How To Start An Airbnb With No Money (Or Not A Lot Of Money) 

Profiting off a rental seems like an excellent idea.

It’s difficult to launch an Airbnb with a small investment, but it’s possible (I did it).

You can even get in on the rental property action without owning property (I’ve done this also).

Below, I’ll show you how to generate money on this platform with little to no investment.

As I previously stated, many people who are now generating money from Airbnb don’t own property.

Of course, if you already have the spare space, it’s a lot easier to optimize your profit potential.

Quick Notes on Airbnb 

Airbnb has solidified itself as a juggernaut in the real estate industry, connecting property owners with guests. 

These guests are usually interested in learning about diverse cultures and activities.

They want to stay in authentic homes instead of hotels. 

Airbnb is a direct hotel competitor in the vacation rental arena.

Airbnb, a popular short-term home rental business, provides new alternatives for homeowners and travelers.

Airbnb hosts can make you a lot of money and is a solid real estate investing strategy.

Because Airbnb is almost a $100B company, there are tons of great tools that help you operate your Airbnb business more efficiently (I have used some of those).

You probably want to bookmark that article above. And go ahead and bookmark this video as well, as it’s a supplies list I made after 10 years of running an Airbnb business. It’s the little things that matter in an Airbnb…

It’s Not Only For Property Owners 

One of the most widespread myths about the platform is that you must own property to make money on Airbnb.

That’s not true.  

My wife and I made $36,6817.17 in revenue on this property in 2021.

And we didn’t own it.

We were leasing it…

Loft we rented out on Airbnb but didn’t own…

Also, many people on this platform use Airbnb property management software and other ways to make money without owning property.

On the other hand, owning property is still the most straightforward approach to your earning potential.

Ways To Start An Airbnb Without Money 

Ways To Start An Airbnb Without Money

Do you think you have what it takes to be a successful Airbnb host?

Then check out the following ways you could put up listings without putting out a significant investment. 

Join Airbnb’s referral program

Customers can earn money by recommending others to Airbnb’s site through their referral program.

Invite your friends and family to Airbnb (my referral link for you to see) and help them set up an account and book their first stay. 

If they indicate that you were the one who introduced them to the site, you get a hefty commission.

Many affiliates that earn from this strategy will send a personalized affiliate link to a large number of people.

Having your following, for example, can allow you to do so safely and legally. 

Just don’t be the person blasts their link daily on social media.

Nobody wants to be bombarded with links. 

Share strategically.

There’s an entire multi-billion dollar industry on affiliate marketing — you can check out some great programs for those just getting started.

Become a property manager

When you’re driving around your neighborhood and come across open rental signs, think of it as a business opportunity.

These kinds of rentals might also help you make some money.

Simply speak with the property owner about the possibility of listing the home on Airbnb.

They most likely are, but the owners refuse to put up the extra work.

It is possible to start an Airbnb with no money and make some extra money this way.

Also, check with your state laws, as it’s possible that you’ll need a real estate license in order to do this.

But I actually suggest folks get a real estate license anyway!

Take advantage of Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb Experiences is the quickest and easiest method to register an Airbnb account.

You can do so without spending any money and start making money right away.

Airbnb offers premium local tours and experiences in locations all over the world.

Excursions to odd locations and one-of-a-kind experiences are examples.

You might know some activities in your area that tourists want to book right away when they arrive.

Then you might want to create a free Airbnb Experience for them and start marketing them straight away.

Rental arbitrage 

A technique comparable to house hacking is rental arbitrage.

However, unlike house hacking, you do not own the house.

The Airbnb rental arbitrage route is one of our favorite methods of Airbnb investing.

Instead, you persuade a landlord to lend you a house, which you then sublease on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

In multifamily houses, duplexes, or triplexes, rental arbitrage is a great way to make money.

You may quickly pay off your lease with the cash from your short-term rental while also profiting. 

It’s exactly what we did with that property I showed you at the top of the article, where we made $36,6817.17 in 2021.

We liked the model and would probably still be leasing and subleasing it still today, but the landlord got ‘proud’ of their property.

