FEES ARE MY ENEMIES
Austin visitors pay 33 percent on average in Airbnb surcharges, Forbes finds
We’ve all been there: You find that perfect Airbnb with the right price for your travel dates, only to be deterred at the checkout page when you witness the total skyrocket to an incomprehensible amount after the cleaning and “service” fees. Oh, and you’ll still have a laminated list of chores to complete before you leave, otherwise the hosts will charge you extra after your stay.
The latest findings from Forbes Advisor discovered Austin travelers pay an average surcharge of 33 percent for an Airbnb in the city, which is only slightly lower than the nationwide average of 36 percent. Forbes’ expert analysts looked at 32,000 listings across 100 of the most popular markets on Airbnb to find common trends.
The average Airbnb stay in Austin is $244 a night with a 12 percent cleaning fee, a 15 percent service fee, and an average 7 percent tax rate. Though that seems high, Austin is only No. 71 on Forbes’ list.
Unfortunately for Houston visitors looking for a vacation, Airbnb’s fees are not financially friendly, either. Houston ranked as the Texas city with the highest fees, and No. 8 overall with their average surcharge at 45 percent. Though their nightly rate is lower than Austin’s at $193, they pay 15 percent in both cleaning and service fees, on top of another 15 percent in taxes. That’s a good dent in your wallet.
The Texas city with the lowest fees is Fort Worth, appearing lower than Austin at No. 77 on the list. The average Airbnb costs $225 a night, with 12 percent in cleaning fees, 15 percent in service fees, and 5 percent in taxes.
Here’s a look at every Texas city that appeared in the top 100:
- No. 8 – Houston: 45 percent total fees
- No. 33 – Galveston: 39 percent total fees
- No. 47 – San Antonio: 37 percent total fees
- No. 67 – Dallas: 34 percent total fees
- No. 69 – South Padre Island: 34 percent total fees
- No. 71 – Austin: 33 percent total fees
- No. 77 – Fort Worth: 33 percent total fees
Atlanta is the U.S. city with the highest percentage in fees for the average Airbnb stay, totaling an unfathomable 48 percent. Surprisingly, an Airbnb stay in New York City will only come with 23 percent in total fees, making it the lowest percentage out of all the top 100 cities.
In the report, Publicist Tracy Lamourie criticized Airbnb hosts and property managers for charging excessive fees, calling it "disingenuous."
“I’m old enough to remember when Airbnb was a more wallet-friendly alternative to hotels. That’s only rarely true these days,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dustin Abney, the CEO of vacation-rental management company Portoro, defended Airbnb and praised the company's transparency around its listings with the fee breakdown. He explained "most guests" are charged fees without knowing where that money truly goes.
“Most guests also assume that property managers or hosts are trying to price-gouge them, when this usually is not the case,” Abney said. “In reality, there are many hidden costs that go into running a short-term rental, and these costs fall on property managers to pay.”
The full report and its methodology can be found on forbes.com.