Since the Costco Travel program is only available to Costco members, many people are not aware that you can save significantly on Hawaii and Disney vacations, vacation packages and more – you may even find yourself joining Costco to take advantage.
Flights, hotels and rental cars can be pricey to book, but there are plenty of ways to save money on travel if you look hard enough – including options you may not even be aware of.
Costco Travel is one option that flies under the radar. Since it’s only available to Costco members, there are many people who don’t even know about it. Since the savings can be significant, Costco Travel is worth looking into – you may even find yourself joining Costco to take advantage.
What is the Costco Travel program?
Costco Travel is an online travel portal consumers can use to book a variety of travel at a discount. Instead of using a travel agent or booking travel through another website, you can utilize Costco Travel to book airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, vacation packages and more.The portal is only available to Costco members. To qualify, you’ll have to pay at least $60 for a general Costco membership or up to $120 for an Executive membership. This fee is charged every year, and it does not include sales tax.
How does Costco Travel work?
If you’ve ever booked travel using a website like Expedia.com or Travelocity.com, the setup on Costco Travel will look familiar.
Like other travel portals, you can use Costco Travel to shop and compare accommodations and transportation from a variety of brands. If you search for a cruise, for example, you can choose to search for “any cruise” and “any duration” during any given month, but you can also filter your results down further by choosing a cruise length or a specific cruise line you want to travel with.
Booking through Costco Travel may help you score some additional travel perks that can make travel more comfortable or affordable. Here are the main types of travel you can book through Costco Travel:
Like Expedia.com, Kayak.com and other online travel portals, Costco Travel lets you book vacation packages that include your flight and your hotel. Booking a vacation package is often cheaper than booking your transportation and accommodation separately, but Costco Travel promises additional savings. You can book their packages almost anywhere in the world, but premier destinations they offer include Europe, the Caribbean, Tahiti, Costa Rica, Las Vegas and Hawaii.
You can also save big on rental cars through Costco Travel in almost any destination around the world. Rental companies can vary depending on your destination, but you can usually find cars and low prices with big rental companies like Enterprise, Alamo, Avis and Budget. Costco’s Low Price Finder feature makes it easy to find the most affordable rental car options for your destination and dates.
You can easily spot discounted rates on car rentals with the Low Price Finder
When you book a cruise through Costco Travel, it’s often possible to qualify for a Costco Cash Card gift card, a reduced deposit and an onboard credit just for booking through the portal. All the major cruise lines like Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America and Norwegian are represented as well, so you can use the portal to compare pricing online for the cruise you want. If there’s a better deal on Costco Travel than you can get by booking your cruise direct or with a travel agent, then you should take advantage.
Like other travel portals, Costco Travel lets you book hundreds of thousands of hotels and resorts around the world. Pricing may be lower than what you can find elsewhere, but you should definitely shop around and compare prices to make sure. Booking hotels in select destinations through Costco Travel can even help you score a resort credit, a Costco gift card, free breakfast and other perks.
Keep an eye out for extras on the hotel portal, such as resort credits, free breakfast and gift cards
You can also book a variety of Disney vacations and experiences using Costco Travel. When it comes to Disneyland specifically, options include a wide range of onsite hotels and resorts and vacation packages that include airfare. Some packages even come with Disney gift certificates and tickets to the park. Daily pricing tends to go down with longer stays, meaning you can secure better value on longer trips.
Hawaii is a very popular travel destination thanks to its beautiful beaches, lush mountain landscapes and luxury hotels and resorts. Costco Travel offers an array of ways to save money on any trip to Hawaii, ranging from low prices on hotels to flights, vacation packages and rental cars once you’re there. From the exotic beauty of Kauai to the Insta-worthy shores of Maui, Costco Travel can help you save on your trip.
