I love to travel. But it can get expensive, especially if you plan a multiday stay at a large rental. Even if you’re on a road trip and only stop for one night in each location, the cost of staying in different hotels can add up.
So, how do you save money on lodging when you like to travel? One solution is to consider booking your stays using HomeAway, a travel website that specializes in vacation rentals.
HomeAway was established in 2005 as WVR Group, but the name changed in 2006. Over time, the company bought rival sites VRBO and VacationRentals.com. In 2015, HomeAway was acquired by Expedia for $3.9 billion in cash and stock.
Today, HomeAway competes with Airbnb in the vacation rental space. It has a similar business model that allows people to rent out their homes to travelers.
Here’s what you need to know about using HomeAway.
How to use HomeAway
Using HomeAway is fairly straightforward, much like using any other hotel booking website. Simply enter your city of choice, the dates you want to stay, and how many guests you have.
For example, say you’re planning a three-day trip for four adults and four children. After entering in this basic information, you’ll be shown available listings and a map of the area.
To filter through listings, you can adjust your preferences for pricing, number of bedrooms, and more. It’s also possible to find bookings that offer instant confirmation, so you don’t have to wait to see if your reservation is approved.
Click on a listing to learn more about the home. You can see pictures of the rental, read details about its location, and see how many bedrooms and bathrooms are available. You can also review house rules before booking so you know what to expect.
Once you’re comfortable with a rental, click on “Request to Book.” You’ll submit your information and receive a decision within 24 hours. If you book a home with a lightning symbol on its listing, you’ll clinch the deal immediately.
You can ask homeowners and managers questions about the property through the HomeAway website. If you’re curious about location, you can review the map provided by HomeAway. That makes it easier to see whether the neighborhood makes sense for you, especially if you’re looking for something within walking distance of attractions.
Before booking, you might want to read the fine print and communicate with the owners.
Okeoma Moronu Schreiner, an attorney and family travel advocate, has been using HomeAway since 2009. She recommended asking the owner questions to get a feel for who’s in charge.
“Trust your instincts when it comes to owners,” she said. “If they’re not friendly, helpful, and responsive during the booking process, things probably won’t get better if you need their help during your stay.”
You can also read HomeAway reviews of the property before booking to decide if it’s someplace you want to stay.
Booking your vacation rental
Once you choose a rental, go ahead and move forward. As you go through the process, you’ll review the policies of the rental, decide whether you want to add trip protection, and enter your payment information. Trip protection costs vary based on the cost of your stay and whether the owner offers it as an option.
Realize that the owner or manager of the property will decide if they’ll accept your booking request. HomeAway suggests that leaving a message about why you’re coming to town and who you’re traveling with can boost your chances of being accepted.
HomeAway doesn’t force you to book online either. If you need help, you can call 888-640-6970 at any time of the week. Make note of the rental number so you can reference it when you speak with a representative.
Your booking page includes a breakdown of fees you’re likely to pay. Some properties also charge a refundable deposit.
After your stay is complete and the owner or manager verifies that you haven’t damaged anything, you’ll get your deposit back. But that deposit will be part of the upfront cost of renting the home.
Is HomeAway cheaper than a hotel?
Depending on your situation, HomeAway can be cheaper than a hotel. Consider the trip to Denver above. In that scenario, there are eight people traveling together. In order to accommodate the group at a hotel, you’d need a suite or two rooms.
Using Orbitz, it’s possible to find hotels that charge much less per night.
However, you’re paying per night, per room. So if you have two rooms that cost $57 each, that’s $114 per night. With taxes, the total is $382.14. Plus, you don’t have to worry about cleaning fees, extra service fees, or deposits.
Compare that to the $480 cost you’d pay for a home rental on HomeAway. That amount doesn’t account for the deposit you’ll pay when booking.
On the other hand, a nicer hotel like a Marriott property could cost you more. You could easily end up paying $658.20 in total with taxes.
While HomeAway beats a hotel with nightly rates closer to $100, at first glance it looks like you could do better by staying at a cheap hotel.
But is that really the case?
