Sorry, can you repeat that? Costco offers travel? That’s right! The king of savings provides vacation packages and much more through Costco Travel. If you’re due for a vacation, but still budget-conscious, check out our guide below on where you can save money booking a car rental, vacation packages, or cruises. Costco Travel makes planning a vacation easy. We’ve done the leg work and assembled top tips on how to save more through. Read on to find out how.
Founded in 1976 by Sol and Robert Price under the name Price Club, Costco is a members-only warehouse club. Starting life serving business-customers and a limited number of non-business members, their first warehouse was a converted airplane hangar in San Diego.
Meanwhile, in 1983, James Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman opened the world’s first Costco warehouse in Seattle. It quickly grew to become the first company to grow to $3 billion in sales in less than six years.
Price Club and Costco merged in 1993 and was re-branded as PriceCostco, which was changed back to Costco in 1997. The Costco brand has continued to increase in popularity by keeping costs down and passing the savings to their members.
If you’re not in on the action already, becoming a Costco member couldn’t be simpler, and you can start saving straight away.
Types of Membership
Costco offers two levels of membership, Gold Star and Gold Star Executive. Each membership comes with a range of benefits and allows you to shop at Costco stores, online, or through Costco Travel. Here is a rundown of the membership choices:
Cost: $60 (plus sales tax)
Active: 12 months
Benefits: One free household card, Worldwide validity
Gold Star Executive
Cost: $120 (plus sales tax)
Active: 12 months
Benefits: One free household card, Worldwide validity, Annual 2% reward on eligible Costco and Costco Travel Purchases. Extra benefits on Select Costco Services.
What is a Household Card?
With any membership through Costco, cardholders receive one free household card. This allows anyone over the age of 18 who lives at the member’s address, to share your Costco membership. Not only is this great for larger families who share the chore of shopping, but it saves tons of money, as you don’t have to pay for each membership.
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Good News for Students and Veterans
The savings don’t stop there. If you’re a student, signing up with Costco nets you a $20 Costo Cash Card. To receive this promotion, students must sign up for UNiDAYS and follow the instructions.
Not only do students benefit, members of the military, veterans, retired military members, plus spouses and dependents, receive coupons, freebies and other savings with a value of more than $60 upon registration.
How to Join
You can become a Costco member in two ways, online or in-store. To sign up online, select the membership you want and add it to your cart. You will pay for it on checkout, and then receive an email with your Costco membership number. Take this number to your local Costco store to collect your cards. To sign up in-store, visit the membership kiosk and speak to a store clerk.
Now that you’re a member of the exclusive Costco club, and saving on a wide range of essentials in store, it’s time to start saving on your next vacation as well. If you’ve ever seen the promotions in-store, Costco runs Costco Travel which sells travel packages at a discount to Costco members. Let’s check out what it’s all about.
About Costco Travel
Costco cares about its members saving money on everyday essentials, but they also want residents to enjoy low cost packaged vacations. Costco Travel uses its money-saving knowledge to put together some excellent packages for families, groups, couples, and lone travelers, all without breaking the bank.
So, how does Costco travel work? Set up by trained travel professionals, their wide range of packages are sure to include one that suits your budget and style, with enough extras to make your vacation the trip of a lifetime. This next section gives detailed information about their website and what they offer.
How Good are the Discounts?
The same as most travel agencies, discounts are offered on selected package deals and vary according to the location, time of booking, and amount spent. The good thing about Costco Travel is they display their offers as you choose each part of your trip. For example, when you select your destination, some hotels come with an added Costco Cash Card.
If you want to save more, sign up for an Executive Membership. You can earn an annual 2% Reward on Costco Travel purchases. The award is added to your membership after your travel is completed (around 4-6 weeks) so you can save the next time you book.
An overview of discounts available:
- Limited-time travel savings (updated regularly)
- Complimentary Disney World MagicBands
- Extra Disney World Magic Hours
- Resort gift cards
- Costco Cash Cards
- Rental car upgrades
- Children stay free (terms and conditions apply)
- Complimentary hotel extras
- Bonus experiences
- and more!
