Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness
AIRBNB has transformed the holiday market by offering low-cost alternatives to hotels and traditional rentals for holidaymakers, with rating and recommendations key to success. But there are other options out there for innovative travellers.
The basic Airbnb transaction is still hiring a room, apartment or house from someone else for cash. A different option worth considering is house swapping, which allows you to use your own home rather than money as payment. The idea has been around for years but arranging it privately can be fraught with uncertainty. Luckily, there are sites offering to assist.
One site I have had personally recommended by Irish homeowners is Love Home Swap. This membership-based site allows you to arrange swaps for homes around the world, of any size. They have search filters to help you find exactly the type and location you want. You promote your own home with a description and pictures and, once you see a potential home you like, you can message them to offer a swap. The site will help you arrange the classic swap, where they come to your house while you go to theirs. But that won’t always be possible so the site also has an option to swap for points. You accumulate credit by allowing someone use your home, if you are away visiting friends or family or on a traditional holiday, which you can later cash in for a trip of your own.
Like Airbnb, the site allows users to rate and review each other, giving other members a clearer picture of the homes. The site also offers peace of mind by confirming members’ identities with an ID verification service. Their messaging service allows members to arrange trips and prevents communication off the site.
They have a team ready to help with issues and also offer guidelines about how to agree arrangements regarding cleaning, keys, etc. The site’s search option offer a pet filter so you can search for a pet free home if that is your preference or find a place that will also accept your own animal.
The site offers a short free trial to allow you have a look around the site but users pay a subscription to use it. There are lite and premium options but the standard fee is €20 per month, charged annually. The commitment of €240 per year differentiates it from free sites like Airbnb but the users I spoke to felt it was fantastic value for access to homes all over the globe. Find out more at lovehomeswap.com.
There are a number of other sites operating on a similar model to Love Home Swap. Interested tourists should also check out homeexchange.com, which started as a printed, mailed book in 1992 before evolving into an online service.
An Irish start-up is aiming to provide a service closer to Airbnb, but exclusively for over-50s. The Freebird Club describes itself as a new social travel and homestay club and is currently looking for more hosts in Ireland. It is a ‘peer-to-peer’ club, which enables members to travel and stay with fellow member hosts, who have opted to make their spare rooms available for nightly rent.
Peter Mangan, Founder and CEO of The Freebird Club said: “It is an effective way for older adults to travel, meet new people and have social and cultural interaction, as well as providing a new source of income for hosts all around the world.”
The Freebird Club launched in April this year and already has more than 1,300 users worldwide. As a result it is looking for hosts in Ireland as well as popular destinations around the world, including the USA and mainland Europe. Hosts are already available in 38 countries — including the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the USA.
Because members charge each other for stays, The Freebird Cub doesn’t require a subscription. Members pay a one-off joining fee of €25 to help cover the costs of vetting and approving members.
By restricting it to over-50s Mr Mangan hopes the service will provide social benefits in addition to providing members with a way to make some extra money.
If there are any consumer issues that you’d like Gráinne to address or if you have problems that Gráinne could help with, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
As competition heats up in the mortgage market, a Permanent TSB initiative to reward mortgage holders offers new customers with 2% of each monthly mortgage payment made. This is in addition to the existing offer of a once-off cashback payment of 2% of the value of the full mortgage.
For example, a customer with a €300,000 mortgage will receive a €6,000 one-off payment on loan drawdown and a payment of €30.36 made to their Explore Current Account each month - €364 a year.
It is available to all residential mortgage customers who have received loan approval from Monday August 28 and who make their monthly mortgage payments from PTSB Explore Current Account.
Customers who have recently received mortgage approval but who have not yet drawn down their mortgage can also avail of the offer.
Terms and condition apply. Details: call 1 890 500 150 or 01 215 1338, drop into any Permanent TSB branch or visit permanenttsb.ie.
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