Posted by Chuck on November 6, 2015
AmEx Offers

Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Chuck


All You Need to Know About the Airbnb Amex Offer

[Updated 11/22/15]

Every once in a while there comes along an especially lucrative Amex Offer and the recent Airbnb offer fits this bill, see #AmexAirbnb $50 Off $100 at Airbnb, Lock in Discount with Gift Cards! for more details on this offer.

The key here to maximize the offer is to buy $100 Airbnb gift cards using each of your Amex cards at a 50% discount and then use up the Airbnb gift cards for all your rentals in the future. Numerous questions arose as to if/how this will work and we’ll try to clarify this in Q-A format.

Please note that we don’t have any inside information and what’s presented here is simply culling from the comments of the previous post along with a few other sources.

Q: Is this offer still available?

A: Nope  Yes, at the time of this writing it’s still possible to get this offer by tweeting #amexairbnb from a connected Twitter account. You may also be able to find it in some Amex logins and save it that way.

Q: Can I get this offer on multiple cards? The terms seem to indicate I can only get it once!

A: As with all Amex offers, if you save it on multiple cards you can get the offer on each one. The terms just mean to say that if you save it on the same card using two different ‘saving methods’ you’ll only get one credit.

Q: Can I use my prepaid Amex card – Bluebird or Serve – as well?

A: You can not use it to buy a gift card, but you can use it to book a rental directly. [updated]

This offer (like many Amex offers) can be saved on those prepaid cards; however, the Airbnb system recognizes and rejects the purchase of gift cards with prepaid cards. The system does accept prepaid’s for rental purchases directly.

Q: Can I purchase Airbnb gift cards and get the $50 statement credit or will I only get the offer credit when paying for rentals directly?

A: Yes, the terms specify that gift card purchases are part of the promotion as well.

Q: Are the credits actually posting for gift card purchases?

A: Unfortunately, it seems that they don’t have the offer coded properly to credit gift card purchases automatically. Non-gift card purchases are triggering the Amex confirmation email and offer credit automatically, but gift card purchases are not.

The purchase of gift cards is initially coming through as a pending “Braintree” charge; after the charge posts, it switches over to “AirBnbGC”, but it apparently is still not coded properly to trigger the offer.

This leaves us with two options: 1) Wait another month or two and hope that they batch process them all on its own when they realize what’s going on, 2) Try to have it manually applied.

Update 12/12/15: It appears that it is coming through automatically after a few weeks or a month, but possibly not for everyone. It may be worth waiting some time so as not to deal with the hassle of calling in.

Q: I’m not interested in waiting; what’s the best way to get it manually applied?

A: You can chat with them and they may credit you (or they’ll tell you to wait 90 days), but many are mentioning much more success by calling 1-800-297-7500 and submitting a claim for ALL of your used offers. They’ll hopefully take your claim (without telling you to wait 90 days) and they’ll get all of the offers credited manually. See this comment and this comment for more details.

Q: Is there a limit to the number of gift cards I can buy per day?

A: There is no official limit, but it may be a good idea to limit yourself to purchasing just 3 gift cards per day as more than that seems to run into technical problems.

Q: Can I buy a gift card for myself?

A: NO! The system won’t let you buy for yourself, and if you send the gift card to a different account the system won’t allow the gift card to be applied to the account that it was purchased from.

Q: Okay, but does the gift card need to be used with the address/account it was sent to or can I use it with any Airbnb account other than the one it was purchased from?

A: Any account other than the account it was purchased from will work. However, don’t try to manually enter the code into an account other than the one it was sent to; you’ll need to click the ‘Apply Gift Card’ button in the email in order for it to work.

Q: Does the name on the credit card have to match the name on the Airbnb account? Can a friend give me access to their Airbnb account so that I can buy gift cards under their account and send it to my own account?

A: Yes, that works. That’s a great idea!

Q: Any workaround way for me to buy gift cards for myself if I don’t have someone to do it with?

A: Yes, you can try opening a second Airbnb account for yourself and send the gift cards from the new account to your regular account.

Don’t do this the other way around since you need to build a reputation on Airbnb and you want to do the actual bookings with your regular account; just use the new account as a means of buying gift cards. Note, I don’t know if it’s officially within the rules to have two accounts and it may be better to try finding a second person to do it with.