If this extensive list interests you and you’re ready to start saving some serious cash, check out how you can save the most money for your ultimate vacation.
Package deals combine everything essential to your trip into one handy booking, taking the leg work out of it. Costco offers packages that include hotels, flights, car rental, and unique experiences.
You have the choice to remove the car rental and opt for airport transfers if you’re not planning on using a car. If you’re after a package deal, Costco Travel has 13 destinations for you to choose from:
- Cook Islands
- Costa Rica
- Guided Vacations
- Las Vegas
- Theme Parks
- Additional Destinations
Once you’ve made your choice, select the region. The region helps the website decide which airport is the closest to your hotel so you can spend the most time relaxing, rather than on the road.
A Quick Test
To test the site, we entered travel dates up to 18 months in advance, and surprisingly there were already several results, including flights, for this far in the future. To make sure you’re getting the best choice of available dates, hotels, and flights, we recommend sticking to a maximum of 12 months in advance. Alternatively, book no less than one month before the desired date of your trip.
The closer you are to your date of travel, the higher the prices are for flights, so you could end up saving a lot less than you intend if you wait. Once you’ve figured out your preferred dates, you’re shown an availability screen with packages you can choose from heading to your chosen destination.
Remember This Tip
Something to note: Unlike most travel sites, you don’t have the option to sort the results by cost. Costco has sorted the results by their recommended packages, which they claim features the best travel deals they have on offer.
If you have a strict budget in mind, make sure to check out the entire list of results, or you could end up missing a once in a lifetime holiday without realizing it.
What if You’re Unsure on Your Destination?
We’ve all been there. Sitting at your tedious job, dreaming of a vacation, but you’re unsure where to go. Perhaps you’ve never been abroad before and aren’t sure what you like, or maybe you’re unsure the best match for your circumstances.
Fear not, Costco Travel makes your life more comfortable with a popular interests section. It shows you what kind of packages can you buy based on your vacation preferences.
For example, if you’re on a tight budget, Costco Travel offers a list of packages that cost $499 per person or less. This doesn’t mean you have to cut your holiday short; there’s even some 7-night options thrown in and even luxury cruises!
Going the extra mile for their members, Costco has also retained its additional bonuses. Depending on which package you select, there are options to claim a Cash Card, Tour Credit, and much more.
Don’t have much time for a full vacation but still need an escape? You can get the long weekend break you deserve with featured deals on weekend escapes. Whether you’re prepared to travel abroad to soak up the sun on the sand in Los Cabos or prefer something closer to home in Florida, Costco Travel has the package for you.
Keep your kids happy with all-inclusive resorts offering free kids clubs and nightly entertainment. You’ll also be keeping your purse strings happy, thanks to “kids stay free” dates.
Las Vegas Deals
Alternatively, you could be looking to escape to Las Vegas and take in the sights while enjoying the Las Vegas Strip’s neon light show and famous casinos. Receive food and beverage credits, mini-bar credits, and hotel upgrades, all depending on the date you travel.
If you’re the romantic type, booking a surprise getaway to a picturesque location couldn’t be easier. Costco Travel’s Romantic Getaways are perfect for couples young and old, with stunning accommodation options to make your trip perfect.
Costco realizes romantic breaks should be enjoyed from start to finish. That’s why they offer exclusive VIP departure lounge upgrades, tour credits, and adult-only resorts so you can treat each other like royalty throughout your stay. Whether you want somewhere with a bustling nightlife or a relaxing, quiet beach holiday, they’ve got you covered.
Customized for You
Don’t worry if you don’t fall into these categories, and are looking for something a little more up your alley. Costco Travel professionals have done their best to consider every customer. Whether you’re after family-friendly fun, exotic travel, member recommended options, all-inclusive resorts or adult escapes; you won’t be disappointed with the inspiration provided.
