5 Simple Tips for Using Costco for Trips and Travel

There are a ton of travel options available, but Costco Travel makes it easy to book and get the trip of your dreams. Here are some tips on how to make it work.
Travel and tourism

We all know Costco rocks when it comes to great prices on toilet paper, produce, and baked chicken. But what if a great getaway is what you really need? The company often promotes vacation deals, but like the other products Costco offers, is this something you should snap up the second you see what you want, or is it a product you should skip and leave on the shelf?

We took a deep dive into the deals to help you decide whether they’re worth your hard-earned dollar.

First, we should explain what the options are. 

Costco Wholesale

There are complete vacation packages or combinations you can select a la carte, from just the hotel to a hotel and flight, or hotel and car, just a rental car, cruises, or a combination of all the above. The only thing you can’t book on its own is just a flight. They offer limited-time offers, special feature deals, theme park fun, and even travel gear.

There is one catch. You must have a Costco membership to buy any of it. But often, the travel deals more than make up for the cost of joining the club. The memberships start at $60 a year. Or, you can buy the Gold Star Executive membership, which costs $120 a year, but you’ll get additional Costco Travel benefits and 2% back (up to $1,000 in annual rewards) on qualifying purchases, and that includes travel. You can also get 3% cash back on what you buy if you use the Costco Anywhere Visa when booking through the Costco site. It all adds up when considering your next trip.

1. Are the prices that much lower than I can get on my own?

Well, that depends. You can likely find cheaper prices to go to certain destinations, but not likely at the same level of quality. There are more than 8,000 hotels in thousands of cities around the U.S. and beyond. Costco offers flights on a variety of airlines. And as we already mentioned, you can also take a cruise. By booking through Costco, you typically get perks as part of your package, including discounts for restaurants near the properties you’re visiting, along with extras like spa credits and fancy tours you wouldn’t otherwise be able to book.

You can also get upgrades you’re not likely to earn booking through the discount sites. You absolutely can find deals, but don’t expect the sort of steals you may see with flash sales from airlines or hotels. If you’re looking for the basic budget deals, you can likely find those on your own, but you may not get the level of luxury you’ll find going the Costco route or with the same amount of amenities and benefits. Prices run the gamut. There are packages for about $500/person, but most multiday trips that include airfare are going to be over a grand each.

Based on the majority of reviews from people who have booked their trips through Costco Travel, the true advantages come with booking rental cars and the customer service, which most people say is better than what you’ll find on most other travel sites. There’s also the Costco private label option, the Kirkland Signature vacations. They also feature extras and are typically about 20% less than other deals. 

Keep in mind, though, in general, you’re likely to be staying at one of the bigger chain hotels, and less likely to find yourself in a smaller boutique option, so carefully consider the experience that will make you happiest. 

Costco travel, airplane, vacation

2. You can customize the options.

Not only can you book the flight, the hotel, theme parks, and/or a cruise, but you can even book a car ride to get you wherever you need to be. The vacation packages come with a basic itinerary after you put in your dates and destination, and you can decide if you want any upgrades. In many cases, you may have vouchers and perks as part of the package but definitely double-check to see what is included since, in most cases, food is not.

3. Travel insurance is not part of the deal.

These days, travel insurance is a pretty smart add-on. However, you cannot buy a travel insurance policy through Costco’s Travel service. You can buy it through the partner insurance company. The options include trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, lost luggage coverage, and emergency medical coverage. One way to avoid that fee would be to use a travel credit card that gives you complimentary trip insurance if you pay with that. That way, you’ll still be covered.

4. Do I have to pay in full?

Woman online shopping with a credit card

With Costco Travel, you can set up payments, including recurring payments, once you’ve made your initial deposit, as long as the trip isn’t too soon after you reserve the trip. 

5. So, deal or no deal?

The answer to this is based on each individual instance, but in general, if you want to pay what’s more than likely a reasonable price for a higher-end hotel and itinerary laid out for you, Costco can make sense. Based on reviews we read, most people who selected the Costco Travel option were happy they did, and that speaks volumes these days.

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