(Updated 9/22/17) Costco is much more than just $1.50 hot dog meals and great bulk buys. They now have a little-known travel website appropriately called “Costco Travel” and it’s a very promising way to score major deals on cruises, theme park tickets, and vacation packages. Here’s what you need to know, along with some insider tips to use Costco travel to save really big on your next family vacation.
What Exactly is Costco Travel?
It’s an online travel booking website, available exclusively for Costco members.
Let’s be clear, it’s NOT like Expedia or Orbitz. Meaning you cannot book a single flight or night in a specific hotel.
Instead, Costco Travel uses their enormous buying power to buy & build vacation packages, theme park tickets, and cruises to specific destinations and pass the savings along to their members.
The destinations include top vacation spots like Hawaii, Caribbean, Europe, Florida, Vegas, and Mexico to name a few
How Does Costco Get the Best Travel Deals?
Think of Costco Travel as bulk buying for vacations.
So instead of negotiating the best deal on a 5 gallon tub of mayo, they’re using their buying power to buy cruises and vacation packages at a bulk rate.
Because of this, Costco members get to shop their travel site for deals that’re often 20-50% less than “normal” travel agents or travel sites.
Types of Travel Deals?
Here are the best deals that Costco members can currently snag.
- Cruises – The next time you’re looking into booking a cruise, check out this page at Costco Travel. Costco passes along terrific deals from lines like Carnival, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean to name a few. One cruise deal that caught my eye was from Royal Caribbean and was for 7-nights to the southern Caribbean for only $559 per person. The best part? The cruise deal includes a free $70 Costco Cash Card.
- Theme Parks – Use Costco’s buying power to save money at places like Disneyland, Disney World, and Universal Orlando.
- Vacation Packages – Here is where you can potentially save the most money when planning your family’s vacation. Packages include airfare, hotel, and often rental car or free transportation to and from the airport. I recently priced a family vacation to Maui for 5 and the trip was $469 less than anywhere else I could find it.
- Rental Cars – While Costco limits you to only Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Alamo, the deals are often better than you’ll find anywhere else. Why? Well, they automatically “shop all coupons, codes and discounts for the lowest prices”. Plus, Costco members also receive one additional driver fee waived. Exclusive Costco coupons include free car upgrades along with free days when you reserve 5 days or more.
Also, when booking a hotel, look for partner hotel deals at Best Western and Hyatt.
BONUS: Insider Costco Travel Tips and Tricks
Time to take this article to the next level. Here are some tips and tricks to maximize your travel savings with Costco.
- Executive Costco Member? – If you are, look for travel deals marked as “Executive Special” and score things like room upgrades, shipboard credits, spa credits, and other cool perks.
- Look for Kirkland Signature Travel Deals – Just like the Kirkland brands offers great values inside the warehouse, their travel deals will give you the same benefit. This is especially true with Kirkland Signature cruises which will score you free credits, cruise excursions, and even free room upgrades.
- 10% Off at Best Western & Hyatt – Book at these 2 partner hotel chains and get 10% off your room rate.
- Book with Enterprise Rental Car – By doing so, Costco Travel will score you an additional 10% off your car rental rate.
- Look for “Included Extras” – Don’t gloss over these. You’ll want to book Costco vacation packages and cruises that list many of these (Be aware that not all do). The “extras” include room upgrades, free breakfast, free transportation to and from the airport, resort credits, and rental car upgrade. Believe me, these will save you a TON of money and make your trip more enjoyable.
- Last-Minute Cruises – Very few Costco members are aware of the “last-minute cruise” section on the Costco Travel site. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, and can set sail within the next 30-45 days, you can book a last-minute cruise and save up to 40%.
Ask the Reader: Have you checked out Costco Travel before? If so, what savings were you able to score?
By Kyle James
Photo by Costco Travel.