Best Vacation Rental Websites: Vrbo vs Airbnb vs FlipKey vs Wimdu & More

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Best For…
American Travel
Vrbo logo
International Travel
American Property Owners
AirBnb logo
International Property Owners
Wimdu logo

Planning a vacation but don’t want to go the hotel route? Vacation home rentals can be an ideal solution — you get the extra space, separate bedrooms, a kitchen and much more, often for a better price than a hotel. Millions of people use vacation rental websites, like VRBO or HomeAway, every day to find the ideal vacation rental and the best deals.

But how do you know which websites provide the most legit vacation rentals? And if you’re a property owner looking to advertise your vacation home, which websites are the best to list with? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more — and to see our picks for best vacation rental websites.

Article Overview

New To Peer To Peer Home Rentals?

For those of us who love to travel (especially off the beaten path), it’s a no-brainer to turn to a vacation rental website. More often than not, you can find any type of accommodation you desire at a more affordable price than staying in a hotel.

It also allows you to experience your destination in a more realistically local setting than you would in a hotel. It’s obviously an appealing alternative.

According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, an estimated 59% of U.S. vacationers have turned to the vacation rental route.

If you’ve never tried a vacation rental website, you’re certainly missing out.

Best Vacation Rental Websites For Renters

Pointing at travel imagesAs a traveler, you have millions of rental options ripe for the picking on vacation rental websites. Some of these sites are very reliable and have your back in case things go wrong. Others, not so much.

See our top picks for top vacation rental websites based on several factors:

  • Site search features
  • Quantity and consistent quality of rentals
  • Payment options
  • Insurance availability
  • Direct contact with the property owner (or rental agency)
  • Customer support

Best For American Travel: Vrbo Review

Vrbo logo

Visit Website

Vrbo (who merged with Home Away) is the best vacation rental websites for American travelers, hands down. As mentioned above, HomeAway is the parent company to VRBO and its parent company is now Expedia. With well over a million listings to choose from and the best search features out there, it has the best inventory to find your match in the United States (and beyond).

It also offers insurance policies that other sites just don’t match (although it charges some hefty fees). And its reach for listings is impressive, whether you’re looking for a regional U.S. beach vacation or going abroad, Vrbo can deliver listings like no other site can.



  • More than 1 million listings across the globe
  • Secure payment for many listings (but not all)
  • Instant booking options
  • Among the best details we’ve seen for listings — largely excellent descriptions, tons of photos, availability calendar, interactive map and guest reviews
  • Rental guarantee, damage insurance and cancellation insurance available 
  • Mobile friendly
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Expensive listing fees – hosts have the option of paying $349+ annual listing fee or 10% per booking fee
  • Fees for rental guarantee, damage insurance and cancellation insurance can get really high
  • Service fees for guests

Best For International Travel: House Trip Review

House Trip logoVisit Website

HouseTrip has excellent listings and superb customer reviews. Acquired by TripAdvisor in April 2016, HouseTrip remains a European based company at the time of writing this review. HouseTrip has a wide variety of listings, from single rooms and studio apartments to large homes and even castles.

A majority of its listings are in Europe, but it does have a fair number in the U.S. — a total of 20,000 destinations around the world. HouseTrip gets excellent customer reviews for the quality of its rentals and ease of process. However, it offers no type of insurance to protect guests or hosts. It now provides TripAdvisor’s Payment Protection, which protects guests for up to $10,000 if denied access or the website substantially misrepresented the rental property.

HouseTrip has pretty hefty guest booking fees (thanks to the acquisition) at 5% to 15%, but it charges a nominal 3% booking fee for owners. If you’re not concerned with damage insurance, we recommend you try House Trip.



  • Owner booking fee is a fairly low 3%
  • Secure payment through their website with payment protection
  • Instant booking options available
  • A decent number of listings (300,000 in 20,000 destinations)
  • Good detail about each rental with interactive map, comprehensive rental descriptions, lots of photos and guest reviews and availability calendars
  • Mobile friendly
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Guest booking fees can be expensive, ranging from 5%-15%
  • No insurance available for guests or hosts
  • Owners set cancellation terms, which aren’t regulated by the site
  • Owners can add-on additional processing fees

How To Avoid Scams As A Vacation Home Renter

Read Previous Renters’ Reviews

Mansion Always read reviews posted by previous renters. If a rental property doesn’t have any reviews, it’s not necessarily a red flag, but you won’t have that third-party verification to put you at ease. And if a site doesn’t allow reviews, you probably want to steer clear.

Payment Forms Matter

Look for rentals that require a credit card, PayPal or another form of traceable payment. If they ask you to wire payment or pay in cash — red flag! Another red flag: if you’re asked to pay the full amount more than two months before your stay. Reputable vacation rental websites typically require an initial deposit, followed by payment in full one to two months before your arrival date.