Schreiner said that having a kitchen saves her money, especially during an extended stay. In our trip to Denver, for example, you pay less than $100 extra for staying at a HomeAway property. Compare that figure to how much money you can save by cooking your own meals.
Schreiner said that being able to go to a local grocery store and cook most of her meals easily saves her money.
I can attest to the money you can save when you have a kitchen.
While using Airbnb in Toronto one summer, my son and I bought groceries at a store around the corner from our rented condo. We fixed our own breakfasts and dinners, eating out only for lunch.
Instead of spending between $100 and $125 a day eating out for three meals, we spent $75 on groceries and $30 a day on lunch. Over the course of three days, instead of spending close to $375 on food, we spent $165.
HomeAway is more comfortable for large groups than a hotel
Even if you could save a little money by staying at an inexpensive hotel, the reality is that a HomeAway rental is likely more comfortable. Many of the rentals come with common spaces that a larger party can utilize.
“I believe my accomodations while on vacation really set the tone for my trip,” said Schreiner. “Anyone with toddlers knows it can be exhausting trying to keep little ones entertained in a tiny hotel room.”
Further, Schreiner said bedtime is much more convenient when you have different rooms in the same house, rather than trying to squeeze everyone into one room.
When traveling with friends, you can take advantage of the amenities you find on HomeAway. You don’t have to worry about being broken up into different rooms, and those who want to turn in early can do so.
Kate Horrell, a financial expert who’s been using HomeAway since 2010, likes that you can spread out in a vacation rental.
“You usually have a living space other than just the bed,” she said. “And there are often things like books or board games that you wouldn’t find in a hotel.”
In a HomeAway rental, there’s also a smaller chance you’ll disturb other guests or be asked to quiet down.
Finally, there’s a chance to experience something different with HomeAway. “Hotels tend to have an impersonal cookie-cutter corporate feel that isn’t what I’m looking for when traveling,” said Schreiner. “I love to book homes that are unique, often showcasing local art or located in a vibrant neighborhood. For my family, the home is part of the experience.”
How does HomeAway compare to Airbnb?
Airbnb made a name for itself by being a major part of the sharing economy. Like HomeAway, it allows homeowners to rent out their places.
Using the same criteria for the Denver stay for eight guests, I checked listings on Airbnb. I was able to find several listings at a lower cost than HomeAway.
Some of the Airbnb rentals were in the range of a cheaper hotel.
However, I had to be careful about how I entered my dates in the search filters. In some cases, I had to re-enter my desired dates. I also found that some of the prices advertised in the search results were lower than the actual costs of the rentals.
For this listing, the $77 shown in the search results suddenly became $166 per night.
Like HomeAway, Airbnb operators can choose to charge cleaning fees, and renters have to pay service fees and taxes. Despite these factors, I was able to find some good deals on Airbnb compared to HomeAway.
If you’re traveling alone, Airbnb also allows you to book private rooms in homes where others might be living or staying.
With Airbnb, though, you might sacrifice some level of professionalism. “In my experience, HomeAway tends to attract more professional homeowners than Airbnb,” said Schreiner. “On average, the quality of the homes on HomeAway tends to be more consistent and reliable.”
Drawbacks to a HomeAway vacation rental
HomeAway isn’t always the perfect choice. Horrell said that even with the rental descriptions and details, you can’t really know exactly what you’re going to get.
Sometimes you show up and end up with an experience that’s less than advertised.
With a hotel chain, it’s pretty clear what you’re going to get. Hotels tend to be uniform across the country, so it’s easy to predict how things will go.
I know what to expect when I stay in a Residence Inn by Marriott. When I stayed at an Airbnb in Vancouver a couple years ago, I was surprised that the space didn’t live up to its listing. For example, the pictures on the listing were taken from angles that made the rental look bigger.
It was an uncomfortable couple of nights as my son and I tried to deal with the less-than-stellar sleeping arrangements, inadequate heating, and subpar shower.
Horrell added that sometimes you don’t get the same level of care and attention.
“You can’t just call the front desk and get switched to a new room if the hot water isn’t working,” she said. “Sometimes the hosts live nearby and can help easily, and sometimes your technical support is half a world away.”
