Costco Travel Review & Guide – Does It Save You Money? [2017]

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You can earn rewards at Costco with the Costco credit cards, discussed below. Other cards can be used to earn cash-back or collect points while shopping at Costco, too.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ earns 1.5% cash-back. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® earns 2x points for all purchases.

What Is Costco Travel?

If you’ve ever been a Costco member, you’ve probably walked past the little Costco Travel booth across from the pizza and hot dog stand. You’ve likely even wondered whether or not you could save on your family vacation or honeymoon.

For those of you who’ve had these thoughts, this guide was made for you!


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Costco Background Information

Costco is the largest membership shopping warehouse club that offers a wide range of merchandise. Under the giant umbrella of Costco Wholesale Corporation are various services and subsidies including the Costco Auto Program, Costco Optical, and Costco Travel.

Costco membership is broken down into 2 levels:

Costco Membership Comparison
Membership Type: Gold Star Executive
Annual Fee: $55 $110
Additional Cardholder: One included One included
Rewards Earned: None 2% cash back on purchases (limit of $750 annually)
Other perks: None If you don’t earn at least $55, Costco will refund the difference

Costco Travel Perks

  • Discounts on fuel – Costco fuel tends to be a bit cheaper than some competitors’, which is most beneficial if there’s a location near you. However, if the nearest location is further away it could mitigate any savings. Regardless, this isn’t the sole reason for getting Costco membership.
  • Discounts on insurance – Many members have saved on auto insurance and home insurance, so this can usually go beyond offsetting the costs of the annual membership fee.
  • Discounts on optical services – Costco offers eye exams, high quality eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
  • Discounts on tires – The Costco Auto program offers fairly competitive prices on tires, but it lacks in selection. This benefit simply adds another provider for you to choose from if you need new tires.
  • Generous return policy, 100% satisfaction guarantee – Costco has a great 90-day return policy on electronics, and it accepts returns within 90 days from the original date of purchase. You don’t even need a receipt, since Costco tracks all your purchases on your account. Beyond that, Costco’s return policy allows its members to return all items purchased in-store at any time (with the exception of electronics). Costco aims for a 100% guarantee on all merchandise.
  • Discounts on travel – This specific article will outline all the various opportunities for savings under Costco Travel.

Costco Travel Benefits

What Is Included in the Program?

The subsidiary offers many services including vacation packages, cruise packages, theme park and specialty vacation packages, as well as car rentals and hotel bookings.

caribbean

Costco Travel Vacation Packages

Costco leisure travel packages tend to be offered at competitive prices, but they don’t always come out on top compared to some online travel agencies. In some searches, they beat out the large online travel agencies as well as prices booked directly.

However, in other instances, they were a lot pricier. One difference with Costco Travel was that extras such as airport transfers were included in their packages. Even when including those extra perks, though, they sometimes came out with lower prices.

Three examples (Athens, Hawaii, and Las Vegas)

Costco Vacation Package #1 – Athens
(September  1-8 departure from Seattle)
Costco Travel Hotel Grande Bretagne Flight
Hotel (w/ breakfast)
Hotel Transfer
$2,666.58
Expedia Hotel Grande Bretagne Flight
Hotel
$2,661
Kayak Hotel Grande Bretagne Flight
Hotel
$1,619
Expedia Parnis Palace Hotel Suites 4-star hotel Flight
Hotel
$1,562
Kayak Intercontinental Athenaeum Athens Flight
Hotel
$906

Hot Tip:  Pay for your vacation packages using one of the Costco credit cards, or a travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. Or use a simple cash-back card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ or Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®.

Vacation Package 1 Summary

In this search, there was only one hotel, Hotel Grande Bretagne, that popped up. This was very limiting, especially if you wanted to browse various properties. Many properties cheaper than the Costco Travel option popped up on the two online travel agencies, Kayak and Expedia.

We compared prices of booking flights and accommodations at Hotel Grande Bretagne on Costco Travel, Kayak, and Expedia. While Costco Travel had a few extra perks like an executive buffet breakfast and hotel transfers, it was still over $1,000 pricier than Kayak.

Verdict: Kayak is the clear winner on this trip, with over $1,000 in savings using the same hotel. It also had way more options than Costco Travel; the Intercontinental Athenaeum Athens and flights at $906 is quite a deal!

