Airbnb doesn’t yet have its own loyalty program. And that means there are no points you can earn when you book a stay with Airbnb – and no way to redeem Airbnb points for a free night stay. At least not on paper…
It’s a big advantage hotel chains like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and others still have over the increasingly popular home-sharing platform. But just because Airbnb doesn’t have a points program of their own doesn’t mean you can’t use points to book an Airbnb stay.
We’ve discovered a neat workaround to use your credit card points to pay for your next Airbnb booking. It’s made possible by Chase Ultimate Rewards, the points you earn from some of the best travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
And considering both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve are out with increased welcome offers of up to 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, now’s a good time to study up on a way to redeem Chase points for an Airbnb stay.
Let’s walk through how you can use a new feature of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program to book an Airbnb stay with points.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards Pay Yourself Back Benefit
Last year, Chase rolled out a new feature available to both Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders. It’s called Pay Yourself Back, and the current categories are available through September 2021.
It means you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay yourself back for everyday purchases at restaurants, home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes, and even at grocery stores. Just like when you use your points to book flights, hotels, and rental cars directly through Chase, you get a bonus when using your points through Pay Yourself Back. If you’ve got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, each point will be worth 1.25 cents. And if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, each point gets you 1.5 cents.
Put that into action, and you could erase a $500 grocery purchase using 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred (since they are worth 1.25 cents). The same purchase would only cost you 33,333 points if you held the Chase Sapphire Reserve (since they are worth 1.5 cents).
But here’s where it gets interesting. Since the new Pay Yourself Back benefit launched, purchases made in-store at Target have worked for Pay Yourself Back redemptions. Anything you purchase at Target can be erased with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That includes Airbnb and many other store gift cards. And there are a handful of other grocery and home improvement stores that may sell you Airbnb gift cards, too.
Are you seeing where we’re going with this?
Buying Airbnb Gift Cards at Target Stores
We need to start with a warning: This may not work for everyone. This is the epitome of a “Your Mileage May Vary” situation. Still, the potential is there. And we put it to the test.
This method seems to work best at so-called Super Target stores that also have groceries. We have heard from some readers transactions made at non-Super Targets not appearing eligible for Pay Yourself Back.
If you go to any Target store, you’ll come across an aisle chock-full of gift cards to other stores and online services. Think Starbucks, Netflix, the Apple Store, and many other options. And one of those options is, you guessed it, Airbnb.
A Super Target store I recently visited had tons of Airbnb gift cards in $50 denominations.
I figured I should be able to buy the Airbnb gift card with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and then once the purchase posted to my account, I would be able to use my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to erase the purchase with the Pay Yourself Back feature.
That theory was correct. I headed to the checkout counter and used my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for the Airbnb gift card. I asked the cashier if there were any restrictions on using a credit card (instead of cash) to buy gift cards for other stores. She indicated she was not aware of any, but this might vary based on your specific Target location. The same may be true at grocery stores selling Airbnb gift cards.
Using Pay Yourself Back to Erase the Airbnb Gift Card Purchase
A few days after purchasing the Airbnb gift card from Target, the transaction posted to my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card account. And once it posted, it was available for use with the new Pay Yourself Back benefit.
To use the benefit, simply log into your Chase online account and head to the Ultimate Rewards homepage. From here, you will see the Pay Yourself Back feature listed as one of the options in the top navigation bar.
Once you select Pay Yourself Back, you will see a list of transactions on your card from the past 90 days that are eligible to remove with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. As a reminder, these transactions will be from restaurants, home improvement stores, grocery stores, and both Target and Wal-Mart. And you’ve only got 90 days from the date your purchase posts to your account.
If you don’t Pay Yourself Back within 90 days of the transactions posting to your account, they will no longer be available.
When you find the transaction you want to pay yourself back for, simply select the “Apply Full Amt” checkbox, or select any cash value that you would like to credit yourself back for and Chase will calculate the appropriate amount of Ultimate Rewards points that it will cost.
Since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the points redeem at 1.5 cents each, $50 is equivalent to 3,333 points. If I held the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, it would cost me 4,000 points to remove the purchase for my Airbnb gift card since the points redeem at 1.25 cents each.
Just like that, you will receive a statement credit to erase the charge via Pay Yourself Back. Chase indicates that it will take up to three business days for you to see the credit. But my experience is that it comes much quicker.
Once again, your mileage may vary with this particular redemption. It’s possible that not every Target store – or even every Target purchase – will be eligible for Pay Yourself Back. We’ve had luck with this method, but others have not.
And again, it is also worth noting that many grocery stores sell Airbnb gift cards. And since grocery stores are listed as an official Pay Yourself Back category, this might be a better approach if you can find them.
How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
There are many methods and credit cards that will help you earn Ultimate Rewards points. But in order to take advantage of this new Pay Yourself Back benefit through September 2021, you must hold either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
To start with, The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of our favorites. It earns 2x points per dollar spent on dining out at restaurants and travel expenses.
For a limited time, you’ll also earn an 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Considering the card has only a $95 annual fee, you can come out way ahead. Using just this method, 100,000 points would be worth $1,250 towards an Airbnb stay. But the beauty of these points is how flexible they are. There are literally hundreds of ways to use them. Make sure to read our post on 8 great ways to use the points bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Then there is the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the premium version of the Sapphire Preferred Card with many more benefits that makes the annual fee on the card $550 each year.
With that higher annual fee, you get more premium benefits like a $300 travel credit, and airport lounge access. You’ll also earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining out at restaurants and travel expenses.
And for opening the card and spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership, you will earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for a limited time. But since the points redeem at a value of 1.5 cents each, these points will be worth a minimum of $900 towards travel or using the Pay Yourself Back benefit.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
If you plan to take advantage of this new Pay Yourself Back feature from Chase by opening one of the Sapphire Cards, the Sapphire Preferred Card makes the most sense. To start with, you’ll earn more points (100,000 after spending $4,000 in the first three months) and your upfront annual fee will be much less. Plus, you could always eventually upgrade to the Reserve card and your Ultimate Rewards points would then be worth more.
Since Airbnb doesn’t have a points program of its own, it has been difficult to use points for an Airbnb stay.
The best option has been to use Capital One Venture miles to pay for an Airbnb and then via their purchase eraser feature, you could remove the charge at a rate of 1 cent = 1 mile. So a $500 Airbnb would cost you 50,000 Capital One Venture Miles. And that’s still an option today.
But with this new workaround using Chase points and Pay Yourself Back, you’re getting more value – it makes this a great deal if you prefer staying at Airbnbs and want to use points to foot the bill. Of course, it will require a bit more work as you will need to stop in a physical target or grocery store to first buy the Airbnb gift cards with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
If you find an Airbnb gift card at a grocery store or a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowes, the same method would absolutely work as these stores are included as part of the Pay Yourself Back benefit. It’s worth noting that while my experience was smooth, different stores may have different policies on buying gift cards with a credit card (instead of a debit card or cash).
Since Airbnb doesn’t have a points program of their own, using points to book Airbnb stays has been slim pickings.
But Chase’s new Pay Yourself Back feature and the ability to buy Airbnb gift cards at Target (and possibly other stores) is a great value that lets you drastically reduce the cost of your next Airbnb stay. It’s easily the best way to use points to book an Airbnb stay today.
And it’s just another fun way to use Chase points and the new Pay Yourself Back benefit to get ahead with your future travels.