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September 17, 2020

Avoiding Vacation Home Rental Booking and Service Fees

Tired of paying extra booking fees?

Vacation home rental fees can take a toll on your vacation budget. That’s never been more true than now, when vacation time is in short supply and resources are limited. All it takes is a “booking fee” or “service fee” surcharge to throw your budget off when on vacation. But how do you avoid travel fees? Some of these extras are truly outrageous, and customers often have no choice about paying them.

So what can one do?

How to avoid vacation rental fees
Vacation rentals are a thriving business during travel season, as travelers try to find better and safer accommodations. Vacation rental owners and the companies that take bookings have welcomed them with open arms — and new travel fees. In recent months, the major online booking sites have added the ability to create new fees. Often many of these fees have no clear connection to the rental. Some of the worst is booking service fees, supplies fees, early check in or may be the practice of charging an extra fee for larger groups.Mobile online search for budget friendly rentals

Here’s how it works: Say you have a family of five. You find a budget friendly rental in your favorite vacation destination. But then the owner asks how many people are in your party, and suddenly the price of the rental increases. The rental may accommodate six people, but it’s priced based on double occupancy. So when you add the other three members of your family, the owner charges an extra $20 per person per day. Crazy and unplanned for? Yes, but quickly becoming the norm in the vacation rental business.

The solution: Stay away from vacation rental owners who engage in this kind of pricing. Clever vacation rental guests may consider lying about the number of people in their party to avoid a travel fee, but that’s not right either. It’s better to deny these rental owners your business and let forces of the market move them to do the right thing. We can help you keep your budget under control by offering no booking fee vacation rental homes here.

Always be on the look-out

If you’re driving or flying, staying in a hotel or in a vacation rental, the travel industry will do its best to charge you with unwanted fees. The best companies are upfront about any surcharges, but some won’t tell you until you get to the last booking screen — or later. You can leverage your credit card to avoid some of the travel fees. But ultimately, you can steer clear of these extras by carefully screening your travel company before you book. Searching a no booking fee vacation rental site where you book direct with owners is always the best. Some more tips and pointers here.

Here is a few of the fees to watch out for

Airbnb charges guests a 5% – 15% fee whenever a reservation is completed to cover company costs. As noted, the guest service fee varies depending on the cost of the subtotal. The more expensive the subtotal, the lower the percentage the service fee. The service fee will not be processed until the host accepts the booking request.


For property hosts, Booking.com uses a commission based platform to charge fees. This basically means that the host pays a certain percentage of the reservation every time a reservation is made through the Booking.com app or web page. These percentages vary from anywhere between 10% and 25% depending on the location of your property.


HomeAway charges a 10% fee for off-platform bookings. Off-platform bookings are those made outside of the HomeAway checkout process. They are the result of a phone call or inquiry that can be attributed to a HomeAway site.

Any bookings made through HomeAway or VRBO websites are subject to a service fee when guests pay for their accommodation by credit card. Once the reservation has been accepted, the service fee is charged to the booker’s payment card. There is not one set price or percentage for this fee: it varies from 4% to 9% of the total rental cost, excluding any deposit or taxes.

Guests have to pay the traveler service fee direct to HomeAway – there are no two ways about it. Hosts do, however, have the choice to add on extra charges to their listings if they see fit. They recommend naming any extra fees or charges something other than “service fee” to save any confusion. For example, if you charge cleaning, pets or maintenance fees, name these appropriately on your listing as “Cleaning fee”, “Pet fee” or “Maintenance fee”.


What is TripAdvisor‘s guest booking fee? This fee helps us to run our secure platform, provide you with 24-hour customer support and give you the peace of mind that your transaction is safe. The booking fee varies based on the rental price. It ranges from 8% to 16% of the rental rate.