Get The Facts

Confirm with the owners or agency that a “full kitchen” is, in fact, fully functional. Does the description say “three bedrooms?” Make sure all are full bedrooms instead of one being a sunroom, an open loft or another type of makeshift room. Get the skinny on any additional fees you could incur which the rental website may not advertise.

Property Conditions

What do you do if you arrive at your rental, and it’s not as advertised or is something not working that should be? If you’ve rented through an agency, ask for another property. If you’re dealing directly with property owners, take photos so you can compare them to what’s on the rental website. If you decide to stay, ask for a partial refund. If you don’t stay, ask for a full refund.

Best Vacation Rental Websites For Property Owners & Managers

See below for our top picks for top picks for best websites for vacation rentals by owner. We based our selections on several criteria: damage coverage, popularity/marketing reach of the site, listing fees and more.

What Do You Need To Know Before You List Your Property?

  • Check On Your Local Ordinances: Many localities have rules in place for licensing a short-term rental as well as occupancy tax.
  • Neighborhood Associations: If you own a home and pay neighborhood dues, many homeowner’s associations have regulations against renting out your property or at the very least, some guidelines to follow.
  • Make Sure You’re Covered For Insurance: While some vacation rental websites offer damage insurance, make sure you’re covered for that as well as personal liability claims and theft of personal property like jewelry or artwork.
  • Cleaning And Maintenance: With most vacation rental websites, you’re in charge of setting up (and setting fees for) repairs and cleaning of your property before and during your guests’ stays.

Best For American Property Owners: Airbnb Review

Airbnb logoVisit Website

Airbnb is our top pick for best vacation rental website for hosts. What’s the main difference between Airbnb and VRBO? Its listings are usually places where people currently reside versus HomeAway’s VRBO which are second homes and not occupied full-time.

What sets it apart? With a reasonable 3% booking fee for each rental and a free “Host Guarantee” that covers up to $1 million in damages to your property, you get a lot of bang for your buck. And Airbnb is another powerhouse vacation rental site, with more than 1.5 million listings, so you’ll reach a large audience of potential renters.

For travelers, Airbnb has easy, fairly thorough search filters and a cool feature that lets you know the percentage of rentals still available based on your search criteria (dates, location, occupancy, etc.). In other words, book now because your options are running out. You can even view the owner’s profile, which includes reviews from previous renters.

In 2019, Airbnb acquired HotelTonight the popular App for booking last minute hotel deals at high-end and boutiques. If you are new to Airbnb, get an exclusive $35 credit towards your first trip via this link.



  • Excellent number of listings (1.5 million in 190 countries) leads to lots of potential guests
  • Fairly low 3% booking fee for hosts
  • Secure payment through their website
  • Good details for each listing, including interactive map, amenities, photos and guest reviews
  • Free “Host Guarantee” insurance covers up to $1 million in damages
  • Mobile friendly
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Cancellation policy determined solely by host
  • Fairly high 6-12% booking fee for guests compared to other sites  – which may lead to fewer guests
  • No availability calendar
  • Many consumer complaints (mostly travelers) about poor customer service

Learn About Starting An Airbnb Business

Best For International Property Owners: Wimdu Review

Wimdu logoVisit Website

Another Europe-based company, Wimdu isn’t the site to find your regionally popular or lesser-known vacation sites within the U.S. But if you’re looking global, it’s worth giving it a shot — a majority of its listings are apartments in European cities. And you can find some magnificent deals! A double occupancy room in the heart of London for less than $50 per night? Score! If you’re considering a trip to Europe, we highly recommend you see what Wimdu has to offer.

And, if you own property, Wimdu allows you to list for free, and you only incur a 3% booking fee with each rental. Wimdu offers owners damage insurance up to 500,000 Euros (roughly 545,000 U.S. dollars) per claim, and owners are only responsible for 150 Euros for each claim. This liability insurance, however, doesn’t cover properties in the U.S. or Canada.



  • Fairly low booking fee for hosts at 3%
  • Decent variety of listings (300,000 in 100 countries) means good number of potential guests
  • Secure payment through their website
  • Instant booking options available
  • Damage insurance for hosts up to 500,000 Euros (excluding U.S. and Canada)
  • Good cancellation policies
  • Mobile friendly
  • 24/7 customer service
  • High 12% booking fee for guests – which may lead to fewer guests
  • Some consumer complaints about them being hacked
  • Customer feedback on quality of customer service is across the board

Other Vacation Rental Websites Reviewed

Although the following vacation rental websites didn’t make our top picks, they’re still worth considering as a vacationer and as a property owner/manager.

9flats |

9flats Review

9flats logoVisit Website

A German company launched in 2011, 9flats has more of a global, large-city focus heavily concentrated in Europe. 9flats is not the vacation rental website for you if you’re looking for a lot of U.S. beach or smaller city destinations (although they do have a good number of rentals in Miami). Like Airbnb, you can rent a room in addition to larger properties — and it offers a wide variety, including castles, treehouses, igloos, etc.

