How Airbnb Makes Money

Last updated: January 22, 2017 - 12:51pm EST

Let's face it: Airbnb doesn't do what they do solely out of the goodness of their hearts. They have to make money somehow to keep their service running. So how do they do it?

Booking Fees

Similar to their competitors FlipKey and Homeaway, Booking fees are the major source of revenue for Airbnb on the guest end of things.

  • Booking fees range between 6% and 12% of the subtotal of your stay (nightly rate times the number of nights). They aren't affected by any other fees or taxes.

  • The booking fee percentage is based on how high the subtotal of your stay is. The higher the subtotal, the lower the percentage. This means that you save money on longer stays, relatively speaking, because you don't have to pay Airbnb as much of your total accommodation costs.

  • You are only charged booking fees (or any other type of fee, for that matter) if a host accepts your booking request. You are not charged anything for simply making a booking request.

  • If you successfully book a property rental with Airbnb and then decide to cancel it later, your booking fees will not be refunded.

  • If you successfully book a property rental with Airbnb and the host cancels it on you, you can choose to take a refund instead of making another booking. If you do so, your booking fees will be refunded.

Payment Processing Fees

Airbnb also charges hosts fees to process payments from guests. Unlike the variable booking fees, payment processing fees are set at a flat 3% of each reservation subtotal (nightly rate times the number of nights).

Some hosts may try to get around these fees by asking for you to pay them using a service outside of Airbnb. DON'T DO IT. By taking your payments off-site, where Airbnb and its user community can't hold scammers accountable, you're opening yourself up to getting cheated.

Also, asking someone to pay off-site violates Airbnb's terms of using their website, so you might want to report anyone who tries this on you, in order to keep others safe and let Airbnb deal with the problem.

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