Horrell also pointed out that you might miss out on some of the social amenities offered at hotel chains. “You probably won’t get a free breakfast,” she said. “Also, there are no evening dinners or happy hours.”
HomeAway reviews online
HomeAway reviews are mixed. If you look at Google results, the first thing you see is an ad and a rating of 4.3 stars out of five.
Many reviewers cited poor customer service and difficulty in getting the service fee refunded when an owner cancels a booking.
Other reviewers were happy with the service and how easy it was to book. Many of these customers didn’t encounter snags between booking and their trip.
Is HomeAway right for you?
Whether HomeAway works for you depends on your travel priorities and the size of your party.
My son and I are planning a spring break trip with my sister and her family, and we’re looking at HomeAway to find comfortable and affordable accomodations for our party of eight.
If you’re planning a multiday trip and have family or are traveling with a group of friends, it can make sense to book a vacation rental. The service is also a good idea for travelers who want that at-home feel when they’re out of town or want a cost-effective lodging solution in the heart of a popular destination.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.64%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.15% – 4.42%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.00% – 5.63%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of May 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application..
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
7 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.15%-4.42% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
8 Important Disclosures for Nelnet.
Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.
Request for the cosigner to be released can be made by the borrower after 24 consecutive, on-time payments (not later than 15 days after the due date) of principal and interest have been made. Borrowers in deferment or forbearance must make 24 consecutive, on-time payments after re-entering repayment to qualify for the release. The borrower must be current on their payments at the time of the cosigner release request and show the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) by meeting certain credit criteria on their own at the time of the request, including, but not limited to, being a U.S. citizen or having permanent residency in the United States, being the age of majority in their permanent state of residency, providing sufficient proof of income, and having no student loans in default.
Hardship forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend payments on your loan(s) while you are experiencing financial hardship. It is offered in increments of two or three months, with a maximum of 12 months available, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. If your loan(s) are in good standing at the time of your request, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of two monthly payments. If, at the time of your initial request, your loan(s) are considered past-due, you will be eligible for forbearance in increments of three monthly payments. Future increments of forbearance, up to a life-time maximum of 12 months, may be requested upon the completion of making a certain number of principal and interest payments. During the two- or three-month forbearance period, you will not be required to make payments; however, any unpaid interest will continue to accrue and will be capitalized (added) onto your principal balance at the end of the forbearance period. You may continue making payments in any amount without penalty during the forbearance period. Your loan repayment term will be extended by the number of months in the forbearance period.
Refinance Loan Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number, and be the legal age to enter into binding contracts in your permanent state/territory of residency, or be at least 17 years of age and apply with a cosigner who is at least the age of majority in their state/territory. Non-residents can apply with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security number. The student loans you refinance must be in their grace or repayment period, and you can no longer be enrolled in school on a half-time or more basis. You must have at least $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You, or your eligible cosigner, must have an annual income of at least $36,000. Approval subject to credit review. Other credit criteria may apply.
Refinance Loan Limits:
Loan Refinancing Risks: Federal student loans include benefits that may not be offered with private student loans. Carefully review any potential benefits that may be lost by refinancing federal and private education loans, such as the loss of any remaining grace periods. To learn more about what to take into consideration when refinancing federal student loans with private education loans, click here
Selecting ‘Get Started’ results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score.
Fixed interest rates range from 2.99% APR (with auto debit discount) to 6.25% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable interest rates range from 2.00% APR (with auto debit discount) to 5.63% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. The variable interest rate is equal to the One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“One-Month LIBOR”) plus a margin. The One-Month LIBOR in effect for each monthly period (from the first day of the month through and including the last day of the same month) will be the highest One-Month LIBOR published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding such calendar month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable interest rate loan will change monthly on the first day of each month if the One-Month LIBOR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month LIBOR index is 0.15% as of 5/4/2021.
The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments, a five-year repayment term, and the borrower making immediate principal and interest payments. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate. The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, (3) the loan type selected, and (4) the highest level of education attained. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.
*Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. **Your actual savings may vary based on interest rates, outstanding balances, remaining repayment terms, and other factors.