Last Updated: March 7, 2023

Is VRBO Legit? (Read Before Booking)

Stumbled upon a great vacation rental on a website called VRBO and you want to know whether it’s the real deal? Then you’re definitely in the right place because this detailed guide will tell you everything you need to know about VRBO vacation rentals!

We’ll cover everything about VRBO, including what it is, how it works, and whether you can trust it. The short answer is yes, VRBO is a legit company that’s been around for a while, and you can safely book privately owned vacation homes through it. Keep reading if you’re interested in the longer answer!

What Is VRBO & How Does It Work?

VRBO Homepage

VRBO is a vacation rental agency where travelers can book stays in private homes and apartments. The name of the website is an acronym – Vacation Rentals by Owner – indicating that you are renting a property directly from the owner. VRBO connects homeowners directly with travelers, which bypasses the need for a property manager, saving both sides money on rental fees.

The most significant feature of VRBO is that only entire homes can be listed on the website. This means that you never have to share the accommodation with someone else, whether it’s the owner or other travelers.

This is great for people who prefer to rent entire homes when traveling, but it also means that the accommodation options are generally on the pricier side, as opposed to properties where you can rent just rooms.

Is VRBO Legit?

Vrbo TrustPilot Rating

Yes, VRBO is a legit website. The agency has been around since 1995 and it merged with HomeAway in 2015. Although there are many websites where you can find private rental properties today, at the time of launch, VRBO was a unique concept.

One thing to note is that VRBO doesn’t currently have the best rating on TrustPilot and SiteJabber, but it does have 65% of 5-star reviews across more than 100,000 customer reviews. It also has a higher score than Airbnb,, and Expedia, all of which are legit and reputable websites used by travelers.

Is VRBO A Reliable Vacation Rental Site?

Yes, VRBO is a reliable vacation rental site used by countless travelers and homeowners. The chances you’ll get scammed on VRBO are minimal, whether you book a property through the site or the VRBO app.

However, it has been known to happen, so just pay close attention to the details of the property you are booking. Avoid properties that seem too good to be true because they usually are, and I wouldn’t recommend booking properties that have no reviews from other travelers.

Is Booking on VRBO Safe?

Booking on VRBO is perfectly safe, and most people who rent a vacation home on the website have a positive experience. That being said, there are some homeowners who don’t have the best intentions when listing their properties on the VRBO website, but you can easily avoid dealing with such people if you know what to look for.

Also, this is the exact same case with and Airbnb, both of which are legit and reputable platforms. Scammers can be found anywhere if you look hard enough, and it’s usually very easy to avoid them.

Does VRBO refund 100%?

VRBO Cancelation Policy

The cancellation policy is different with every listing. Some properties will give you a full refund if you cancel up to a month before the booking period, while other properties are non-refundable and you won’t get your money back even if you cancel just a couple of days after booking it.

The cancellation policy is indicated on every listing. If there is a period when you can cancel for free, you will see it just above the book now button on the listing page. Additionally, you can click on the “View details” hyperlink to get a full listing of all the fees and taxes included in the booking, as well as a detailed overview of the cancellation policy.

I recommend that you always check the cancellation policy to avoid any nasty surprises. Many properties will give you a 100% refund if you cancel during a select period, and then a 50% refund (minus the service fee) if you cancel later. Also, many properties will deny you any sort of refund if you cancel too close to the booking date, so keep that in mind.

One thing to note is that the cancellation policy is dictated by the rental property owner, and VRBO has very little to do with it. That’s why it’s different for each of the VRBO properties, and why you can filter the search results to only display properties that offer free cancellation.

Pros of Using VRBO

VRBO Properties

The main pro of using VRBO is that you can find vacation rentals in 190+ countries all over the world. You can look for apartments, cabins, homes, and even some unique stays, which are great for everything from romantic getaways to family vacations.

It’s also great that you can read reviews from other travelers and learn about their experiences with the property you’re interested in. This is the easiest way of avoiding scams and negative experiences and ensuring that your stay goes as smoothly as possible.

Cons of Using VRBO

Service fees are the main disadvantage of VRBO bookings. There are cleaning and service fees for most properties, and the service fee can range from 6% to 15% of the total price. Also, depending on the cancellation policy, VRBO won’t always refund you the service fee.

VRBO also charges the homeowners with service fees, which is a 5% commission. It’s worth noting that although VRBO’s fees are quite steep, they are generally not as high as Airbnb’s fees.

Another con is that many property managing agencies list homes on VRBO, so you’re not always dealing directly with property owners. In that case, you’re paying double the fees, which is certainly not an ideal way of booking a vacation rental.

Tips for Booking Safely on VRBO

VRBO Filters

Filter for Free Cancellation

If you’re booking a property for a trip that’s ways away in the future, it’s best to filter the search results to include only properties with free cancellation. That way you won’t accidentally book a non-refundable property, which could be a nightmare if your travel plans change for any reason.

When booking a vacation property on VRBO, make sure to read the details of the cancellation policy and see how much time you have to cancel to get a 100% refund. I would mark that date in my calendar, so it doesn’t sneak past you.

Look For Properties With Many Reviews

This is the most important step in my booking process on every platform. Always look for vacation rentals that have a high rating across multiple reviews. I usually look for properties with at least 100+ reviews and sometimes settle for properties with dozens of reviews. Also, check that the reviews are recent – I try to stay away from properties that haven’t been reviewed at all in the past year.

Read through all the reviews and see what people liked and disliked about the property. It’s rare to find a vacation rental that’s entirely up to everyone’s standards, so look for flaws that people are pointing out the most, whether it’s cleanliness, noise, old furniture, etc.

You can even check to see if the rental home is listed on Google Maps and try to find some additional reviews. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for additional photographs of the property since people often post their own photos on Google Maps.

VRBO vs Airbnb

VRBO and Airbnb are similar platforms in essence, with a few key differences. Unlike VRBO, Airbnb allows owners to list shared properties for rental, so you can rent rooms in a hostel or a home. These rentals are generally cheaper since you’re not renting an entire home, so Airbnb is usually a better option for travelers on a tighter budget.

On the other hand, VRBO is a much better solution for travelers who prefer staying in entire homes and who don’t want to share any part of their accommodation with other travelers or hosts. The properties are pricier, but it’s still the same price range you get on Airbnb when you filter the results to display only entire homes.

In terms of safety, there really isn’t much of a difference between Airbnb and VRBO. Both are legit rental platforms used by countless travelers, and they are perfectly safe to use, with some rare exceptions.

You can easily avoid having a negative experience when booking on either platform if you look for properties that have a large number of reviews from other travelers and stick only with tried and tested VRBO rentals.

Is VRBO Worth It?

It’s worth it to look for vacation rentals on VRBO, especially if you want to rent an entire home. The selection of rental properties on the website is huge, and you can find a rental in more than 190 countries across the world.

You can find many properties that are listed exclusively on VRBO, but you can also get better deals on this site than you would on some other VRBO alternatives.

That’s not always the case though, so I would recommend comparing prices on different platforms for a property you like, especially if you can find it listed on multiple platforms. VRBO has lower fees than some of its competitors, but it still charges a significant service fee that can sometimes be as much as a nightly rate.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

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!

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