Airbnb is a cheap alternative to hotels. If you want to make them even cheaper, you can use credit cards to get free Airbnb stays. Here's how.

With Airbnb cornering the market on affordable travel housing, you’ve probably used the site to book a stay at least once. And if you’re a frequent traveler, maybe you give your travel rewards credit card a workout already.

The next step is to maximize your credit card spending and turn rewards into free stays at Airbnbs around the world.

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to do this, so you can continue traveling as much as you wish without spending an arm and a leg on hotel rooms. If you’re an Airbnb fan like me, you already know that this is an excellent way to save money.

Use cash in earned points and miles from travel rewards credit cards

Cash in earned points and miles from travel rewards credit cards

This is the easiest and most effective way to score free Airbnb visits.

The first step is to get a travel rewards credit card which lets you earn points (or credit card miles, that work the same way) in exchange for being a loyal customer. The more you spend — on both every day and travel-related purchases — the more points you earn.

But you’ve got to be careful, so definitely check the fine print on your card to make sure you get bonus points in the travel category. Payment networks treat Airbnb stays just like hotel stays — each travel purchase can be paid for by cashing in your points.

And if you really want to get the most for your money, pick a card that lets you earn one or more points for every dollar spent on travel.

Activating your points for Airbnb

To activate the points, pay for your Airbnb registration with the travel rewards card. Then wait for the booking to post to your account. After that, you can apply your points to cover the cost.

Travel rewards credit cards with bonuses for Airbnb

Some of our favorite travel rewards credit cards offer great bonuses towards Airbnb spending. This is a win-win situation if you plan your spending accordingly. 

Take a look!

Apply Now On the Secure Website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns you 2 points per dollar spent on travel (including Airbnb reservations). When you activate with Airbnb the points cover 1 cent per earned mile. You can book travel through the Airbnb website and earn the points that way.

The value of your points increases if you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards®, which offers options for stretching your dollars just a bit more. 

Apply Now On the Citi Secure Website

The Citi Premier® Card scores you 1 point per dollar on all purchases, travel-related or otherwise, and 3 points per dollar on your air travel and hotel purchases.

But you don’t just earn on travel spending. The Citi Premier® Card gives you 3 points per dollar on your everyday spending. You’ll earn extra points at supermarkets, gas stations and at restaurants, whether you’re traveling or staying home. You can then put those points toward your future Airbnb stays.

Another option for saving – buying Airbnb gift cards

A lot of people don’t know about the Airbnb gift cards. The gift cards themselves can be used for new reservations lasting 28 days or less (not for changes to existing reservations), and individual gift cards can be purchased from $25 to $500.

Even better, Airbnb gift cards don’t expire. So you don’t need to worry about rushing off on a trip as soon as you qualify. You do, however, need to claim them on your Airbnb account within 90 days of receipt. 

Most major retailers, like Amazon, Target, and large grocery store chains, carry the cards either in-store or online. 

Redeeming credit card points for Airbnb gift card purchases

Redeem points for Airbnb gift cards

This is a way to hack the “bonus” category on a travel rewards credit card. 

You can pay for the gift card by redeeming points you’ve already earned. AND you get extra points just for buying the card. With so many cards offering rotating bonus categories every quarter, when you make purchases within the category, you earn cashback you’ve already spent each quarter.

Airbnb gift cards can qualify as bonus purchases in any number of categories. If a certain drugstore, grocery store, office supply store, or transaction site (like PayPal) is the bonus category, buy your gift card there.

Not a bad deal!

And totally legitimate!

Combine card points with Airbnb-partnered airlines 

Delta

If you’re flying to your destination you can rack up extra points by traveling on an airline that partners with Airbnb.

The biggest US carrier that runs Airbnb promotions is Delta. Booking through deltaairbnb.com earns you SkyMiles, which works just like points.

Usually, you’ll get one SkyMiles per dollar spent on an Airbnb booking. You don’t need to use a certain credit card—pay with whatever card you want, or with an Airbnb gift card. This is a great way to “stack” or maximize points towards future stays.

For international travelers, the Australian airline Qantas and the Japanese airline ANA run Airbnb partnerships as well. Be sure to follow their instructions for booking to get the promotion.

Summary

Using your credit card to get free Airbnb stays is so totally possible – trust me! Because frequent travelers just have to save points and then use them for future Airbnb stays.

Traveling can be so expensive, so maximizing credit card rewards programs for smart travel is a huge cash saver, especially if you’ve totally decided that hotels are overrated and staying at Airbnbs is the very best.

Get started by checking out our list of the best travel rewards credit cards in the business. 

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About the author

Amy Bergen Writer
Total Articles: 100
Amy Bergen is a writer and editor based in Portland, Maine. She's interested in technology, literature, and how the world will change in the future. You can reach Amy on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.