The One Airbnb and VRBO Hack That’ll Save You BIG Bucks on Your Next Vacation Rental

Updated January 31, 2024 by Kyle James

Both Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) have become online fixtures for travelers looking to book their next vacation home directly from the owner. You can often save a lot of money compared to booking a hotel or resort. But did you know you can typically negotiate an even better rate, especially on “last-minute” travel?

I actually manage my parent’s beach condo via VRBO and occasionally get savvy travelers using this hack to save a little extra money on their lodging costs. I’ll happily give them a “last-minute” discount to avoid the condo sitting empty, not earning a dime. Keep reading as I’m about to spill the beans on how best to make this hack work for you.

The One VRBO and Airbnb Hack That'll Save You BIG Buck

The “Last-Minute” VRBO and Airbnb Hack

Most VRBO property owners aren’t a big fan of having their vacation rental sit empty on any given weekend.

Go figure, huh? Use this to your advantage and try this last-minute VRBO and Airbnb hack to score a deal.

Here are the 6 keys to your success…

1. Just Ask

In your initial email inquiry about the vacation property, ask about the possibility of a “last-minute” discount.

2. Have Good Timing

I’ve found the happy spot for a successful last-minute discount to be in the 2 weeks leading up to your arrival date.

3. What Discount to Ask For

I like to start the negotiating by asking for 25% off the original nightly rate and be prepared to meet somewhere in the middle around 10-15% off.

4. What if They Won’t Budge?

Sometimes the owner just won’t budge from their normal nightly rate.

When this happens, it works really well to ask for the last night free if you’re staying more than 4 nights.

I’ve had a lot of success nabbing a free night this way.

5. Other Perks to Ask For

Also, ask if possibly the cleaning fee could be waived, or reduced by 50%.

Keep in mind that many vacation rental owners do their own cleaning and are often willing to remove, or reduce, the cleaning fee so their place doesn’t sit vacant.

This perk alone could save you $100 to $250 depending on how big the property is.

6. Always Be Polite

You always attract more bees with honey than vinegar. (Is that how the saying goes?)

Anyways, in your email and phone conversations with the vacation property owner, always be polite and cordial, and NEVER demanding. You’ll find your success rate quadruple (or more) by doing so.

Odds of success using this hack?

In my experience I’d guesstimate that about 60-70% of my last-minute inquiries have resulted in a discount of one type or another.

Not a bad way to save money on your next family vacation.

Ask the Reader: Do you use VRBO or Airbnb often to rent a vacation property? If so, have you ever considering using this hack to save some money?

By Kyle James


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Elizabeth Marshall

Hey Kyle! Do you have a coupon for VRBO?! Thanks!


I have to say this trend doesn’t sit well with me. Whether it’s haggling at a market or begging for discounts at any business, you are taking income away from the owner. Unless you feel the price is significantly inflated, I just think it’s…well…wrong to ask to get what you want for less.


Hannah- Why not haggle? The owners of these properties have no problem charging twice as much during “peak” season than during “non-peak” season. Nothing changed about the place…. except the price. I think that’s crap!


No Krista, they LOWER the price in the off season from the original price in the peak season. If they charged non peak season prices year round it wouldn’t even pay the HOA or maintenance or utilities or assessment fees. Why bother renting it at all . Go buy a condo and rent yours out with all the stress of keeping guests happy for a loss. Take an economics class before you do this.


No Drew, Krista was right, they raise the price. What do you mean they would not be able to cover the HOA, you sound like a not so savvy property owner who got in over his head. When demand goes up prices are raised, when it goes down they are lowered. If you cannot cover the HOA, you should sell it, not be renting it at a loss.


I didn’t see a coupon when I clicked the link for Air B and B. Great information in the article. Very helpful!

Nancy S-B

If you wait until Krista’s sweet spot of 2 weeks before the vacation, you get the leftovers. The prime houses, the best prices, and the 5-star review properties are taken. As long as I’m paying the rent, I want the best I can get. Shop early!

Tammy Jackson

Why do you see dramatic swings in prices from minutes to days? It’s very frustrating. I see a price, I’m ready to book but have one last question before I book, then when I go back it’s gone up 100- 300$ Dollars. What is that all about? I have even had a property double in price in a matter of 20min. Crazy
I appreciate your article and will definitely take your suggestions.


They may think that they have you, so the price goes up. I have had this happen with airplane tickets. It’s one price until I check out and then it raises substantially in seconds. Hit the back button and take pictures.