While opinions about Airbnb continue to be somewhat divided these days, I still prefer to book accommodations on this platform whenever possible.
Or at the very least – they’ve been smooth and hassle free.
And through these experiences I’ve learned a few ways about how to save money on Airbnb, and one method in particular that you probably aren’t aware that it exists.
Let me show you how!
We all know that the easiest way to save money on booking an Airbnb is if you’re a ‘new’ user.
If you sign up through a referral link, you receive a discount on your first booking, and once you’ve completed your booking, the person who referred you receives a small credit to their account as a reward for referring you.
(This post contains affiliate links in which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through them. I only share products and services I know, love and trust and all opinions are always my own).
If you’re travelling as a couple, make sure both of you sign up for Airbnb so that you can double dip on the discount.
This way partner 1 can send their link to partner 2. Partner 1 receives credit from helping partner 2 sign up.
And this works even better when you’re travelling with friends, as there’s usually someone in the group who hasn’t signed up yet.
But, if you’re reading this, you have likely already booked or signed up with Airbnb and you’re looking for more ways to save money.
Let’s dive in.
Negotiate by Asking the Host Directly
Here’s the good news. You can negotiate the price on an Airbnb listing with your potential host.
Did you know that Airbnb hosts can offer you a ‘special price’ that’s unadvertised? They can overwrite what is listed as the rental fee at any given time.
I have successfully negotiated how to ask for a discount on Airbnb, and most recently I was able to receive 20% off the listed price.
Here’s how to do it.
Find the listing you’re interested in booking. Only do this with a listing that you would actually like to stay it. It is bad juju to hit up a host for a discount and then not end up booking it.
Instead of clicking on ‘book now’ or ‘reserve’, scroll down to the bottom of the listing where you can read more about the host. Click on ‘contact host’. This will take you to your message inbox.
My first tip is to not ask for a discount right away. Introduce yourself, who will be traveling with you, where you’re from and the reason for your trip. Mention something about the property that interests you or point out something that you like.
Compliment them on their garden, or that the decor reminds you of a trip to took to some place that you loved. If you have a question about the property, this is a great time to ask.
Maybe you’re wondering how far of a walk it is to a certain subway station. Or, if you plan to cook all your meals, inquire about whether they have a blender or what type of coffee machine is available, for example.
Just make sure they’re questions that aren’t already answered in the description and make sure they are legitimate questions you want the answer to.
You don’t want to come across as a tire kicker here.
Build Rapport With Your Potential Host
In this stage, you are building rapport with you potential host. If they connect with you and feel that you’re being courteous they are more likely to offer a discount.
Ideally, the host with respond to you within a reasonable time and hopefully they’ve answered your questions to your satisfaction. Next up is asking for a discount.
At this point, respond to their message and politely and respectfully ask if they would offer you a small discount for your stay. This works even better if you can find a bit of a hook or a rationale as to why they should provide you a discount.
For example, I often have the most success receiving a discount on my Airbnb booking when it’s a new listing and there are no reviews yet.
Just be courteous and say something like I did below. “I noticed you don’t have any reviews yet, if this is your first time as an Airbnb host, would it be possible to offer us a small discount?”
I usually don’t request a specific number, but when I say small, I typically expect something around 10% off.
I have received a 20% discount, like on my recent trip to Naramata, British Columbia (wine country), so you can plan your budget around that.
I also have friends who have simply stated that they have a certain budget and were wondering if it would be possible to book a slightly lower price.
If it’s close to the check-in date, many hosts have offered a 5% discount. Better than nothing!
Bargain or Offer Something In Exchange
If you think it might be a hard sell to get them to drop the price, you could always offer something you can provide in exchange. Think about what type of services you could offer that might be of value to the host.
You could look at it as though you’re bargaining for a better price.
For instance, could you offer to take nicer, professional-looking photos for them? Maybe you could offer to make an improvement to their website or show them how to add their listing to Google Maps.
If you’re planning to stay long term, perhaps they might be interested in practicing their English as a second language skills with you.
Or maybe there is yard work you could help with, like pulling weeds or picking fruit.
These types of things can be used to negotiate. It won’t always work, but worth a shot, especially if you’re booking a stay for a month or more.
So, can you bargain or negotiate on Airbnb? The answer is yes. I have personally offered to take some better photos for a new listing and it worked!
When This Cost Saving Tip Works Best
There are certain scenarios where getting a discount on your Airbnb booking will work much better than others.
When It’s a New Listing
Like I mentioned above, you will have a much higher success rate when it is a new listing.
While it might seem risky to book a new listing you can get a pretty good idea if it will be legit or not by contacting the host and having a brief conversation with them.
