Costco Wholesale, the big-box chain of 449 membership warehouses in the United States and Puerto Rico, also operates Costco Travel. Costco Travel offers competitive prices on resort packages, cruises and more. But what's really nice is how they take it a step further by throwing in value-packed extras you won’t find anywhere else, like upgrades, resort credits and Costco Cash Cards. Some packages have stacked perks too. So for instance, in addition to a $100 resort credit, you get free wireless Internet access. Here's a rundown of the typical perks:

Resort Perks

Resort Credits: Put simply, resort credits are like gift certificates. Depending on the deal, resort credits may be spent on anything the guest desires or are designated for use on specific products or services such as spa treatments, excursions, food and beverages, or gift shop purchases. With product- or service-specific credits, a service charge of around 11% is typically added to the bill. Keep in mind, even if the credit amount covers the full cost of the purchase, the service charge must be paid by the guest out of pocket. Therefore, the best credits are the non-restricted ones that can be used towards anything. Your total balance due for all incidental expenses during your stay will be reduced by the amount of resort credit you have upon checkout, much like shipboard credits on cruises. Always read the fine print to avoid any surprises!

Here are just a few resort credits I uncovered by doing several resort package searches on the Costco Travel website:

  • $100 total per room
  • $150 product/service specific credits per room
  • $50 per day, per room
  • $1500 total per room

Included Extras: An example of a valuable Included Extra is a free daily breakfast buffet at a European Plan resort. European Plan means room-only. The price at these resorts do not include meals, beverages, gratuities, or any extras. So this is a great perk. When searching for your vacation, keep your eyes peeled for other Included Extras such as:

  • Kids 12 and under eat free
  • Two days free Internet
  • 25% spa treatment discount (one per person, per room)
  • Buy one get one free spa treatment (second treatment, of equal or lesser value)
  • 25% excursion discount (once per stay)
  • Complimentary round of golf
  • Coupon books

Executive Member Benefits: Special extras for Costco Executive Members might include room upgrades, shipboard credit on cruises, spa credits, or other value-packed benefits. Here are some of the EMBs I found on Caribbean vacation packages:

  • $75 non-restricted resort credit
  • $65 resort credit towards food and beverages or spa treatments
  • Costco Cash Cards
  • Complimentary daily wireless Internet access
  • Guaranteed room upgrades
  • Complimentary bottle of wine and chocolate truffles

Cruise Perks

Book a cruise in the "Hot Deals" cruise section and get a plethora of added value perks. For instance, a Buyer's Choice 7 Night Family Cruise aboard the Norwegian Jewel features:

  • A Costco member scavenger hunt aboard ship with up to $5000 in prizes
  • Private meet and greet with Nickelodeon characters
  • Private farewell party with Nickelodeon characters
  • $75 shipboard credit per stateroom
  • Nickelodeon bedtime kit (one per child)
  • Soda package (one per person)
  • 8 x 10 photo (one per stateroom)

Other Costco member cruise perks include:

  • Shipboard credit on every Princess Cruises sailing
  • Shipboard credit on all Royal Caribbean sailings
  • Shipboard credit on all Holland America sailings
  • Limited time offers such as complimentary dinner for two in a shipboard specialty dining venue
  • One complimentary photo per stateroom on select sailings
  • Discounted Travel Guard insurance
  • Costco Cash Cards on select sailings

Comparisons

It's always a good idea to price out a vacation package with a few other reputable travel agencies for comparison purposes. I compared Costco resort package prices with BJ's Travel, AAA, and Liberty Travel. When Costco's prices were the same or a tad higher, the added perks made Costco Travel the better deal.

Cruise rates rarely vary because cruise lines typically do not allow agencies to sell a cruise at a lower rate than what the cruise line sells it for. Costco gets around this by offering shipboard credit on the back end.

When doing price comparisons, always make sure you compare apples to apples:

  • Same room category (garden view, ocean view, junior suite, etc.)
  • Airfare included or not
  • Roundtrip ground transfers included or not
  • Same number of nights (5 nights, 7 nights, etc.)
  • Taxes included or taxes additional

This is a guest post by Deidre from Dania Beach, FL
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