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Earn Travel Rewards Points On Airbnb

March 26, 2015
Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

If you want to stay at an Airbnb vacation rental instead of a hotel, you may be able to earn more rewards if you pay with plastic.

That’s because payment networks, like Visa and MasterCard, classify Airbnb as a travel agency, not a real estate expense or some other expense. As a result, you can earn more points and miles on credit cards that give you rewards bonuses for spending on travel, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®, when you make Airbnb purchases.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel (including Airbnb) and dining, plus 1 point per dollar elsewhere. NerdWallet values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.25 cents each when used to book travel, which is a slightly higher rewards rate than other rewards cards offer. On top of that, you’ll get a signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Even better, when you redeem points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get an additional 20% off travel.  With plenty of redemption options, this card is ideal for travelers who want the flexibility to spend points with several different travel loyalty programs.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® emphasizes rewards through travel purchases. You earn two miles per dollar spent on all purchases, including Airbnb. But the best part about this card is that you can also redeem those points for Airbnb costs and other travel expenses. NerdWallet values Arrival Miles at 1 cent each, giving this card a high ongoing value for frequent travelers.

On top of that, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® comes with a sweet sign-up bonus: Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

» MORE: 7 Ways your credit card could save you money on holiday travel

Another redemption possibility

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® isn’t the only credit card that helps you pay for Airbnb stays. Because American Express is a business partner with Airbnb, you can generally redeem your American Express membership points for Airbnb gift cards at a value of 1 cent per point for $100 or $250 gift certificates – a competitive value.

The downside, though, is that you can’t pair these certificates with other promotions, and can only use one per booking. If the cost of your stay were $1,000, for instance, you’d still be footing the majority of the bill with cash or credit, even if you had the points to get multiple gift certificates. But for American Express cardholders who love Airbnb, redeeming for gift certificates could still be a money-saving move.

Airbnb is unique

Remember, Airbnb isn’t like other vacation rental companies – and that’s one reason it’s so travel-credit-card-friendly. Payment networks tend to classify similar companies, like VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner, and HomeAway, as real estate rentals, and you usually can’t earn travel rewards through these. If you use these services, consider using a card that will give you a higher rewards rate for general purchases instead.

But if you’re wondering which vacation rental marketplace to go with and want to earn more travel rewards, Airbnb may be your best bet. Knowing that you’re getting the most out of your credit cards will make it even easier to enjoy your vacation.

Image via iStock.