Airbnb became the most popular online vacation rental site, but does that mean it’s the best? These 12 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 traveling style. For example, if you care about finding the cheapest possible option, Couchsurfing.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:
- The definitive list of the top 12 Airbnb alternatives and competitors
- Airbnb alternatives comparison table: coverage, guest protection, and more
- Are vacation rental sites safe to use?
- Is short-term property-rental legal in my area?
- What additional or hidden fees are charged by property rental sites?
- More resources for saving time and money while booking travel
If you’re ready, jump right in to learn which Airbnb competitor has got what you need.
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, grand-kids, or pets.
We can show you how to use this Airbnb rival in our VRBO 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.
Book daily 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.
When you want to see the most detailed reviews of the places you are staying
- Has the biggest online library of reviews of places people travel to – from the travelers themselves
- Has dozens of partners so you can see the lowest price for any given property
- Has a worldwide reach so you can use it to find places to stay anywhere in the world
Looking for something a little more private and secluded? Check out this 2-person cottage in the woods of Gatlinburg, Tennessee that can be found listed on TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor.com has always been an amazing resource for travelers, as it contains a platform where real travelers can write reviews, rate, and post images of the places they stay, meaning you get a real feel for what the place is like – before you book it. Recently, TripAdvisor has dabbled in the vacation rentals market as well, and has expanded their coverings so you can see reviews of places people rent for vacations, and you can now book right on the site!
The most accommodations anywhere
- One of the largest accommodations aggregators on the web, with over 28 million listings
- Will match prices if you find the same booking at a better rate elsewhere
- Can find you flights, car rentals, and airport taxis through affiliated websites
Take in the beauty of the Aegean Sea with this luxury villa for 5 on the Greek island of Santorini, listed on Booking.com. Includes free parking, hot tub, and Wi-Fi Internet!
Booking.com is one of the largest portals on the Internet for finding places to stay, bringing together over 28 million listings in over 230 countries. You can book a place with instant confirmation and no fees, and if you find a better deal on a room or property on another website, Booking.com will match it. And if you’re looking for flights, car rentals, or taxis to or from an airport, they’ll help you find it through their partner sites at Kayak.com, Rentalcars.com, and Rideways.com, respectively.
For booking resorts within 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!
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.
When you’re looking to rent a vacation home in Britain or elsewhere in Europe
- Over 600,000 listings in over 150 countries
- Reliable independent reviews from TripAdvisor and TrustPilot
- Peace of mind with TripAdvisor Payment Protection
Hit the beach or soak up sunshine by the poolside – it’s up to you when you use HouseTrip to rent this 4-person villa on Portugal’s southern coast.
Part of the TripAdvisor family of websites, HouseTrip.com has vacation properties for rent in some of the hottest getaway destinations in Europe. Looking to experience the rugged beauty of Scotland or Wales in the UK? Perhaps a place in France’s scenic countryside is more your thing. Or maybe you want to take in the city sights in Austria, or relax by the seaside in Italy. Whatever you want, HouseTrip can help. You can also find places for rent in North America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, too. And being backed by TripAdvisor’s Payment Protection and its signature review system lets you book with confidence.
Stay for free and experience a cultural exchange like no other
- Share a home with locals in over 65 countries worldwide
- Find and hang out with travelers like you in your area
- Join local cultural events like dance classes, dinners, language lessons, and more
Couchsurfing.com is a different kind of property rental website, in that all of its listings are free. That’s right, free. The idea behind it is to get people from all walks of life to open their homes and lives to each other in order to foster mutual respect between different cultures. Of course, that means you have to be a lot more involved in your stay than with traditional rentals. Cook your host one of your specialty dinners, take them out to dinner and/or a local event, or bring a small gift with you to show your appreciation towards them. And while you’re at it, hook up with other travelers in your area and do something fun together. Travel brings connections, and with connections come a richer life!