Costco Vacation Package #2 – Las Vegas
(December 22-28 departure from Seattle)
Costco Travel- Recommended The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Autograph Collection Flight
Hotel (w/ breakfast or lunch and invited guest check-in)
Hotel Transfer
$509
Expedia The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection Flight
Hotel
$608
Kayak The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection Flight
Hotel
$542
Expedia Stratosphere Hotel Flight
Hotel
$319
Kayak Treasure Island Hotel & Casino Flight
Hotel
$305

Vacation Package #2 Summary

On this particular Las Vegas search, Costco Travel came out on top with their specific recommended package that included a stay at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Autograph Collection.

On top of a cheaper overall package, where Kayak and Expedia only include flights and hotels, Costco provides a couple of extra perks that make it the clear winner.

In terms of choice, once again the two online travel agencies have a clear edge with their cheaper overall packages and options.

Verdict: Costco wins with their recommended hotel which provides great value. However, if you preferred another hotel option it would be best to shop around.

Costco Vacation Package #3 – Maui, Hawaii
(October 1-8 departure from Seattle)
Costco Travel- Recommended Four Seasons Resort Maui Flight
Hotel (w/ breakfast)
Hotel Transfer
$215 Costco cash card
$100 daily resort credit
Full-size car rental
$ 3,387.85
Expedia Four Seasons Resort Maui Flight
Hotel
$2,664
Kayak Four Seasons Resort Maui Flight
Hotel
$2,720
Expedia Westin Maui Resort & Spa Flight
Hotel
$1,456
Kayak Westin Maui Resort & Spa Flight
Hotel
$1,461

Vacation Package 3 Summary

For the Maui, Hawaii vacation package search (including flights and hotels), Costco Travel looks like the most expensive at $3,387.85 per person. However, when adding in the $215 cash card, $100 daily resort credit (times 7 days), and a week’s full-size car rental (an approximate value of $200), the price ends up being around $2,830 (still a bit pricier than the competition).

Verdict: Aggregator site edges Costco Vacations by over $100.

Extra Perks

One of the perks of Costco Travel on theme park, leisure travel, or cruise packages is resort credit that you can use similar to gift certificates. Depending on what is outlined, resort credits are designated to specific products or services such as gift shop purchases, food and beverages, or spa treatments.

(Note that resort credits will cover the cost of the purchase, but any service charge must be paid by the guest).

Other extras that may come with your package include a free daily breakfast. When booking elsewhere, many resorts do not include food and beverages or gratuities. Some other perks you may see include:

  • Free internet use
  • 30% spa discount
  • Buy-one-get-one-free spa treatment
  • Kids 12 and under eat free
  • Complimentary round of golf

For Costco Executive Members, there are added benefits including some of the following:

  • Costco cash cards
  • $50-100 unrestricted resort credit
  • $50-100 resort credit toward food and beverage
  • Complimentary daily Wi-Fi access
  • Guaranteed room upgrades
  • Complimentary bottle of wine and chocolates

Bottom Line: Get the Costco Executive Membership for $55 more to get tons of added value that will offset the cost very quickly!

Vacation Packages Versus Other Membership Warehouses

Compared to other membership shopping clubs, Costco vacations seem to be the best choice overall.

For example, Sam’s Club doesn’t allow refundable tickets. Consumers get hit twice when making any changes, first by the airline and second by the $25 ticket change fee for Sam’s Club. Costco charges a flat $75 on any changes made to your vacation package.

Of course, package trips are generally more limited and typically mean less control of details like flight times. With Costco Travel you can choose different flight times, but you’d have to pay more or less depending on the changes.

However, having said that, Costco still seems to be the most transparent site between the other membership warehouses such as BJ’s and Sam’s Club. Fees are inevitable, but how they are shown or hidden is something else to consider.

For example, BJ’s travel is quite subtle in how they present this. After the total amount there’s a quick one-liner, “Mandatory fees: collected by hotel.” Of course, you have to click the “see details” link to investigate.

While it’s a mixed bag with the vacation packages, Costco does have its advantages in the extra perks and their recommended packages. However, it won’t hurt to compare prices with aggregator sites like Expedia, Hotwire, or Kayak.

How Do You Book Costco Vacation Packages?

Booking leisure travel packages through them is typically a straightforward, pain-free process.

Do a search through the website and you will have the following customization options:

Vacation-package-search-costco-travel

1. Flight – A flight will come up, but you have the ability to change it (which will also affect the price of the package).