Costco Travel also offers flights, but you have to book them as part of a vacation package or hotel + flight option. Although this choice is designed to make their member’s lives easier when booking a trip, it doesn’t always provide the best value. To get the best value out of your flights, try the following tips:
Search in secret
If you’ve been on the hunt for a vacation online, chances are you have noticed flight prices fluctuating since you began your search. Crafty search engines track your search history and can increase rates. Although this isn’t the case for Costco Travel, as they use specific airlines, you may run into this if you continue your search elsewhere. As such, it’s always best to browse in incognito or private browsing to stop any sneaky price hikes.
Choose the cheapest day to fly
With plenty of flight price conspiracy theories out there, you’ve probably come across the one about booking a flight on a Tuesday to save the most money. While there isn’t an optimum day or date that will provide the best flight prices available, flying mid-week does tend to lower the costs. Costco Travel allows you to amend your travel dates to see if the price drops for a different travel date.
Book using a travel rewards credit card
If you’re a savvy shopper, you may have read our earlier travel guide on airline loyalty programs and frequent flyer miles. By booking your holiday using a travel reward credit card, you will earn points along with your purchase. Additionally, by flying with an airline within an airline alliance, you can rack up even more points toward your next trip. Costco Travel uses 25 airlines, check them out here.
Use a budget airline
Budget airlines offer much cheaper flights than the well-known names of the flight industry. Although you can’t directly choose your airline through Costco, researching the other companies headed to your destination can be surprisingly helpful. Budget airlines that Costco Travel use are: Air Transat, Air New Zealand, and Aer Lingus. Baggage fees may apply – check the airline’s website for more information.
Flights always increase in price the nearer you get to the departure date. This is why, if you have the option to plan your vacation, book as soon as possible. Airlines tend to offer cheaper flights further away from the date of departure to help achieve a full airplane. This is typical in Europe and Australia, so try and book as quickly as you can.
The hotels available through Costco Travel aren’t as extensive as other booking websites, but they do accommodate many needs with their facilities, room options, and deals. The good news is, all prices shown on Costco Travel include tax, so you don’t get a shock when you reach the booking page. Costco wants you to enjoy your experience at a fraction of the cost. To help achieve this, they teamed up with some big names in the hotel industry, including Fairmont, Hyatt, and Swissotel to bring you an unforgettable and luxurious experience.
If you’re only after a hotel, you can choose hotel + flight and still receive the same high savings and customer service without a package deal. Costco Travel offers rooms through Hyatt, Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel. If you prefer a more extensive choice of hotels, you will need to book a vacation package. Bookings can be made up to 365 days in advance, so you have plenty of dates to select.
Interested in exploring a wide area during your hotel stay? Costco even allows you to book a rental car along with your hotel and flight, perfect for all the exciting day trips any vacation needs.
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If you’re not bothered by being trapped at sea with hundreds of strangers, Costco Travel allows you to book a cruise. Not only do they offer incredible prices, but they may even price match if you find a better deal for the same cruise after booking.
The initial cost of the cruise is per person. It will include the value of the cabin, complimentary meals, and beverages (if applicable), onboard entertainment and use of the onboard amenities. You will receive an itinerary of the ports of call to give you ample time to plan your days onshore.
Costco offers cruise-only options, which require you to plan your arrival and departure from the port accordingly. However, you may have the choice to add transfers to selected destinations. You can arrange flights through Costco Travel to some cruise ports. They become available after you have chosen your cabin.
All About the Experience
In true Costco Travel style, extras are available on most ships and include specialty dining, a la carte menus, laundry, shore excursions, spa treatments, transfers, and more. Extra fees are on the cruise line’s website or onboard. To make the experience more enjoyable, on selected cruises, you can receive a Costco Cash Card, Shipboard Credit, reduced deposits, and other bonuses. These bonuses can also be picked up on last-minute cruises so even the most spontaneous customers won’t miss out.
Check-in is simple; if you’re feeling super organized, you can check-in online up to 90 days in advance via the cruise line’s website. If you’re a traditionalist and want to book when you arrive, registration is also available at the cruise port. If you choose this, please allow 3-4 hours ahead of the departure time.
