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Airbnb vs. Hotel Cost Comparison Across the U.S. [2024 Data Study]

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Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

298 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

38 Published Articles 3343 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 48U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Finding affordable accommodations is a top priority for travelers, and with so many options available, deciding where to stay can be tough. Hotels have long been the go-to choice for travelers seeking comfort and convenience, but Airbnb has grown in popularity as an alternative, offering unique stays and a taste of local life.

Both are great options depending on what you’re looking for, so the question is: Which option is more budget-friendly? To really put ourselves in the shoes of travelers and get as up-to-date information as possible, we analyzed the average nightly costs of Airbnbs and hotels in 100 of America’s largest cities using data from Airbnb and Kayak.

Keep reading to discover which cities offer the best deals for your next trip, whether you prefer the traditional hotel experience or the charm of an Airbnb.

Is It Cheaper To Book an Airbnb or a Hotel in Your City?

When planning your next trip, the cost of accommodations can significantly impact your budget. We analyzed the average nightly prices of Airbnbs and hotels in 100 of America’s largest cities using data from Airbnb and Kayak to find out which is the more cost-effective option so you can make more informed booking decisions.

Here’s what we found:

  • Airbnbs are more cost-effective in 71 out of 100 cities we analyzed.
  • The overall average nightly price of an Airbnb in our dataset was about $156 per night, while the average hotel cost was $208 per night. This means that, on average, staying in an Airbnb can save you about $52 every night of your trip.

Some cities have a significant difference in costs:

  • In Milwaukee, the average nightly cost difference is $212, making Airbnbs much cheaper.
  • In Chicago, there’s a $198 difference in favor of Airbnbs.

Other cities show a much closer comparison:

  • In San Jose, California, and McAllen, Texas, for example, the difference between staying at an Airbnb and a hotel is only about $1.50.

It’s important to shop around a bit when planning a trip so you can find the destinations, travel options, and accommodations that work best for you. Just make sure you’re checking out every possible option so you aren’t overpaying when you get there.

Cities Where You’ll Pay the Most for a Hotel vs. an Airbnb

Cities Where You'll Pay More for Hotels Than Airbnbs
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

While cost isn’t the only factor to consider when deciding on where to stay, it is an important piece of the equation and can vary wildly depending on where you’re going. Some cities have substantial price differences between Airbnbs and hotels in the area. Here’s a look at the cities with the biggest premiums on hotels over Airbnbs:

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Hotel Average: $351
  • Airbnb Average: $138
  • Hotel Premium: $212

Chicago, Illinois 

  • Hotel Average: $364
  • Airbnb Average: $166
  • Hotel Premium: $198

Omaha, Nebraska

  • Hotel Average: $343
  • Airbnb Average: $145
  • Hotel Premium: $198

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Hotel Average: $322
  • Airbnb Average: $125
  • Hotel Premium: $197

Charleston, South Carolina

  • Hotel Average: $395
  • Airbnb Average: $210
  • Hotel Premium: $186

If you’re traveling to any of these cities in the coming months, starting your overnight accommodation search with Airbnb might be best rather than looking for a hotel. A dollar saved is a dollar earned and a dollar that could better be used elsewhere on your trip!

Cities Where You’ll Pay the Most for an Airbnb vs. a Hotel

Cities Where You'll Pay More for Airbnbs Than Hotels
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

While Airbnbs often offer a cost-effective alternative to hotels, in some cities, you might find yourself paying a premium for that unique stay. Here’s a look at 5 of the cities where Airbnbs cost more than hotels:

Madison, Wisconsin

  • Airbnb Average: $223
  • Hotel Average: $167
  • Airbnb Premium: $56

This is particularly interesting because, as we mentioned, you’d find a much different scenario if you just drove an hour east to neighboring Milwaukee. If you’re planning an extended stay in Wisconsin, you better research where to stay because it seems the cost of Airbnbs and hotels can shift dramatically.

Tucson, Arizona

  • Airbnb Average: $142
  • Hotel Average: $99
  • Airbnb Premium: $43

Bakersfield, California

  • Airbnb Average: $164
  • Hotel Average: $124
  • Airbnb Premium: $40

Jackson, Mississippi

  • Airbnb Average: $151
  • Hotel Average: $112
  • Airbnb Premium: $39

Scranton, Pennsylvania

  • Airbnb Average: $185
  • Hotel Average: $150
  • Airbnb Premium: $35

While the cities where Airbnbs are more expensive than hotels are few and far between, there are some metro areas where choosing a hotel stay is the more fiscally responsible option. But even in cities where it’s cheaper to stay in a hotel rather than an Airbnb, the cost differences are much smaller, giving travelers plenty of options when deciding what type of accommodation to book.

Methodology

To determine whether it’s more cost-effective to stay at an Airbnb or in a hotel when traveling, we analyzed the nightly price of Airbnbs (entire places) and compared them to the nightly price of hotels in America’s 100 largest cities. The Airbnb data came directly from Airbnb, and the hotel data came from Kayak.

The costs for both the Airbnb and hotel room data are based on the average nightly cost in each city. The hotel room cost reflects a single room for 2 adults. All cost data was pulled in May 2024. For Airbnb costs, there was no timeframe set to allow for as many data points to be collected as possible. For the hotel costs, a non-peak-time overnight stay was selected for the summer of 2024 to keep costs consistent. Any nightly cost over $1,000 was removed as an outlier from the data set.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between an Airbnb and a hotel can significantly impact your travel budget. Airbnbs tend to be more cost-effective in most major U.S. cities, with an average nightly saving of $52 compared to hotels. However, as we have seen, the price difference can vary significantly depending on the city, with some locations showing a substantial premium for either option.

Cities like Milwaukee and Chicago offer more significant savings for Airbnb stays, while places like Madison and Tucson may have you paying more for the Airbnb experience. These insights can help you make smarter decisions when planning your next trip.

At Upgraded Points, we strive to provide valuable insights and tips to help you maximize your travel rewards and budget. Whether you decide to book an Airbnb or a hotel, we hope our expertise can help you make more informed travel decisions. If you have upcoming travel, check out the best travel credit cards today!

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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