Fees, Fees, Fees: Damn You VRBO!

The pictures above show the beautiful 3-bedroom condo that we booked for 11-nights in January on New Smyrna Beach, FL. It looked like a fantastic place, but it was a bit of a splurge at $391/night.

Since it was right on the beach, was pet-friendly, and had a lot of room, I figured it was worth the price. I thought we could host some friends for a couple long weekends. Let’s splurge!

I booked it a couple months ago and got a note recently that it was time to put our ‘half down’ payment in. They wanted $3,350, which seemed suspiciously high for only 50%.

When I looked at the total ‘quote’, I saw why …

The tax & charges added a whopping $2,450 to the bill. That’s a 56% up-charge. Even though an 11-day stay is pretty long, the costs built the daily net rate to an outrageous $614/night.

I was mad. Even before I fully annunciated the final ‘k’-sound in, “VRBO you SUCK!”, I had cancelled the refundable reservation. I was honestly shocked at how egregious the extra fees added up.

Within a few minutes, I had rebooked into a basic property a few miles up the beach in Daytona. The price for our oceanfront suite at the Marriott was a relatively affordable $318/night – inclusive of taxes and all the extra charges. Much better.

We’ve used VRBO (and AirBNB) in the past and paid what I thought were reasonable prices. I’m not sure if something has changed post-pandemic, but I’m going to be very, very, wary before I ever use them again!

Have you encountered crazy-high fees being added onto your travel reservations?

Image Credit: VRBO.com

13 thoughts on “Fees, Fees, Fees: Damn You VRBO!

  1. I am nominating college garbage fees that get added on to the cost of tuition.

    Here is list of the fees from a recent statement.
    Fall Student Services Fee
    Fall Undergrad STDNT ASSOC Fee

    14 fees that add 20% onto the cost of tuition. I bet some of the fees are funding functions that only benefit a small special interest. Absolutely no explanation of what I am getting for the expenditures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuition is already high at most schools with prices far exceeding inflation. An added +20% of mystery fees on top of that big expense would be very frustrating. I’m sure few people see or understand they are that high.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Profit lives in upcharges. And this year’s inflation only starts at 10%. Enterprises are looking to protect against downside and seek upside by base price + upcharge. Travel-related (discretionary indulgence) expenditures are a big opportunity for them. Meanwhile, does Marriott take pets??

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course we all know that it is a “buyer beware” world and businesses are struggling to deal with the “new normal” of spiraling costs and uncertainty, as well. We were happy to cancel our reservation quickly. We’re at the Residence Inn Daytona Beach Shores by Marriott. I think because they cater to longer stays, they are more set up to be ‘Pet Friendly’.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have stayed at many Marriot properties that take dogs and I travel with my two sweeties who are a Rottweiler and a Rotterman. Never had a problem. I researched San Diego and found 32 Marriot Properties that accept dogs including some upscale properties. They charge around $100 cleaning fee for dogs.

      Or you could just bring your dogs with you to a place that is “pet friendly”. If you get caught, pay the cleaning fee. If you don’t, then you just got a nice dinner.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Or, increasingly people simply claim that they are ‘Service Dogs’ – and no one can stop them under the ADA.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. When searching Marriot properties on their website look under Amenities and tick the pets welcome box to get your list of pet friendly venues.


  3. You don’t want to know what I spent last week for seat assignment on planes for each leg of the journey! Plus luggage. If I had known we would have flown business…..it might have been cheaper when adding seats and luggage

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Airlines are the OG for up charges, aren’t they? I use my Delta Gold AmEx for trips since 90% of the flights out of MSP are Delta. That takes care of all the little fees and gets me points.


  4. In the old days, we called it “non-price price” – increasing profit margin using add-ons that didn’t show up in the listed price.

    And VRBO has mastered the concept. It seems they’ve added several categories they encourage owners to use.

    Refundable security deposits that actually encouraged renters to care for the property have been replaced by these non-refundable “limited damage waivers.” You can still purchase real damage insurance, too, of course.

    The service fee is now VRBO’s cut. I think the booking fee means property owner wants to make more money but have a lower price for the search engine.

    We still prefer VRBO over AirBnB and similar if we’re not using hotels; we like the vetting process. We’ve learned to click on the “full details” link under the price shown to see what all has been tagged on. It’s led to some pretty quick “nope” decisions.


  5. We were having similar experiences with VRBOs. Just had a stay in a 5BR home Surfside Beach, SC last month, that was advertised for $285/night, but with fees ended up being over $500/night. We booked it last winter for a large family vacation. We have stayed at a various VRBO houses in the FL Keys for the past 7 years. The first one back in 2015 was $130 per night which included all tax and fees. Each year the houses got slightly more expensive, but they all still seemed (at least) reasonable. This past year, it was significantly harder to find anything under $400 per night that we were willing to stay in, but to our surprise we finally found a nice 2BR home advertised for $290 per night (with fees added it was approximately $428 per night…still tolerable), so we booked it out of desperation. It was a lovely home, so I called the owner to see if we could book (it a year in advance) for next year, while we were still staying there in January. He agreed, but said the price would be $750 per night (before fees)! Needless to say, we said no thanks to a 28 day stay at that price. On the way home from FL we began searching for an RV in earnest again. (We had ruled out this option years ago due to costs, thinking VRBO’s made more sense, however the RV route makes a lot more sense now.) We decidedpirchase an RV in May. We’ve used it on four trips this summer already. We have three more (week plus) trips remaining this Fall. Our last stay was a beautiful waterfront site on a gorgeous lake in NC that was a whooping $28 per night (all fees and taxes included)! We also have a waterfront luxury RV site booked in the FL Keys for this winter for 10 days for less than the cost for one night stay at our last year’s VRBO! So we said to heck with VRBO! We love our new RV. It’s definitely not your mom and dad’s old camper! We are not really campers. We are more about having a nice place to stay, while at a particular destination. Our RV has a spacious gourmet kitchen with a double fridge/freezer, a 55” flat screen TV and surround sound (inside and outside!) complete with cinema style leather recliners, and a beautiful king size bedroom suite with the a 43” flat screen TV, and outdoor kitchen slide out complete with refrigerator/stove/ 43”flat screen TV! Plus we get to have all of our own stuff with us on every trip. Its really over the top! But it’s been so much nicer not having to worry about what the VRBO would be like when we arrive! …and no ridiculous fees!

    I was a bit apprehensive at first because it’s so big to drive, but I love it! And it’ll easily more than pay for itself in just a couple of years.

    Take that VRBO!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll that’s a definite solution! From reading your experience with VRBO, it seems like prices in general are just jumping up really fast. I guess the hot Florida real estate market had to make an impact on rentals before long. I wonder if the rise in interest rates and recession will cool things off before long.

      As I’ve mentioned before, I have zero experience with RVs, but would like to rent one and give it a go. I’m thinking when we return to MN next spring, I’d like to take one up to the North Shore and into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I should start looking now!


      1. It’s definitely been a great option for us. Yes, rent a couple of times to make sure it’s something you are comfortable driving. We love ours, and we are again traveling on a regular basis (in a lot more comfort and luxury). We are finding many upscale RV resorts are even nicer than regular resorts. The upfront cost on an RV is certainly substantial, but our travel budget is really hard to spend entirely now! 🤷


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