Is it Cheaper to Book a Cruise Through Costco?
This all depends on your preference, time of booking, and membership. It’s worth remembering that Costco does not offer flights from all airlines. So if you need to book flights as part of your trip, consider searching for separate flights to get the best deal.
The excellent news with Costco is they offer the same price as shown on the cruise line website. That means you don’t have to worry about other travel agents hiking rates.
What’s the Price Range?
Again, this all depends on what cruise you choose and the number of people within your party. Prices can range from $60 – $1000+ per person for the duration of the cruise. The cruise lines vary from budget end to more luxurious lines as well as Disney Cruises.
An Example Cruise Search
Searching for cruises in April 2020, the cheapest we found was a two-night cruise from Sydney to Brisbane, Australia for $189 per person. This includes Shipboard credit for spending on food and drink, along with any other onboard entertainment.
Based on two adults sharing on the Sun Princess (Princess Cruises) in an inside stateroom cabin, the total price was $448 (without any sales taxes or flights included). It’s hard to beat that bargain if you want to add an extra touch of class to your Australian getaway.
Costco Cruises – Yay or Nay?
If you’ve never been on a cruise before, Costco may not be the best choice. You’ll more than likely want a little support with how to go about booking your trip. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information provided on the destinations to help make a decision. Without the explanation of booking transfers to and from the port separately, it can quickly leave you confused. Otherwise, they offer excellent value and are worth checking out when you conduct your next vacation search.
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Once you’re on the ground, transportation is a must, why not travel in style with your own private rental? Rental cars are included when you book a packaged trip, or you can simply add them to a hotel and flight booking. If this is option sounds right to you, the four companies CostcoTravel deal with are; Budget, AVIS, Enterprise, and Alamo.
Quick Rental Price Check
To check if it was cheaper to rent through Costco, we priced up a simple car rental from Orlando International Airport, for pick up and drop off in mid-June 2020. Costco Travel had one option available on this date, through Budget, which was an economy car (Ford Fiesta or similar).
It came to a total cost of $310.30, which included 30% off. After searching Budget’s website, using the same dates and criteria, the total cost was $250. Budget often offers discounts for paying early or through other seasonal deals.
Before considering booking a hire car through Costco Travel, double-check other car hire websites for comparison and see if you can save further.
Theme Parks and More
If you’re booking the holiday of a lifetime, Costco Travel offers fun-packed vacations to theme parks, safaris, and other entertaining excursions. They currently offer the following products:
Types of Experiences
- Walt Disney World Resort – including Walt Disney World Resort Tickets
- Universal Orlando Resort – including park hopper options
- Disneyland Resort Vacations
- Adventures by Disney
- Trafalgar Worldwide Guided Vacations
- African Safaris
- Luxury Gold Worldwide Collection
- Contiki (18-35s)
- Brendan Vacations (Ireland and Scotland)
- CostSaver (Value range)
Check out this section for all the currently offered options, including park tickets and Costco membership perks such as Cash Cards and free kid’s places. It’s always best to research here before checking out the main package page to see if you can get more for your hard-earned cash.
How to Save the Most Money
We’ve seen how efficient Costco Travel is at saving their members money on their next vacation, but is there any way you can save further? By following the tips below, you could conserve a lot more and make your trip even more memorable.
Pair with a Costco Executive Membership
If you’re a regular Costco shopper, spending an extra $60 a year on an Executive membership could save a lot more money in the long run. To receive the $60 you spent to upgrade back, all you would need to spend around $3,000 a year, or $250 a month with Costco. Even better, if you’re booking a holiday, you will be able to make this up in no time!
