A simple guide to Airbnb's payment system for guests

Trying to make sense of Airbnb's payment and fee system can be a bit confusing at times, for this reason it's always a good idea to understand how it all works and when exactly your bank account might be affected. You will come across a number of additional fees that are included in the initial booking invoice and will be explained in detail in the invoice itself. These fees normally include the Airbnb guest service fee, the cleaning fee and the deposit. Other fees might still apply that are applied by each host individually, this might be to cover late check-ins or to cater for extra guests. Always make sure to read the whole property description on Airbnb prior to booking so that you are not faced with any unpleasant surprises upon arrival.

Airbnb in London


The Airbnb guest service fee

On top of the rental fee set out by the host expect to pay the Airbnb guest service fee. This fee exists to cover the costs of running Airbnb and is normally 12% of the total rental fee (In the E.U. this is 14.4% as it includes VAT). This value decreases to 6% as the value of the booking gets larger and generally means that the longer you stay the higher the discount. The Airbnb guest service fee is included in the original invoice when the guest is making the booking.


The cleaning fee

It's good to know that a large number of listings on Airbnb charge a cleaning fee, this is to cover the cleaning that is required to prepare the apartment for the next guests and might come as a surprise to some guests as the cleaning fee is normally included if you are booking a room in a hotel. The cleaning fee is included in your original invoice and is charged at the same time that the booking is confirmed.


The damage deposit

Some hosts decide to charge a deposit to cover any possible breakages/damages/missing items. It is quite important to understand as a guest that the damage deposit is not actually charged to guests until a claim is made by a host. Hosts have 48 hours after check-out to make a claim with Airbnb and if a claim is made Airbnb will act as the mediator. It's recommended to mention any breakages to hosts as soon as possible so that there are no unexpected fees once you have checked out.


Additional charges imposed by hosts

Always make sure to read the detailed description of the property listing as this is where you will come across any extra fees that might be applied by hosts. The most common extra fees that you will come across include late or early check-in fees that are outside the set check-in/check-out times or a fee for additional guests. Make sure to read every detail in the property description before finalizing your booking and to double check any doubts with hosts. Note that these additional fees are normally paid in cash upon arrival and do not involve Airbnb. Note that the deposit is always managed through Airbnb so lookout for hosts that request for it to be paid in cash. 


Setting up your payment method on Airbnb


Airbnb offers a number of options to receive and send payments. Setting up your payment method is very simple; simply go to "account settings" then "payment preferences".

1. All major credit cards and pre-paid credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, JCB

2. Many debit cards that can be processed as credit

3. Paypal for select countries - Once it's set up it is extremely simple to use, it's safe and can be used anywhere. It's free to use to send money or receive money between people within the same country as long as the payment is made by a bank account. To check out Paypal fees click here

4. Google Wallet for US users and Apple Pay.

5. Other payment services that are specific to certain countries are available such as Alipay, Postepay, Sofort Uberweisung, iDEAL, Boleto Bancario.


Summary - So when are payments actually made?

Once both parties have pre-approved each other the booking is finalised and confirmed. At this point in time the guest will be charged the full amount (unless the booking is longer than 28 days) and includes all the different fees but not the deposit. The deposit is dealt with separately and is only charged once the guests have checked out and if the host has identified any breakages or damages. Once the guest has paid for the booking that amount will be held by Airbnb until 24 hours after the check-in day at which point it is transferred into the hosts account. This is to ensure that guests are satisfied with the property and that it lives up to the description and pictures on the hosts profile. Note that for long lets that are longer than 28 days the payments are collected in monthly instalments on the anniversary of the check-in day. This means that guests will not have to fork out the full amount on the first day of booking.

Once the guests have checked-out the hosts have 48 hours to identify any damages/breakages/missing items and make a claim with Airbnb, if any are identified this is when the deposit is charged to the guests account.