pay to stay
Houston Airbnb visitors pay the highest surcharges in Texas, Forbes finds
Travelers to Houston are discovering that event when they find the perfect Airbnb with the right price for their travel dates, they watch their trip total skyrocket to an incomprehensible amount after the cleaning and “service” fees. Add to that the laminated list of chores to complete before leaving, which can lead to charges after the stay if not completed.
In its latest findings, financial publication Forbes Advisor calculated that Houston travelers pay an average surcharge of 45 percent for an Airbnb in the city, earning a top 10 spot in the report at No. 8.
That also makes H-Town the Texas city with the most expensive Airbnb fees. Forbes’ expert analysts looked at 32,000 listings across 100 of the most popular markets on Airbnb to find common trends.
Houston's percentage of high fees is much higher than the nationwide average, which is 36 percent. Though the city's average nightly Airbnb rate is $193, guests 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.
Nearby visitors to Galveston pay just six percent less than their Houston-destined counterparts, at 39 percent, earning them No. 33 in Forbes' report. Guests do pay a higher nightly rate in the coastal town — around $245 — but only pay 12 percent in cleaning fees and taxes. It's the 15 percent service fees that really solidify the anti-financially friendly label.
The Texas city with the lowest fees is Fort Worth, appearing much, much lower than Houston 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.