A few months ago, I wrote about how Whitney and I went about saving money on our accommodation expenses while traveling internationally. The tips I mentioned in that article were vital for me keeping my average expenses below $37/day while traveling on our trip around the world. We’ll also be utilizing those same techniques on our upcoming trip to Europe to keep our expenses as low as possible (I’m shooting for $50/day average, but we’ll see how it goes).
Undoubtedly free hotel nights from various credit cards are a huge part of keeping housing costs low by traveling, but AirBnB has been a life saver for us as well.
- If you haven’t used AirBnB before, you can get $40 off your first stay using my referral link here.
The already reduced costs of AirBnBs when compared to hotels are made even sweeter when they can be booked using discounted gift cards. Since I originally wrote about buying discounted gift cards to save extra money on AirBnB stays, I’ve gotten quite a few questions on how I’m able to get the biggest discounts, so I want to cover a few different options I’ve utilized here.
Most of these deals are available for only a limited time, so it’s important to keep an eye out and act on offers fast when they come up. The great thing about AirBnB is that you can load the gift cards to your account and they are automatically applied to future bookings. Normally, I wouldn’t risk holding onto gift cards for long periods of time, but since I apply the code to my account as soon as a I get the cards, the risk is less, and I feel secure keeping a larger balance on my AirBnB account. I’ve also spent some time the last few days looking for different ways to get discounts since I recently ran out of gift card credit. So let me tell you about some of the different ways I’ve been able to get discounted gift cards.
Promotional Offers: Average Discount 20%
The best discounts I’ve gotten have come from deals offered by Amazon and usually involve using either Chase ultimate reward points or American Express membership reward points. Due to needing to use at least one of these types of points to get a discount, this won’t apply to everyone, but the deals do seem to come up fairly often.
Here’s a link to one of these deals that has now expired but that I took advantage of a couple of months ago. This same offer has come and gone three times in the past year, and I’ve been able to get a 20% discount on $500 worth of AirBnB gift cards each time on both my Amazon account and Whitney’s Amazon account. That’s a total of $3,000 in AirBnB gift cards for $2,400, meaning $600 of free travel.
Other such deals (here and here) come and go, but when they pop up, I make sure to lock in the discount on AirBnB gift cards since I know we’ll undoubtedly use them. The key with these offers is that they are activated when only using 1 reward point, so it’s not necessary to pay for the entire purchase with points. The value of points when using them toward Amazon purchases is very low, so I always just use 1 point to get the discount to apply and then pay for the remainder with one of my reward credit cards.
Discounted Gift Cards Offered on Amazon or Ebay: Average Discount 10%
This route is much easier for those who don’t have Chase or American Express points. Several times per year, I’ll find AirBnB gift cards being sold at a discount on either Amazon or Ebay (usually by Paypal digital gifts). A few examples of these deals can be found here, here, and here. I took advantage of these offers to the tune of about $1,200 last year, at an average discount of 10%. I would have gotten a lot more if I could have, but these deals sell out fast, and I missed out on quite a few of them!
Buying Gift Cards with Promo Codes on Raise: Average Discount 9-12%
I originally underestimated the value of Raise.com because I didn’t understand how to get the biggest discounts from them. They sell AirBnB gift cards at a discount of between 2-3% depending on the dollar value of the card. The higher the value, the bigger the discount. 2-3% isn’t much and wouldn’t be worth it on it’s own, but it gets better.
They regularly (2-3 times per month) release promo codes for an additional 3-7% off of any order. There is usually a $10-15 maximum, but that still means a couple hundred dollars of AirBnB gift cards can be had with the extra discount.
In addition, there are cashback portal sites that offer 2-3% cashback for orders made on Raise.com. My favorite portals are TopCashBack and BeFrugal. I switch back and forth between using these based on which one is offering the highest cashback percentage at the time of my purchase.
I regularly combine all of these discounts to get AirBnB gift cards for an average of 9% off the face value of the gift card. Raise sends the code as soon as the order is processed, and I’ve always been able to add the gift card to my AirBnB account right away without any problem.
In addition to AirBnB, you can also use this same method to get discounted gift cards for other places you spend money such as at Amazon, Walmart, or grocery stores. Each of these sites also offers a sign up bonus for your first order:
- $5 back after your first Raise purchase here.
- $10 sign up bonus at TopCashBack here.
- $10 sign up bonus at BeFrugal here.
Earning Fuel Points for Buying Gift Cards at Grocery Stores
This is not a direct discount on the AirBnB gift cards themselves, but is a way to earn money back in a different form. Many grocery stores offer “fuel points” for spending money at their stores. Here’s a list of the various stores that offer these. These fuel points can be used for discounts on gas, which effectively means a discount on the purchase. How big the discount is usually depends on how many gallons of gas you buy when you redeem the points. For example, Kroger offers a base rate of 1 point per dollar spent on items in the store, and 100 of these points gives a discount of 10 cents per gallon on a single fill up with a limit of 35 gallons. This equals a 3.5% discount on the price of the items if the full 35 gallons is used, but only a 2% discount if 20 gallons are used in the fill up. Many people report maximizing the 35 gallon limit by filling up gas cans in addition to your car or even two different cars parked one behind the other.
At Kroger, the points are doubled for gift card purchases. That means a $100 AirBnB gift card earns not 100 but 200 fuel points, which would be a 7% discount on the purchase price if the full 35 gallons are used. They also offer promotions for quadruple points on gift cards intermittently throughout the year. That’s when I jump on the offer to buy gift cards. A $100 gift card would yield 400 fuels points during these promotions. On a 35 gallon fill up, that equals a whopping 14% effective discount on the price of the gift card!
This can be maximized even further with a credit card that earns additional cashback at grocery stores. Right now Discover It is offering 5% cashback on grocery store purchases until April and the American Express Blue Cash offers 3% cashback year round. Stacking one of these credit cards with the fuel points can mean huge savings on gift cards! This method isn’t limited to just AirBnB though. Most grocery stores offer gift cards for a variety of other stores and restaurants as well.
Using the four methods above, I’ve been able to get thousands of dollars worth of AirBnB gift cards at an average discount of 15%. The really good offers don’t come along often, and when they do they don’t last long, so it’s best to keep an eye out regularly. My favorite place to watch for deals is Doctor of Credit, but there are other websites out there as where you can learn about these discounts.
Further reducing the already lower costs of AirBnBs with discounted gift cards is an awesome way to make domestic or international travel more affordable and is, in large part, the secret to my affordable travels! I hope that they will be beneficial for you in your future travels as well.
Do you use any of these ways to save money on your AirBnB stays? Are there any other methods that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
*If you use any of the links above, not only will you get a bonus, but I will as well for the referral. This helps to support the blog and our future travels, and I would greatly appreciate it!