Whenever I travel to a new city, I find myself browsing through various online booking apps to find an affordable, clean room in a safe part of the city.
Thanks to modern technology, you can find rooms at the tip of your fingertips using your smartphone. My two favorite online booking apps are: AirBNB and Agoda.
I used to use Booking.com in the past but I use Paypal for the majority of my rental bookings. I still think Booking.com is a good choice but Agoda accepts Paypal and offers a great affiliate program where you receive free award bonuses based on number of bookings.
AirBNB vs Agoda Showdown
In this article, I’m going to compare AirBNB and Agoda based on price & fees, ease of use, payment options, and overall value.
Both Agoda and AirBNB charge service fees to use their booking platforms. This is one of the most annoying aspects of using a 3rd party platform (it’s often much cheaper to book a room directly from a real estate agent or in person).
Some hotels, condos, and apartments offer cheaper walk-in rates if you pay in cash. Sometimes, the walk-in rate is more expensive than the online quote. Shop around a bit and call up the hotel/condo to ask about the walk-in rate to see if you can save some money.
If not, then you’ll want to use a 3rd party app.
- AirBNB: Between 5% to 20% (See more on Airbnb Service fees)
- Agoda: 10% Service Charge (Sometimes an extra 13% for taxes)
On average, you’ll spend around 10% extra using 3rd party booking sites. The 10% service charge is the standard way booking platforms generate revenue for their shareholders.
However, Agoda is cheaper because many AirBNB hosts charge a cleaning fee in additional to AirBNB’s service charge. The cleaning fee is usually between $5 to $20 depending on how big the room is. Cleaning fees are annoying, but it’s standard practice nowadays since most hosts either clean the unit themselves or hire a maid to do the work. There is no hotel/apartment staff to handle this job for them.
Overall, those extra AirBNB fees add up and Agoda is often much cheaper per night than using AirBNB. The only time AirBNB is cheaper is when you book for a long period of time (1 week or 1 month) or the host offers a first time host discount to attract guests.
Agoda not only offers a larger amount of cheaper rooms, but has a partner program where you receive cash back on your bookings. You can join the Agoda Partner program to start saving additional money on your bookings.
Ease of Use
AirBNB and Agoda both have excellent search and matchings features that help you find a good room. AirBNB has very good filtering options (kitchen, WIFI, washer) if you are looking for specific amenities in your room. The user interface is pretty simple and you can view lots of photos and details about a room from the main search results.
Agoda doesn’t have the same filtering options, but they allow you to easily filter rooms according to “Lowest Price”. It’s super easy to view all the prices starting from lowest to highest according to your budget. One nice benefit is that Agoda offers cheaper prices on their App. You can save an extra 1 to 2% off your booking if you download their Android/Iphone app. However, Agoda often makes mistakes with room amenities and the pictures sometimes look nothing like the actual room when you arrive. There is plenty of false advertising on the Agoda App.
Overall, AirBNB offers more precise filtering options and what you see is what you get. It’s easier to book a room on AirBNB and end up satisfied with your results. Agoda is good, but you will sometimes arrive and not receive the amenities that were listed. Just recently, I booked a room through Agoda that offered Cable TV but when I arrived, there was no cable installed.
Both sites accept major credit (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) as well as Paypal. However, you must go through a lot of verification measures using AirBNB if you use Paypal. I’ve had to email their support staff statements of my Paypal account before they accepted my bookings. I’ve never experienced this problem with Agoda.
Perhaps AirBNB experiences a lot of fraud or they enjoy making it more difficult to take my money.
Both sites offers excellent room options but I think your preference will depend on the length and nature of your stay.
- Short term rentals: Agoda offers a much better value. It’s perfect for last minute bookings and rentals for less than 1 week
- Long term rentals: AirBNB is best suited for rentals longer than 1 week or so. Hosts offer discounts if you book a long term stay.
It’s hard to decide between both sites because they are both excellent in their own ways.
For tourists, Agoda is a very good option and you’ll find rooms in new city with ease.
For long term expats, AirBNB is a wonderful resource for finding a condo/apartment and staying in a modern-type room without dealing with long term contracts/leases.
Which do you prefer: AirBNB or Agoda? Leave your thoughts in the comments.