There's a lot more to Costco than free samples and bulk groceries. Here's a guide to the best travel perks at Costco and how to get the best deal.
Advertisement

Costco's known for its bulk groceries as well as gas, prescription glasses, electronics, free samples—and your next vacation. That's right! Add flights, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages to the long list of benefits available to Costco members. With post-pandemic travel demand causing prices to rise, it's worth looking at options to save money on travel.

"Costco has pre-negotiated rates with hotels, car rental companies, [and] tours...so by booking through them, you're using their bulk rates to save," said Alex Miller, founder and CEO of the travel site UpgragedPoints. Since Costco partners with many top airlines and hotels, members can have a luxurious and fun vacation without breaking the bank. Costco travel also features cruises, all-inclusive vacation packages, and more to U.S. and international destinations.

All you need is a Costco membership—the $60 per year Gold Star, or the Gold Star Executive, which is $120 annually with a 2 percent cash-back reward on purchases made though Costco travel. Here is what you need to know about booking travel through Costco, and how to maximize your savings.

1 Compare deals for services and packages with other vendors.

Yes, Costco offers great deals on travel—but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do your research. Before booking travel with Costco, comparison-shop for better deals on hotels and flights elsewhere. Travel blogger Christine Le, owner of the Luxury Under Budget blog, recommends checking the Costco hotel package first, and then the hotel and flight package to see how much extra the flights cost. Next, see if it's cheaper to book the flight directly through the airline or through Costco. This way, you can ensure you're getting the best deal.

"When I searched for a five-day trip to Hawaii on Costco, it cost $1700 for flight and hotel for two people, while [the] hotel package alone was only $990," said Le. She discovered that Alaska Airlines had tickets to Hawaii on sale for $99 one-way, and booked her flights through them instead. "Booking the Costco hotel package and flight separately saved me $300 more than booking the hotel and flight package," Le explained. Do your research and don't be afraid to mix-and-match your travel deals to get the best possible rates.

2 Costco packages may include exclusive perks.

Many Costco vacation packages include exclusive perks—credits for food and drinks, massages, or excursions—that can save you money and make your trip more enjoyable. Offers like cabana and tour credits give you the most bang for your buck without additional fees.

"Costco offers one of the best travel benefits and accommodations," said Elizabeth Hicks, co-founder of parenting platform, ParentingNerd. Hicks booked a seven-day vacation for two to London and Paris through Costco that cost $5000; including flights, spacious rooms, and $400 to $500 in credit. "It came with a three-course dinner for me and my friend. We could also order free champagne after evening," added Hicks. And that's not all: Their hotel in Paris included a daily breakfast buffet.

3 Booking a rental car through Costco can save you money.

If you're planning on driving and exploring on your trip, consider using Costco's rental car services. Torben Lonne, cofounder of the travel and diving gear review guide, DiveIn, said he recently saved big on a car rental by booking through Costco.

"Thanks to Costco travel, I was able to rent a medium-sized SUV for 10 days for only $240," stated Lonne. Hicks said she saved $300 by renting an SUV through Costco on her family's trip to London last year. Increased travel demand has forced rental car prices up, so it's a good idea to shop around for budget-friendly options. Since Costco partners with all major car rental companies, it can help you find the best offer.

4 Costco travel can save you time and hassle.

If you're the type who plans a vacation with all the logistics figured out, booking travel through Costco may be the way to go. "Booking through Costco is very similar to using a travel agent," said Miller. "They'll book the elements you need, and you'll receive a reservation or booking number which you give to the car rental company, hotel, etc.," he explained.

By taking care of logistics—such as airport transfers, rental cars, and tour credits—ahead of time, you can save money and make your vacation a lot more relaxing. Plus, according to the Costco travel site, the price you're quoted includes taxes and service fees, so you know exactly what you'll pay. While prices and savings can vary based on destination, Costco travel is worth considering for competitive, inclusive deals on your next trip.