Vacation-package-flight-costco-travel

2. Hotel – Room options are given, including the one that is preselected. Choose which one you would like.

Vacation-package-hotel-costco-travel

3. Transportation – Depending on the package, you will either have: a) airport/hotel transfers or b) a car rental.

Vacation-package-transportation-costco-travel

4. Activities – The last page before payment is a list of activities offered through the hotel and in the area. These include scuba diving, spa activities, or a round of golf. Sometimes resort credit is provided and shown on this page.

Vacation-package-activities-costco-travel

Costco Travel Cruise Packages

Whether you are looking to cruise the Caribbean, Europe and the Mediterranean, Australia or New Zealand, or somewhere closer to home like Alaska, Costco Travel has got you covered. Along with the theme park packages, they even have Disney as one of their cruise lines!

Generally speaking, the discounts on deals are similar to those you might get through travel agents. Essentially, you have access to group rates through Costco.

Rates on cruise packages are all pretty closely priced, because cruise lines are strict about not letting travel agencies sell a cruise lower than what the cruise line sells it for. Costco is able to add value for their cruisers by offering extras (usually shipboard credit).

Booking cruises can be a bit more difficult to navigate while getting accurate pricing, as there are many hidden charges aside from pre-paid gratuities, drinks, port fees, and taxes. Costco typically breaks down prices based on 2 passengers with taxes and fees included.

In addition, they give extra perks including some of the following:

  • Shipboard credit on all Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Holland America sailings
  • Complimentary dinner for 2
  • 1 complimentary photo per stateroom
  • Discounted travel insurance
  • Costco cash cards

When comparing, you want to be sure the information is more or less the same. If an online travel agency shows a lower price, but the fine print shows that taxes and port fees aren’t included, you may not actually be saving money. Regardless, some things to check when comparing prices include:

  • Room category (garden view, ocean view, etc)
  • Travel airfare included or not included
  • Round trip ground transfers included or not included
  • Same number of nights (6 days/5 nights)
  • Taxes included or not included
  • Port fees included or not included

Cruise Package 1

15 Night Cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii (Sept 24-Oct 9) – w/o perks calculated into fare
Direct $1,399 $1,839 $2,499 $3,149
Costco Travel $1,299 $1,499 $2,199 $2,999
Cruise.com $1,284 $1,479 $2,164 $2,949

 

Cruise.com Shipboard Credit
Cruise Fare $1,001-$1,500
Per person
Cruise Fare $1,501-$2,500
Per person
Cruise Fare $2,501-$3,000
Per person
Cruise Fare $3,001-$4,000
Per person
$100 $150 $175 $200

 

Costco Cruises Shipboard Credit
Inside Stateroom Ocean View Stateroom Balcony Stateroom Suite Stateroom
$165 $190 to $260 $330 to $405 $475 to $520
Additional $50 Bonus Shipboard Credit

 

15 Night Cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii (Sept 24-Oct 9)
w/ perks (shipboard/onboard credit) calculated into fare
Inside Stateroom Ocean View Stateroom Balcony Stateroom Suite Stateroom
Direct $1,399 $1,839 $2,499 $3,149
Cruise.com $1,184 $1,379 $2,014 $2,774
Costco Travel $1,059 $1,174-$1,234 $1,719-$1,794 $2,404-$2,449

In this first example, a 15 Night Cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii, we see that Cruise.com is the cheapest option. However, taking into account the extra perks (mainly shipboard credit), Costco ends up saving you about $100-$300.

The direct booking route doesn’t seem to offer much in terms of additional benefits. There were extra benefits for both Cruise.com and Costco Travel, but this wasn’t taken into account in these calculations since the benefits were the same.

Verdict: Costco wins with large savings!

Cruise Package 2

7 Night Cruise from Seattle to Alaska (April 29 departure)
w/o perks calculated into fare
Inside Stateroom Ocean View Stateroom Balcony Stateroom Suite Stateroom
Direct $799 $999 $1,299 $1,999
Costco Travel $699 $999 $1,199 $1,799
Cruise.com $679 $969 $1,259 $1,729

 

CRUISE.COM SHIPBOARD CREDIT
Cruise Fare $501-$1,000
Per person
Cruise Fare $1,001-$1,500
Per person
Cruise Fare $1,501-$2,500
Per person
$50 $100 $150

 

COSTCO CRUISES SHIPBOARD CREDIT
Inside Stateroom Ocean View Stateroom Balcony Stateroom Suite Stateroom
$70 to $95 $140 to $165 $165 to $855 $285 to $450
Additional $50 Bonus Shipboard Credit

