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The Best Rental Car Booking Hack That Nearly Everyone Has Access To

Brett Holzhauer's image
Brett Holzhauer
Brett Holzhauer's image

Brett Holzhauer

Content Contributor

52 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 22U.S. States Visited: 29

Brett is a personal finance and travel junkie. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, he's had over 100 credit cards and earned millions of credit card rewards.
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Booking a rental car can be confusing and overwhelming. Travelers can reserve with a rental car agency, a third-party booking service like Kayak, or even a credit card travel portal.

But there’s an even better way that I’ve found that millions of Americans have access to, yet may not utilize: Costco Travel.

With over 132 million members in the U.S. alone, you (or someone you know) likely have a Costco membership, which gives you full access to the Costco Travel portal. While you can book various travel through the portal, I’ve found Costco Travel rental cars offer the smoothest booking process and save me money compared to other booking platforms.

So if you need a rental car soon and have a Costco membership, here’s how you can save compared to other rental car booking platforms.

How To Book Rental Cars Through Costco Travel

Like airline prices, rental car prices are rolling back as consumers have more options. Since a spike in 2021 as inflation roared, rental car prices are down nearly 30%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis¹. Pricing remains roughly the same as they were in Aug. 2015.

However, Costco Travel reflects the Costco in-store experience: no frills, user-friendly, and straight-forward.

To start, visit the Costco Travel website here, and you’ll find this home screen. Click the rental car tab, and you will be prompted to enter your dates and pick-up information.

Costco Rental Car Webpage
You can book hotels, cruises, vacation packages, and rental cars. Image Credit: Costco Travel

From there, you will be presented several options from types of cars, price points, and rental car agencies.

Costco Rental Car Search Page
You’ll see common rental car companies offered here. Image Credit: Costco Travel

I typically select the cheapest option. However, if you’re looking for a specific vehicle, there is a long list of options to choose from, from compact cars to premium SUVs to luxury cars. Each pickup location offers different vehicle types, so be sure to shop around.

Once you find a car you want, you’ll need to opt for any optional equipment on the additional add-on page.

Costco Rental Car Options
I never need any of these optinos. Image Credit: Costco Travel

After that, you will be offered the opportunity to upgrade your vehicle, and you will be asked to confirm your booking. When you book through Costco Travel, you don’t need to pay for the car until you book it. So keep this in mind if you’re trying to meet a credit card spending minimum for a new welcome bonus.

Finally, once you finalize your booking, you’re good to go. You will pick your rental car up the same exact way. However, the real benefits of booking your rental car through Costco can follow afterward.

Hot Tip:

Scroll the entire page when you search for a rental car through Costco. Occasionally, a nicer vehicle may only be marginally more expensive (sometimes less) than the base level. In this search, the jump from a compact car to a premium car was only $50.

Why You Should Book Rental Cars Through Costco

Costco membership can be the gift that keeps on giving. Here are a few more benefits of booking a rental car through Costco:

  • Executives Save: If you have a Costco Executive membership, you will earn an additional 2% back on your annual cash back rewards on all Costco Travel bookings.
  • Add a Driver: You can add an additional driver to the reservation at no extra cost.
  • Unlimited Mileage: All Costco rental cars come with unlimited miles.
  • Flexible Booking: If you need to cancel at any time, you can do so with no fees.

The last benefit is the best: you can book travel for other people, even if they don’t have a Costco membership. I book travel for my grandparents occasionally on my Costco card with no issue.

In this one example alone, booking with Costco Travel rather than Alamo directly results in a 25% savings for the same compact car. Here’s how the numbers shake out for a Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) car rental reservation from September 14 to 21.

  • Costco Travel booking with Alamo: $475.44
  • Alamo directly: $637.19

This doesn’t include the 2% savings if you have an Executive membership with Costco, shaving another $10 off the final price.

Hot Tip:

There are several great credit cards for Costco purchases. However, when booking a rental car, be sure to use a card with excellent rental car coverage, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Final Thoughts

Costco offers its members an incredible amount of value, but for maximum value, you should use the perks they offer. Beyond the shopping I do there, I’ve booked through Costco Travel (like my recent Cancun trip) and the many rental cars I’ve booked.

As such, my Costco membership has become a valuable part of how I book travel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you get Costco points from Costco Travel?

There are no Costco points to earn. However, you can earn cash back if you have a Costco Executive membership.

What are the benefits of booking with Costco Travel?

You can save money and get benefits you may not otherwise get by booking directly or with another third-party service.

Do I get Marriott points if I book through Costco?

Unfortunately, you won’t earn any loyalty points when you book a Marriott hotel through Costco Travel.

Brett Holzhauer's image

About Brett Holzhauer

Brett is a personal finance and travel junkie. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, he’s had over 100 credit cards and earned millions of credit card rewards. He learned the tricks of the trade from his mom, and has taken many steps forward. He wasn’t exposed to much travel as a kid, but now has a goal of reaching 100 countries in his life. In 2019, he sold all of his possessions to become a digital nomad, and he says it was one of the best decisions he ever made. He plans to do it again at some point in his life.

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