Hi there and welcome to our firsthand Vrbo Review! On the 17th of January 2020, we started testing Vrbo. We finished our first booking in January 2021 (due to the pandemic it delayed!!). Until then we have only really used the other big players like Airbnb.com, Hostelworld and Booking.com.
We wanted to see what the competition of Airbnb holds. Curious as we are, we signed up and kicked-off our first-hand review of Vrbo.
In this article, we will walk you through the whole experience and process. Just a note, nobody paid us to write these lines. And no one told us what we can say and what we cannot say here.
This is a genuine article and we share our experience with Vrbo as we go. We start with the sign-up process, and end up in a beautiful rental place in Mexico.
So, without further ado, here is what we cover (and will cover)
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Vrbo?
- 2 Sign Up with Vrbo
- 3 Looking for Rentals on Vrbo
- 4 The Vrbo App – iOs and Android
- 5 How to pay?
- 6 Changes, Cancellations, and Refunds
- 7 First Impressions
- 8 First Booking with Vrbo.com
- 9 Is it worth to try Vrbo?
- 10 Vrbo discount code
- 11 Summary: Vrbo
- 12 More of our Accommodation Guides
- 13 Over to you: What is your experience?
What is Vrbo?
Vrbo stands for Vacation Rental By Owner. It was back in March 2019 when Vrbo did a rebrand. Since then it is spelled Vrbo instead of VRBO. With the rebrand, the name does not stand for “vacation rental by owner” anymore, it is more like a generic brand name.
VRBO is pronounced as “Verbo” or “Ver-boh“. (Seriously…I was wondering about this a lot!)
Somehow similar to Airbnb, the platform is specialized in vacation rentals of all types; from houses, apartments, condos, villas, and even castles, you name it.
I also found you can book bed-rooms.
And with this variety of accommodation settings to stay in, you got plenty of choices you can choose from. This will allow you to adjust to the kind of your travel. Whether you’re traveling solo, traveling with the family, or traveling with the whole gang, you got plenty to choose from.
Not to mention they have over 2 million properties owners they have all over the world to make sure you don’t run out of options. It’s an endless possibility.
Sign Up with Vrbo
As we are writing these lines, we are in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. I noticed a few nice flats and houses with Vrbo here in Colombia.
This got me interested in the first place. So, I signed up with Vrbo.
As expected, the sign-up process is incredibly easy.
There are two options on the Login page. (https://www.vrbo.com/)
For Travelers or guests, just follow these very easy steps.
- Click the Login option located at the top of the page.
- Then choose Traveler Login from the drop-down menu.
- Enter your account email address.
- Click Get started.
- Enter your password.
- Click Log in.
And if ever it crosses your mind to be a host, this is what you do.
- Click the Login option located at the top of the page.
- Then choose Owner Login from the drop-down menu.
- Enter your account email address and password.
- Click Log in.
- Complete two-factor authentication if asked.
After this easy as 1,2,3 login process, I set up my account. I uploaded a photo of mine where you can see my face. I added my phone number, home location, and a short description of myself.
You can also check out these options on the menu.
- Search – view and search popular holiday destinations
- Favorites – view any properties you have saved
- Trips – view your bookings
- Inbox – messages you and the property owner have exchanged.
- Account – manage your account settings
Looking for Rentals on Vrbo
Straight forward, yet again.
The search is very simple as expected. It’s a matter of one, two, three.
Just add your dates, destination, and off you go.
I found the filters very cool and handy. For instance, I really enjoy the filter of “nearby activities” and even the “virtual tour”. So apparently some apartments, flats, houses, villas have virtual tours of their property. And it’s the best way to see what you are about to expect.
However, as I was scrolling for accommodation in Santa Marta, Colombia, I noticed a lack of reviews and ratings. This is a pity, really.
I asked about this and Vrbo is much stronger in Europe. After all, this is a travel blog about Europe. So that is really good news.
Therefore, I tested other destinations in Europe with Vrbo to check this out. For London, Paris, and Amsterdam they have a lot of ratings.
As mentioned, I did my first rental search for apartments and houses near Santa Marta, Colombia. I noticed right away, a few properties did not have a price. Odd. It states “View details for price“. I was curious and had a look.
After having a closer look, I could not find any explanation of why the price was not shown in the first place. It doesn’t look different.
Receiving a follow-up email
One day after my sign up with Vrbo and my direct search for accommodation, I received a follow-up email. It was about my search.
