Airbnb became the most popular online vacation rental site, but does that mean it’s the best? These 8 competitors can offer you features that are an improvement on Airbnb’s service – both for saving money, and for safety.
Airbnb.com is one of the major innovators of online vacation property renting, and its strengths lie in its community-based approach. Hosts and renters verify their identity information, tools are provided for guests to contact hosts and other users, and both hosts and guests can rate each other. This makes it tough for scammers to get a foot in the door, or stay for any amount of time if they do.
(You can book this secluded in-town treehouse here on Airbnb)
However, the extra security measures on Airbnb can make booking a hassle, and Airbnb doesn’t seem to have strong protections for your payment after you book, so the responsibility is on you to weed out (the rare) dishonest hosts before they make off with your money.
So how do you figure out which property rental site is best? The truth is, there is no one “best” property rental site. But there are some great alternatives to Airbnb out there that might better suit your travelling style. For example, if you care about finding the cheapest possible listing, Tripping.com is probably a better option for you. But if it’s safety and protection to your dollar that you care more about, an alternative like HomeAway.com or VRBO.com is likely the answer.
If you need to know more about each of these sites, we’ve compiled a list of their qualities and features, so you can find the perfect property rental site. We’ll help you compare your options, and teach you about property rental sites work, covering:
- Airbnb alternatives comparison table: coverage, guest protection, and more
- The definitive list of the top 8 Airbnb alternatives and competitors
- Are vacation rental sites safe to use?
- Is short-term property-rental legal in my area?
- Other property rental sites and apps FAQs
If you’re ready, jump right in to learn which Airbnb competitor has got what you need.
Airbnb alternatives comparison: coverage, guest protection, and more
|Website/App||Best Feature||Coverage||Guest Protection||Biggest Downside|
|Has the largest worldwide network of hosts offering properties||Listings: 4m|
|Airbnb Cancellation Policies, host verification||Prices are generally higher|
|Has the largest number of available homes, other than Airbnb|
|Elaborate Book with Confidence Guarantee||Prices are generally higher|
|Aggregates prices and deals from the most popular vacation companies|
|None - depends on host website||No customer service or assistance|
|Cares about safety and security, and guarantees your stay|
|Elaborate Book with Confidence Guarantee||Mainly family-driven, homey listings|
|Part of the TripAdvisor network, including unparalleled reviews of properties|
|Helpful TripAdvisor Payment Protection||Some bookings require phone or email direct to host|
|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|
|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|
The definitive list of the top 8 Airbnb alternatives and competitors
The world’s property rental website
- One of the world’s largest property rental websites, offering rentals in multiple countries
- Has one of the best varieties around with over 2 million properties
- Offers users the Book with Confidence guarantee so you can’t lose money using it
Check out this beachfront Caribbean villa on VRBO.
VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) is another website like Airbnb. Owned by HomeAway (which we’ll get to in a minute), it offers over 2 million listings of properties for rent across 190 countries worldwide. It contains a lot of listings for full-size vacation homes and apartments, so it’s a good choice if you want a rental property that’s accessible for your kids, grandkids, or pets.
We can show you how to use this Airbnb rival in our VRBO course!
Collects all available properties around the world – in one place
- Compiles properties from multiple sites in one place
- Allows you to find the lowest price easily through filtering
- Offers exclusive discounts to loyal users
Take a look at the view from this home rental in Hawaii, found on Tripping for as low as $108/night.
Tripping.com is less of a rental property booking website than it is a specialized search engine. That is, it lets you search listings on many different travel booking websites at the same time, so you can look at far more properties on it than a single booking website alone. Plus, you can compare prices for listings posted on multiple websites at once, so that you can be sure that you get the best deal. You can even get exclusive discounts, too!
If you prefer a search aggregate like this, we can show you how to use it for free in our Tripping.com course.
Offers a home away from home – for families
- Book with Confidence guarantee means your investment is protected
- Has a worldwide reach in almost as many countries as Airbnb
- Offers immense variety with over 1 million unique listings
Check out this three-acre cozy cottage in Scotland on HomeAway.
