I am a huge fan of sites like VRBO and Greatrentals and consider them superior alternatives to a hotel for family travel. Let’s face it, it’s way better to have a house with separate bedrooms than squeeze 4 to 5 people into one room. Other advantages are: kitchen and usually washer and dryer. But there are some real concerns when going that route. I have mentioned before that VRBO is very much like a box of chocolates, where you never know what you’re gonna get.
And I was reminded of that fact reading this post on Deals We Like blog, where the author almost became a victim of a scam when dealing with a VRBO listing.
Since I recommend that site often, I thought it was only fair to equip my readers with some ways to protect their investment when going that route. First, we have rented from that site probably 6 or more times and never had any issues. However, my in-laws did encounter a problem when reserving a cottage in Kauai last year. They sent the deposit by check and everything was set.
However, a month later the owner emailed my mother-in-law and told her that the house was now sold. He was an honest person and did return the money via Paypal. But the story could have had a different ending, no doubt. So, what are some ways you can protect yourself from potential fraud or any other problems? One way is to reserve with a credit card because you would be covered in case things go south. However, this will only work if you are within a 60-day window from the statement closing date. If you reserve 6 months ahead like we usually do, a credit card won’t do much.
Travel insurance may or may not cover the charges, and most likely won’t. You can email a specific insurance company and ask, though. The most practical option may be to go through the VRBO site and purchase their own insurance. Take a look at the details.
HomeAway Rent with confidence Guarantee.
While most vacations go as planned, life is full of surprises. The Carefree Rental Guarantee from HomeAway protects you up to $10,000 if:
- The home has been foreclosed or is in bankruptcy
- The owner inadvertently double-books the property
- The owner wrongfully withholds your security deposit
- The property is misrepresented
- You are the victim of Internet fraud, including phishing
You can read more about it HERE I checked the prices, and you can insure up to 1000 dollars in vacation rental charges for 39 dollars and 1500 for 49 dollars. I may actually consider it the next time we book through that site. Full disclosure: I don’t have a financial relationship with VRBO, so there is no incentive for me to recommend it.
Truthfully, even with the added insurance, you are likely to come out ahead compared to the cost of hotel rooms. Another option I mentioned previously is Skyauction, which was covered by The Deal Mommy. In this case, you are dealing with a company, which would most likely stand behind their product. However, it would have to be a popular destination and not an obscure location in the middle of nowhere.
Another option, of course, is to use hotel points. And that is the route I prefer to take, as long as the math makes sense. For example, if I can find a decent IHG hotel for 10000 points per night, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. Even with 2 rooms, it would be a good deal since I get a rebate of 10 percent with my IHG visa. A huge advantage is that you can cancel close to your trip and get your points back. If the rooms run at 20000 points, I would probably go with VRBO or Great rentals.
The truth is, scams happen when there is a human element involved. But don’t let that stop you, because you can protect yourself. And remember, the chocolate you find may be very good indeed! And that’s all I have to say about that.
P.S. Well, actually a couple more things. First, I hope you like the new look of my blog. Also, check out my “Beginner’s guide” at the top. The best newbie guide in all of internets!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.