebooking assistance so you aren’t left stranded.
To learn more, check out our free course on how HomeAway works.
VRBO, a member of the HomeAway travel family is another great app for booking vacations with safety in mind. Because they are part of HomeAway, they also offer the “Book with Confidence” Guarantee. VRBO also doesn’t release payment to your host until after you’ve checked in, to prevent them from any kind of misdoing. Though the companies merged, the key difference between them is that they kept their listings – and many of the listings on VRBO are family and child friendly, have more yard space, and allow pets (on average, based on their total listings).
To learn more, have a read through our VRBO course to learn how to use it.
Wimdu is an app that has been particularly popular for travel in Europe, and offers over 350, 000 city apartments in over 150 countries to choose from. It is also great for family travel as they check identity and quality of properties thoroughly to make sure they are up to standard. They also offer 24/7 customer support, so if you ever needed assistance with your booking, or with your stay, you know they have you covered.
Best Feature: Triple-checks property to verify they are up to a quality and trustworthy standard.
Download It Now: iOS
9flats offers you over 6 million locations to choose from; their aim: help you find a home away from home. They also offer travel in unique and high-demand locations by targeting hosts who live in prime travel spots in the best cities in the world. They also offer the option of choosing a “friendly host” which is a person who is willing to help show you around and give you pointers about your destination – and these people are carefully vetted by 9flats to ensure you stay safe – you really can’t ask for more than that when travelling with family. 9flats recently merged with Wimdu, so you can use their app to gain access to these services!
Homelidays is part of the HomeAway family as well, but services travellers in three of the common languages of the world (other than English): French, Spanish, and Italian. If you speak one of those languages, but want the same options as you get with HomeAway, then Homelidays may be for you. You can also sign up for great deals by email, and use their travel guide to look through recommendations of some of their most popular travel destinations.
Best property-rental apps for international travel
If you’re taking your vacation across the world and need an app that has the resources to get you there, check out these 5 apps that are great for international property-rentals because they have many listings, and proven customer service to help you in a variety of countries and situations.
Expedia is one of the most well-known and trusted travel agencies in the world, and can provide accommodations not only for property rentals, but for all-inclusive vacations, flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, fun activities at your destination, and so much more. Expedia has great customer service, and they offer decent cancellation policies on their bookings, as well as a 24-hour price-match guarantee if you find a lower price on another website or app.
To learn more, try our free course on how to use Expedia to book travel.
Priceline gets you deals on travel accommodations, and offers flash sales to help you save money whenever you are booking. If you need quality accommodations that you can rely on for this vacation, and are interested in a variety of destinations all over the world, then Priceline is the app for you. They also offer rewards programs, so if you are a frequent traveller, you can get rewards for your bookings, and even free nights in select hotels after a certain number of stays.
Learn more about this in our free Priceline course.
Coming to you from the HomeAway family, VacationRentals.com is another travel site and app that’s going to help you book with confidence, and make a secure payment, all while giving you a choice between 1 million properties to rent. VacationRentals also sorts their listings into easy-to-navigate categories to help you plan your vacation if you’re not quite sure what you want.
HolidayLettings.com comes from the TripAdvisor family, so again, you’re getting access to those great TripAdvisor reviews. They have listings from all over the world, so you have plenty of options to choose from. They also offer a great section of “Trip Ideas” to help you pick themes for your trips such as “log cabins, ” “villas with pools,” “cheap vacations abroad,” and more. HolidayLettings also lets home owners list their properties for free!
Another TripAdvisor site, but HouseTrip.com is especially good for trips in Europe, as that was where it originally became popular. They have great guides to help assist your planning, especially if you’re looking in Europe, or the United Kingdom. They also accept many major credit cards and payment methods, to help give you a few more options if you need it!
Tips for booking with a property-rental app
If you’re new to the property-rental app game, or you’re just tired of picking drab places that don’t get you what you need, read these tips to help you book better vacations in the future!
