VRBO Review

So, we've told you a bit about what VRBO is, and given you some tips for using it safely.  So now the question becomes: how does it stack up against competing websites?  Here is what we liked and disliked about the online rental property booking portal.


Lots of choiceVRBO has listings for over 800,000 rental properties in over 100 countries worldwide, meaning that you're bound to find a space that you like!  Of course, you can narrow down the properties that you're looking for by location, check-in/check-out-dates available, price, guest capacity, accessibility, amenities, property type, and more!

Stop worrying and start vacationing — VRBO offers several guarantees and insurance policies to help give you peace of mind while booking your rental property online.  If you're afraid that you'll need to cancel your trip, or might break something during your stay, VRBO can cover you.  It also protects all payments made through the website via eCheck, PayPal, or a major credit card.


A hands-off approach to booking — VRBO takes the position that it is mainly an advertising platform that facilitates transactions between renters and property managers.  In light of that, you're expected to be able to work out any issues that you have with your rental directly with the property manager or owner themselves.  VRBO may intervene in extreme cases, but it can't do certain things, such as force the property owner/manager to offer a refund.

Beware of insecure payment — Some property owners or managers do not allow you to pay for booking their properties through the website, preferring that you instead contact them and arrange for an alternate payment method.  We would advise against booking properties like this, as paying for them off the website with cash, cheque, or money order means that VRBO can't protect your payment.

The bottom line: 7.5/10

In booking a rental property for a trip out of town, VRBO not only gives you great choice, but also good flexibility, too.  Its search options let you find just the right property to book, and you can get all the information you need to know about a property before you book it by looking at photos of the place, reading guest reviews, and contacting the owner.  Plus, VRBO helps to put your mind at ease with guarantees and insurance policies that allow you to book and pay with confidence, and deal with any unpleasant surprises that come up.

With that said, VRBO bills itself as an advertising firm, and doesn't often get involved in disputes between property managers and renters.  That means that it's mostly on you to do your research and avoid dishonest property managers and other pitfalls before they happen, or work directly with the property manager to resolve these issues if they do happen.  This includes looking for properties where you can pay the property manager for your booking securely and directly through the website.  If you want a property renting website that is a little more hands-on in terms of customer support (if a bit smaller in scope), try Airbnb.com


Well, that's our opinion on VRBO.  Ready to try it out for yourself, though?  We'll start by showing you how to set up a VRBO account in our next tutorial.

Is VRBO Safe and Reliable?

Now that we’ve introduced VRBO, you’re maybe wondering: is it safe to use?  After all, you’re basically using it to temporarily stay in a space that you’ve never been to before by paying someone that you’ve likely never met in your life.  Fear not; this article will tell you what VRBO can do to keep your rentals safe, as well as what you can do to avoid problems with your bookings.

How safe is VRBO?

VRBO is a safe way to book a rental property to stay in while you’re out of town.  It has an extensive help section with tips on how to book with confidence, decent customer service, and a few insurance policies that can help cover you in the event that something about your trip doesn’t go as planned.

With that said, VRBO takes a rather hands-off approach to the booking process.  Booking is a contractual agreement between you and the property manager, and it is thus the responsibility of the owner to resolve any issues with your stay.  This may include refunding your security deposit or booking payment should your stay prove unsatisfactory.  In extreme cases, VRBO may step in if you ask them.

Top 5 tips for using VRBO safely

1. Look closely at a listing before you book.

Read the listing’s specifications, including the cancellation or rebooking policies.  If there are reviews about the property, read those too.  Also look for warning signs that a listing may not be what it seems, such as poor quality pictures of the property, spelling and/or grammar mistakes in the details, or a request for personal information or use of an insecure form of payment (more on that below).

2. Contact the property manager.

If you’re on the fence about a property, then try contacting the property manager and asking them some questions.  Will there be extra service fees?  What amenities are available?  What’s the surrounding neighbourhood like? 

You can do so by clicking Send Email below their name on the property’s information page, filling out the form, and then clicking Send Email at the bottom.  Using VRBO’s internal email system keeps you secure by sending your inquiry through a custom VRBO email address instead of your personal one.  If the owner lists a telephone number, you should call and talk with them directly, too.