Property owners get host insurance in case of damages, which covers up to 500,000 Euros (approximately $545,000 U.S. dollars), but they also incur a hefty host booking fee. Still, 9flats gets excellent customer reviews, largely from their European clients. So, if you’re looking for a great deal abroad, check out 9flats.



  • No booking fees for guests
  • Secure payment via website
  • Hosts get free damage insurance up to $545,000
  • Each listing has a lot of photos, availability calendar, interactive map and guest reviews
  • Some properties allow for instant booking
  • Good cancellation policy
  • Excellent reviews by customers
  • High 15% booking fee for hosts
  • Fewer listings than other websites (250,000)
  • No rental guarantee for guests
  • Rental property descriptions aren’t as thorough as many other sites we reviewed
  • Customer service only available Mon-Fri
  • Not mobile friendly

Flipkey Review

Flipkey logoVisit Website

FlipKey’s parent company is the hugely popular travel review website TripAdvisor, so you’ll find the most authentic guest reviews and more photos compared to other sites. FlipKey has an intuitive, search-friendly interface and even has a feature that tells you how many people have used FlipKey to book each vacation rental home you view. It also offers more daily deals than other sites.

The downside? With roughly 300,000 rental properties in 11,000 destinations, it doesn’t have as much selection as its larger competitors. Its booking fees for renters are higher than most sites we’ve seen. And, although it offers a Payment Plan Policy, there’s a pretty strong consensus by customers online that FlipKey doesn’t have your back if things go wrong.



  • Hosts incur a reasonable 3% fee per booking
  • A decent number of rental properties (300,000 in 11,000 destinations)
  • Excellent listing descriptions and customer review sections, availability calendar, interactive map and photos
  • Damage protection insurance available for guests
  • Payment Protection Policy protects guests up to $10,000 (for inaccessible or major defect/differences with rental unit & deposit disputes, but you must pay via FlipKey’s website)
  • Instant booking available with many properties
  • Mobile friendly
  • Fairly high booking fees for guests, anywhere from 5-15%
  • Some listings allow you to pay via secure site, while with others you deal directly with the owner for payment (could cause problems in the event of a dispute)
  • No damage insurance available for hosts
  • No universal cancellation policy, so guests and hosts are on their own
  • Some consumer complaints about not being able to reach FlipKey’s customer support, even during open hours Review

VacationHomeRentals logoVisit Website is another vacation rental website owned by TripAdvisor, but unlike other TripAdvisor-owned sites, VHR is simply a place for owners to list their vacation rentals and connect with vacation seekers. has the smallest number of listings (100,000) out of all the sites we reviewed. As a traveler, you’ll largely be dealing with the property owner for rental payment, cancellation and other terms of your agreement.

From a host/property owner perspective, you’ll incur an annual $399 fee for listing and booking (per property listing). And your listing will be featured on TripAdvisor’s site as well, which has a reach of 250+million travelers. It’s easy to give VacationHomeRentals a try — for hosts, it offers a 60-day free trial period, and there are no booking fees for renters. But you do need to pay attention to the details on this site.



  • No booking fees for guests
  • Excellent resource for guest/traveler reviews
  • Availability calendar, interactive map and photos
  • Mobile friendly
  • Host listing fee of $399 per year (but no additional booking fees)
  • Only 100,000 listings —  smaller than other sites we reviewed
  • Payment made directly to host, so you potentially aren’t as secure
  • No insurance offered for hosts or guests
  • Rental property descriptions aren’t as thorough as with many other sites
  • No instant booking options
  • No universal cancellation policy
  • Customer support through email ticket only

The Benefits Of Using A Vacation Rental Website vs Hotels

The following video by HomeAway (our top pick for vacationers) illustrates the benefits of finding a larger rental space for you and your family — and how easy it is with sites like the ones we’ve reviewed.

Get Inspired To Travel

We hope this best vacation rental sites overview serves as a useful guide to help you discover a whole new vacationing world! And next time you plan a trip, compare it to hotels and you might be pleasantly surprised to see what you find and how much you can save.

Need a little travel inspiration on where to go? Here are some travel-related articles, but we recommend Honduras, Singapore and Bali as a few ideas and our favorite places to go.

Which websites do you rely on to find the best vacation rentals?

About The Author:

Sally holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in anthropology from James Madison University. She went on to pursue a master’s in journalism at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An international traveler since she was under 10 years old, Sally loves exploring the world’s mysteries first-hand. Her favorite destinations? Greece, the British Virgin Islands and NYC.

She also spent much of her career in health sciences communications and has enjoyed working with and learning from some of the world’s leading academic scientists in genetics, global health, addiction research and other fields. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

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