Why AirBnB is Awesome – Don’t Overlook It!

Let’s face it, hotel loyalty programs just aren’t as great as they used to be.  Sure there are still some awesome values such as 50,000 IHG points for an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora or the Club Carlson BOGO on award nights, but hotel points seem to devalue every year.  A major problem on using hotel points is staying with more than 2 people.  Technically, most hotel point programs only want you to have two people maximum.  For example, Starwood Preferred Guest won’t even let you search award nights with 4 people.  With the frustration of hotel points devaluating, and the lack of hotel rooms for bigger parties, I often turn to AirBnB or other similar types of accomodations.  AirBnB is awesome in many ways!

AirBnB in Rome - Only $100 per night!

AirBnB in Rome – Only $100 per night!

I’ve had two great experiences with AirBnB, one in Florence, and another in Rome.  For my next upcoming trip to Maui, I booked an AirBnB stay and it was definitely a better choice than using hotel points.  Here are the reasons why:

1. Hotels in Hawaii require lots of points.  The Andaz Maui costs 25,000 Hyatt points per night,  the Westin Maui costs 20,000 SPG points, and Hyatt Regency Maui costs 20,000 Hyatt points.  There are some reasonable points options on other islands such as Hyatt Place Waikiki for 12,000 Hyatt points and Sheraton Kona for 10,000 SPG.  The Andaz Maui is a nice hotel, but it’s hard for me to pay THAT many points for a night.  My rationale is that I could at a minimum use 25,000 Chase UR for $300 in travel (which I never do).  I would rather save points for international business class.

2. We are traveling in a group of 4.  Even if I were to get a suite at a hotel chain, it would still be a one bedroom with a living room.  Chain hotels rarely have 2 bedroom/2 bath rooms.

3. We want a kitchen.  The great thing about renting on AirBnB is that you get a kitchen most of the time.  I like eating out, but sometimes it’s nice and cost efficient to cook a meal.  Also, we can save leftover pizza and heat it up for a late snack (or cold pizza).

4. Overall cost efficiency.  High-end hotels love to nickel and dime you on everything.  If we were to stay at a hotel chain, we would have to pay for parking and other small expenses.  Staying in a condo, we get free parking, internet, and free beach equipment (chairs, boogie boards, etc).  Along with the previous point, we will go to Costco to stock up on Hawaiian snacks and some food.

5. Easy in and out privileges.  Another great thing about condos is that you often have assigned parking so you can park right in front of the condo.  This definitely saves a lot of time because you don’t have to walk far to your room or car. Of course this doesn’t apply when you are in a foreign country without a car. One thing I dislike about hotels is valet parking or a far walk to the car.

Getting a Great Deal with AirBnB

Since we are renting a 2 bed/2 bath condo in Kihei, we will be splitting the cost by two.  Our condo for 6 nights totals $1,066 or $523 when divided between two couples.  That’s only $87 per night!  I know that many of you would not want to split a condo, but for a family that is an amazing deal!  Even paying $174 per night is quite reasonable for a 2 bed/2 bath condo.

One analysis I like doing is comparing the amount of money I would have to spend to obtain a free night. We often forget about opportunity costs when using hotel points.  Sure I can book a “free” night at Westin Maui for 20,000 SPG points, but would that $20K of spending be better to be spent elsewhere?  The awesome thing about AirBnB is that it qualifies as a travel expense under the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card.  However, VRBO does not qualify under a travel expense.  The new Barclaycard Arrival Plus allows you 120 days to apply your points to the expense.

AirBnB Qualifies Under Barclaycard Arrival Travel!

AirBnB Qualifies Under Barclaycard Arrival Travel!

I would have to spend $8,700 on my Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card to obtain 17,400 points to earn a free night.  With SPG, I would have to spend $20,000 to earn a free night at the Westin Maui.  Even an SPG category 4 hotel would require $10,000 spending.  Therefore, I would rather set my goal to spending and manufacture spending $8,700 for a free night.  My spending goal now is set to meet minimum spending on new credit cards, then spend on the Barclaycard Arrival where it makes sense.  Of course I will still take advantage of the Chase Ink and Chase Freedom 5x bonuses.

Although I would love to stay at the Andaz Maui, it doesn’t make sense this trip.  Instead of splurging on the hotel, I would rather spend on eating good Hawaiian poke, food, and activities.  I prefer going to the beach vs. the pool anyways!  I’m not saying to give up on hotel points, but don’t overlook AirBnB and other options besides hotel points.  AirBnB is awesome!

If you don’t have an AirBnB account yet, you can sign up for a free $25 credit (I’ll earn credit as well, thanks!).