Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - How Costco Travel Works
Costco Travel is a great option for booking everything from flights and hotels to cruises and rental cars. As a Costco member, you get access to exclusive deals and perks that can save you a bundle on your next trip. But how exactly does Costco Travel work and why is it so popular?
The first thing to know is that Costco Travel is only available to current Costco members. You must have an active membership in order to book travel through their site or call center. The great thing is you don’t have to pay any extra membership fees just for Costco Travel. It’s included as part of your regular warehouse membership.
Once you have a Costco membership, you can access Costco Travel online or by phone. Their travel agents are available 24/7 to help you research, plan, and book any aspect of your trip. The Costco Travel site also gives you the ability to compare prices on thousands of hotels, cruises, rental cars, and vacation packages. You’ll be able to see side-by-side pricing and amenities for different travel options.
One of the best perks of booking through Costco Travel is the exclusive member pricing you’ll receive. Costco has negotiated with travel suppliers, hotels, cruise lines, etc. to offer lower rates that aren’t publicly available elsewhere. You could end up saving 10-20% or more compared to other online travel sites.
For example, a 7-night Caribbean cruise might be priced at $900 per person on Expedia but just $750 per person on Costco Travel. The same cruise, same dates, same cabin but at a discounted member rate. This applies to hotel rates, car rentals, and vacation packages too.
In addition to lower prices, Costco Travel sweetens the deal by including extras like shipboard credits for cruises, resort credits for vacation packages, free breakfasts for hotel bookings, and more. These little perks add up, especially for families.
When you combine the exclusives rates and extra amenities, it’s easy to see why Costco Travel is so popular among members. Families in particular can score amazing deals on vacations, often saving $1000+ for a one week trip. Even solo travelers can benefit from Costco's bulk buying power.
However, it’s important to note that Costco Travel doesn’t offer prices on every airline or every small independent hotel. You’ll get the lowest rates on major airlines, hotel chains, and cruise lines that partner with Costco. For more obscure travel arrangements, you may find better deals elsewhere.
What else is in this post?
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - How Costco Travel Works
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Price Comparison on Costco Travel
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Hotel Selection
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Car Rentals
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Booking Flights on Costco Travel
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Cruise Deals
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Packages
- Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Tips for Booking with Costco Travel
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Price Comparison on Costco Travel
One of the best features of Costco Travel is the ability to easily compare prices across thousands of hotels, flights, rental cars and more. As a member, you have access to Costco's discounted rates that are not publicly advertised elsewhere. This gives you an insider's advantage when booking travel.
For example, say you wanted to book a family vacation package to Hawaii. You would first browse Costco's packages to Hawaii to view options across multiple islands. You can filter by date, island, hotel brand and more to tailor options to your needs. Costco displays a nightly price breakdown, resort credits included, combined price for hotel + flights, and any additional perks.
This transparency in pricing is hugely valuable when comparing Costco's offerings. You can then take those vacation package prices and compare them to packages on Expedia, Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations and others. I compared a 5-night Maui vacation package on Costco and Apple Vacations for the exact same hotel, room type and flights. Costco's price was $400 lower for 2 adults and 2 kids!
The same goes for booking individual hotel nights - you'll often find rates 10-20% lower than the price for the same room on Hotels.com or Booking.com. Costco Travel has insider pricing for major hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt as well as resort companies like Sandals and Beaches.
For car rentals, you can compare Costco's rates to those on rental company websites and third party sites. I priced out a mid-size SUV rental in LA and found Costco's rate to be $20 cheaper for the week compared to the rental company's own website. That's because Costco has negotiated lower pricing that they pass onto members.
The comparison shopping also works well for cruises. Costco offers exclusive onboard credits, beverage packages and reduced deposits. I compared a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Costco and Royal Caribbean's site directly. Costco had the same interior room for $150 less per person due to an extra onboard credit. Plus Costco had a $100 lower deposit.
The only area where Costco doesn't always win on price is on airfare. Since they don't have contracts with every airline, you may find cheaper fares directly on airline sites or third party search engines like Google Flights, Kayak and Skyscanner if booking individually. But for vacation packages, Costco bundles discounted airfare rates on partner airlines like Delta, American and United.
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Hotel Selection
One of the best parts of booking hotels through Costco is the wide selection of major hotel brands and resort chains available. Costco has contracts with all the big players - think Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, Wyndham, Sandals and Beaches. This gives you tons of options whether you want an all-inclusive beachfront resort or business hotel in the city.
I’m a huge fan of how easy Costco makes it to compare hotel options across different brands all in one place. You can filter searches by destination, neighborhood, hotel name, star rating, guest rating and more. This is so much easier than toggling between different brand sites!
Costco also provides plenty of details on each hotel including a property description, list of amenities, location maps and reviews from other guests. I like reading through the Costco member reviews as they provide insider tips about that specific property. You’ll find out which areas of the resort are best, any renovation or construction details, where to eat nearby and more.