 

7 Night Cruise from Seattle to Alaska
(April 29 departure) w/ perks calculated into fare
Inside Stateroom Ocean View Stateroom Balcony Stateroom Suite Stateroom
Direct $799 $999 $1,299 $1,999
Costco Travel $554-$579 $785-$809 $894-$984 $1,349-$1,474
Cruise.com $629 $869 $1,159 $1,579

The second package we searched for, a 7 night cruise from Seattle to Alaska, reaffirmed the results of the first example. At first it looked like Cruise.com was the cheapest option. However, the generous shipboard credit and $50 bonus led to savings of $50-$265.

As with the previous search, there were similar additional benefits on Cruise.com and Costco Cruises. Also, no option included taxes, fees, and port expenses on either search.

Verdict: Costco wins with savings up to a couple hundred dollars. 

Remember! When booking cruise packages, use Costco Travel. They have lots of added perks that provide great value.

In addition, you can earn points, miles, or cash-back using the Costco credit cards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBarclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ or Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®.

How Do You Book Cruise Packages Through Costco?

Like the vacation packages, cruises can be booked directly through Costco Travel’s website.

1. Start with your desired search, and from there you’ll get the different customization options.

Cruise-package-search-costco-travel

2. Choose from the cruises that match your criteria.

Cruise-package-criteria-costco-travel

3. Choose your stateroom.

Cruise-package-stateroom-costco-travel

4. Choose your stateroom category

Cruise-package-stateroom-category-costco-travel

5. Choose your specific stateroom number.

Cruise-package-stateroom-number-costco-travel

6. Log in and pay.

packages-costco-login

Costco Car Rental

Costco has competitive prices for car rentals and some additional benefits. Drivers from the U.S. get 1 additional driver fee waved with Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, and Avis.

The Costco Car Rental program essentially functions as an aggregator of these 4 car rental companies, so your best bet for getting a great price is to compare with other aggregator sites like Hotwire or Kayak.

car-rental-shutterstock

Hot Tip: Reserve your car rental online rather than via phone to avoid any fees if you need to change or cancel the reservation. Also, you can use a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express in order to gain rental car elite status privileges in specific rental car programs.

Costco Travel Car Rental Insurance

However, one benefit not included is insurance coverage. Booking a Costco rental car doesn’t include any kind of coverage, so when reserving your car be sure to use a credit card that gives primary rental car coverage insurance.

We personally recommend using either The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

How Much Do Costco Car Rentals Cost?

While competitive, Costco rentals aren’t always the cheapest.

Price Comparison (1 week car rental in Seattle)
Costco Travel Kayak Carrentals.com
Economy $385 $358 $348
Compact $384 $370 $350
Intermediate $392 $382 $371
Full-size $412 $395 $378
Luxury $490 $336 $335

Using the chart, it’s easy to see that Costco , though competitive, doesn’t have the cheapest rates. However, the biggest perk is getting an additional driver.

If you need an additional driver (typically around $13 extra per day), then getting your car through Costco Travel will save you the most money. As mentioned above, use specific credit cards to avoid the insurance company coverage fee.

Bottom Line: Use Costco Travel if you need an extra driver, since the additional driver fee is waived with your membership. 

Costco Car rental perks include:

  • No cancellation fees! This is one the greatest benefits of Costco Travel.
  • U.S. drivers get an additional driver fee waived.
  • Extra discounts
  • Possible upgrades

How Do I Book Costco Car Rentals?

The search and booking process is quick and easy for car rentals.

1. Choose your dates and destination for drop off and pick up.

car-rental-search

2. Choose your car from between Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise. Costco Travel will recommend the best value.

car-rental-customize

3. Choose optional equipment.

car-rental-options

4. Review and see if there are any changes you would like to make.

car-rental-review

5. Lastly, log in to your account and pay.

packages-costco-login

Theme Parks and Specialty Locations on Costco Travel

The greatest Costco Travel deals come from their theme park and specialty packages. These featured products include vacation packages for Disney and Universal parks.

Booking flights, hotels, and theme park ticket packages are pain-free, and typically include extra perks like airport transfers to your hotel, resort credit, or breakfast.

On most comparison searches, savings of a few hundred dollars were common. Some of the perks of booking through Costco include savings of up to 20% on Disneyland Resort hotels, fast track passes, or even Disney gift cards of up to $100.