3. Do some deeper research.

Once you learn where a property is located, you may want to look up the property on Google Maps using Satellite View or Street View (or a similar service that has satellite or aerial photography mapping of places) so that you can compare it against the provided photos.  This lets you see if the property is being accurately represented.  You may also want to ask the owner for contact information for people who have stayed at the property before, and get their opinion on staying there.

4. Buy travel insurance.

You’re going on a trip, and VRBO can’t protect you from absolutely everything that will happen during it.  So it’s a good idea to buy some travel insurance in case you have an unexpected injury or other emergency.  You can also buy insurance from VRBO if you think that you may need to cancel your trip; you can read about it here.

5. Use a secure payment method whenever possible.

Many property owners will allow you to pay for your bookings through the VRBO website with a major credit card, eCheck, or PayPal.  You will see a box labelled “Book with Confidence” on the property information page for properties like this, indicating that payments made toward booking these properties are covered by VRBO’s “Book with Confidence Guarantee“.  It is advised that you stick to booking these types of properties, and avoid ones that ask you to pay by cash, cheque, or money order.  These payment types are not covered by VRBO’s guarantees, and increase the risk of you getting scammed.

How reliable is VRBO?

VRBO is decently reliable when it comes to getting a good property to rent for your vacation.  As long as you do your research and keep in contact with the property owner, you should be able to avoid many common booking pitfalls, and resolve the ones that you do have without needing to contact VRBO directly.

You can also get support, guarantees, or insurance from VRBO if you need it.  However, VRBO is somewhat hands-off in this regard, stating that it’s mainly an advertising service and that booking issues should mainly be resolved between the renter and the property owner.  If you’re looking for a rental company that’s a little more active in enforcing fairness throughout the booking process, try Airbnb.com. Check out this article to learn more about Airbnb.

There are also many other sites like VRBO out there. And you can use the a rental property search engine like TripAdvisor.com to find all types of rentals!

Alright!  Now that you know a few precautions to take in order to use VRBO safely and effectively, let’s go over the pros and cons of using it in our next tutorial!

What Is VRBO and How Does It Work?

VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner.  It's a website where you can book a stay at a property that the owner or manager is not personally using at the moment, and has instead made available for rent.  If you have a property like that, then you can also use VRBO to advertise it and let other VRBO users rent it.

Similar to it's competitors Airbnb.com and FlipKey.com, think of it as an alternative to booking a hotel when you're going away on vacation.  Instead, you can stay in an apartment, cottage, townhouse, condominium, or other type of property that someone is willing to rent out.  You may be able to find a place closer to where you're going to be conducting your activities, or that has amenities that a local hotel doesn't!

How VRBO work: 5 quick steps to get started

1. Quick search interface

Just tell VRBO where you want to go, when you want to arrive and leave, and how many people will be staying.  Then click Search, and VRBO will find available properties for rent that fit your schedule!

2. Lots of available places to stay

VRBO lists all different kinds of properties, from bungalows to chalets, from apartments to bed-and-breakfasts.  You can narrow down the place that's right for you based on price, guest capacity, available amenities, accessibility, and more!

3. Get the lowdown before you book

On a property's information page, you can see an overview of the property's specifications, photos of the place, and a short biography of the owner or manager, among other things.  Here, you can send the manager a message or give them a phone call, if you have any questions.  You can also check to see whether you can pay for your booking right through VRBO, which is the safest way to go!

4. Peace of mind for your trip

VRBO offers several guarantees and insurance plans to protect your booking.  You can be covered if you need to cancel your trip, or accidentally cause damage to the property that you book.  You're also covered if the manager that you book with cancels on you at the last minute or misrepresents the property that you're staying at.

5. Pay with confidence

Many property managers allow you to pay for your booking through the VRBO website using eCheck, PayPal, or a major credit card.  These payment types are secured and covered by VRBO, so you can rest easy knowing that your money is in good hands.


That's VRBO in a nutshell!  To follow up in the rest of our VRBO course, though, we're going to give you some safety tips for using VRBO in our next tutorial, as well as a summary overview of its strengths and weaknesses.  Read on by clicking the buttons below, or in the sidebar to the right!