In terms of online rental property booking, HomeAway.com is one of the largest Airbnb competitors, with over 1 million worldwide listings. It offers many of the same services as Airbnb, helping people find rental properties based on their location and travel dates, as well as several other criteria. HomeAway offers its own brand of insurance and other protections so that you can rent with confidence. HomeAway also operates several smaller vacation property renting websites, which are often aimed at certain geographical markets. These include VRBO, TravelMob (for renters in Asia), and VacationRentals.com. Check out the full HomeAway family of sites!
Learn more in our free course on how to use HomeAway.
Daily book deals with well-reviewed hosts
- Offers daily deals to get you fresh booking offers
- Uses TripAdvisor rating system = you get access to the most sophisticated and complex travel review system around
- Hosts that are well-reviewed or the best deal for that time are always prioritized on this website
You’ll be amazed by this Tuscan villa with gorgeous rooms, a private pool, and because it sleeps 20, works out to only $60/person!
A popular Airbnb alternative, FlipKey.com is owned by travel giant TripAdvisor and offers over 300,000 rental listings in over 190 countries from around the world. In addition, all property owners who list their places on FlipKey have to be verified by the website’s staff, so the chance that you’ll book with someone who has dishonest intentions is very low. FlipKey also features over 5000 special booking deals daily, so you can find places to stay for even less! One drawback to FlipKey is that not every listing can be booked directly over the website; some require you to email or phone the property owner – this is due to the fact that FlipKey offers multiple ways to pay for your vacation.
For booking resorts within the North America
- Works with North American resorts to get you better deals
- Offers pay-over-time options, which is rare for property rentals
- Focuses on a smaller geographic area, leading to better customer service and less legal confusion
This Colorado lodge found on Vacatia will awaken your sense of adventure.
Founded in San Francisco in 2013, Vacatia.com is a relative newcomer to the vacation property rental scene. However, its commitment to helping you and your family find a great resort rental unit to stay at during your vacation has earned it rave reviews. With an “A+” accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, Vacatia lets you browse resort units for rent all across North America and the Caribbean. Compare resorts, and view information on things to see and do at your destination. When you’re all set, book your unit instantly – no need to contact the owner, as Vacatia will take care of all the technical stuff for you!
When you want to experience how the locals live
- Offers official receipts for your stay, which makes booking great for business
- Encourage the hosts to show you around, or at least offer you extra information about what you can do in the area
- Offers more secure payment method options, including Bitcoin
For only $60/night, this modern Parisian apartment for 6 is an unbeatable deal on 9flats.
9flats.com is a European-based Airbnb competitor. They’re relatively small (they have less than 500,000 properties), but they have a few unique features that make them attractive if you’re looking to book rental properties. First, they have multiple secure payment methods, including the anonymous currency Bitcoin. Also, all booking fees are paid by the host, not you. 9flats also offers a “Book Now, Pay Later” option, which allows you to make a small installment to confirm your booking, and then pay the remaining balance to the host when you check in; this allows you to save up some extra cash before you leave for your trip!
Quality control for the property rental market
- Some properties are photographed and verified by Wimdu staff
- They offer property damage insurance
- Offers a local feel by selecting prime locations in large, popular cities
On Wimdu, this Croatian sea-view apartment with a terrace is sure to wow you.
Based in Germany, Wimdu.com is one of the biggest alternatives to Airbnb in Europe (though it’s now available in the U.S. and beyond). They have over 350,000 listings for properties in over 2000 cities and 140 countries around the globe, though they mainly focus on European destinations. Like Airbnb, they also cover your stay with free insurance policies, and only release your payment to the property manager 24 hours after you’ve checked in, so you can stay with peace of mind. In addition, they verify certain properties, and take the pictures featured on the listing themselves, so you can feel confident about any listing that is “Wimdu Verified.”
In-person visits from all staff + exclusivity in who they select as a host
- Staff members organize in-person visits of potential host homes to verify they appear as advertised
- OneFineStay approves only 1 in 10 applications from potential hosts
- They offer only full, exclusive spaces – never shared spaces
This Swiss ski chalet for 8 on OneFineStay offers incredible views and amenities, including a hot tub!