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Combine Your Savings with a Credit Card
Increase your savings further by pairing your Executive membership with a travel rewards credit card. We have an extensive section on loyalty cards which is worth taking a look at, but please remember Costco only accepts Visa cards. If you want to take the hassle out of looking for a credit card that will work with Costco Travel, you can apply for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. In addition to your 2% reward from your Executive membership, you can earn 3% cashback rewards on Costco Travel purchases when you use the Costco Anywhere Visa. You can also receive the following:
- 4% on eligible gas for your first $7,000 a year
- 3% on restaurants
- 2% on all other Costco purchases (Costco stores and online)
- 1% on all other purchases
Not only this, your credit card will automatically pay for and renew your Costco membership each year, saving you time.
Fly with Budget Airlines Where Possible
Costco has a small selection of flight operators compared to other travel sites, but they do offer budget airlines, which will bring your overall cost down. If you missed it, check out our flight’s section for more information.
Book in Advance
Hotels and airlines like to fill up their rooms and seats in record time, as that’s how they know they ensure continued operation. To make this more appealing to their customers, they sometimes offer cheaper flights and hotel rates to the “early birds” who book up months in advance.
Do Your Research
Like other booking sites, Costco offers a wide range of benefits for its customers, but it may not always be the best deal. Optional extras such as car rentals or trip protection can sometimes be bought cheaper elsewhere, so be sure to compare prices before you buy. Also, packages and cruises are sometimes less expensive on an operator’s website, so always check this out first. But be sure to remember, Costco Travel offers a price match on cruises if you can find them cheaper after your booking (terms and conditions apply).
Summing It Up
Costco Travel provides a great selection of packaged vacations, cruises, and hotel and flight bookings for its members. Any regular Costco customers with an eligible credit card could be doing themselves a massive favor by booking trips via Costco Travel.
On the other hand, Costco only offers a small range of deals, and you must book your flights through them to complete your purchase. This is something to consider should you want to fly with a particular airline, or if you can find it significantly cheaper elsewhere.
Have you booked a holiday through Costco Travel? Let us know what you think!
Can You Book Costco Travel Without a Costco Membership?
No, to proceed with the booking, you need to be a Costco member.
Does Costco Offer AAA Discounts?
No, only a Costco membership number will allow you to book through Costco Travel.
Can You Purchase Costco Travel for Someone Who is Not a Costco Member?
As long as the person making the booking is a Costco member, you can add non-members to your booking.
Payment and Booking
Does Costco Travel Allow Payment Plans?
Your travel dates determine your final payment date. For vacation packages, your final payment is due 45 days before travel. For cruises, your final payment is due 104 -134 days before the trip (depending on the cruise line). You can view your last payment date under the “Payment Details” section on your itinerary.
Does Costco Travel Price Include Resort Fees?
No, unless otherwise stated in the terms and conditions listed on your itinerary. You can check if the resort fees are included by clicking on additional information when selecting your hotel. This will also show you if you had a fee waived.
Can You Book Flights Separately?
No, at this time, Costco does not offer airfare on its own.
Can UK-Resident Costco Members Book Vacations?
Costco Travel does have a UK site. But at this time, there is only car rental available through Alamo, Enterprise, and Hertz.
What if I Need Help During or After Booking?
Costco has knowledgeable travel advisors that can help you through the booking process and even after the purchase is complete.
Costco Cash Card
Where Can You Use Costco Cash Cards?
You can apply Costco Cash Cards toward the payment of vacation packages to the Caribbean, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Europe, Fiji, Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Mexico, and Tahiti. You cannot apply them toward the payment of cruises, rental cars, Disneyland® Resort packages, guided vacations, or any other vacation products.
Also, Costco Cash Cards may be used to purchase merchandise or gas at any Costco warehouse in the United States, or for online purchases at Costco.com.
Does Costco Offer Travel Insurance?
No, Costco does not currently offer travel insurance although you can purchase Travel Guard Trip Protection which protects your booking against unforeseen circumstances.
Can You Use a Costco Gift Card Without a Membership?
Yes, a gift card acts as a membership.
Does Costco Offer any Deals on Airport Parking Reservations?
Not currently, only car rentals through a limited number of operators and pick up and drop off locations.