They increased our lease by more than $5,000 in a 12 month period, and it squeezed our profits where it no longer made sense financially.

So we let it go when our lease ended…

Want more info on Airbnb arbitrage? Here’s a video where I go into a bit more detail. You can also watch below…

This may be a full-fledged business in and of itself if done correctly.

I’ve heard of people having dozens of units that they rented out with this strategy.

House Hacking

You can live in one portion of the house while renting out the other.

This is referred to as “home hacking.”

People use this technique after taking out a mortgage on a home and using the rent to pay it off.

The short-term rent assists you in paying for the house’s long-term lease. 

This allows you to keep the difference after paying for the long-term lease at the end of the month.

Yes, this example has you owning a property — but what I really want you to do is to have this in mind when you are looking for a property to purchase as an investment.

But you can manage these for property owners as well (no need to be an owner).

Airbnb property management companies with a local presence, including Whome in Portugal, are ideal examples of this type of service.

These companies handle all of the tedious tasks like maintenance and establishing income goals.

They also take care of concierge, cleaning, key service, etc. 

Related Reading: Want som other real estate ideas? How To Make Money In Real Estate – Click Here To Learn More.

Does Rental Arbitrage Have Initial Costs? 

Does Rental Arbitrage Have Initial Costs

Yes, but these costs vary from city to city. It is normal to expect to spend anywhere from $3,000-$15,000.

These costs should cover everything from furnishing, legal paperwork, deposits, amenities, and fees to the LLC Incorporation. 

Our cost was approximately $12,000.

About $9,000 to fully furnish the 2-bedroom property, and then $3,000 for the security deposit and first month’s rent.

Depending on the sort of property you lease, you may be able to execute Rental Arbitrage for even less.

Still, it’s a lot less expensive than buying a property and taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans.

Plus, you won’t be responsible for property upkeep costs or be trapped in debt for years.

However, this does not imply that Airbnb Arbitrage can be carried out for absolutely no money at all.

You will have to pay some upfront expenses. 

It’s also beneficial to have some additional income.

It will assist in paying off the lease in less profitable months if reservations do not come in immediately.

Here are the typical expenses relating to rental arbitrage: 


Preferably, it would help if you went for a semi-furnished rental.

Someone could do short-term rentals with a completely furnished home. 

In addition, decorating a property from the ground up might cost anything from $3,000 to $10,000.

Rental arbitrage might get more expensive if the wrong property is chosen, so choose carefully.

If the apartment is only partially equipped, your best bet is to shop for the remaining items on the cheap.

You can get low-cost goods from stores like IKEA.

If you look closely, even Target or Walmart can have hidden gems. 

Cleaning Services 

This isn’t a start-up fee, but it’s something you’ll have to pay for later.

If you have the abilities and knowledge, the greatest approach to saving money is first to do it yourself.

You might not have any previous experience or don’t want to spend time cleaning a space.

Then hiring a professional cleaning will be your best option.

Depending on the size and location, this can cost anywhere from $50 to $250.

Rental Deposits 

One of the first and most significant expenses will be a rental deposit.

To qualify for a long-term lease with the landlord, you’ll need money. 

You’ll require a security deposit and the first and last months’ rent.

You may be able to work out a deal with your landlord, though.

You could suggest using the first month’s rent as a security deposit.


You might not need to put out funds for this one.

If you have a decent camera, you could take photos yourself.

Even iPhones have high-quality cameras. 

Keeping a professional relationship with a real estate lawyer in the Airbnb industry can be highly beneficial.

Regulations for Airbnb are constantly changing, and you’ll need legal advice on how to change your business correctly.

They may also be worthwhile if you have legal difficulties with your landlord or visitors.

They can also assist with damage claims and insurance in the event of an accident.

Running an Airbnb is no joke. Even if it costs less money than other types of real estate investing, there is still investment and other pros and cons. Or you can watch the video below…

Preparations and Reminders 

If you want to start an Airbnb with no money, then you must familiarize yourself with the stuff below: 

Regulations and Legalities 

For starters, familiarize yourself with the Airbnb rules and regulations.

