Is Couchsurfing Free? 2024 Review

Wondering whether Couchsurfing is free?

You’ve come to the right place as I’ve used Couchsurfing over the years and I know how the platform has changed over time.

Couchsurfing is one of the most loved platforms by backpackers and budget travellers.

Being able to save money on accommodation was always its huge selling point. However, after a few updates, it seems things have changed.

Is Couchsurfing free? Luckily for you, I have all the answers to your questions about Couchsurfing in 2024.

Couchsurfing was and still is a great way to get free accommodation and also indulge in living like the locals, making for an amazing travel experience.

Is Couchsurfing free?

The answer isn’t just a straightforward yes or no, it can be a bit confusing to understand at first.

Couchsurfing is a paid service, but it’s free to stay on someone’s couch.

What this means is, in other words, you pay to have access to the network of Couchsurfers, but this is the only charge- you do not have to pay someone to stay on their couch.

Straight from the Couchsurfing website, it says: “A host should never ask a guest to pay for their lodging, and a guest should not offer.”

You do, however, have to pay to gain access to Couchsurfing. This is a recent change, as Couchsurfing was completely free, and did not cost anything until the pandemic when they had to begin charging.

A cozy lounge area basked in sunlight featuring a black leather couch with plush red pillows, mid-century modern wooden chairs, round side tables, and vibrant houseplants, creating an inviting and stylish interior space.

How much does Couchsurfing cost?

Since Couchsurfing is not free, you must pay a monthly subscription of $2.39.

This works out to $28.68 each year.

Alternatively, you can take an annual plan which costs only $14.29.

This is pretty cheap to be fair, especially for what you get in return.

Personally, I opt for the annual plan because I only need to stay on someone’s couch for one night and I’ve already saved money compared to paying for other forms of accommodation.

It’s especially beneficial when the price of accommodation is higher, such as in Europe. The cost of backpacking Europe is already big, so you may as well save as much a as possible.

Is Couchsurfing still good in 2024?

Due to the service no longer being free, there has been a decrease in the number of hosts on Couchsurfing.

However, there has also been a decrease in guests. So the percentages have sort of levelled out.

There are fewer hosts, but there are fewer hosts competing to stay on each couch. I’ve also found that it’s only the people who really want to host that have stayed. This means you are more likely to find a good host, despite there being less selection.

One of the huge selling points of Couchsurfing is the experience, and this has remained the same. Staying in the house of a local allows you to really jump right into the city or town you are staying in.

You can see how they live, eat the same foods, watch the same TV shows, and really experience life as a local. This is one of my favourite reasons for using Couchsurfing.

Two men smiling for a photo on the lush green lawn of the National Mall with the iconic United States Capitol building in the background under a dramatic cloudy sky.
Me (left) and Richard who hosted me in Washington, D.C.

Is paying for Couchsurfing worth it?

Obviously, this is purely down to opinion. However, I would say yes. Couchsurfing is definitely worth it, even though it used to be free.

Taking the annual option is the best choice in my opinion. If you pay $14.29 for one year, and you use it ONCE, you stay on one couch for one night, you have “saved money”.

Imagine how much it would cost to stay in a hostel in the centre of Paris. It’s between $20 and $30. On Couchsurfing? $14.29 a year and you get unlimited use anywhere in the world.

Of course, Couchsurfing isn’t just about saving money. Adding the experience of living like a local is arguably invaluable. It’s not exactly something you can just pay for.

So getting this on top of free accommodation, it’s a no-brainer for me. Couchsurfing is still worth it in 2024.

A photo of two dogs lying on a couch
Sometimes you get to meet furry friends too!

Is Couchsurfing safe?

I actually have a full post on Is Couchsurfing safe, but here’s a short answer anyway…

While it’s impossible to guarantee safety, 99.9% of the time, Couchsurfing is extremely safe. Especially as it is now a paid service, it’s not as easy to become a host.

You can read reviews of your host before staying, reading what previous guests have to say about them and their experience. This makes it easy to build an idea of who is best to stay with.

Of course, if you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it’s best to leave ASAP and make Couchsurfing aware of the situation.

A picture of Scrabble letters spelling "Keep Safe". Used underneath the heading "Is Couchsurfing safe?"

Couchsurfing Alternatives

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There are lots of alternatives to Couchsurfing but the only real option which is free is BeWelcome. It’s basically the same concept and ideas, except it’s completely free to use.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite as many hosts as Couchsurfing, and it’s also a bit less moderated. There have been a few reports of weird hosts on the platform.

Nonetheless, it’s a free alternative if you want a completely free service.

But in my opinion, the best alternative to Couchsurfing is Worldpackers. Worldpackers is a volunteer exchange platform that has been facilitating trips for over 10 years.

There are lots of experiences to choose from, with 140 countries to choose from too! How it works is you do some volunteering work in return for free accommodation and food.

It’s got a really strong reputation too as they have completed over 180K trips and have a community of over 3 million people- I’m one of them and I’d strongly encourage you to join the community too!

🚨 I can even get you 10% off if you use the code “ABACKPACKERSWORLD”.

Worldpackers is also an extremely safe experience, much safer than Couchsurfing itself. They have a restricted approval process for hosts and provide insurance in case anything unexpected happens during the experience, so you know that you’ll be in safe hands.

There are lots of volunteer exchange companies to choose from but Worldpackers is by far the best and this sums it up: if you don’t get an answer from a host, you get your membership reimbursed.

But to be honest, this very very rarely happens, whereas it’s a super common occurrence on other sites. I can’t recommend Worldpackers enough, not only do you get free accommodation, but you also get to create lots of memories along the way!

So make sure to join Worldpackers and begin your membership to save money on your next trip.

A picture of a mat on someone's door saying "All are welcome here"

I also have a Facebook group for backpackers which I created recently for backpackers to form connections, make new friends and maybe you could even find someone to meet up with or even stay with!

A promotional image for my Facebook Group. If you click the image, you will be taken to my group.

Is Couchsurfing Free: FAQ

Below are some questions related to “Is Couchsurfing Free?” along with my answers.

Why is Couchsurfing not free?

Couchsurfing made the switch from being a free to paid service in May 2020 due to the fact that third-party advertising is no longer supporting Couchsurfing. As such, Couchsurfing needed a way of generating income to keep the company afloat. So it began charging a subscription fee to get access to the site.

Why does Couchsurfing cost money?

Third-party advertisers no longer support Couchsurfing, meaning the site needs a new source of income to stay afloat. The obvious solution, and the one they chose, was to charge a subscription fee to get access to Couchsurfing. Note that it is still free to stay on someone’s couch, you just need to pay to access the site to organise it.

Is Couchsurfing not free anymore?

Couchsurfing is no longer free as of May 2020. There is a monthly subscription of $2.39. This is to get access to the Couchsurfing community. Staying on people’s couches is still free, but you just need to pay to access Couchsurfing to find potential hosts.

Have people stopped using Couchsurfing due to it not being free anymore?

Yes, there are fewer hosts and fewer guests on Couchsurfing now than when it was a completely free service. But this means there is less competition for guests to stay at a host’s place. It also means that the community is safer and the standard of the average host has improved massively.

Is Couchsurfing Free: The Wrap Up

And that’s a wrap! Despite Couchsurfing no longer being free, it’s still an extremely affordable service and a great way to save money when budget travelling, as well as getting a huge serving of the local culture.

So I would still recommend Couchsurfing in 2024 to anyone travelling anywhere in the world!

There are countless hosts out there, just waiting to host you. So what are you waiting for?