Beware of hidden fees when booking vacation rentals

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 26, 2020

A consumer group is addressing hidden fees associated with vacation rentals.

Consumers’ Checkbook looked at 600 listings on websites like Vrbo and HomeAway. It says every listing charged at least one hidden fee, like cleaning fees, owners fees or the site itself charges a fee.

On average, those fees add about $77 per night to the total price, according to the group.

“It’s far worse in a sense that almost every vacation home we looked at charges these fees and the fees are quite more substantial than they are for the resort fees,” said Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor at Checkbook.org.

Similar fees were found on FlipKey.

“So, the problem is, this is a bait and switch,” said Brasler. “When you show customers a per night rate upfront and that's the rate they can sort and filter on, but then later on charge them a much higher price, well you've just basically bait and switched them into a different price.”

Consumers’ Checkbook wants the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to stop hidden fees in vacation rentals.

The group suggests clicking all the way through to the final price when you’re looking for a vacation rental.

Another thing to be leery of are deposits.

“It’s not really clear what happens in terms of if you check out of one of these places and the owner says there was damage, what your recourse is,” said Brasler.

Airbnb still allows these types of fees. You seem them under the per-night rate, so you can see what you’re paying from the beginning.