Vrbo vs. Airbnb: Which Platform Is Better for Travel Deals in 2022?

Over the past few years, travelers have been moving away from staying in a hotel room. Instead, many travelers seek a more “staying at home” feel while away from their homes.

Whether you are looking to book a single room in someone’s house or the whole place itself, two of the more popular apps to achieve this are Airbnb and VRBO. Both have similar features and rentals available, so which is better?

Before pitting VRBO vs. Airbnb head-to-head, let’s look at each company.


The idea for Airbnb was formed when founds Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia wanted to rent out space in their San Francisco apartment. They needed a way to not have a full-time roommate but find short-term renters easily. In 2008 Airbnb was born with the name Air Bed and Breakfast.

At its core, Airbnb aims to connect homeowners to potential renters. Aimed initially at short-term rentals, due to the pandemic, Airbnb has become popular for long-term stays as well. Since its arrival, Airbnb has been at the forefront of the sharing economy.


Most people will think Airbnb was the first company of the two to be found, but they would be wrong. Vrbo, an abbreviation for Vacation Rental by Owner, was founded in 1995. As the name might suggest, Vrbo is focused on renting out different types of vacation homes, putting the homeowner in direct contact with potential renters. HomeAway acquired Vrbo in 2006.

Vrbo vs. Airbnb Comparison

To compare these two famous sites, we’ll look at six key aspects of each.

Accommodation Types

When looking at each site’s different types of accommodations, Airbnb clearly has the advantage over Vrbo.

Vrbo mainly works with renting out stand-alone homes only. On the other hand, Airbnb will have traditional stand-alone homes and shared spaces (like renting out a single room in a multi-room home). They’ve also ventured into having hotel rooms available on the site.

Rental Selection

With the above in mind, it is no surprise that Airbnb also has an advantage in the sheer number of rentals available on its site.

Airbnb boasts a robust 5.6 million rentals available worldwide in over 190 counties. While also available in 190 plus counties, Vrbo’s exact rentals available are not public knowledge. However, searching on each site for the same locations makes it easy to tell that there are far more rentals available on Airbnb vs. Vrbo.

Website Searching

Next on the docket are the websites themselves. The site’s primary function is searching for the perfect place to rent when it comes down to it. While they both boast powerful tools and search options, Vrbo’s is just a bit easier to navigate.

Vrbo filtering makes it easier to find exactly what you are looking for. Searching by user review, pet’s allowed, and other standard options are better on VRBO. Not that Airbnb doesn’t have the same functionality, but it’s simply a bit harder to find.


The next step in your rental journey for either site is the booking process, where they are both very similar. You deal directly with the homeowner on either site, not a third party. This typically gives both the host and the renter more ability to negotiate and give each other a sense of security.

For both sites, the potential rental will send a request detailing their timeframe, number of people, age range, and any pets or other needed details. At that point, it’s up to the homeowner to review the request and accept or deny it based on their criteria. There can be a dialogue back and forth between both parties to go over specifics or clear up any ambiguities.

Airbnb can be seen to have a slight edge in the booking department as they do offer an “Instant Book” if the homeowner allows for it.


In the past, after booking a home or room, canceling was not an easy thing to do. But, as we’ve seen, many renters need to be flexible and allow for rescheduling or canceling bookings.

Airbnb and Vrbo allow hosts to choose from preset cancelation and change options from relaxed to very strict. Airbnb’s a little more straightforward and easier for everyone to understand.

Vrbo offers hosts the ability to create custom options for changes and cancelations. This might be easier for hosts. However, with this ability comes a more difficult time for some renters to understand the policies and the potential for confusion. Therefore, the option to customize policies can be seen as a disadvantage for Vrbo bookings.

Pricing and Fees

Pricing and fees are another area where both sites are very similar. On the surface, both charge roughly 20% of the base cost for their services. Both sites also allow for hosts to require refundable security deposits, as you might when renting a living space. These security deposits can protect homeowners from damage.

However, the potential to be nickel and dimed for anything that may have been your fault or not could be a turn-off for potential renters. These security deposit requirements seem to be more prevalent on Vrbo.

Final Thoughts

So who wins in the Vrbo vs. Airbnb debate? I think it depends on what side of the renting you are on. Airbnb offers a much more comprehensive range of rentals while also touting far more in sheer volume available. It also allows renters to book a rental instantly without going through the review process.

On the other side, VRBO gives the renters themselves a little more to desire. Customized cancelation and rescheduling rules, plus more, seem to lean toward requiring security deposits to protect themselves from potential damage. Vrbo is also a bit easier to navigate, allowing users to quickly find the rental they want.


This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.


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