For years, buzz has been brewing about how great the savings are at Costco, a membership warehouse that sells a huge variety of items. By now most people know about the super good deals available at the big box store, but it doesn’t just sell home goods, groceries, and electronics. Costco also offers its members a way to save on vacation packages and getaways through its off-shoot called Costco Travel. From hotels and cruises to rental cars and big name vacation properties, the company claims it will help you save a bundle.
Here’s a closer look at whether the savings at Costco Travel really stack up.
In order to even use Costco Travel you have to be a Costco member. This could be a good thing if you’ve already joined. However, if you’ve been sitting on the fence or are uninterested in joining, you’ll need to decide whether paying a minimum of $55 per year for a Gold Star membership is worth it to you. If you opt for the $110 per year Executive level membership, you’ll earn 2 percent cash back on all purchases, excluding purchases related to Costco Travel. Due to this, unless you plan on using your Executive membership enough to recoup your investment, stick to the Gold Star level to gain access to Costco Travel’s perks and vacation packages.
To see the deals available, you’ll first visit the Costco Travel website. In addition to complete vacation packages that include hotel stays, rental cars, airfare, and admission to popular attractions, such as Universal Studios and Disney parks, you can also choose from a number of guided vacations. You can’t use Costco Travel just for booking your flight on its own, but you can use it to only book a hotel room if you don’t mind choosing from Hyatt or Best Western properties.
Convenient Travel Packages
If you want convenience while planning your vacation, especially to Disney or Universal Studios, Costco Travel will appeal to you. You can get your theme park tickets, hotel stay, and airfare taken care of in one shot with very little hassle, and it’s even possible to upgrade your room or add on a rental car through the Costco Travel website. The prices of the vacation packages are typically several hundred dollars less than you would pay for everything separately. Even if you planned to book a vacation through your theme park resort of choice, Costco Travel’s rates are commonly cheaper by comparison.
What’s more, the website offers some nice exclusives throughout the year. For instance, they have deals where kids eat free or you can get a room upgrade for booking certain packages. Still, be sure to check with the resort you’re going to, as they may have offers that provide a better value. For instance, Disneyland and Disney World resorts offer vacation packages during certain times of the year where everyone in your party can dine for free, rather than limiting free dining to children.
Costco Travel lets you search for cruise packages that are all-inclusive, from drinks and dining to excursions and gratuities. It’s common for the rates available through the site to beat other popular virtual travel agencies, and a nice benefit to many of Costco Travel’s cruise vacations is the addition of onboard credits that you can use for purchases during your trip. If you frequently cruise, the discounts available through this one section of Costco Travel may be worth getting a Costco membership.
The international vacation packages available through Costco Travel can be competitive. You won’t always come out on top if you choose Costco Travel, but if you’re shopping for deals it’s worth checking out the rates for their packages. The location destinations available are highly varied and include sought after spots such as Cancun, Fiji, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, South Africa, and places in Europe. Offerings range from all inclusive high end resorts to more flexible packages that offer resort credits. You’re sure to find something that piques your interest on the website, just keep in mind that it’s best to price shop instead of only looking at the prices offered by Costco Travel.
Aside from the savings that Costco Travel provides for vacation packages, you can also find discounts on car rentals. In addition to the savings, you’ll get the fee waived for one additional driver with each rental from one of their preferred providers. The Costco Travel network includes big names such as Budget, Enterprise, Alamo, and Avis, so you shouldn’t have many issues finding the rental that you need. Still, remember that insurance is not included in the price that you’ll see quoted on the Costco Travel website. In most cases, you can get a cheaper rental car from another company or search engine, so be sure to compare with another option such as Orbitz, Expedia, or AutoSlash.
Though Costco Travel does offer a 10 percent discount on daily rates at Best Western and Hyatt properties, with the exception of Park Hyatt, the savings aren’t significant. At Best Western, the savings are practically negligible and you can almost always get a better deal by opting for the advanced purchase rate. When it comes to booking rooms at Hyatt, Costco Travel’s rates are slightly below the price you can expect if you’re a Hyatt Gold Passport member.
