How to Cancel Your Airbnb Rental and Get a Full Refund Without Fees

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The travel industry has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Fewer people than ever are traveling right now, and as a result, many companies are updating their refund policies. Things are changing quickly as the situation unfolds, and that means tons of consumers end up without concrete answers.

Airbnb, one of the largest lodging marketplaces in the world, is one example of a company with a complex refund policy. If you booked a room through Airbnb, but won’t be traveling because of the pandemic, here’s what you need to get a full refund.

Getting a Full Refund from Airbnb

At first glance, Airbnb’s refund policy looks pretty straightforward and even generous. According to the policy, to qualify for a refund all of the following must be true:

  • You booked on or before March 14, 2020
  • Your check-in date is between tomorrow and July 31, 2020
  • You haven’t already canceled
  • You haven’t already checked in
  • The pandemic is preventing you from completing your trip

According to the company, any reservation made after March 14th will not be refunded. The WHO designated COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 14th, so Airbnb says that anyone who made a reservation after that was no longer facing unexpected travel complications. In addition, anything reserved after July is still non-refundable, however, the company could update this policy on July 1. 

Overall, though, on the surface the policy makes a lot of sense. In reality, it’s harder than it looks to get a full refund.

The Fine Print

To get a refund, you must go through the trip you booked and request a cancellation. Under normal circumstances, refund amounts are based on host policy and the amount of time before your reservation. The new coronavirus-related rules theoretically allow more people to get refunds, but the last condition listed above is where things get complicated.

Alice Ly | The Smart Wallet

Airbnb said customers must be canceling their trip because the pandemic prevents them from traveling, according to the refund policy. When it comes to actually issuing refunds, the standard there is a bit higher than implied.

Alice Ly | The Smart Wallet

While the policy makes it seem like anyone concerned about the virus can cancel their reservation with a full refund, that isn’t true. Instead, you need to meet one of these very specific conditions for a refund. Without one of these extenuating circumstances, Airbnb won’t issue a full refund, but Airbnb travel credit instead that must be used by end of December year 2021.

The Bottom Line

Airbnb updates its refund policy on the 1st and 15th of every month, so much of this is subject to change. However, for the time being, there are only a few reasons that customers can get a full, fee-free refund from Airbnb. Otherwise, expect a travel credit to be used on future bookings.

If your reservation is booked for any time after August, continue checking the Airbnb website for updates and news.