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I Cut My Hotel Price in Half Using Costco Travel and Still Earned Solid Travel Rewards

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

Brett Holzhauer

Content Contributor

19 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: Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

349 Published Articles 54 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 28U.S. States Visited: 29

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...

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When you’re a seasoned points and miles fan, it can become a ritual to simply book all your flights and hotel directly through the airline or hotel brand. This is typically more beneficial than not, as you earn loyalty status and also get direct customer service if something goes wrong.

But occasionally, I’ve found it to be beneficial to book through Costco Travel. Although I typically use this service for rental cars only, I’ve found some solid value in the last few months by using Costco’s all-in-one travel portal.

Here’s what you need to know about how I saved money through Costco Travel for my upcoming Mexico trip.

Costco Travel Remains a Staple in My Toolbelt

It’s shocking to me when I tell people about Costco Travel since many people don’t even know it’s a benefit. While it’s not always the best route to go, it’s a great resource to keep in mind when you’re looking for the best deal for your next trip.

On the platform, you can book hotels, rental cars, cruises, and theme park-related getaways, and you don’t need a membership to look through the website to see the available deals. However, you do need a membership (or a friend with a membership) to book through Costco Travel.

Hot Tip:

If you find a Costco Travel deal worth booking and aren’t a member, simply ask a friend or family member with a Costco membership for their login. I’ve booked rental cars, cruises, and hotels for friends and family through Costco Travel plenty of times with no issue at all. The entire booking can be in someone else’s name, and if you have an Executive Membership, you will earn 2% back to your yearly membership reward.

Regardless of how or where you travel, Costco Travel is worth playing around with, as there can be some great deals.

How I Saved Money Through Costco Travel

Although I recently wrote about how travel prices really haven’t jumped all that much when adjusted for inflation, seeing larger numbers never sits well psychologically. To add insult to injury, I’ve been pretty “points broke,” so I found myself using cash rather than credit card rewards for my recent travels.

Costco storefront
Image Credit: Alastair Wallace via Shutterstock

When an opportunity came up to book a nice 5-day getaway in Cancun (a short 1.5-hour flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida), I jumped right at it. But wow, some of these hotels are charging absurd prices. So I did some digging and found an incredible deal through Costco Travel. Here’s how the numbers shake out for a 5-night stay at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and how much it would be if I booked directly through Marriott.

Booking Through Costco Travel

For a 5-night stay for 2 people at the JW Marriott Cancun, I paid $1,905.71, or $381 per night. It was still a bit pricey, but there’s more to take into account.

When booking travel through Costco Travel, you will likely see several promotions or discounts that further incentivize you to book through their portal. And this deal was no different.

Costco Travel Marriott Deal
Image Credit: Costco Travel

For this deal, I’m getting the following perks:

  • A $112 Costco gift card
  • Private transportation to and from the airport
  • $50 daily resort credit during the stay
  • $50 spa credit

For the sake of this example, I won’t be counting the resort and spa credits, as booking through Marriott offers the same benefit. But I figure that a $112 Costco Gift Card is essentially a cash rebate. And since I have a Costco Executive Membership, I will earn 2% back on the purchase price, or $38 back. So my out-the-door cost for this stay is $1,755.

For the $1,905 purchase, I used my Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which earns 3x per $1 spent on travel (and select business categories up to the first $150,000 spent each year), netting me 5,715 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. At a 2 cents per point valuation, that’s an additional $114 in value for my next trip.

The way I see it, I paid $1,755 for this trip and earned some valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards along the way.

Booking Through Marriott

Here’s the sticker shock if I were to have booked through Marriott directly for the same room. For the same 5-night stay when booking direct, I would have paid double — $4,036.

Marriott Hotel Cancun Pricing
Image Credit: Marriott

This is for the Transportation Package in Cancun, and while it may say $3,315 for the stay, it slyly adds in the government taxes and fees at checkout, bringing the total to just over $4,000.

Marriott Cancun Pricing
Image Credit: Marriott

This package comes with roughly the same benefits that Costco Travel was offering, with resort and spa credits and transportation to and from the airport. However, it doesn’t come with the Costco gift card.

But, if I were to book directly with Marriott, I would earn 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 — earning me 40,360 Marriott points. And if I used my Ink Business Preferred card for this purchase as well, I would earn 12,108 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. With our points valuation, this would be $282 and $242 in earned value, respectively.

So, with all factors considered, including the rewards I would earn booking the trip, I would have paid $3,512 — double what I paid going through Costco.

The only benefit I would get booking through Marriott and not Costco Travel is earning toward Marriott elite status. But as I rarely stay at Marriott properties and don’t have status, it wasn’t part of my consideration.

Final Thoughts

Like any purchase you make today, it’s worth shopping around to see if there are better deals out there. Although it may pain you to make a third-party booking where you can’t take advantage of your loyalty status benefits, your wallet will thank you later. With all that money saved, you can definitely afford an extra hot dog on your next trip to Costco.

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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