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13 Secrets Airbnb Hosts Will Never Tell You

Once you know these insider tips, your next home stay experience will be much more enjoyable—and possibly even less expensive!

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White front door with small square decorative windows and flower pots
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Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price

Whether renters simply don’t know or are afraid to try, it is not out of line to negotiate the cost of a stay with a homeowner. Hosts are more likely to be flexible on pricing if you’re planning a long-term stay or making a last-minute booking during a low demand period (i.e., during the middle of the week or shoulder season).

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Modern kitchen with an open design
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Be up front about problems, please

If you break or damage your hosts’ personal belongings or knickknacks or worse (i.e. the washing machine), alert your host as soon as possible. Sometimes, insurance or your damage deposit can cover these repairs, but when things are not discovered until later, it can get tricky. Airbnb has created a set of guidelines and an easy way to refund an owner for any damages caused through its resolution center online.

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Interior of modern bedroom with cozy double bed
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You should shop around

Often, homeowners list their place on multiple sites, sometimes at different price points. It can pay off to shop around, and if you find a lower price for the same home, don’t be afraid to ask for that price via your preferred rental site. Many online travel agencies including Orbitz and Booking.com also list home rentals, although their prices can be higher to factor in different commission rates charged to the owner. Do your homework before forking over your credit card, especially since home sharing sites don’t offer “best rate guarantees” the way hotels do.

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Master bathroom in new luxury home. Tile stretches from floor to ceiling behind bathtub, and partial glass wall hints at luxurious shower. Dark wood cabinetry surrounds double vanity; two sinks.

You can still earn miles and points

In an effort to stay competitive with area hotels, Airbnb has partnered with Delta; Airbnb guests are awarded one SkyMile per dollar spent on a rental, plus a bonus of 1,000 miles for their first booking. New guests that use their co-branded site also receive a one-time $25 discount. Prefer HomeAway for your stays? You can earn one United MileagePlus mile per dollar spent by booking a HomeAway reservation through its shopping portal. Here is the real difference between Airbnb and HomeAway.

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Silver painting on white wall above bed in designer bedroom interior with ladder, lamps and bedsheets

Look for long-stay discounts

Some properties, especially in business markets, offer discounts for booking longer stays of one week or one month. This can be a cheaper option than booking several nights individually, but you may not notice it unless you search for multiple date ranges. There are also specific taxes that can be avoided if you’re staying a certain number of nights. Many cities charge an occupancy or hotel tax for shorter stays targeted at hotel guests, so by booking a stay that is long enough to be considered a rental, you can potentially save the cost of this tax.

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13 Secrets Airbnb Hosts Will Never Tell You
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Book an Airbnb business rate for a discount

Companies can sign up for Airbnb for Business and receive a $50 discount for the first booking. Properties in this program guarantee business travel-friendly amenities including speedy wireless Internet and the option to check in at any hour.

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Lighting in bright living room with striped blanket on yellow chair next to table on white carpet

Please turn off the lights

Since homeowners are footing the utility bill, try to remember to lower the thermostat and turn off the lights when you leave for the day. Hosts see their profits dwindle with the high cost of wasted energy, not to mention that it’s also bad for the environment. Some proactive, budget-minded hosts have started using smart home devices that let them control lights, heating, and air conditioning remotely, so don’t be surprised if you come home in the middle of the day to a dark house.

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Modern new light interior of kitchen with white furniture and dining table.

Follow the golden rule

Many homeowners complain that their renters trash their home. No one expects renters to do the housekeeping, but there is a higher expectation that you’ll leave the place in a respectable state, even more so than when you’re at a hotel. Owners have the right to charge a cleaning fee if the place is too messy, but these must be disclosed in advance. Remember that your rating can depend upon how you leave the place. Here are 10 more etiquette rules all house guests should follow.

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Modern living room interior
Marko Poplasen/Shutterstock

Sign up for emails to get Airbnb discounts

If you tend to look at the same destinations or properties for good rates, you can sign up for an email alert through Airbnb that will send you a notice whenever rates at these properties go down in price. Also, first-time users can receive referral discounts from existing Airbnb users to get as much as $40 off their next stay, so remember to ask friends if they use Airbnb. Check out the top Airbnb rentals under $100 in the United States.

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Master bathroom in new luxury home: Bathtub and shower with tile and glass shower doors

Sneaking around fees is a no-no

When you’re booking a place to stay, note the number of people (and pets, if permitted) in your party. Adding extra people after checking in (and not notifying the homeowner) is considered a no-no, and some owners can tack on post-stay fees if they discover a violation.

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Interior of white and gray cozy bedroom

You can ask to see the place before booking

If you are already in the area, ask an owner if you can take a quick tour of the home to make sure it meets your needs (Is it the right size? Is it on a desirable street?). More homeowner renters are starting to offer tours as a way to build a relationship with the renter and encourage them to book their place.

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White towel on hanger rack in bathroom
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They hate when you stain the linens

Whether it’s last night’s lipstick on the pillowcase or toothpaste gunk on a hand towel, one of the top peeves of hosts are stains on their sheets and towels. Wash your face before you go to bed, preferably with a makeup wipe, so you don’t leave mascara smudges on a freshly-laundered washcloth, and remove any excess toothpaste from your mouth with a paper towel. Thinking about renting your home on Airbnb? These are the things you must know first.

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Breakfast wooden tray with coffee percolator, white blank card and croissant on bed. Light from window inside the room

Hosts are not your personal concierges

According to a survey by House Method, almost half of Airbnb renters have considered no longer listing their homes because of annoying guest behavior, and one of the biggest pet peeves is the expectation for 24-hour service. While renters often provide suggestions on what to do in the area or answer questions about the home, they are not hotel concierges who are on call 24/7. To be a welcome guest, aim to send any questions you have (plus arrival and departure information) in an email before your trip. Then, when questions arise at the rental, as they inevitably will, try to send them all in one email versus multiple in the first hour of your stay. Read on to find out the most popular Airbnb in every state.

Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey Qubein covers the hotel, cruise, and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs and writes for RD.com's Travel section. You'll find Ramsey flying more than 450,000 miles per year on his quest to visit every country on the planet (166 and counting so far). His work has appeared in numerous publications including Reader's Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure, CNBC.com, AFAR, Robb Report, Business Traveler, BBC Worldwide, USA Today, Frommers.com, Fodors.com, and NerdWallet.com. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and completed a Master’s Degree thesis studying the history of branding in the airline industry. Follow along on his travels via Instagram and Twitter.