Interestingly enough, Universal Studios Theme Park has a Best Price Guarantee, but Costco is somehow able to give you a lower price. It’s always in the fine print!

Universal’s policy states: “The Best Price Guarantee does not apply to: vacation packages offered through online auction websites, membership programs, corporate discounts, group rates, promotional rates offered for groups including but not limited to Florida Residents, associations, military, government, convention attendees, timeshare tour offers, or promotions not offered by Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations to the general public.”

Here are couple example searches we did using Costco Travel versus booking directly.

EXAMPLE 1

Orlando: Hyatt Regency Orlando Package with Walt Disney World® Tickets

Booked through Costco Travel:

This particular packaged ended up being $2,190.84 including round-trip tickets with American Airlines (Los Angeles to Orlando), 2 adult passes (5 Day Magic Hopper Ticket), a full-size car rental with Budget, and 4 nights at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.

Booked directly:

Item Website Price
Flights from Los Angeles to Orlando American Airlines $438
Accommodation Hyatt Regency Orlando $1,407.22
Car rental Budget $182.60
2 x 5-day tickets with Park Hopper Option Disney World’s website $818
Grand Total   $2,845.82

Verdict – Costco Travel Wins!

$2,845.82 (direct booking) -$2,190.84 (Costco Travel booking) = $654.98 savings

EXAMPLE 2:

Orlando: Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando Package with Universal Orlando Tickets

Booked through Costco Travel:

This particular packaged ended up being $1,194.95 including round-trip tickets with American Airlines (Los Angeles to Orlando), 2 adult passes (3 Day Park-to-Park Ticket), and 4 nights at the Holiday Inn & Suites Across from Universal Orlando.

Booked directly:

Item Website Price
Flights from Los Angeles to Orlando American Airlines $438
Accommodation Holiday Inn $507.39
2 x 3-day Park to Park tickets Universal Orlando $459.98
Grand Total $1,405.37

Verdict – Costco Travel Wins!

$1,405.37 (direct booking) $1,194.95 (Costco Travel booking) = $210.42 savings

*The same parameters were used on both searches including specific flight details, car size, and theme park ticket option for 2 adults between October 1-6, 2016.

Bottom Line: Costco Theme Parks offers the biggest savings and tons of extra perks by saving hundreds of dollars on each package.

How Do You Book Theme Park Packages?

1. Go to the Theme Park & Specialty page and choose which park you’d like to visit. Fill in the flight info (if you’d like to have it booked through Costco Travel).

2. Choose flights.

Vacation-package-flight-costco-travel

3. Select hotel room options.

theme-park-hotels-package

4. Choose and customize your theme park tickets.

theme-park-park-tickets-package

5. Get a shuttle from the airport to the hotel, or choose a car rental.

theme-park-transportation-package

6. Select any additional activities.

theme-park-activities-package

7. Log in to Costco Travel and pay.

packages-costco-login

Costco Travel Hotels

If you already have your vacation or business trips set and simply need hotels, there are 2 hotel groups in Costco Travel Hotels: Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Best Western.

On their hotel section, Costco Members receive 10% off the Hyatt daily rate.

For Best Western bookings, Costco claims that members will save 10% or more on the flexible rate at Best Westerns located in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.

Costco Hotels differs in hotels offered compared to the other competitors. Sam’s Club had a lot more options for accommodations: they work with Wyndam, Westin, and Ritz-Carlton. BJ’s also has their own set of hotel partners.

Hot Tip:  Earn miles, points or cash-back using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardBarclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ or Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®.

How Do You Book Hotels Through Costco?

Booking is straightforward. From the Hyatt site, you can simply go to the Costco Travel website and click the “Book It” button. Then you’ll be redirected back to the Hyatt website with the corporate code and special offer code auto-populated.

On Best Western’s site, simply input your Costco membership number before starting your search.

Comparing Costco Travel to Direct Bookings

EXAMPLE 1

Seattle – Best Western Plus Pioneer Square Hotel September 1-4, 2016

 

Seattle Hotel Best Western Direct Booking

Seattle Hotel Best Western Direct Booking

Verdict – It’s a tie.

Between booking directly with Best Western and using the Costco Membership, there is no difference in price. Both came out to $322.49 per night with 1 king bed and exactly the same prices on the other room options.

EXAMPLE 2

Portland – Best Western Inn at the Meadows September 1-4, 2016

Portland Hotel Costco

Verdict – Costco Travel loses on this one.

