Thinking about booking a getaway or family vacation through Costco Travel but not sure if it’s legit? I’m here to tell you Costco Travel packages are legit, and I’ll explain everything you need to know about how their travel agency business works.
While Costco is widely known for its bulk-buy deals and fan-favorite Kirkland Signature label, the idea of making your travel plans through Costco may not be at the top of your “what’s cool about Costco” list — at least, not yet.
You know we can’t help but dig around and show you how you can save money on everything, and that applies to Costco Travel, too. We’re here to answer all your burning questions about how their vacation packages work and how your Costco membership can help you save.
What is Costco Travel, anyway?
As part of the Costco Wholesale brand, Costco Travel works much like a regular travel agency, offering travel packages to Costco members at a discounted rate. Because they’re buying in bulk on behalf of their 117 million members, they’re able to negotiate discounted rates and pass those savings on to you. Those savings generally show up in the form of a Costco Shop Card (their version of a gift card), resort credits, or free add-ons for your trip — sometimes all three!
TIP: If you aren’t a Costco member yet, we have everything you need to know about Costco membership. You can join Costco in person in a warehouse or online at Costco.com.
1. Costco Travel packages are up to 20% cheaper than Booking.com and 4% cheaper than Expedia.
We compared rates for a hypothetical trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, and found that Costco Travel packages were about 0.5% cheaper than if you were to book directly, 4% cheaper than booking with Expedia, and as much as 20% cheaper than going with Booking.com!
Here’s how Costco Travel stacks up against other leading travel sites.
So is Costco Travel a good deal? Here’s a look at the price breakdown for the Marquis Los Cabos All-Inclusive Resort package for two travelers staying for two nights. We used travel dates of Oct. 20 – 23, 2022, with flights from Detroit, Michigan:
|Ground transportation included + $369 Costco Shop Card + 2% cash back for Executive members
|Ground transportation included
|Ground transportation included
Costco Travel is the clear winner and best deal, especially when you consider the added perks!
Related: Not sure where you want to go? We found 23 cheap places to travel in 2023.
2. All-inclusive resorts and family-friendly getaways are some of the most popular packages.
Costco offers a wide variety of vacation packages. However while doing my research, I found a bunch that seemed to always pop up on their website.
Here are 10 vacation packages I frequently see available on CostcoTravel.com:
- Cancun: Moon Palace (All-Inclusive)
- Dominican Republic: Majestic Mirage (Family-Friendly)
- England: London Your Way
- Greece: Athens, Santorini, and Mykonos
- Jamaica: Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall (All-Inclusive)
- Los Cabos: Paradisus (All-Inclusive)
- Maui: The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua
- Riviera Maya: Hotel Xcaret Mexico (All-Inclusive)
- Tahiti: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
- Turks & Caicos: The Ritz-Carlton, Turks & Caicos (Family Friendly)
3. You always have to book Costco Travel online.
“Which aisle is the Tahiti vacation on?” That’s a silly question because you can’t book your next dream vacation while shopping at your local Costco warehouse. Instead you’ll browse and book all your travel through CostcoTravel.com or in the Costco app (iOS / Android). Even if you’re not a Costco member, you can browse all the current deals and promotions. But in order to book anything, you’ll have to enter a valid Costco membership number and your last name as confirmation.
And if you’re just in a browsing mood, you can pick up the latest Costco Travel booklet at your local warehouse or jump right to these pages on their website (it’s kinda like wandering the aisles at Costco):
TIP: We recommend creating a free Costco Travel account on their website (it’s separate from your regular Costco account). While it’s not required in order to book anything, a Costco Travel account makes it much easier to keep track of your travel reservations and make changes.
4. Only the person making the Costco Travel booking has to be a Costco member.
Even though you have to be a Costco member in order to book a trip through Costco Travel (kinda like how you have to be a BJ’s member to book with BJ’s Travel), those traveling don’t have to be. So if you’re a Costco member and want to send your nonmember parents on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise (because you know they deserve it), you can definitely do that — and instantly become their favorite child.
TIP: Make sure you spell each traveler’s name correctly and get their birth date right (as it appears on their driver’s license or passport) when you make a reservation on their behalf. If you need to make any changes, Costco Travel may charge you a fee.
Can I reserve a rental car through Costco Travel for a nonmember?
Unfortunately, no. The driver of the rental car needs to be a Costco member. To reserve a rental car for a Costco member, you’ll need to reserve the car in their name and make them the primary driver on the reservation.