“We’ve saved your search so you don’t miss out on your dream vacation“.
It is a simple, friendly reminder and the accommodations they found based on my previous search. Very handy, really. It does not feel pushy at all like I experienced with many other platforms.
This email could be improved a bit, I feel. It could mention average prices, for instance. Or some kind of more helpful information that makes me want to keep doing my research.
The second day after signing up, I received another, more detailed email. It showed how Vrbo works.
It also reminded me to get the App on. Good thing, because until now the Vrbo app was actually not in my mind. Yet, it makes perfect sense.
The third email was yet the coolest one: 12 cool and interesting cottages for a vacation. They sent beautiful cottages from Belize to Portland, from Hawaii over New York City to the Bahamas.
I liked that they included also average prices per night.
The Vrbo App – iOs and Android
Obviously, there must be an app. Many of us know that situation; sitting in a bar or restaurants with friends, chatting, and dreaming of vacation. Pulling out the phone and having a quick look at what accommodations in your desired destinations would cost like?
Simple, and we have all done it.
You can download the Vrbo app for Android and iOs here.
Note: You have to text yourself a link to download the app. I could not find the Vrbo app in the android store nor in the Apple App Store.
How to pay?
According to Vrbo, here are the following steps you should follow when booking and paying for your accommodation.
When booking online, you can follow these steps.
- Navigate to the online bookable property you want to reserve. Enter Arrival and Departure dates. From the drop-down boxes select the number of adults and children in the rental party (and select the checkbox next to pets if applicable)
- Then book your accommodation. Review the Payment Total*, Payment Schedule, and any additional deposits.
- Enter your Payment Information and Billing Address.
You will have the option to save your credit card information for future booking requests
Easy as that, you have now finished booking your accommodation.
However, please be reminded to avoid the following transactions on your booking.
- Sending cash.
- Sending a check.
- Using an instant money transfer (Western Union or MoneyGram.)
Be reminded that Vrbo does not support and guarantee payments through these transactions. Pay only with the system and nothing else.
Payments in the system are the only transactions that go under the Book with Confidence Guarantee. The site uses encryption and advanced patented tokenization services to make sure your transaction is protected.
Thus, the site does not accept and is not liable for other payments aside from the system.
Moreover, your payments may vary according to the service and products offered. Your credit card payment includes a rental amount and/or service fee. And this may show in two separate charges or in one.
Here’s are some of the possible ways how your payments will show:
- Pay*VRBO + your reservation ID + Customer service contact number
- Pay*VRBO + contact number for payment company used
- VRBO + your reservation ID
- VRBO Fee + Customer service contact number
And if you have purchased other products with your rental, these will also show separately in your credit card statement.
- PAY*RDD + your reservation ID – This is for your refundable damage deposit
- PAY*TRIPCANCELPROTECT – This is for your Cancellation Protection insurance policy.
- PAY*DMGPROTECTION – This is for your Damage Protection insurance policy.
Changes, Cancellations, and Refunds
Here are the policies regarding these matters.
Vrbo has the feature “Traveler Account” where you will be able to view the details of your booking. Through this, you will see details like your booking number, cancellation policy, property information, and safety information.
Also, information about the check-in details about the area provided by the partner will also be accessible through this.
All details not available in this feature, you will have to get from the owner or manager of the property. So any modifications should also be through them.
Cancellations and Refunds
All refunds will be according to the property’s terms and conditions on the cancellation policy. If the property approves of your cancellation and gives you a full refund, Vrbo will automatically refund you its service fee.
Furthermore, when the payments were made through a different currency, the refund will also be from the original form of payment. Also, the refund will depend upon the currency exchange rates and bank-issued exchange fees.
Below are the five options you can choose from the cancellation policy options for listings according to Vrbo.
- No Refund – No refund offered for any reason or time-frame.
- Strict – Bookings canceled at least 60 days before the start of the stay will receive a full refund.
- Firm – Bookings canceled at least 60 days before the start of the stay will receive a full refund. Bookings canceled at least 30 days before the start of the stay will receive a 50% refund.
- Moderate (recommended) – Bookings canceled at least 30 days before the start of the stay will receive a full refund. Bookings canceled at least 14 days before the start of the stay will receive a 50% refund.
- Relaxed – Bookings canceled at least 14 days before the start of the stay will receive a full refund. Bookings canceled at least 7 days before the start of the stay will receive a 50% refund.
