Unauthorized Charge on Credit Card

Two days ago, I reserved a flat through Airbnb in Makati and was going to pay for it with a Visa card. When I pressed the “Book It” button on the airbnb site, a screen came up saying that my reservation had to be approved. So I waited and was expecting to be prompted to enter my credit card information. Soon after, another screen came saying that I had been approved, immediately followed by another screen that said my booking was confirmed and was paid for by my American Express card.

Without my authorization, airbnb had automatically charged the American Express card that I had used for a previous booking. First of all, I was not even aware that they had retained my card on file. Secondly, my experience of making payments on the internet has been that there is always a screen that asks how you want to pay for something. Since my American Express card charges were quite substantial, I had planned on using a Visa credit card.

My first reaction was to look for contact information on the airbnb site. That in itself was a project. One has to go through tons of FAQs before being able to send an email. No phone number was readily available. I later found out that I had to press urgent to get a phone number. Well, my reservation is a over a month away, and I did not feel it was urgent. At least not at that moment.

I immediately informed airbnb via email that I wanted to switch the charges–reply from them was that it would take a few days to address my problem since they were inundated by support requests. Since it seemed that the problem was easy enough to solve, I decided to give airbnb a call. My host who was aware of the issue provided me a couple of phone numbers, and I called– the wait time on the phone was close to an hour.

Here is the best part: upon hearing about the problem, customer service informed me that they would email me a link where FIRST I had to provide them with my Visa card number and that they would charge my Visa and THEN REVERSE the charges on my Amex. Well, I told them to first reverse my Amex charges, and then I would give them my Visa card no. After all, my reservation was over a month away. More importantly, I did not want to give airbnb control over two of my credit cards after they had unscrupulously charged my Amex without authorization. Would you? What I thought was a simple matter to resolve was quickly becoming a best practices issue. I spoke to a supervisor (supposedly) and was told that at his level airbnb was not set up to refund me first and then switch the charges. They wanted me to pay up a second time, and then they would refund the first charges.

To add insult to injury, airbnb’s customer service arrogantly informed me that if I disputed the charges on the American Express card and the reservation was cancelled, their cancellation policy would apply. What is their cancellation policy? Their cancellation policy is unconscionable: 50% penalty plus the airbnb fee on ANY cancellations made up to one week before the reserved dates. Bigger penalty on cancellations within one week of reservation. My reservation is more than a month away. Customer service informed me that if my reservation was cancelled for whatever reason, I would only get 50% of my money back. Airbnb, get your act together. RENTER BEWARE!

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. Contact your CreditCard company! I just discovered this morning I was charged 170 euro. Called my creditcard company and it was solved in 10 minutes.

  2. Fraudulent charges to my daughters debit card! Several hundred dollars… we had never even heard of Airbnb until now. Called customer service three times… first two times.. was disconnected as soon as I mentioned someone had charged services to her card fraudulently. Hacked credit cards seems to be way too common on this thread even from people who don’t have an account with this company. Something is fishy here!

    • You should call your daughter’s debit card bank. Is obvious that the debit card details have been stolen some how. It may be due to computer being spied and hacker capture the credit card details. And it just happen that they use airbnb to make fraudulent purchase. My bet is that they have an apartment host in airbnb and use that to gain that several hundred dollars. Many time credit card details is stolen due to spyware in computers or public wifi, nothing much to do with airbnb stored credit cards.

    • I just had money stolen and i never heard of airbnb either.. idk what yo do , im a widow and that was my kids social security check abd they hacked in and drained my account. .please let me know if you found a way to get $ back they stole

      • I am also a recent widow with 5 children, and they drained my account of thousands this week. I called my bank ASAP, and they are handling. You need to report to bank and have them handle a fraud case. The bank said they have seen Air BnB come up a lot. They are clearly not my purchases so I have zero liability and bank will replace money. There were multiple large charges all within 24hrs, so this company is obviously not being proactive with fraud protection.

  3. Read the cancellation rules before making the reservation. It is clearly stated before the reservation. It depends on your host, which cancellation rule applies. Many hosts select non-flexible rule, and they lose customers because of that. However, if some people don’t care about their money and select a room with strict rules, well… it’s their loss.

    About booking with wrong credit card. You can select the credit card from the options easily. I agree thought that it’s ridiculous if the payment happens without choice of selecting the payment method. That’s why it’s better to always select Paypal. It’s safer.

  4. I had a similar experience, after reading stories about hacked credit card information I decided to use a low balance visa card instead of my bank card. 3 weeks after booking, received fraud alert from capital one regarding the same card. 4 separate charges from dillards, Marshall and a few other online sites that weren’t mine. Easy enough to fix. Capital one reversed the charges and issued a new card. Bottom line is their online payment site IS NOT SAFE. Its obviously susceptible to hacking so until they correct I would recommend either PayPal or buying their own loadable cards from walmart or anywhere that sells gift cards

  5. Someone hacked my card and charged over $5,000.00 for Airbnb San Francisco. How in the hell do they allow this when I did not stay at any airbnb San Francisco. Don’t they check Id when you check in?? I had to file fraud claim service with my bank. Not a very trusty site if you ask me.

    • This just happened to me as well. $965 dollars for Airbnb San Fran. The biggest mystery I don’t even have an AirBnb account and the only way to contact any kind of customer service is by entering account information.

  6. How to Contact Airbnb

    Airbnb U.S. Phone Number: +1-855-424-7262 or 1-855-4-AIRBNB

    Airbnb San Francisco Phone Number: (415) 800-5959

  7. They charged my card 3x’s for random amount around $270 when I never charged a card in the first place. As far as I knew for the last month we had used my account to book but my boyfriends card for the actual purchase. That is until I got my credit card statement. He was still charged as well. Now finding a phone number may be the hardest part of this whole process.
    Airbnb, what gives guys?!

  8. Airbnb over charged my credit card $626. Im not even sure where they got the number. Do do you have an advise on what i do to get the random amount of money they charged on my visa back?

    • I’m going to the same thing. There is an unauthorized charge of over $400 on my card. I’ve spoken with Airbnb customer service, they said that they were escalating my report to the case manager but that was a week ago. Can’t they trace the payment to see who actually booked this and what reservation it’s connected to ? I do not have a Airbnb account. What was the process to get your money back and how long did it take ?

  9. Same problem here. I have had to cancel a booking made 10 days ago because of family illness. The booking was to be used in 6 weeks time – so over a months notice. The result is I get refunded less than 50% of the original price which has been on hold on my Mastercard. I checked my info and discovered that I myself could not delete my credit card information. I also do not like the fact that as soon as I contact a possible host just to ask a question I receive an email back with a big Book Now button. I think I will delete my profile with Airbnb. I had considered becoming a host myself, but now – no way. Very bad customer service.

  10. same thing. websites that store credit card numbers usually at least require a security code to be entered if used again. ridiculous, likely in breach of most credit card policies, that airbnb does not

  11. Hi, I’m experiencing the same problem as you right now and I’m really panicked about it?? What did you do in the end? Have you gotten your money back?

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