Just reactivated "non-refundable" option -- and I have questions!

We turned off non-refundable during COVID after one too many “but-that’s-not-fair” protests from guests whose travel plans were disrupted during the pandemic. This week we turned it back on, and I have two questions I have not been able to resolve searching google and Airbnb support for reliably up-to-date information:

1. Grace period My refund policy is “moderate with optional no-cancel discount” It is not clear to me whether or not guests taking the no-cancel option for short-term (less than 28 days) have a 48-hour grace period, or 24 hours or none under this month’s version of Airbnb’s constantly changing rules?

2. Default refund option presented to guests When the Airbnb interface presents both cancellation options to the guest (moderate & discount/no-refund), it always defaults to the “no cancel.” Is there any way to toggle the default to the “moderate” option. (Default display shown in screengrab below). If there is any subsequent dispute I do not want the guest to be able to say (perhaps quite legitimately) “I didn’t realize…”)

Screenshot 2023-02-16 14.00.45

The moderate policy doesn’t have a grace period. All that matters for the moderate policy is whether or not it’s 5 days before check-in.

The strict policy has a 48-hour policy though. None of this has changed since I began hosting.

Nope. It’s skeezy isn’t it?

No s*it!


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What if your policy is Moderate/Optional-no-cancel and the guest chooses “no cancel” ? Do they have grace for a day or two to reconsider/back out without penalty? Air support makes it clear that they do if your policy is "stricty/Optional-no-cancel and the guest chooses “no cancel,” but policy seems to be silent on grace when guest chooses “no cancel” at a moderate property like mine.

As JJD said, they can cancel with no penalty up to 5 days before check-in. What non-refundable means for moderate is that they would not be refunded anything if they cancelled after that, whereas normally they would be charged for one night and be refunded half of the remaining nights.

If that is indeed the case then “no refund on cancellation” is a bit of a misnomer! That’s an awful lot for a host to give up for 10%

Do you have a link to an Airbnb rule that elaborates on this fine point.

Not if it’s 5 days or fewer before check-in.

They just use that as an example but the details of the example only apply to hosts who use the strict policy.

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No, I don’t. It just seems to me to be what is meant. I agree that Airbnb could be a lot clearer, but ambiguity seems to be their M.O.
Non-refundable just means that any refund that would normally apply to any given policy doesn’t apply. It doesn’t change the grace period for any policy.

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It just means that you’ll keep the whole payout instead of the first night and 50% of the remaining nights payout. It isn’t all that different for a host using the moderate policy and that’s the main reason I’ve never used it because I use the moderate policy too. Also, I mainly use the moderate policy because I don’t care to argue with people. The moderate policy seems the most equitable and fair to me and it certainly isn’t worth losing 10% to argue with people over it, to me.

“Do you have a link to an Airbnb rule that elaborates on this fine point.” Which point?

@Spark This maybe?

and this is the same but for guests:

From what I can tell as I review this stuff is that it’s mostly a “gotcha” for the guests in the search, e.g. your discounted non-refundable rate is the one that shows in the search. But that takes us right back to skeezy.

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@Spark Can I ask why you are wanting to use the non-refundable? Have you been getting a lot of cancellations, or desperate for bookings and think it will help?
Like you and JJD, I also use moderate and have never gotten hardly any post-5 day cancellations, so taking a 10% loss seems pointless.

And there are guests who will try to demand a refund regardless of what a host’s cancellation policy is. I’ve also read, several times, of guests making up some issue in order to get their $ back on non-refundable, and Airbnb refunding them, so it’s no guarantee you’ll be paid in full.

I don’t see anything in these rules that clarifies exactly when the reservation becomes “non-refundable” – the rules are silent, and that creates an ambiguity:

When Airbnb writes (to hosts) describing the “no refund” option they say:

  • If [guests] cancel, you keep your entire payout for all nights booked, minus the cleaning fee if they cancel before check-in

It is absolutely not the same as saying:

  • If [guests] cancel within five days of scheduled check-in, you keep your entire payout for all nights booked, minus the cleaning fee if they cancel before check-in

The rule simply does not address the question – and in he face of the ambiguity some hosts have filled in the blank with a “five-day clause.” I understand the logic in doing so, but – unless there is additional written clarification elsewhere – there is equally compelling logic to fill in the blank with “from the moment the reservation is confirmed.”

The same ambiguity exists when reading the guest (written) version of that policy.


We are not desperate, but reservations are certainly slower. We have already have confirmed 2023 bookings that meet 60% of our revenue goals for the year – and most of that is 28 – 31 day stays. However – this is the first time since we came back online after our five-month COVID shutdown that we weren’t booked back-to-back for six months ahead, so we want to chase the market a bit more actively.

We decided to activate the 10% no-cancellation option because this enables us to offer the marketplace another price point. We’re willing to take the hit in exchange for the certainty of a “bird in hand” from the moment of booking, but if that bird only arrives a few days before check-in, I’m not sure it is worth giving up 10%

I’m sorry, I think I was answering the wrong question. And in looking at it further, non-refundable means just that. It becomes non-refundable when they book.

They can either choose for it to be entirely non-refundable or pay a bit more to get your moderate policy.

The 5 days only has to do with when a guest may be able to book as non-refundable, e.g. once your cancellation policy is in play your non-refundable rate won’t be available.

It actually makes more sense this way. You can use the moderate policy but have some reservations that aren’t subject to that policy - they are non-refundable (without an extenuating circumstance).

At checkout, guests either select your standard rate—subject to your cancellation policy—or the discounted, non-refundable rate

I imagine it may give you a bump in the search rank too. I just know I don’t want to talk about refunds with people. I hope you’ll let us know how it works out. I’m curious.

That was my original understanding, but when I went looking for a rule that provides dispute-proof clarity, I could not find one (and still can’t).

If the reservation is non-refundable, it seems out-of-step with 2023 consumer expectations and consumer law that Air doesn’t provide the customer with a day or two grace. I think consumers have come to expect “second thoughts” wiggle room, and I worry that Airbnb (and its hosts) will be criticized for being unfair if the company doesn’t offer this.

Once again, the Airbnb rules are totally silent on this specific point – and that is, for a situation that by its nature is prone to disputes, business malpractice

That was part of my thinking… but, like every other host, I’m left guessing about most of the ever-changing algorithm.

Will do!

I can already report this: We got more new (future) bookings in the first ten days after we turned “instant booking” back on than we did in the previous 10 weeks.

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I have seen too many times that the extenuating circumstances policies kick in when the guest proffers some reason to cancel and refund on a non refundable booking and the CSR give it to them, to the extent that they don’t even inform the host or ask if it is ok…… this is why I don’t offer it.
I have no Airbnb booked at all for the rest of the year, 4 on B.con and everything else is direct.


While there are many things which enter into the search algorirhm, and impossible to know what weight each factor is given, I think it’s fairly well-known that offering IB is pretty much at the top of the list. It’s how Airbnb tries to bully hosts into using IB.

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“Bully” is correct – we reluctantly turned it back on.