Also do take note that the percentage refund depends on the amount the guest has paid at the time of the cancellation and not based on the total amount of the reservation. So Vrbo reminds everyone to arrange your cancellation policy with your payment schedule.
Timing of Cancellations
Make sure your cancellations must be made by 11:59 pm in the property’s timezone on the chosen day.
I think this section is quite an important one. I want to share here my very first impressions I have with Vrbo as they might fade and change once we have our first booking finished.
Obviously, my first impression is very positive. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been intrigued to get started, right?!
Let us have a closer look.
Look and Feel
First of all, it looks very clean and professional. Comparing to the Airbnb brand, it looks more professional without the social part.
The Reviews of VRBO – legit?
I also did my research on how legit is VRBO.
The online reviews are mixed. All the way from “scam” to “best experience ever”. I guess I have to do my own testing to find out more. And I will share it right here!
That being said, I checked the online VRBO reviews on consumeraffairs.com, Trustpilot, and TripAdvisor. I even read this big guide on explaining the difference between VRBO and Airbnb.
Users state repeatedly that VRBO is legit, yet there can be issues with homeowners. I will for sure dive more into that in the process.
First Booking with Vrbo.com
Smooth!!! Simple like Airbnb and pretty much what I expected.
I felt the prices on VRBO were slightly higher than Airbnb.com,but that was just my feeling really. In did not do any massive research here since I wanted to have my first booking with this website too.
I stayed in a gorgeous places in Mexico, and it was just fabulous. The check-in was simple, payment simple.
Yes, VRBO is reliable. At least in my experience. I found as well a bunch of negative reviews for VRBO on trustpilot. I cannot speak for them, but it seems there are issues with cancellations. One traveler pointed out no refund has been given although the cancellation was on time.
I am not sure what the situation of each traveler and booking is here. Just make sure you check beforehand. There is nothing more frustrating than first having to cancel a vacation and then find out you won’t even get your money back. This is not a great feeling!
So again, in my case it was ok, had not cancel and had a great time. In my honest vrbo review I can only say I had no issue.
Is it worth to try Vrbo?
Even if we haven’t tried to book our first in Vrbo, with its good reviews and wonderful offers, we would agree that it’s definitely worth a try.
And having to research and review their terms and policies, their partners, and the places they cover, we are really pleased and excited to experience our first booking with Vrbo.
But based on the signup process and all the other easy process they have, the features they offer, and the number of partners they have around the world. I would agree that Vrbo is worth a try.
As a budget traveler or backpacker, I would not use VRBO. There is not many budget-friendly options to book and Hostelworld and Hostelz.com are much better sites for this.
We will surely update you with this so make sure you have this article on your favorites or on your bookmarks.
Vrbo discount code
At the moment, we do not have a discount code or promo code for Vrbo. This guide is always up to date. As soon as a promo code is available, we will publish it here. You can bookmark this page to stay up to date.
I recommend you to sign up and make an account with them. The account is free anyways plus you receive discounts to your inbox. I receveid below VRBO Discount for 20% on newly listed homes. Pretty cool and simple.
Generally, Vrbo is also a great site to book accommodations the same as Airbnb and could be more. Since they offer a great variation of services, there’s more likely you can find what you really desire in a place.
Vrbo allows you to track down the criteria you look for in an accommodation and help match you with what you search for. Also, they have many partners all over the world, all in six continents including the US and Europe. These include places top destinations like Las Vegas, Paris, Korea, and Japan.
They provide easy payment methods which make it all hassle-free.
After my first booking and doing my research with them I can say, yes it is a solid and reliable website.
Will it be the only accommodation site I am using? Certainly not. I think it is important to keep comparing rates as well as other accommodations. After all, there might some gems hidden in one of the websites.
I will keep using as well Airbnb.com, Booking.com and for hostels even Hostelworld.
More of our Accommodation Guides
Besides testing this websites, we have also handwritten several unique guides on where to stay in Europe:
- Where to stay in Paris
- Where to stay in Vienna
- Where’s to stay in Florence
- Where to stay in Barcelona
Over to you: What is your experience?
Have you tried booking with Vrbo? What kind of accommodation did you get? Which place did you book and how was your experience? What did you love about it? What did you dislike about it?
Please please please: Share your first-hand experience with us.
Or do you have any questions you want to know about this accommodation website or any other? Then please, hit the comment section. We would love to hear from you. Your comments, your feedback, and your questions will make this article and guide even more useful for all fellow travelers.