As the coronavirus pandemic continues to put many Americans on hold on vacations and hotel stays, road trips to a nearby Airbnb are becoming increasingly popular.
Vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb have established themselves as homes for large groups, and all the more so as a desirable option.
Airbnbs offer more space for social distancing, and guests typically have their own kitchen and dining area. In light of the pandemic, Airbnb has also improved its cleaning protocols between stays and asked hosts to do a touchless check-in whenever possible.
If you are looking for a break in this upcoming holiday season, a vacation rental may be your best bet. And the good news is, all of the credit card rewards you’ve quarantined this year can help cover the cost of your next stay.
Before you dive in, the first thing you need to do is figure out how your credit card issuer encodes Airbnb transactions. The most common purchases that fall under the Travel category include timeshares and hotels. However, there are also categories such as homeshares, homestays and rentals.
Both Chase and Wells Fargo classify Airbnb as trips in the homeshare category, but not all card issuers will.
The following falls under the travel category for five major issuers:
- American Express: Hotel stays, timeshare and vacation rentals (American Express® Green Card only); excludes timeshare property purchases
- Bank of America: Hotels, motels, resorts, timeshare
- Capital One: Hotel and rental car booked through Capital One Travel
- Chase: Hotels, motels, timeshare
- Citi: Hotels, timeshare
Learn more: How credit card issuers classify purchases for bonus rewards
Now that you know where you stand, let’s take a look at the many ways you can spend your points and miles on vacation rentals and Airbnbs.
1. Use your travel credit card wisely
2. Find a bank statement credit
While most of the best travel credit cards come with annual fees, these costs can usually be offset by using the card’s annual travel credit.
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and US Bank Altitude Reserve ™ Visa Infinite® cards offer $ 300 and up to $ 325 travel credit that can be applied to a variety of travel expenses, including vacation rentals.
If you have a credit card from any of the above five issuers, see how your card issuer classifies these types of travel purchases.
3. Redeem your credit card rewards for an Airbnb gift card
You can redeem your rewards on gift card purchases for hotels, rentals, and timeshares with many credit card companies, including Hotels.com, Four Seasons, Marriott, and Hilton.
For example, Chase cardholders can use the CUR portal to redeem their points for a gift card at a select number of merchants, including Airbnb. The minimum redemption amount starts at 2,500 points or $ 25.
Read more about Chase’s limited-time gift card offer: Save 10% on gift cards through Chase Ultimate Rewards
You should make sure that you redeem your points for a 1: 1 value (where a point or mile is worth 1 cent). At this redemption rate, for example, an Airbnb gift card worth $ 100 would cost 10,000 points.
Note that with many credit cards, redeeming your points for a gift card may not be the highest redemption value available. You should weigh this option against others who may bring you more value. (For example, Chase’s limited-time Pay-Yourself-Back tool gives you 1.25% to 1.5% more value on other types of purchases.)
Note that Airbnb has its own restrictions on gift cards, such as: B. when it is not used to pay for long stays, payment plans, or changes to existing reservations.
4. Redeem cash on a cashback card
You don’t need a travel credit card to earn a free stay at a vacation rental like Airbnb.
If you use a standard cashback credit card, you can redeem your cashback for a bank statement credit. This helps offset the cost of your bill. So you can book the vacation rental or Airbnb in advance and then use your credit to pay some (or all) of the cost.
This is one of the easiest ways to cover the cost of a vacation rental because you use credits that are applied to your balance without being linked to a specific transaction.
For example, Citi® Double Cash Card cardholders can earn 1% cashback on purchases and 1% on the repayment of their bill. The user-friendly rewards program has unlimited limits on how much cashback you can earn. Cardholders can redeem cash for checks or bank statement balances once they have earned $ 25. So once you’ve booked your vacation rental or Airbnb, you can use cash to get back the money you’ve spent.
Whether you have a travel credit card or a cash back credit card with you, you can use your rewards earned to book vacation rentals.
While most travel credit cards have rewards programs that allow you to use your points to book accommodation, first check with yours to see if vacation rentals fall into this category.
If you have gift card redemption options, check to see if Airbnb is one of the merchants and what the redemption value would be if you used your points to buy a gift card.
US Bank Altitude Reserve ™ Capital One® cards and Visa Infinite® card information has been independently collected by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.
Editor’s note: The opinions, analysis, ratings, or recommendations expressed in this article come solely from the CNBC Select editorial team and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any third party.