How to save money on a vacation rental and get the lowest price

house savings

Search multiple agencies. Owners often list a property with multiple rental booking sites using different names for the same unit. To make sure it’s the same place, compare the furniture descriptions and photos posted on each source. Sometimes, prices differ from site to site, and often there will be a winner who offers the best deal.

Compare prices at resorts and rental agencies. Even when a condo or villa is part of a named resort, an agency or booking site may offer it at a different price. Recently, I found a 5-night stay in a 4-bedroom villa in Jamaica through an agency that was part of a resort that cost $4,300 more on their website.

Negotiated security deposit. When a surprise $2,500 security deposit recently appeared on my bill for a 5-night stay in a Barbados condo, I complained to the rental agent. He went back to the owner, who cut it to $1,000. The agency’s manager later claimed that the $2,500 figure was incorrect—yet months later, it still appeared on the list as the required deposit amount.

Use a credit card hold for the security deposit. Some agencies insist on cash, but regardless, ask how long it will take to get your money back at the end of the rental. Some agencies take months to refund your money and this is not a favorable system for you.

Read the listing description and contract carefully. In a recent rental, my unit’s development website said a cook would be included. When I double-checked with my agent, they said I could have a cook—an extra $200 per day. Armed with this information, I went back to negotiating, and the owner agreed to share the cost of a cook with me—but that only happened because I did my research and learned that the service should have been included in the development.

Double check all rules. Once, a rental agent told me that I had to purchase trip cancellation insurance and that pre-existing conditions would not be covered. But after checking with the insurance company the agency uses, I learned that I actually have 14 days from the date of my deposit to cancel without penalty.

Understand when concierge services are truly available. Some agencies that offer concierge services use this advantage to justify their often higher prices on rental units. But these days, agencies are often overbooked, and customers are finding that the promised concierge service isn’t accessible when they need it. It can save you money to find the same unit at a lower price from a company that doesn’t offer personalized support.

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