Airbnb is the largest vacation rental site in the world. I have been using them for years, and chances are, you have too.
Personally, I have never had any issues when using Airbnb, it has always been a smooth experience, but some of you might be asking if Airbnb is legitimate and whether there are any Airbnb scams you should be aware of.
In this article, we will run through everything you need to know about Airbnb from how it works to its reliability, safety, scams, and lots more. By the end of the article, you should know how to spot an Airbnb scam, which ones to look out for, and how to use the Airbnb rental site safely.
Airbnb is a vacation rental site that connects people looking for accommodation with people who want to rent out their homes or private rooms to travelers.
Homeowners become Airbnb hosts when they create an Airbnb listing of their property or room on the Airbnb website. The Airbnb listing includes photos, a vague location, amenities, reviews, and lots more.
Airbnb users can then browse through property listings until they find a vacation rental they would like to book.
They then book the home through Airbnb via communication with the host. Airbnb receives the money, takes a cut, and then passes it on to the host once the rental is complete.
Yes, Airbnb is a legitimate company and since it was founded has become one of the largest vacation rental sites in the world.
You can book your vacation rental online or via the Airbnb App. Your booking comes with terms that both you and the host agree to through Airbnb, and Airbnb does its best to enforce those terms and mediate any concerns that might arise during your stay.
It is a fair enough concern as to whether Airbnb is reliable or not, as you can easily spend over $1000 on a single booking, and losing that amount of money is simply not an option.
Personally, I find that Airbnb is a reliable service and this is due to the review process. Fake reviews are very hard to achieve on Airbnb as they can only be left by verified users after they have checked out from a verified booking.
So, when picking an Airbnb, you can make sure the reviews stack up against the property description and photos. This ensures that the property you are booking is reliable – as in it looks like the pictures do in real life and are up to standard.
The booking process on Airbnb is also reliable as you can either book instantly or wait 24 hours for a host to review your booking request and either accept or decline.
Once booked, both the host and guests have to follow the cancellation/refund policy which can be found and read before making the booking.
If anything on our Airbnb booking isn’t to your liking, Airbnb has a help center that will mediate any issues. Any hosts or users that break the rules won’t last long on Airbnb or will have a terrible rating, therefore increasing the site’s reliability.
When you book on Airbnb, all your personal information and payment information remains on Airbnb and is encrypted. This means no hosts get any of your payment or personal information except for your name, Airbnb keeps the rest of it safe.
The next safety concern, especially for solo female travelers, comes in the form of staying in a stranger’s home, whether you rent the entire home or just a room. Can you trust the host and is check-in going to be safe are all valid concerns.
This is why checking reviews is so important as you can get a sense of the host very quickly. You can also sort Airbnb listings to only show Superhosts, which are hosts that have upheld Airbnb’s highest standards for a lot of rentals.
You can also choose to sort Airbnb listings by hotel rooms if you do not feel safe staying in a stranger’s home by yourself.
Generally speaking, booking on Airbnb is safe but there are some things that are beyond the company’s control and some Airbnb scams to be aware of so you can avoid them.
Although it is very hard to fake an Airbnb review, it is possible. Luckily, it is easy to avoid Airbnb scams like this one as they are easy to spot.
If you see a few reviews in a row that are excellent, use similar wording, and are in poor English, then chances are the reviews are fake, so it is a listing to avoid.
If all the reviews are positive reviews and the host is a superhost, you can trust the listing. To be a superhost you have to have a 90 percent response rate to new messages within 24 hours, high ratings of over 4.8 out of 5 stars, and 10 stays in the past year, a cancellation rate of less than 1 percent. This is impossible to fake!
If a listing’s photos are simply too good to be true, then they might be fake. If you find a listing that is in a great location with stunning photos and is far too affordable, chances are the photos are faked. They might be stock photos or feature photoshopped amenities.
If you are suspicious, first read the reviews and if there are very few reviews, this should add to your suspicion. You should then do a reverse google image search to check if the photos have been stolen or bought from stock and are therefore not genuine.
To do this search, go to images.google.com, click on the camera, upload the photo, and Google will search for the photo online and show you where it came from.
If a host asks for any kind of payment outside of Airbnb they are breaking the rules and this is not a good sign.
All payments must go through Airbnb in order to be protected. If you are asked for payment outside of Airbnb, ask the host to request it through Airbnb, if they do not, make sure to report it so you are protected.