All things considered, whether Costco Travel is right for you will depend on your lifestyle, shopping habits, and how often you plan getaways. If you already have a Costco membership, are planning a cruise, want to take a vacation to Universal or Disney, or you go on multiple vacations per year, it’s worth looking into the deals available through Costco Travel.
However, if you don’t vacation often, don’t already have a Costco membership, and wouldn’t use it very often if you got one, Costco Travel may not provide much in the way of savings. Most importantly, it’s wise not to look towards Costco Travel as your one and only option. Because it can be so hit or miss as far as discounts go, always look through other travel search engines to compare.
10 Most FAQs and Answers on Costco Travel
Q: Do I have to apply for a Costco Travel Account to purchase travel?
A: No. You can still purchase travel even if you don’t have a Costco Travel Account. Just provide proof of your valid membership number along with your last name. On the login page, choose “contine without an account to purchase travel.
Q: Why is my Costco membership number required to purchase travel?
A: The reason that you must provide your Costco membership number is because the travel program is a service that is a part of your Costco membership benefits. This service is only available to members of Costco who have a valid and current account.
Q: Why did Costco get into selling travel?
A: The reason that Costco put its travel program together is because they offer a variety of vacation products at an amazing value for members. You can find these in the Buyer’s Choice packages. Members can save even more buy bundling their travel together with the various travel products and packages by bundling them together. It’s another way that Costco can reward their members with additional savings.
Q: Does travel include airfare included in the total price?
A: Airfare is not included in the price of travel packages unless it is specifically noted. The total price usually includes airport transfers or a rental vehicle and accommodations. If airfare is not included in your travel package, you can choose it as an add on to your vacation package. Please note that in some cases, airfare must be purchased along with some travel packages.
Q: Can I book any airline through Costco Travel?
A: There are some carriers that are not available through Costco Travel. Check on the markets listed through Costco travel. If the airline that you prefer is not listed it means that service is not available through that carrier for the specific travel plans that are in your package.
Q: How do you go about reserving or confirming a seat assignment for a flight?
A: This is done when you’re finalizing your booking. After you enter the passengers names, you’ll automatically be directed to the page for Flight Seat Selection. You can choose seat assignments from the options which are sill available. These are requests which are sent directly to the airline when you choose them. After booking is finalized, if there are assigned seats, you will see them indicated on the invoice. It is important to note that the airline reserves the right to modify these when there are changes in routings, schedule or aircraft and specific seat assignments are never guaranteed.
Q. What do I do if there is no seat map or if there are no seats showing up as available?
A: If you encounter this issue, it likely means that the airline is not providing you with the ability to pre-reserve seats for your destination. In these instances you must go directly to the airline’s website for assistance in reserving your seat. Inquire about their pre-reservation policy and follow their recommendations for reserving your seat. In some cases, airlines charge a fee for pre-reserving specific seats.
Q: When using Costco Travel what is an add-on?
A: An Add on is a component of your trip that is not included in the travel vacation package. Add ons are options that you can purchase for an additional fee. An example of an add on is airfare for a travel plan that does not list airfare as a part of the package or it can be an excursion during your trip, meal plans and other activities.
Q: Is having a valid passport a requirement for Costco Travel international travel?
A: Yes, you must possess a valid passport for any kind of international travel through Costco Travel. It’s important to check the requirements in advance because in some cases, it is necessary for you to be in possession of a passport that will be valid for at least six months past the date of your departure.
Q: What are the requirements for international travel
A: In addition to a valid passport, some countries require that you possess a visa or innoculations. If children are traveling with or without parents, special documentation must be in order. If you are leaving the United States and you are not a legal citizen, you may need to make special arrangements for re-entry into the country after traveling outside of the country. These rules and regulations are subject to change at any time so it’s wise to check with the Immigration an Naturalization Service for these requirements and look on the website at www.uscis.gov as well as the
U.S. Department of State at www.travel.state.gov.