OneFineStay.com is an alternative to Airbnb with a uniquely personal touch. The rental properties that you can search for and book on OneFineStay are hand-picked by the site’s staff, and you will never have to share a space; you’ll always have the place to yourself! Plus, OneFineStay offers advice direct from locals in popular tourist areas on the best local attractions, from restaurants to specialty shops, from bars and nightclubs to interesting landmarks. One thing to note about OneFineStay is that, since the properties it lists are ones that the site’s staff have personally stayed at and enjoyed, you can only book places in London, Paris, Los Angeles, and New York City, and 7 other cities. The trade-off is that you’ll be booking a quality rental property whose owner has personally earned the trust of the people who run OneFineStay.
Are vacation rental sites safe to use?
For the most part, vacation rental sites are safe. However, like with any online service, you need to practice some basic diligence to ensure you don’t fall victim to a scam. Many sites now follow the practice of not releasing payment to the host until the guest has checked in. That way – people trying to run phishing scams have less incentive, as they can’t receive any money for fraudulent listings. Some of the best tips you can practice for property booking safety include:
- Never give out your personal information to a host on a property rental website – the website verifies your identity for them, so there’s no reason to send them addresses, credit card information, Social Insurance Numbers, or anything else.
- Let someone trustworthy know where you’re going – tell them where you will be, and what time you are checking in when you book something so they can check in with you to make sure you are safe.
- Only pay using the secure system on the website – the website is built knowing you need to make a secure payment, so only use the site’s official payment system to pay your host. If they ask you to send them money in any other way, no matter what the reason, choose another host.
For more tips like these, check out our top 5 safety tips for using Airbnb; they may be directed at Airbnb, but they are good practice for all property rental sites!
Is short-term property-rental legal in my area?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the country and city you live in. You will need to check with your local laws to ensure it’s legal to use these services. However, in general, booking them as a guest isn’t an issue – the legality surrounds the person using their home to make income using a property rental service.
Other property rental sites and apps FAQs
How are payments made securely to prevent fraud?
These websites will provide a secure service for processing your payment – so you never have to do this directly with the host. Typically, when you create your profile, you will need to enter your credit card information; this is how you will make payments in the future. If the host ever asks you to send payment in any other form, for any reason at all, you should not give it to them.
How am I protected by property-rental sites?
Some websites take safety very seriously, so you should look into the ways they protect their guests and hosts. Some sites will do things for guests such as:
- Not releasing payment until check-in – this means the host won’t get your money until you check in safely and confirm everything is alright.
- Money back guarantees – the company will give you your money back if you aren’t satisfied with the place you are staying, or if it was misrepresented
- Helping you find a suitable replacement stay – if you had an issue with the place you were supposed to check in to, even if you get your money back, you could be stranded. Some companies will assist in finding you a similar place to stay within a couple of hours
What additional or hidden fees are there?
You’ll want to make sure you check out the terms and conditions of the website, and more important, of the individual host while checking in. Some commonly added fees you might not think about before booking include:
- Check-in fee – a fee for assisting you with checking into the place you are staying
- Cleaning fee – some host will charge you to clean the place after you stayed there, sometime regardless of the state you left it in.
- “Hot tub” or “Pool” fee – a fee for using an item listed in the description of the home, such as a hot tub or pool.
- Booking fee – a fee to book with a particular host (which the website receives rather than the host)
- Deposit – some hosts may ask for a deposit, which they will retain if things go missing or are damaged.
- Taxes – this isn’t so much a “hidden fee” but will generally not appear when you see the “price-per-night” on the listing, so make sure you budget for them.
That’s the scoop on using the best alternatives to Airbnb. Airbnb is great, but as you’ve seen, there are some websites that offer improvements on short-term property rentals. If you want to learn more about how vacation rental sites and apps work, check out our other helpful articles and collections:
- Airbnb coupon codes and travel credits – maybe this article will help you save some money on Airbnb, and change your mind about its usefulness
- How to delete your Airbnb account – It’s not as simple as deleting the app if you want to protect your privacy
- Hosting tips to make a killing on Airbnb – you might now ant to use Airbnb to book a vacation, but it can make you some serious money as a host
- Online Vacation Rentals – Everything you need to know about the most popular property rental sites and apps, and how to use them safely
- Flights and Hotels – Everything you need to know about booking flights and hotels online, including which websites offer the best variety, and the best deals