5. All Costco members will see the same prices, but Executive members get extra perks — plus 2% cash back.
The prices you see on CostcoTravel.com won’t change based on your Costco membership level. But Costco Executive membership does come with a handful of perks that’ll pop up on many vacation packages and cruises. Perks exclusive to Executive Members could be things like a free 25-minute Swedish massage in Puerto Vallarta, a natural beach bag in Tahiti, or exclusive resort credits.
And if you’re an Executive member, you’ll always earn 2% on your purchases, which to me sorta sounds like I’m getting paid to travel. Sweet.
6. Vacation packages often include freebies like ground transportation, resort credits, and Costco Shop Cards.
If you’re thinking about booking a vacation anywhere, you should always check Costco Travel first to see what they throw into the mix. Depending on the package and your room/cabin choice, the freebies could include resort credits, free Wi-Fi, or the best part — free Costco Shop Cards. If your package comes with a Costco Shop Card, you’ll get it in the mail two to four weeks after you get back. The amount on the card will vary depending on how much you spend.
For example, here are some recent Costco-exclusive perks I found:
- Turks and Caicos – Seven Stars Package: stay 7+ nights and get a $100 resort credit (Executive Members only), plus a free beach tote
- Puerto Rico – Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Package: $100 resort credit for Executive Members, plus a $152 – $258 Costco Shop Card
- Dominican Republic – Majestic Mirage Package (All-Inclusive): $100 spa credit for Executive Members, plus a $151 – $166 Costco Shop Card
- Europe and Mediterranean – Uniworld 9-Night Tulips & Windmills Cruise: $50 shipboard credit per person for Executive Members, plus a $925 – $1,660 Costco Shop Card
- Alaska – Regent 7-Night Rails, Whales, and Tales Voyage: $100 shipboard credit, plus a $575 – $2,140 Costco Shop Card and a welcome bottle of champagne
7. But the biggest discounts are on Costco Travel rental cars — up to 32% off retail price.
We’re always looking for ways to spend less money on rental cars, and Costco Travel offers some great savings. We compared rates on a car rental for a theoretical trip from Miami International Airport on Oct. 1 – 8, 2022. Here’s what we found when we selected a Toyota Corolla:
- Avis: $648.99
- Budget: $540.62
- Alamo: $517.26
- Enterprise: $514.01
- Costco Travel: $441.66
Booking through the Costco Travel car rental site would save us 32% over Avis’ price! And if we had a Costco Executive Membership, we’d get 2% cash back ($6.41). Not bad for just shopping around, and the savings more than make up for the cost of a basic Costco membership ($60/year).
8. Kids under two travel for free with Costco vacations.
While you do have to include children under the age of two in the total number of travelers in your party, don’t worry — Costco won’t charge any extra fees for them.
TIP: To help ensure your trip goes smoothly, check out our top hacks for traveling with kids.
9. Costco Travel won’t price match competitors, but they may price adjust if you call.
Costco Travel doesn’t price match. However if you find a better price on CostcoTravel.com after you’ve booked, you can call customer service at 866-921-7925 and ask for a price reduction. Be cautious when doing this, though. If your price reduction requires Costco Travel to cancel and rebook your vacation, you may be charged a penalty fee.
TIP: Use our secret ways to save at Costco to bank some extra bucks for your dream Costco Travel vacay.
10. If you book your vacation far enough in advance, you can spread out the payments.
Once you pay your initial deposit, Costco Travel can help you set up a payment plan — as long as you book your trip far enough in advance. Final payments for vacation packages are due 45 days before your departure, while final payments for cruises are due 104 – 134 days before you sail. If you want to qualify for a payment plan, you’ll need to book in advance of these windows.
To set it up, call Costco Travel at 866-921-7925 once you’ve paid your deposit.
11. Trip insurance will be a separate cost — Costco Travel doesn’t offer it.
Costco Travel doesn’t sell any trip insurance to cover mishaps involving your baggage, health, or unexpected cancellations or delays. However you can insure your trip through their partner Zurich Travel Insurance up until 10 days before your departure. You can get a quote online or by calling 844-246-8470.
12. If you need to cancel, pay attention to the cancellation and refund windows.
For vacation packages, you can cancel online through your Costco Travel account up to 48 hours in advance. Any later than that and you’ll need to call them at 866-921-7925. You may get charged a cancellation fee depending on where you are in the Cancellation Timeline. Some airline fees are nonrefundable or you may receive credit for future travel.
For hotel reservations, you can cancel online up to 24 hours in advance, and the time it’ll take to get your refund will depend on the hotel’s policy. If you want to cancel a cruise, the amount of your refund will get smaller the closer you are to your departure date. Cruise refunds will come from the cruise line and may take up to 90 days to process.
Rental cars are the easiest to cancel, as there are no cancellation fees and a credit card is not required during the booking process.