Navigating Airbnb Host Fees: A Comprehensive Guide for STR Owners and Realtors

April 6th, 2023 Josh Hatter
Navigating Airbnb Host Fees

As a Short-Term Rental (STR) owner or realtor, fees associated with Airbnb hosting can significantly impact your rental property’s ROI. Understanding the various types of fees that Airbnb may charge and how they affect your bottom line is essential. Let’s look at the fee structure in more detail.

Understanding Airbnb Host Fees

Airbnb host fees are the charges that Airbnb collects from hosts for providing their services. Hosts typically pay a flat rate of 3% of the booking subtotal, comprising the nightly rate, cleaning fee, and additional guest fees. This fee helps cover the cost of running Airbnb’s platform and providing services to its users.

For short-term rental (STR) owners and realtors, grasping how Airbnb host fees work can be important in determining whether or not to use the platform. 

Hosts should also be aware that hosting on Airbnb involves additional fees. For example, some hosts may incur a higher percentage for hosting on Airbnb Plus or if they have rentals in certain cities. Hosts may also incur other costs, such as taxes and insurance premiums.

How Much Is the Airbnb Service Fee?

Most guest service fees are around 14% of the total (including nightly rate, cleaning fee, and supplementary charge if applicable- not including Airbnb taxes or charges). 

Generally, hosts pay a service fee of 3% on the subtotal amount. However, Airbnb may charge some hosts more, such as hosts with strict cancellation policies or multiple listings.

Fee Structures: Which One is Right for You?

Choosing the right fee structure for your Airbnb listing can require some thought. There are two main options: split-fee and host-only fee.

Split Fee Structure

The split-fee structure is the most popular option among Airbnb hosts. Under this model, hosts pay a 3% service fee while most guests pay an additional service fee ranging from 12-20%. This model lets guests see how much they will be charged in fees upfront, making it transparent and understandable.

Host-Only Fee Structure

Under the host-only fee structure, hosts pay a single service fee that ranges from 14-20% of the subtotal. While this is a higher percentage than the split-fee model, it eliminates guest fees and simplifies pricing for both parties. This structure can benefit hosts wanting to keep their prices competitive without sacrificing profits.

Comparing Fee Models: Pros and Cons for Different Property Types

You must assess your property type and the guests you typically attract.

For example, suppose you have a luxury property that attracts high-end travelers. In that case, the host-only fee structure may be more beneficial as it eliminates guest fees and keeps your prices competitive with other luxury listings in your area.

On the other hand, if you have a budget property that attracts more price-conscious travelers, the split-fee structure may be better as it allows them to see exactly how much they will be charged in fees upfront.

The Impact of Airbnb Host Fees on Revenue

Host fees directly affect profit maximization. While the platform provides immense value by connecting hosts with potential guests, it’s important to recognize the true cost of hosting on Airbnb.

To calculate the true cost of hosting, consider the following factors:

  1. Airbnb host fees: Depending on your location and pricing model, Airbnb charges a 3% or 15% host fee based on the total booking cost. This setup directly impacts your revenue, as it’s deducted from your earnings.
  2. Cleaning fees: Although cleaning fees are added to the guest’s total cost, they’re factored into the host fees calculation. Ensure that your cleaning fees accurately cover the cost of the service while still being competitive in your market.
  3. Occupancy taxes: Some jurisdictions require Airbnb hosts to collect and remit occupancy taxes. Be sure to factor in these taxes when calculating your total costs, as they can significantly affect your revenue.
  4. Maintenance and operating expenses: While not specific to Airbnb, regular maintenance, utilities, insurance, and property management costs should be accounted for when determining the true cost of hosting.
  5. Opportunity costs: If you’re managing multiple short-term rentals or utilizing other platforms, consider the potential revenue from alternative booking sources when assessing the impact of Airbnb host fees.

How to Maximize Revenue in Light of Airbnb Host Fees

Given the importance of host fees, maximizing your income when listing on Airbnb is essential.

Here are some strategies to help you strike the right balance:

  1. Competitive pricing: Researching comparable listings in your area can help you determine an appropriate nightly rate that reflects the value of your property and accounts for the fees charged by Airbnb. A competitive pricing strategy can lead to higher occupancy rates and revenue growth.
  2. Dynamic pricing: Using dynamic pricing tools or adjusting your rates based on demand, season, and local events can help you maximize revenue during peak periods while maintaining higher occupancy rates during slower seasons.
  3. Optimize listing quality: A well-crafted listing with high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and positive reviews can attract more bookings at a higher rate, allowing you to offset the cost of Airbnb host fees.
  4. Offer added value: Including additional services or amenities that appeal to your target audience can justify a higher nightly rate, helping you balance the impact of host fees on your revenue.
  5. Diversify your listing platforms: Consider listing your property on multiple platforms to minimize reliance on a single source of bookings. This strategy can also help you identify the most cost-effective platform based on the fees and revenue generated.
  6. Create a marketing strategy: Effective marketing is essential for increasing bookings and generating revenue as an Airbnb host. Utilizing social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook can help spread awareness about your listing and reach potential guests who may have yet to find it. Partnering with local businesses or influencers can also increase visibility for your listing and drive more traffic towards it.


Now you understand the role of Airbnb host fees in your income as an Airbnb host. By pricing your listing competitively, optimizing the quality of your listing, offering added value services and amenities, diversifying your listing platforms, and creating an effective marketing strategy, you can maximize the revenue generated from your property while balancing the impact of host fees.

One effective approach for savvy property owners is to pass on whatever costs the market will bear. StayCVP achieves this for OTA platform fees by raising prices by 3% for Airbnb and 5% for VRBO. This strategy not only offsets the fees but also encourages guests to book directly with StayCVP, enabling them to save on additional costs. By encouraging direct bookings, you can establish a more personal guest relationship and bypass OTA platform fees altogether. 

Ultimately, understanding and navigating these fees is crucial to maintaining profitability and achieving long-term success in the competitive short-term rental market. Get in touch with Stay CVP today to learn more about how we can help you strategically maximize your STR profits in the long term!

Josh Hatter

By: Josh Hatter

Josh Hatter moved to Charleston from the Washington, DC area in 1999 to complete a Business Administration degree at the College of Charleston. He graduated from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina with an MBA in 2010.

After spending nearly 20 years of his professional career growing businesses primarily supporting the US Navy, he decided to rent a single bedroom out of his home in 2016. Since that single bedroom nearly 6 years ago, he has grown his portfolio into several businesses owning investment short-term rentals both alone and with partners, as well as managing a portfolio of nearly 100 bedrooms for clients to help them meet their long-term investment property goals.

He loves supporting his clients, growing their investments and hosting thousands of guests as they visit Charleston through his property management company, Coastal Vacation Properties.