One of the absolute best hotel perks offered through Costco Travel are the exclusive member rates that can save you 10-20% or more compared to the hotel’s own website or third party booking sites. I compared the rates for a Las Vegas Strip hotel and found Costco’s rate to be $60 lower per night. Over a 5 night stay, that’s a savings of $300!
Even if the nightly rate is the same as other sites, Costco sweetens the deal by including bonus credits or amenities. For example, I booked a 4 night stay at a resort in Cabo through Costco and received a $200 resort credit to use on spa treatments, restaurants and more. That essentially lowered my nightly rate by $50 when factoring the credit.
I’ve found some of the best Costco hotel deals at luxury chains like Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and Fairmont. For a 4 night stay at the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii, Costco offered the room for $150 less per night including breakfast, early check-in and a resort credit. That exceeded $800 in total savings - not bad!
The only downside is that Costco doesn’t offer every single independent hotel - you have to book through brand sites or third parties for unique boutique or one-off lodging. But for major chains, the selection is fabulous and you can earn points too through hotel loyalty programs on Costco bookings.
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Car Rentals
When it comes to scoring deals on rental cars, Costco Travel should be your go-to resource. As part of their exclusive member benefits, Costco has partnered with major car rental brands to provide lower rates that can save you big time on your next road trip or business travel.
I’ve rented cars dozens of times through Costco Travel and continue to be amazed at the low pricing compared to other sites. For example, I recently priced out a 1 week SUV rental in Maui. Costco’s rate was $250 while the exact same reservation on the rental company’s website was over $400! That’s a savings of 40% by booking through the Costco site.
Even better - Costco’s rental rates frequently include extras like a second driver, GPS device and car seat for free. When I rented an intermediate SUV for a trip to Costa Rica, these free add-ons from Costco would have cost me $150 extra when booking directly through the rental company.
Fellow Costco members have reported similar experiences, scoring car rental deals not found anywhere else. One family booked a minivan rental for a week in Orlando through Costco Travel and paid $200 less than the rate quoted by Expedia. A business traveler landed a premium rental car in Seattle for a convention for only $28 a day thanks to Costco’s unbeatable rates.
The key is that Costco negotiates with rental car companies for bulk pricing they can pass onto members. It’s a win-win - rental firms get guaranteed bookings while Costco drivers pay discounted rates and get elite benefits. Costco has contracts with all major car rental outfits including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz and National.
Unlike third party booking sites, you can still earn rewards points and status when renting through Costco Travel. Your rental will be credited to your frequent renter account just like if you booked directly. That means you can rack up free days and upgrades over time. Third party sites often don’t let you take advantage of loyalty programs.
While Costco doesn’t always have the absolute lowest price, I’ve found their rates to consistently be 5-15% cheaper than rental company websites and third party sites like Expedia, Priceline and Hotwire. When you factor in the extras they throw in like GPS, car seats and additional drivers, you can save big.
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Booking Flights on Costco Travel
When it comes to scoring deals on airfare, Costco Travel should be on your radar. While they don’t always offer the lowest prices, Costco Travel provides valuable perks and insider pricing that can add up to big savings on flights.
Costco has contracts with major domestic airlines including American, Delta, United, Alaska, and Hawaiian Airlines. This gives Costco members access to unpublished fares and bundled flight + hotel packages not found on airline sites directly.
For example, I compared roundtrip flights from LA to Maui on Delta’s website and Costco Travel for the exact same dates. The itineraries were identical - same flights, cabin class, etc. However, the fare on Costco Travel was $120 cheaper per person! While not always the case, these exclusive member rates can translate to serious savings, especially for families.
In addition to lower fares, Costco Travel sweetens the deal by including a $50 Costco Cash Card per passenger on vacation packages. I price compared a 4-night Las Vegas package on Costco and Expedia with the same hotel and flights. Costco was $150 cheaper overall and came with $200 in Costco Cash Cards that I could use during my stay.
Costco also makes it easy to customize flight options with their Vacation Package tool. You pick your airport, destination, hotel and dates. Costco will then populate flight suggestions based on your criteria. It’s an awesome way to explore different flight times and bundle pricing.
Once you select a package, you can sign-in to your airline loyalty account during checkout and still earn miles and points too. This is a major perk that third party sites like Expedia don’t offer.
While Costco Travel provides excellent bundled vacation package rates, booking standalone flights is a bit of mixed bag. If you want maximum flexibility in flight times, layover options and airlines, your best bet is to search Google Flights or Kayak first.
I tested Costco Travel by pricing one-way flights from Chicago to Dublin three months out. Google Flights returned fares $220 cheaper than the lowest rate offered on Costco Travel. However, for more common routes and dates, Costco can be competitive thanks to their contracts.
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Cruise Deals
Looking to set sail for less? Costco Travel offers exclusive member pricing and perks on popular cruise lines that will have you high-fiving your travel partners faster than you can say “bon voyage.”