Q: Can I apply more than one Airbnb gift card to a rental?

A: Yes, the Airbnb system now works (similar to Amazon) that you redeem the gift card into your Airbnb balance and you then apply the balance to the rental. Multiple gift cards are all pooled together and can be used – combined – to pay for the rental.

[Note, from what I gather, the system used to work differently and did not allow multiple gift cards on a single rental. For that reason, you may read people mention that there is a limit of one gift card. Under the new system, you can use multiple gift cards.]

Q: Is there a limit to how many gift cards can be redeemed into my Airbnb account?

A: Officially, there is no limit. In practice, most people are running into a problem applying too many gift cards to their account and the system won’t allow then to do so. Some people bumped into this on gift card #4, some on #5, some on #6, some on #8, some on #9. Getting stuck on #6 seems to be especially common.

Just to reiterate, the issue here is not with using multiple gift cards on a rental, the issue is just getting the gift cards attached to your Airbnb account. Once you cross that hurdle, you shouldn’t have any problem using all the gift cards together for a rental, no matter how large.

Q: Any workaround here to get all my gift cards applied to my account?

A: Yes, multiple readers report that you can call in and they’ll apply them all without a hitch.

Also, you can do $300 (or more) per day. Thus you can easily just do a few each day and you’ll be able to get all the gift cards applied to your account.

Q: Can I just keep the gift card and apply it to my account sometime next year when I am ready to use it?

A: No! If an Airbnb gift card which is not applied to an account for 90 days – it expires and the funds are returned to the Amex card (which will result in the offer credit being reversed as well, in my experience).

Once you apply the gift card to your account it will never expire; the key is to make sure that you get all the gift cards attached to your account within 90 days.

Q: Are there any rentals that gift cards won’t work on?

A: The only exclusion mentioned is that gift cards can not be applied to long-term reservations (28 nights or longer).

Q: Can I make the $100 Airbnb purchase on December 31 or does the charge have to clear by then?

A: As with all online Amex Offers, it’s not recommended to wait until the last minute. It may work in some cases, but not always. The charge has to clear by December 31 and that doesn’t always happen for online purchases. See Online Credit Card Purchases – Transaction Date and Post Date for more details.

Q: Can I use up an Airbnb referral credit to pay for part of a rental and apply my gift card balance for the remainder of the rental? (If you signup with a referral link you get a $20 Airbnb credit and if you refer others you rack up Airbnb credit as well.)

A: Yes.

Q: I’m getting error messages when trying to navigate the Airbnb site. Help!

A: Reportedly, the site works best with Mozilla or Chrome, and not with Safari.

Q: Any other promotions going on with Airbnb that I can stack with this Amex offer?

A: Yes, as noted above new members can get $20 toward their first $75 booking by signing up with a referral link. Existing members can get $20 for each referral who purchases a rental and $80 if the referral becomes a host.

There’s also a separate Virgin America Elevate promotion going on which offers new Airbnb members 1500 points and a $20 credit, see more info here. Existing Airbnb members can also earn 1 point per dollar spent on Airbnb by booking through Virgin America.

Special thanks to readers Fuaxblogger and Jeff for clarifying some of these things in the comments of the previous post.

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128 Comments on "All You Need to Know About the Airbnb Amex Offer"


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“A: Yes, that’s works and is a good idea.”

it seems like a few words are missing here? thanks.

“does the gift card need to be used with the address/account it was sent to or can I use it with any Airbnb account other than the one it was purchased from?”

Want to add to this. If you manually enter the gift card code to a different Airbnb account than it was originally sent to, you actually get an error message that the gift card is issued to another account. However if you forward the gift card code email to that person/email account and click the “Apply gift” button, it works.

A second data sample indicated that it didn’t work the second time on desktop but it is works on mobile.

Any one got the cash back?

Q: Can I use up an Airbnb referral credit to pay for part of a rental and apply my gift card balance for the remainder of the rental?

