Skip to main content

Airbnb & Prepaid Phone Verification

Update: Airbnb's Customer Support just got back to me by email, and confirmed that Prepaid phones are fine for Verification, it's just that for some reason my current number won't verify from their end either, and they don't know why. That explanation makes sense to me, weird bugs and edge cases happen with code and complex systems like phone networks. Makes a lot more sense than the idea that they just wouldn't support Prepaid phones like their first response in their Twitter DM claimed. So all up, a couple points off their score for the completely wrong first answer, but many more points gained for the response and explanation within two and a half hours by the support specialist, and for the discount voucher. Good job.

Original post: I just tried verifying my Swiss phone number with Airbnb, and they won't let me. According to their support people on Twitter, Airbnb doesn't support Prepaid phone numbers for verification purposes.

This is news to me, because I've had two different Prepaid numbers verified in the past, from two different countries. Both of which required no personal identification to buy the Prepaid card, unlike here in Switzerland, where even Prepaid cards require filling out a form and showing proof of address. That means that there's no technical block against Prepaid numbers, and no real enforced legal case against them either, or they wouldn't have accepted my other numbers.

It's also interesting because there are millions of people around the world who use Prepaid plans, and they're particularly popular in places like New Zealand and Australia (they're not exactly considered to be poor countries). I can't quite believe that a company like Airbnb would just deliberately ignore all those potential customers.

Possibly, Airbnb specifically doesn't allow Lycamobile numbers for some unknown reason (I don't like them, but the other providers here in Switzerland have worse plans for higher prices, so I put up with them for now). It's true that Lycamobile are a cheap provider here in Europe, so maybe they're considered dodgy and so Airbnb blocks Lycamobile specifically. That could be the case, because there are a couple of complaints online about Lycamobile customers unable to verify with Airbnb, but not as many as I would expect given that there are over 15 million Lycamobile Prepaid customers worldwide.

Either way, whether this is a deliberate policy or not, Airbnb's Twitter support has said that this is the case. It really annoys me, as there is no information about it anywhere on Airbnb's site or on any associated help sites that I can find. To not have any information on their site that millions of Prepaid phone users are unable to use their service is really poor form for a company of Airbnb's size.