They have the same rate as AAA members at $173.09, but Best Western offers a “Multi Night Stay Promotion” that is nearly $30 cheaper per night for huge savings.

Bottom Line: Costco Travel Hotels has the same savings AAA members get versus directly booking. However, they become more expensive when Best Western offers “Multi Night Stay Promotions.

Example 3

Hyatt Comparison – Denver and Seattle Hotels September 1-4, 2016

Hyatt Comparison - Denver and Seattle 2

Hyatt Comparison Denver and Seattle

Verdict – Costco Hotels wins over direct booking.

In this case, a savings of about 10% comes up compared to the standard rate. Again, this savings is exactly the same as the one AAA members receive.

Costco came out a winner on 2 searches: one for a stay in Seattle and another for a stay in Denver. On both, Costco was the lowest price. Using the Costco membership, you typically save a few bucks compared to the advanced purchase, worldwide rate, and standard rate (they claim around the 10% savings over the daily rate).

One thing you may notice with the pricing is the AAA discount. AAA members got the same rates as Costco members, so if you were a member of either you would get the same savings.

Hot Tip: Use the Costco portal when booking Hyatt hotels for a consistent 10% off the daily standard rate. You may also find value in the Chase Hyatt Credit Card, which offers additional value to those staying at Hyatt properties!

Which Credit Cards Can You Use With Costco Travel?

On June 20, 2016, Costco stopped using American Express for payments and switched over to Visa. Below are our recommendations for credit cards to use to get the most out of your points.

Costco Travel Top Tips

  1. Upgrade from the Gold Star level to an Executive membership. Executive members have more perks and are sometimes eligible for various upgrades (hotel room upgrades, cruise ship credits, etc.). On offers, there’s a black Costco Executive Member card icon that signifies these upgrades.
  2. Always shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal, either through Costco or other online travel agencies. This is especially true with car rentals.
  3. The best Costco Travel deals in this particular section came from the occasionally limited-time Kirkland Signature™ departures and destinations. You won’t find these packages anywhere, as Kirkland Signature™ is an exclusive partner of Costco! These are limited-time offers on all-inclusive vacation packages at great prices available only through Costco Travel.
  4. Car rentals: cancel without penalty if you find a better deal. Prices on car rentals change almost daily.
  5. Don’t use the portal for travel airfare, as their offerings are limited and you may not get your miles.
  6. Book vacation packages through Costco when you want their recommended hotel, since they build in extra perks like Costco Cards, resort credit, and shuttle transfers. Otherwise book elsewhere.
  7. Check cruise perks and subtract them from the Costco price, then compare with other sites to see if you’re actually saving.
  8. Search the portal for your travel plans even if you aren’t a member. The search is open to everyone, and if you find savings you can get a membership when it comes time to book.
  9. Speak with customer service. Their team is efficient, courteous, can explain all the fine print, and may save you time by giving you options you hadn’t thought of.
  10. Use Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for the most points.
  11. Never pay with a debit card. Since Costco Travel is a third party, it may take more time to get your money back.

Conclusion

While Costco Travel doesn’t always give you the best value in all travel categories, it still provides a great deal of savings, especially with vacation and theme park packages. Additionally, there are some savings with hotel partners.

Our advice is to put Costco Travel on your radar when shopping for car rentals, cruises, vacation packages, and theme park packages. You’ll often find savings.

Overall, it’s good value without much hassle!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
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Frequently Asked Questions

Are Costco Travel vacation packages refundable?
Generally speaking, most packages are nonrefundable. Any changes on packages will incur fees and affect airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies. Check out the Terms and Conditions for more details.

How can I cancel a Costco Travel purchase?
The terms and conditions outline a lot of nonrefundable aspects. The only cancellation that holds no penalty is for car rentals.

How can I cancel my Costco Travel car rental?
Canceling your car rental is as easy as booking it, and there are no cancellation fees unless you reserved over the phone.

Here’s Costco Travel’s outline of how to do so:

  1. Log in to your Costco Travel account in the top menu bar.
  2. Select the current booking you wish to cancel.
  3. Near the top, click on "Cancel Booking."
  4. Click yes when the pop-up message asks to confirm cancellation.
  5. Confirmation of your cancellation will be emailed to you.
  6. There is no charge for canceling an online rental car reservation.