When you want to vacation in luxury but still do things your way
- Rent out your vacant property in exchange for renting others’
- Rent a property without needing to give up time in your own
- Book exclusive small-group tours at historic and exotic locations
Say “aloha” to this tropical Hawaiian oceanside apartment you can find listed on ThirdHome. Accommodates up to 4 people and includes a car rental!
Originally conceived as a luxury “second home” swap, ThirdHome.com is now open to everyone. You can put your vacant property (like a cottage or other home-away-from-home) up for rent, and when someone books it, you gain credits that you can use towards renting the property of another ThirdHome member for free. Or, if you don’t have a second property to rent out, you can still pay a ThirdHome member to book their empty space for a while. You can even join small groups in staying at unique locations for one-of-a-kind tours of the area. Be sure to have a healthy bank balance, though, because many of these rentals and tours can get really pricey.
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.”
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||Prices are generally higher|
|Has the largest number of available homes, other than Airbnb||Book with Confidence Guarantee||Prices are generally higher|
|Cares about safety and security, and guarantees your stay||Book with Confidence Guarantee||Mainly family-driven, homey listings|
|Part of the TripAdvisor network, including unparalleled reviews of properties||TripAdvisor Payment Protection||Some bookings require phone or email direct to host|
|Has millions of online reviews of places to stay from travelers themselves||“Peace of Mind” Payment Protection||Slowly growing in the vacation rental industry (better for hotels)|
|Largest accommodations aggregator on the Internet, resulting in incredible selection||None – standard customer service only||No rewards or discount programs other than a referral system|
|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|
|In-person visits of homes means quality units and little chance for fraud||Visits homes in person to verify quality||Limited number of listings|
|Part of the TripAdvisor network, including unparalleled reviews of properties and secure payment protection||TripAdvisor Payment Protection||Aimed mostly at Europe - mainly the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy|
|All stays are free of charge||Dedicated Trust & Safety team||Much more is expected of you as a guest|
|You can trade stays in your own vacant property for renting someone else’s||None – standard customer service only||Extremely expensive if you don't have your own property to rent out|
|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||Mostly restricted to Europe|
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.
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.
More resources for saving time and money while booking travel
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. There are also tons of great websites and apps that can help you while travelling, and we’re sharing them with you here:
How to save money while travelling
How to Get Wi-Fi in a Hotel to Save Your Data – Don’t buy expensive cellular plans while travelling. Learn how to easily connect to hotel Wi-Fi here.
Best 10 Hotel Apps on iOS and Android for Price and Convenience – This article will help you find the lowest prices on hotels – no matter when you’re starting your shopping around.
How to Find and Use Expedia Coupons to Save on Bookings – If you like using Expedia, here’s how to get some money off your booking by accessing their coupons.
Tips for travelers + great sites and apps to start using
Best Travel Apps Guide: Make Plans, Book Flights, and Find Deals – This ultimate guide to travelling will help you find everything you could ever want to know about booking travel online.
The Best 8 Car Rental Sites and Apps for Out-of-Town Wheels – Need to rent a car? These sites and apps are the absolute best for trustworthy vehicles that also offer deals and rewards programs for frequent travelers.
How to Track Your Flights: 5 Best Flight Tracking Sites and Apps – Check out this list of the best sites and apps for getting real-time updates on a flight status.
Property Rental Websites, Apps, & Tips
The 15 Best Vacation and Property-Rental Apps to Book On – This is a big list of great online property rental-specific sites if you’re looking for even more variation from Airbnb
Best 9 Sites Like Expedia for Getting Deals on Booking Travel – If you like a trusted site like Expedia, these websites like it can help you get amazing deals on your travel.
Best 7 Sites Like HomeAway for Booking the Best Home Rentals – These websites and apps are like the popular property rental website HomeAway. Check them out to see if one suits your travelling style.
Help with Airbnb
Airbnb coupon codes and travel credits – This article might help you save some money while booking 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.
11 Airbnb Hosting Tips to Make a Killing on Airbnb – You might not want to use Airbnb to book a vacation, but it can make you some serious money as a host.