Sure, running an Airbnb business might be lucrative.

However, it’s vital to make sure your property listing complies with the law and Airbnb’s rules.

What’s the first step in determining if your listing will be approved under Airbnb standards?

You have to learn what rules and regulations apply to short-term rentals in your area. 

Some cities outright ban Airbnb and home-sharing, while others restrict it through business licensing, zoning rules, and hotel codes.

To assist you in getting started, Airbnb has created several local help pages.

Try contacting your local government authorities if you can’t obtain this info online. 

When you do this, you may find that the restrictions differ depending on where you live.

You might even discover that your city only has a few (or no) restrictions on vacation rentals.

Licenses and Permits 

Licensing has been a battle in many cities and states as they figure out how they want to work with Airbnb and its landlords.

You’ll probably need a business license before starting to operate an Airbnb business in most of North America.

how to start an airbnb with no money - Preparations and Reminders

While the rules may shift, there is usually no difference between renting out a room and advertising multiple properties on Airbnb.

Your local authorities will classify you as a real estate business owner.

Depending on where you live, these documents are known as a ‘business license,’ or a ‘lodgers tax license.’

They may also be called a ‘land use authorization,’ or a ‘TOT certificate.’

Let’s say you own multiple residences in the same state.

You may need to get different licenses or permits for each one before listing them on Airbnb.

Taxation Regulations 

In particular tax jurisdictions, Airbnb must collect the local occupancy tax on your behalf.

In other countries, it is the duty of Airbnb hosts to ensure that the relevant taxes are taken from their earnings.

You might have to register for a tax identification number to pay these taxes on time.

It’s important to remember that tax obligations aren’t often clearly stated in Airbnb policies.

However, you’ll still have to pay them.

Insurance and Safety Regulations 

Once you’ve determined what documentation you’ll need to start an Airbnb business, you’ll need to get your property up to code.

Each municipality has its own set of safety rules for tenants. 

For example, you have to ensure that smoke detectors are installed and that the home has a fire exit.

These considerations must be taken care of to protect Airbnb visitors in an emergency. 

To protect the safety of your visitors, make sure your property has undergone the necessary repairs and is appropriately insured.

Neighborly Rules 

Aside from safety requirements, Airbnb laws require you to be mindful of your neighbors.

That means you’ll need to double-check that your community’s or building’s policies don’t conflict with allowing Airbnb visitors to remain. 

For example, your building might have noise, smoking, parking, or pet policies.

Be sure to include them in the House Rules section of your Airbnb listing profile.

Listing Transparency 

Be cautious while crafting descriptions and names for your advertising.

Airbnb places a premium on honesty and precision.

As a result, don’t try to brag too much about your property.

The Content Policy at Airbnb is straightforward.

Any listing that is misleading or contains any inaccurate information will be removed from the marketplace.

To put it another way, your property’s images, description, and title should all exceed guests’ expectations.

Related Reading: Airbnb Investing – Learn How To Operate Airbnb Rentals Here.


How can I get into the Airbnb business with no money?

With $0 it’s tough, but possible. You can refer the service to others or create an Airbnb experience. The next level up, will be with Airbnb arbitrage.

How to start Airbnb arbitrage with no money?

Money helps. If you have none, you’ll need a partner. You can present the Airbnb arbitrage opportunity to someone that can be your partner and help you launch rental locations.

What do I need to know about starting an Airbnb?

My main piece of advice is that you are now entering into the customer service business in addition to the real estate rental investing business.

Final Thoughts 

As I’ve explained in this post, anyone may quickly learn how to start an Airbnb with little money.

The most challenging obstacle is owning property or being willing to work for someone who does.

It is often breezier to make money on the site if you own property.

Good news if you already own property and want to generate money on Airbnb without constantly investing additional money!

Hiring an Airbnb property manager is usually the best option in this scenario.

Disclosure: This article might contain affiliate links to the resources I refer to. It's at no cost to you, and it's how we pay the bills. Get more info here.

Brooks Conkle Banner Image
Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.