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Are you loyal to Airbnb? The short-term vacation rental platform already has a name as big as Hilton or Marriott, but unlike the largest hotel groups in the world, Airbnb does not have a co-branded credit card. Instead, travelers are left to find the best cashback or general travel rewards card to maximize Airbnb bookings.
To make it even more confusing, Airbnb does not always fall under the category of “travel” for credit card companies, and you could be left signing up for a credit card that does not reward Airbnb purchases as you think it might.
That’s why the team at Trips to Discover scrutinized the fine print for over a dozen credit cards and directly clarified how Airbnb purchases behave with each card. We then used a proprietary ranking system utilizing 18 variables to find the best credit card for Airbnb. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details.
Here is a breakdown of everything you’ll learn on this page:
How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Airbnb
Since Airbnb does not have genuine loyalty partnerships with credit card companies, finding the best credit card for Airbnb bookings takes a flanking approach. You want a card that offers high rewards for “general travel” or “all purchases.” However, since you are unlikely to find a rewards rate as high as a co-branded card, you want to consider each card holistically.
While earning points with Airbnb can be an issue, so can spending those points. Many travel credit cards have “travel rewards” portals where you can redeem points for higher than average value. Since Airbnb does not have a co-branded partnership with any credit card company, you might have to redeem your points for less value when you choose a cash back, statement credit or gift card method to use on your next Airbnb booking.
Other essential issues to consider when choosing a credit card to use with Airbnb include the variable APR and if there are any foreign transaction fees. It is also crucial to see if the card contains an 0% introductory APR, what type of bonus you get and what the value of that bonus is when used on Airbnb. In addition, it’s essential to know what you have to do to use your hard-earned points on an Airbnb booking — essentially, how much of a hassle is the credit card reward system?
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The Best Airbnb Credit Cards of 2022
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The 12 Best Credit Cards for Airbnb
Look no further if you want to maximize your rewards with Airbnb while avoiding high-maintenance credit cards. Dive into our list of the best credit cards for Airbnb!
Although we rank these credit cards, that doesn’t mean the #1 card is for everyone. People build algorithms, so naturally, we prioritized credit card features that we found most important for Airbnb — emphasis on “that we found.” In other words, check out all twelve of these cards; a card lower on our list might be perfect for you!
It’s also worth noting that none of the cards on our list have reward-earning limits or caps or require card members to “opt-in” to any category related to Airbnb purchases. We also converted each card’s welcome bonus points into the dollar value used on an Airbnb purchase. See our methodology for a full explanation. To learn more about how we choose products and how we make money, see our Advertiser Disclosure.
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Independent: Our research team operates independently to recommend the best credit cards for Airbnb using data analysis. Our top recommendations are based solely on primary research and a proprietary ranking algorithm that prioritizes Airbnb purchases.
Preliminary Research: All the credit cards on this list were selected based on secondary sources that frequently list these credit cards as the best for travel. Credit cards were selected purely at the author’s discretion with absolutely no outside influence, financial or otherwise. These cards were then ranked against each other using an algorithm that prioritizes card features the author found most fit for interactions with Airbnb.
Formula: We ranked credit cards using 18 variables. Card details, pricing, terms and conditions were quantified and placed into our ranking procedure. We normalized data points by maximizing and minimizing them dependent on the other cards’ values in the ranking pool and the “polarity” of the measurement (High rewards=good; high APR=bad). We calculated a weighted sum of our variables to prioritize attributes for Airbnb purchases.
Disclaimer: This flexible formula means a card can receive a different score when the card pool changes. In other words, we are ranking the best cards for Airbnb within our selection of cards and make no claims that these are the best credit cards for Airbnb out of every credit card in the world.
Rankings: Instead of separating primary and secondary ranking categories for each credit card, our ranking algorithm considers each card holistically with varying degrees of weight. That means a second-rate reward-earning card with stellar scores in 17 other categories could be the best card for Airbnb. Note: we rank credit cards, not credit card companies; you will find multiple cards from one issuer on our list, and we still rank those cards against each other.
Parameters: We focused solely on Airbnb to find the best card for Airbnb purchases. Our algorithm did not reward points for card bonuses ancillary to Airbnb, such as flights, car rentals, hotels, restaurants and other travel-related rewards. The importance of extra bonuses varies for each Airbnb customer; the cards presented here are strictly best for Airbnb.
Limits: Our ranking algorithm used each card’s highest reward rate and point value for Airbnb purchases. That means some cards have much higher reward rates and redemption values for other purchases.
Complexity: Our algorithm deducts cards requiring complex point management to earn higher returns. For example, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card has the highest reward rate for Airbnb purchases, 5% back. However, you must be an Amazon Prime member and use points to buy Airbnb gift cards through Amazon; this causes the card to lose some points in our algorithm.
Simplifying: Credit card companies use points, miles or cash rewards yielding varying real-world values. We converted these reward systems to dollars and reward earning rates into expenditure percentages for easier comparison. For example, 1.5X rewards become 1.5% dollars back in points when the point is worth 1 cent. We converted the value for points worth less than one cent; 3X rewards valued at .7 cents becomes 2.1% dollars back.
Timeline: This analysis was conducted between July 25 and August 24, 2022
Replicability: You can download CSV spreadsheets containing the information and scores of the 12 cards we analyzed here, but we have removed all formulas from the books. Our algorithm is proprietary, but if you want to build a similar project, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected], and we can walk you through the process. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — we ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so its contributors can receive proper credit for their work.
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Trips to Discover is an independent travel discovery website, not an investment advisor. Our research, data analysis, written material and other content are provided solely for informational purposes and are not investment advice. The relevance and precision of the information provided in our articles will vary under individual circumstances. We are not a substitute for qualified professional investment advice. Before applying, we encourage you to read all applicable credit card terms and conditions.
Our research is editorially independent, but we may earn commissions for purchases made through our links. Our opinions and recommendations are ours, and commissions do not influence our evaluations. Offers on this page contain terms and conditions. Credit card details on this page were collected independently by Trips to Discover and were not reviewed or endorsed by the issuers. Our research is based on the terms and conditions of the credit cards we examined at the time of publication and are subject to change.
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