An Airbnb host saying you have to switch properties at the last minute is one of the most common Airbnb scams around.
This Airbnb scam runs like this, you will book and pay for a property you like on Airbnb. When you arrive, the host will say that the property is no longer available as it is double booked, has been damaged by the previous guests, or that the electricity or plumbing is not working.
At this point, the host will offer you a different property and it could be a lot worse than the property you booked, meaning they made a fake Airbnb listing and diverted you to a terrible property instead of a good one.
There are a number of ways to get around this. Firstly, if you are not made aware of the change in property through Airbnb before your arrival, then it is most likely an Airbnb scam.
If the host offers you a discount and you are ok with what the new property looks like, get it agreed through the app before you agree to anything.
If the property is an unacceptable switch, then call the Airbnb 24/7 help center and get them to resolve it. Chances are you will get a full refund but you will have to book new accommodation.
The fine print of Airbnb allows hosts to claim damages against Airbnb guests. This is there to protect properties and encourage good behavior from guests.
But, some hosts try to overcharge for damage or makeup damages altogether to get some extra cash.
The best way to avoid this scam is to take pictures of the rental when you arrive and leave as proof. If anything is broken when you arrive, take a picture of it, if you break anything also take a picture of it.
If a host makes up damages, fight to the bitter end in the resolution center as it is your word against theirs. If they overprice a fix, then find proof online.
A thankfully rare Airbnb scam but what is probably the most alarming is booking your vacation rental through a fake Airbnb website.
The website looks exactly like the real one, as do the processes. Once you arrive to stay at your booking, you will discover it simply does not exist. When you complain to Airbnb, they will say they have no record of a booking.
This scam usually happens through the official Airbnb website. You will try to book what is a fake listing and while messaging with the fake host, will be given a link to click that takes you to the fake Airbnb site where you pay and they take your money.
The only way to avoid this is to be suspicious of any link you are sent. Be careful of how the URL is spelled and if it looks dodgy, do not use it.
Some hosts create multiple listings of the same property at different prices and then give the property to whoever books the highest price. This means if you booked the cheaper listing, your property will be canceled and you will have to find a new one.
Multiple listings can also be a sign of fake listings where you are switched to an inferior property on arrival.
Never book a property with multiple listings as it is simply not worth it. Remove price filters to ensure that there are not multiple listings at higher prices.
Sadly, there are some sick people out there who put hidden cameras in Airbnbs. Airbnb does allow cameras in common areas so long as they are disclosed to guests so they can choose to book the listing or not.
Hidden cameras are not allowed at all but this is impossible for Airbnb to police. When you arrive at a listing, look for hidden cameras. Check power outlets, and smoke detectors, and be sure to search the bedrooms and bathrooms thoroughly.
It is not legal to use Airbnb in every part of the world, and if you book an Airbnb in an area where it is illegal, you can be turned away when you arrive. You will then have to find other accommodation if you can.
To avoid this, Google the laws for the local area you want to stay in and check whether Airbnb is allowed. If it is not allowed, then do not book an Airbnb there.
The best way to protect yourself on Airbnb is by booking properties with numerous excellent reviews and with superhosts too. Reviews are the best way to tell if a property and host are what they say they are.
If you always book with a superhost and book a property with over 20 reviews, and a rating of 4.8 stars, chances are you are never going to have an issue.
But, you should always be aware of a fraudulent page by checking the website URL. Be suspicious when being sent links to book through, or anything that is outside the usual Airbnb process.
Never accept changes to your booking that happened outside of Airbnb. Always report them and use the Airbnb help center to help you.
If you follow these steps along with all the advice featured in each of the scam sections, then chances are all your bookings will go ahead without issue.
If you notify Airbnb that you have been scammed, they should refund you within 24 hours but this does depend on the scam. If the property is not as it should be, you will be refunded.
If you paid through a fake site, that is on you and has nothing to do with Airbnb according to them.
Yes, a superhost can be trusted to a point. To become a superhost, a host has to have 10 stays in one year with a 1% cancellation rate, 4.8 stars out of 5 for every review, and a 90 percent response rate to new messages within 24 hours.
To remain a superhost, this has to be maintained and therefore is generally trustworthy.
If you get robbed while staying at an Airbnb that you booked, you will have to use your own personal travel insurance to claim for anything that got damaged or taken.
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Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!