In Low Season or Off Season
You also have a good shot at getting a discount if you’re traveling in low season or off season. You might feel more comfortable negotiating if you know that there won’t be as many reservations being made.
If there are lots other available Airbnb choices to rent in the area, this is a pretty good indication.
When Your Dates Are Flexible
If you’re only planning to stay for one night and your dates are somewhat flexible.
Meaning, you might be able to check their reservation calendar and find a date where there is a one night gap in between reservations.
If your schedule has you arriving late and checking out early, this might work to your advantage as you are making it more convenient for the hosts to fill their calendar (while giving them more time than usual in between guests).
When the Host Makes a Mistake With the Calendar
Another situation where you can negotiate the price of the Airbnb is if/when the host has not updated their calendar or the dates you chose turn out to not be available.
Sometimes when you request to book a certain date range, you might come across a host who contacts you to let you know the dates are not correct on their end (usually by mistake or forgetting to update their calendar).
This has happened to me a couple of times in which the calendar showed my dates were available, but when I went to book, the host mentioned that they could only accommodate a partial stay (apologetically).
If your dates are flexible and you are able to adjust your schedule, this is when you could also ask for a discounted rate.
Long Term Rentals
Long term rentals usually have the discounted price already posted, and you should not try to negotiate further here.
For example, there might be a special weekly rate or monthly rate.
But – if you notice that they offer one but not the other, you might have some luck inquiring about special pricing for your length of stay.
In other words, if they have advertised a weekly rate, you might have success negotiating a monthly rate at a deeper discount (or vice versa).
What About Last Minute Bookings?
I’ve also had a lot of people ask me if Airbnbs are cheaper if you book them last minute. And I think this really depends on the location and what type of host and accommodation you’re looking at.
If your host is located in an area that doesn’t see too many reservations or they are more of a casual Airbnb host (meaning when they’re booked great, when they’re not booked it’s not a big deal), they may be less inclined to offer you a discount if you’re booking last minute.
Especially if it’s only for a night or two. It could be more of an inconvenience for them to have the room cleaned/made up and to meet with you than to let the room sit empty.
On the other hand, if you’re filling a gap between reservations (like I mentioned above), you might have better luck saving some money by checking in last minute.
Things to Avoid When Asking For or Receiving a Discount
If you happen to score a discount, make sure that you’re courteous and respectful throughout your stay. Follow the house rules, check out on time, etc.
Make sure you leave an honest, objective review. And speaking of reviews, never ask for a discount in exchange for a good review.
This is against Airbnb’s terms and conditions, hosts can be banned from Airbnb for this, so just don’t even go there.
Another thing – you probably shouldn’t send a bunch of messages to different hosts and seeing who will bite on the discount.
I’ve heard of user accounts getting suspended for this. Remember that in most cases (depending where you travel) you’re staying in someone’s home and helping them supplement in their income.
And Sometimes it Doesn’t Work
There is always the chance that the host will just say no and not offer you a discount. If they decline your request, this is where the negotiating ends.
There is also the risk that the host can choose to decline your request to book if you’re trying to negotiate a lower price. All the more reason to be courteous in your correspondence.
And if you don’t receive a discount but choose to book anyway, I would advise you to not let this affect your experience or be reflected in your review.
Final Tips to Help You Save Money on Airbnb
You should have a trustworthy and positive profile about yourself. First, make sure you have a clear photo/headshot of yourself.
And always include a description about you, where you’re from, what your travel style is, what you’re interested in, etc. It also helps if you have at least a few positive reviews under your belt.
I didn’t start asking for a discount on Airbnb until I had stayed at 5 properties and received 5-star reviews from each host. This will tell your potential host that you’re a pleasant guest and can be trusted.
Sometimes you don’t have to negotiate! Occasionally you will come across new listings that do not have any reviews yet.
Many hosts will offer a discount for the first guest or sometimes the first few bookings.
Will You Save Money Staying in an Airbnb Instead of a Hotel?
People always ask me if Airbnbs are cheaper than hotels. It depends so much on context.
Sometimes if you’re trying to stay in the center of a popular tourist city, hotels can be very expensive.
If you’re only renting a room in someone’s apartment, Airbnb can be much cheaper.
But when there are tons of hotel options available, sometimes your Airbnb will be the same price.
Especially when you factor in the cleaning fees and service fees. But in some cases, even with the added Airbnb fees, your total trip costs may be lower by renting an Airbnb.
In most cases, you have your own kitchen, so you can save on food costs. Or maybe you find an Airbnb with an incredible rooftop patio that you can’t find in a hotel.
As you can see, there are all kinds of costs that factor into whether or not an Airbnb is cheaper than a hotel.
Good luck next time you try this tip, happy travels!
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