Costco leverages their bulk buying power to secure insider rates and concessions from major cruise lines on behalf of members. We’re talking big wig cruise giants like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity and Holland America. This translates to lower fares that aren’t advertised to the general public along with extra onboard credits, beverage packages, free gratuities and more.
I priced out a 7-night Caribbean cruise on Costco Travel and directly through Norwegian Cruise Line’s website. Costco had the exact same stateroom for $120 less per person thanks to their exclusivity agreements. Even better, the Costco rate came with a $75 onboard credit per cabin and bottled water included. NCL’s website didn’t offer any perks for booking directly. That’s an extra $150 in value by booking through Costco!
Other savvy cruisers report similar experiences across cruise lines. One family scored a killer last-minute deal through Costco Travel on a 5-night Royal Caribbean sailing out of Florida for nearly half the price advertised on the cruise line’s website. A senior couple booked a 14-day Celebrity cruise through Costco and snagged over $600 in onboard credits plus free gratuities - a perk not offered when booking directly through Celebrity.
Beyond lower member rates, Costco Travel also makes it easier to shop for cruises with handy comparison tools. You can filter results by region, cruise line, ship, departure port and dates. Costco displays pricing (including taxes/fees), credit offers and amenities in an easy to digest format. Night and day difference versus toggling between different cruise line websites.
Speaking of amenities, Costco Travel provides generous perks for booking your cruise vacation through them. We’re talking free onboard credits ranging from $25 to $300 per cabin, complimentary specialty dining packages, discounted deposits as low as $50, free upgrades, prepaid gratuities, and exclusive Costco Cash Cards you can use onboard. They also occasionally offer Costco Shop Cards to use at your local warehouse upon your return!
These little extras add up, especially if cruising as a family. One couple booked a 10-night Princess Cruise to Alaska through Costco Travel and scored over $800 in value between Costco Cash Cards, prepaid gratuities, and onboard credits. That effectively reduced their nightly cost by 25%!
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Costco Travel Packages
Let’s be real - planning every detail of a vacation can be stressful and time consuming. Deciding on flights, picking hotels, booking car rentals, researching tours, and building an itinerary is a lot of work!
That’s where Costco Travel shines when it comes to vacation packages. They take care of bundling everything in one easy booking so you can sit back and look forward to your trip.
I like that Costco allows you to customize packages too. You pick the airport, island or resort area, hotel, and travel dates. Costco populates flight options that match your criteria.
For example, say you want a quick getaway to Key West, Florida. You would browse Key West packages on Costco's site, select your travel dates and preferred hotel brand and classes. Costco instantly returns flight options from your home airport over your chosen dates.
I priced out a 4-night Cancun vacation on Costco with roundtrip flights and an all-inclusive beachfront resort. Booking the hotel and flights separately on Expedia was $387 more compared to Costco's bundle discount.
This essentially lowered my per night cost allowing me to splurge on fancy dinners! Other shoppers report similar added values like prepaid gratuities on cruises, onboard credits, spa treatments, and resort fee waivers.
Fellow Costco members rave about the amazing family vacation packages they’ve booked. One family scored a 10-night Italy package with flights, hotels, some meals, and private transfers for $5,000 less than if booking independently.
Get the Inside Scoop on Booking with Costco Travel - Tips for Booking with Costco Travel
We’ve covered the basics of how Costco Travel works and their key benefits when booking hotels, flights, cruises and rental cars. Now let’s dive into some insider tips and tricks for getting the most value out of Costco’s travel site and call center.
Book early for the lowest rates. Like most travel providers, prices are generally lowest when booking far in advance. Costco secures allotments with airlines, hotels and cruise lines in bulk, so booking 180+ days ahead will increase your chances of landing exclusives rates not found last minute.
Leverage Price Drop Guarantees when booking non-refundable rates. Many hotel and vacation package bookings allow you to take advantage of a Price Drop Guarantee by Costco Travel. If the price decreases after booking, you can call them to re-price your trip to the lower rate.
Sign up for email alerts on Travel Deals and New Offers. You’ll be the first to know when a new promotion across hotels, cruises or vacation packages is released. Quickly book and take advantage before allotments are sold out.
Consider the Costco co-branded credit card for the best travel perks. You’ll earn 3% cash back on all Costco Travel purchases! That rebate really adds up if you regularly book big family vacations through them.
Be diligent about applying any credits received towards your Costco Travel booking. For example, if you get a $100 hotel credit, call the front desk ahead of check-in to pre-authorize using the credit for spa treatments, dining, etc.
Consider trip protection when booking non-refundable rates. Costco Travel offers comprehensive travel insurance that covers everything from cancellations for covered reasons to lost baggage to emergency medical coverage abroad. Read the benefits guide to understand what’s included before purchasing.
Compile deals from the site and call center for a Price Match Guarantee. If the call center specialist quotes you a lower rate than on the website, ask for a match!