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Hey Travel Junkies,
You can book some amazing hotels with points but sometimes your hotel options just don’t cut it. Belize is well known for its lack of chain hotels which rules out award stays and, personally, I can’t imagine staying in the Great Smoky Mountains anywhere but a cabin.
This is where Airbnb come into the picture. At some destinations, your best option is often a home-sharing service such as Airbnb. At this point, Airbnb does not have a loyalty program so you won’t be able to redeem points for stays the way you would with Hyatt or Marriott.
Despite this, you’re not out of luck. There are lots of ways to help save money or earn points for your Airbnb stays. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to maximize your Airbnb bookings.
1. Book With The Barclaycard Arrival Plus or Capital One Venture Card
By far, the easiest way to save on your next Airbnb stay is using points that can erase travel charges such as those earned from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Capital One Venture Card.
Barclaycard Arrival miles and Capital One Venture Rewards miles are each worth one cent each. This means if you have 50,000 miles, you have $500 that can be used for travel.
To use these points, all you have to do is use the credit card to pay for the Airbnb stay. Once the purchase has posted, you can apply your points to the booking and erase the purchase with the points.
The welcome offers for these cards vary but have historically been around 50,000 miles once you meet the minimum spend requirements. The bonus alone can easily cover the cost for a few nights at an Airbnb.
If you’re applying for one of these cards, keep in mind that Capital One pulls your credit report from all three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Make sure you know your real FICO credit score before applying for your next credit card.
2. Use Airbnb Gift Cards
A great way to help offset the cost is through buying gift cards for Airbnb. Although you will still be paying cash, you can save money or earn a few extra points for your booking.
If you would like to save some cash, buying discounted gift cards is a great way to go. You can find discounted gift cards on a variety of sites such as Raise and eBay—Paypal Digital Gifts often runs sales on new Airbnb gift cards.
Through these sites, you can often find gift cards for a few percent off face value. PayPal Digital Gifts often provides a 10% discount. Not a bad way to save a few bucks on your Airbnb stays!
If you buy the gift cards the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, you can get a discount and earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Even better, you can use the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express to earn 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar.
If you prefer to earn the most points possible, you can utilize bonus categories to buy gift cards. Staples and Office Depot frequently carry Airbnb gift cards which means you can purchase gift cards with your Chase Ink Business Cash Card to earn 5X points per dollar.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Ink Business Cash Card don’t have an annual fees but cannot transfer Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners. To transfer points, you will also need one of the following cards that also earns Ultimate Rewards points:
Knowing where to buy gift cards can help you save a little bit off the cash price or help you earn the most points possible for your Airbnb stay.
3. Use Your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Travel Credit
The travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is my favorite travel credit. While many travel credits actually provide “airline fee” credits, the travel credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card automatically applies to the first $300 in purchases each cardmember year that code as travel—this includes Airbnb.
In fact, this is the only travel credit available that can be used for Airbnb bookings. Keep in mind, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card does fall under the Chase 5/24 rule so it should be a top priority if you want the card and are under 5/24.
The travel credit resets every cardmember year, so you can easily get $300 towards an Airbnb stay every year you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
4. Combine With Airline Partnerships
In addition to the points you can receive from your credit card, you can stack with additional Airbnb partners for even more points.
By signing up on with Delta you can earn Delta SkyMiles for your Airbnb stays. Typically, you will earn 1X SkyMile per dollar sent on your Airbnb bookings but the occasional special will let you earn up to 5X SkyMiles per dollar.
You don’t even have to make your booking with one of the American Express co-branded Delta card. You can use whatever credit card you want to earn points or even use Airbnb gift cards to book.
This means you can stack multiple points on every booking you make. If you purchase Airbnb gift cards at Staples with the Chase Ink Business Cash Card, you will earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points and 1X SkyMile per every dollar on your bookings.
Stacking promotions is a great way to help maximize the value you receive from an Airbnb booking.
5. Extend Your Stay
Did you know that many Airbnb hosts offer a discount for weekly or monthly bookings? By extending your stay an extra day or two, you can sometimes unlock a bit of a discount.
Staying one Extra Night Can Unlock Weekly Discounts
Unlocking this discount can let you extend your vacation an extra day for a few more dollars. For those once in a lifetime vacations, a few extra dollars for an extra day may very well be worth it.
Do NOT Exchange Transferable Points For A Gift Card
It might seem like exchanging transferable points—Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points—for Airbnb gift cards would be a good way to use points to stay at an Airbnb property. However, this option should be avoided if at all possible as the value you would receive is nowhere near the value of these points.
Avoid Redeeming Highly Valuable Ultimate Rewards for Gift Cards
If you exchanged 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points for a $100 Airbnb gift card, you would only get a value of 1 cent per point. 10,000 Ultimate Rewards are worth $150 through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal when you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or $125 when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Card.
If you transfer them to partners, you could get even more value out of your points. Think about it. You could book a one-way flight from the west coast to Hawaii for 12,500 British Airways Avios which is a transfer partner of both Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards—you can also transfer SPG Starpoints to British Airways. That’s only 2,500 more points and you’d get a flight that is almost always $250-350 one-way.
When staying in a hotel isn’t the best option at your vacation destination, Airbnb can help fill in the gaps. Airbnb doesn’t have its own reward program, but that doesn’t mean you can can’t maximize credit card points and save money.
Thanks to the travel credit from cards the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and miles from the Capital One Venture Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you can easily stay at Airbnb properties for little to no out of pocket cost.
If you are paying cash, consider taking advantage of credit card bonus categories to buy Airbnb gift cards so you can earn maximum points. If you saving money is the number one priority, make sure you look for discounted Airbnb gift cards.
Next time you book, take advantage of these tricks to make the most of your next Airbnb stay.
Travel In Style,
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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.