Yes, you can. I just did that, stacking 2 x $100 GCs on top of a referral credit of $25, getting a $286 rental for $161. Note that the rental is in May, so I’m a little confused by why Doc says you can’t use the gift cards for next summer. As long as you book the stay now, and don’t cancel it later, Amex should not complain (Airbnb puts the payment in escrow and pays it to the host once the departure date has arrived)

He meant the transaction with the gift card has to be made within 90 days of receiving the gift card. You made a reservation now so it will work, but if the gift cards were not redeemed in 90 days they will be sent back.

What is if I cancel a reservation made with GC? Will I get GC back?

Also a quick note, this can be stacked with the Virgin America Elevate promotion for Elevate miles on your purchases made through their link If it’s your first stay as a new member you can receive a 1500 mile bonus and a $20 credit on your next purchase.

So I had two $100 gift cards that I wasn’t able to redeem, the rep said it was because the payment did not go through. But notice today I got charged for both of them…

Data Point – I’ve successfully added 5 gift cards ($500) to my account this morning.

Another Data Point – I get an error when trying to add the 6th gift card. Tried Chrome and Safari. Will try another day.

Two possible trends developing:

1) Gift cards transactions hitting AMEX in Pending are showing as “UNPAID” in ABNB or Braintree clearing systems until nightly batch process in either/both systems clears this out, resulting in Help Desk citing “Unpaid” as reason the GC recipients cannot add to ABNB account
2) For last 3 days, I’ve been capped at $300-$400 per day, which correlates to 1) above but may be entirely unrelated since I’ve been firing off purchases 300-400 per day to reduce risk of not posting to recipient’s account

Ask AMEX Twitter team told me specifically merchant = AirBNB would fire the credit. Any other merchant (“AirBNBGC”) may not fire the stmt credit, despite T&C permitting GC purchases directly from AirBNB site.

Does that mean “AirBNBGC” wouldn’t get the credit? Is there anything we need to do to get it back, as this obviously meets the terms?

I agree with you . When I got the Email I had to click accept for the credit to appear in my account. I believe the 90 days refer to the time you have to accept the gift.

My understanding of the 90 day rule is that any gift cards sent to recipient but not added to recipient’s account would return to senders account after ninety days. No recollection of “must be redeemed within 90 days from issuance” limitation, but its possible I missed that bit.
No clue on how/whether sender would be notified and how the gift card unapplied balance would post back to sender’s account

I agree with you . When I got the Email I had to click accept for the credit to appear in my account. I believe the 90 days refer to the time you have to accept the gift.

I know that you cannot purchase an AirBnb GC with Serve, but how about booking an actual rental? The message I received when trying the GC with my Serve was specific to GCs not to buying on AirBnB.

AirBnb site actually says it accepts prepaids, so hopefully just GC purchases are out for Serve.

I booked a rental with Serve yesterday and got an instant confirmation email from Amex Offers.

Cool, that’s what I hoped/suspected.

did you need to add the offer first? or just make the booking with serve?

Add the offer via Twitter.

Could anybody confirm that $100 gift card purchases from AirBNB trigger $50 Amex credit?

My 11/3 and 11/4 purchases have NOT triggered the CR as of 11/7.

$100 purchases on 11/3 and 11/4 have the $1 “AirBNB” merchant holds remaining in “Pending” status despite each $100 Braintree pendings clearing to merchant “AirBNBGC”. Hoping that the $1 pending holds clearouts will auto-trigger the CRs. I did get a CSR supervisor to notate on one of my accounts in case of dispute, but would not recommend going thru 23 separate account notations for obvious reasons.

Also FYI, help desk now working with IT to manually apply GC purchases to recipients GC balance. Problem appears to be 24 delay between GC purchase and CC issuer purchase acknowledgement snaking thru the AirBNB and Braintree back-ends.

So we will have to call Amex to get $50 credits for each card???

Haven’t noticed anybody talking about the potential tax issues (if you are planning to use GC to book your own place or let someone else to “book” your place). Airbnb does send out 1099 form and IRS will definitely know how much you earn from this. So taxation is a problem

One thing to notice is the “mater’s exemption” which says that renting out your own place for 14d or below in a year would not lead to any tax. It’s not a deduction, so even 15 day renting would make the whole income taxable.

With that being said, using GCs would be a better solution because you can use multiple GC for just one booking day. Plus, Airbnb charges 6-12% service fee. With the price going higher, the fee rate drops.

Hope this helps.

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