Are Costco Travel vacations priced per person?
Costco vacation and theme park packages will typically be quoted per package rather than per person. With Costco Cruises, the quotes are per person.

The quotes usually look like this: "per person, double occupancy," meaning that the price is per person and based on 2 people sharing the room or stateroom.

What does Costco Travel insurance cover?
Costco Travel is partnered with Travel Guard Insurance. Travel insurance cannot be directly booked through Costco, and when navigating the portal you will be redirected to the Travel Guard insurance company website.

Also, Adventures by Disney®, Trafalgar, Disneyland® Resort vacation packages, and Lion World Travel are not available through this service provider.

*Note for Canadians: they are partnered with Manulife.

Are Costco Travel packages a good deal?
As outlined in the above article, there are mixed results. The most savings typically come from theme park and cruise packages. Car rentals are great if you need an additional driver since this is one of their added perks.

Rooms at the Hyatt are around 10% off the standard rates, and for flights it’s best to search other travel sites.

How do you use and book with Costco Travel?
Costco Travel makes it easy to book through their website. For vacation packages, theme park packages, cruise packages, and car rentals, you can do all your searches and bookings online.

For hotel bookings, you will be redirected to the Best Western or Hyatt websites.

Is Costco Travel only for Executive Members?
No, Gold Star members can use the service as well. We do recommend upgrading to an Executive membership for added benefits.

Do Costco Travel packages come with airfare?
Packages come with airfare, but we recommend you select the option of not including them. Costco Travel is more limited with choices on flights.

How much can you save with Costco Travel?
Depending on how much you travel on business or with family, there are savings to be had. We’ve done our best to prioritize, below you'll find our list of the best areas for savings with Costco Travel.

Costco Theme Park Packages - In all our searches, Costco was a clear winner versus direct bookings.

On our Orlando Universal trip we would save over $200, and on our Disney World package savings would be over $600. This also doesn't even include the extras you wouldn't get with booking directly, such as kids under 12 eating free and shuttle transfers.

The only thing we didn’t do was search through aggregator sites such as Kayak and Expedia. These sites would likely find a package with flights and hotels and then require an additional purchase of tickets.

Costco Cruises - Again in the 2 searches we did, Costco Cruises came out on top by a couple hundred dollars. When looking at the face value it seems a bit pricier, but Costco had huge shipboard credit which lead hundreds of dollars in savings.

Costco Hotels - Costco hotels usually provide savings; for example, Hyatt truly does give 10% off their daily rate.

The only time savings weren't apparent was on Best Western’s website when there were multi-night stay promos were offered. This isn’t a huge deal, as a quick search on the website displays the best prices in a comparative chart.

Costco Car Rentals - Costco Travel was typically a little bit more expensive (around $20 more per week), but this is easily offset if you need an additional driver. Book through Costco under those conditions, but otherwise look elsewhere.

Costco Vacations - Due to limitations on hotels and specific flight times offered, those looking for more control might do better with online travel agencies.

Do a quick search, and if Costco Travel's recommended hotel is one you’d stay at, then this is your best bet for savings. These recommended packages will typically come with extra perks such as Costco cash cards, daily resort credit, and hotel transfers.

How should I pay for my Costco Travel?
In June 2016, Costco cut its relationship with American Express and switched over to Visa. We recommend using Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards or other Visa cards on this list.

Do I need any payment information to rent a car?
No, a credit card is not required to reserve a car online at Costco Travel.

What credit card is required when I pickup my car rental?
A major credit card must be presented at time of rental pickup. Occasionally during pickup, monetary holds are placed on credit cards for rentals above a certain price. For specific types of cards accepted and inquiries regarding hold amounts, you should contact the car company location directly. (The phone number is listed on your invoice.)

Can I rent a car with a debit card instead of a credit card?
Debit cards are accepted at some locations with specific terms. Please contact the rental location for all information. We never recommend using a debit card for car rentals, since refunds due to cancellations take much longer to process compared to credit cards.

What are the Costco credit cards?
There are two: the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi and Costco Anywhere Business Visa Card by Citi.

When using Costco Travel, you can also earn points by using credit cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠Chase Freedom®Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardCiti Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card, Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardBarclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, and Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard®.

Can I get health insurance through the Costco store?
Yes, however, it is not through the travel portal or in the physical store. Costco has a separate portal at https://www.costcoquote.com/.

Do I need a Costco membership card to use the travel portal?
Yes, to use Costco's services, you will need to be a member. You can sign up for Costco online here.