If you are planning a short vacation, consider renting a home. If so, the NBC4 I team warns of a popular vacation rental website: your rental could cost you more than you expect.

Jodee Peko and her daughter planned a family trip to Las Vegas to celebrate graduation. Peko wanted to help her daughter pay the bill for the trip, so she gave her $ 1,200 Airbnb gift cards to rent a house.

“It was just for her to get away and go to the family for the first time with her baby,” said Peko.

When you book an Airbnb rental, you have two payment options: prepayment, full; or leave a deposit and pay the balance later, which is the option Peko chose. She used the gift cards to pay the deposit, but when she later tried to use the gift cards to pay the balance, Airbnb refused her.

“The person said to me, ‘Oh, you can only pay for everything in full with gift cards,'” said Peko.

It’s correct. Airbnb doesn’t allow you to use gift cards to offset funds – you can only use them for deposits or prepay everything. The gift cards Peko bought still contained hundreds of dollars, and with no future travel plans, she says the family threw that money away.

“I just cried,” said Peko. “It was heartbreaking and the people at Airbnb were just so heartless. ‘Sorry, this is our policy, read it, you should have read it.’ ”If you browse the Airbnb website, you will find the gift card policy. The I-Team asked Airbnb the reason for the policy, but we got no response.

“It’s really against the consumer, it seems to be kind of a gotcha,” said Mark Ostermann, who called Airbnb for an unfriendly consumer policy on his travel blog. In his opinion, the company should issue a clear warning when consumers use a gift card.

“There should be a pop-up that says, ‘Hey, you’re paying with a gift card and if you make a second payment you can’t use a gift card,'” Ostermann said. “Kind of a warning.” But until that happens, Peko gives other Airbnb travelers some advice.

“Don’t buy gift cards, don’t do it,” she said.

It finally worked for Peko’s family. The host eventually canceled his reservation so he booked a new rental home and this time they knew they had to use their gift cards to prepay everything.