Financial Matters Managing Your Vacation Rental Technology and Internet of Things

Using PayPal to Receive Vacationer Payments

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
Using PayPal to Receive Vacationer Payments
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PayPal_02062016Until recently, I have been a strong advocate of requiring that vacationers send rental funds by check rather than by credit card. I was concerned about having to pay extra fees and daunted by having to learn how the PayPal process works. Plus, I had never, in 30 years of renting, lost a booking because I didn’t accept credit cards.

But an eleventh-hour booking last year and learning more about PayPal have changed my stance a bit.

I still prefer to receive checks for all advanced bookings, but having a PayPal account does allow me to accept last-minute and international bookings more quickly and easily. And I was surprised to learn that not only are some transactions free of fees, but if fees are incurred, I can insist that they be paid by my guests, or we can negotiate and perhaps split them. Here’s what else I learned:

There is no fee for you to set up a PayPal account or to maintain it annually. Just go to their website ( and set up an account. (It’s pretty quick and easy.)

Fees for domestic payments:

If a payment is made by a credit or debit card, there is always a fee.  It is possible, however, for a domestic payment to be free of fees depending, for example, on how the transaction is submitted by the vacationer and if the payment is made using a money transfer. (For further clarification, check with PayPal online or at 888-221-1161.)

For domestic transactions, the fee for credit/debit card payments is 2.9% of the amount of the transaction, plus 30¢. So, for example, if you are sent $2000 by credit card, the fee would be $58.30.

International payments: 

Using PayPal can be very helpful for receiving funds from international vacationers. The fee is higher (3.9%), however, and exchange rates also apply to convert the currency to US dollars. Again, check with PayPal for the particulars. Also, read our other blog posts about International Bookings and Handling Payments from Canada.

Prior to accepting a booking using PayPal, you should be very clear with your vacationer about who is responsible for any fees.  Ideally, it should also be stipulated in the lease you send this vacationer, along with any other fees that they are responsible for.

Do you accept credit card payments as well as personal checks? Do you have any other recommendations for taking rental payments?

For more information, listen to our latest podcast that covers everything you need to know about PayPal and electronic payments.

Hear the Podcast

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts. Email Elizabeth


  • Thanks, Elizabeth! Very helpful and informative! Just renewed my listing today. I was going to use PayPal to pay
    for it online, but didn’t want to bother creating a new account. I too, always felt daunted by PayPal and hence,
    I don’t take credit cards from prospective guests. If it is last minute, I just request that they show up with cash only, or a bank check.

    I’m old-fashioned, I guess!

  • Actually I found last year that so many of my tenants use online banking, many of them use the same big bank that I use. That meant to us that the easiest and fastest way is to do bank transfers. Really simple. Secure. Fast. Later, then it’s easy to return deposits, too!