1. Don’t book the first place you see, and try to negotiate the price with the host.
Never book the first place you see – no matter how good it looks to you. It will most likely still be there in a couple of hours! Always shop around on whichever site you choose so you have at minimum 5 or 6 accommodations to choose from and compare before you pay any host a single dollar.
If you want to save some money while booking, remember this isn’t a multi-national hotel chain you are booking with – the price may be negotiable. You are dealing directly with the property owner, so it’s possible they may be open to lowering the price for you if you show genuine interest in their property. Remember, for the host to lower the price, they will most likely want proof that you are a well-reviewed guest within the app, and that your stay will not be a liability to them in any way.
2. Ask as many questions as you can before tapping that Book button.
It’s important for you to make sure you connect with the host and ask any questions you need to before booking. If you pay the host and then wait until the day before your stay to ask questions, chances are you may not be able to have any accommodations you need met. In addition, if it turns out the venue isn’t a good fit for you, it may be too late to cancel after you pay, depending on the timing and the individual host.
3. If you have wiggle room, book at the last minute.
Booking at the last minute might be a little more stressful, but it can sometimes end up saving you a lot of money. If no one has booked their place for the next couple of days, they are likely to negotiate their price with you and lower it. However, if you’re using this tactic, you want to make sure you’re willing to make some compromises; if you’re not that picky, this method can save you a lot of money, but you probably won’t get exactly what you want, and have to be willing to make some quick decisions.
4. Do research before you book to find comparable price points and create realistic expectations.
Before you book anything, we would recommend doing as much research as possible into the specific area you are looking to travel too on whichever property-booking website you choose to use. By looking at all of the available options, you’ll get a much better idea of what the prices are (roughly), and know if you’re getting a good value, as well as how to negotiate to get what you want.
How to stay safe when using property-rental apps
- Don’t give out your personal information to individuals – these sites are supposed to help facilitate the contact between a guest and a person who has a place to offer. You shouldn’t need to be giving out your personal information to the host for any reason, as everything they need is already on your profile on the website. If they are asking for your personal address, credit card information, Social Security Number, and so on, you shouldn’t be booking with them
- Always confirm your booking by directly contacting the owner – if you want to make sure everything is lined up before leaving, make sure to contacting the property owner and getting confirmation that everything is set up for your stay. This will prevent things such as the owner forgetting to leave you keys, and other situations that can put you in danger.
- Read reviews before you book – always read as many reviews about the property and host as possible before you book. All the small details other guests leave for you can help you identify a possible situation that might cause you harm when you arrive.
- Let a friend or relative know where you will be – before you leave, let a close friend or relative know where you will be going and roughly what time you will be there. If they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they will know you might be in danger and can offer you assistance if you need it.
- Use sites that offer identity verification – many of these vacation-rental sites now offer you the chance to book only with people who have verified their identity – either through a driver’s license or passport. This means you know they are a real person and aren’t running a scam to try to take your money – or something worse! Choose to only use websites that offer this, but remember, you will need to verify your identity as well.
- Only look at listings with positive guest feedback – don’t waste your time with listings that have a lot of negative feedback and think that it might be different when you get there – chances are, it won’t. Stick with listings you can trust, and hosts who have proven time and time again that they themselves are trustworthy.
- A price that seems to good to be true probably is – if a price listed is astonishingly low, don’t jump on it right away because you think someone else is going to book it before you! Wait and do A LOT more research, because if a price is so low that you think you need to book right away, the host is probably doing something malicious to get people to book without questioning. Don’t book unless you’ve done plenty of research to indicate that the listing is legitimate.
Now you’ve got a handle on the best vacation rental apps on the market, and planning your next vacation should be a cinch! Be sure to check out the rest of our website, including our articles about vacation rentals that can help you do everything you need to online! We’ve also got helpful articles about booking flights and hotels to make everything a little easier.