Costco membership levels
Not a Costco member yet? Before you decide on a Costco membership level, it helps to know what each one includes and whether you’ll earn rewards. Here are the basics for both general memberships and executive memberships for individuals and businesses:
|Gold Star Membership||Gold Star Executive Membership||Business Membership||Business Executive Membership|
|One free card per household||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Valid at Costco stores nationwide||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2% rewards on Costco and Costco Travel purchases||Yes||Yes|
|Extra Costco Benefits||Yes||Yes|
|Add additional members for $60 each||Yes||Yes|
|Purchase for resale||Yes||Yes|
As you can see from the chart above, earning rewards in the Costco Travel program requires an executive level membership. Fortunately, the rewards scheme you’ll find here is easy. Once you have this membership, you’ll receive a 2 percent rewards rate on Costco Travel purchases after your travel is completed.
One interesting detail to note with this program is that your rewards are limited to $1,000 per year. You would have to spend $50,000 on Costco purchases and travel per year to reach this threshold, but this may be worth considering if you plan to spend a lot on travel or even business purchases within the store.
You are also limited to one executive level membership per household, so you cannot double up on memberships to earn more rewards.
How to redeem rewards from the Costco Travel program
Unlike other rewards programs, cash back earned through Costco Travel is only good for a rewards certificate for more Costco purchases. You’ll receive your rewards once per year approximately three months before your membership is coming up for renewal. The certificate is good for most merchandise that you can purchase at the register within Costco stores.
However, you cannot use your Costco reward certificate for food in the food court, alcohol or tobacco, gas at Costco gas stations or services including travel. The fact you cannot redeem your rewards for more travel is a major downside – especially if you joined Costco to take advantage of Costco Travel to begin with. Another major drawback: If you cancel your Costco membership before you receive your annual certificate, you forfeit all of your rewards for that year.
Which credit cards should you use with Costco Travel?
Now for some good news: You can double up on rewards by making purchases with a rewards credit card. There are two Costco-branded rewards credit cards from Citi, but you can also use any Visa or Mastercard credit card.
Here are the best credit cards for Costco and Costco Travel purchases:
Best credit cards for Costco Travel
|Earning rate||Redemption options||Annual fee|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Costco rewards certificate||$0 with paid Costco membership|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Business Card by Citi||Costco rewards certificate||$0 with paid Costco membership|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||Up to 2% cash back – 1% when make a purchase and 1% when you pay off that purchase||Statement credits, checks, gift cards, bank account deposit||$0|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||1.5% back on all purchases||Statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and travel||$0|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||2 miles per $1 on all purchases||Statement credits for travel purchases or transfer to airline partners||$95|
As you can see, co-branded Costco credit cards have some high earning categories, including gas purchases. However, you have to be willing to accept that your rewards will come in the form of a certificate for in-store Costco purchases.
On the other hand, the Citi Double Cash card offers the same 2 percent cash back rate on Costco Travel purchases (1 percent when you make a purchase and another 1 percent when you pay off that purchase) and doesn’t make you jump through all the hoops to redeem your cash back.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is also a good card for Costco Travel since you earn 1.5 percent back on all purchases and you can redeem your rewards in many different ways, including for cash back.
If you definitely want to earn rewards specifically for travel, however, the Capital One Venture Rewards Card is a solid bet. Not only does this card give you 2 miles for every dollar you spend, but you can redeem them for any travel purchase at a rate of 1 cent per point. You can also transfer them to several airline partners for even more value.
What are the benefits of Costco Travel?
You may be wondering why you would bother shopping on Costco Travel when there are so many other platforms you can use to book flights, airfare and other travel accommodations. Here are a few of the reasons Costco Travel is so popular:
- Costco Travel is administered by helpful Costco employees who understand their program inside and out.
- Costco Travel offerings are carefully curated to keep quality high.
- You’ll get upfront pricing on hotels, cruises and other travel with no surprises or “gotchas.”
- Prices are often lower on Costco Travel than you can find elsewhere online, and they’re reserved exclusively for Costco members.
How to maximize Costco Travel
- If you plan to shop at Costco stores anyway or you think you can use Costco travel often, sign up for an executive level membership so you can earn 2 percent back on all your Costco and Costco Travel purchases.
- Make sure you have a credit card that earn rewards when you shop on Costco Travel. Also note that Costco Travel lets you pay with Visa or Mastercard, which opens up the possibilities quite a bit. It may be worth exploring the best rewards credit cards to find the best Visa or Mastercard for your needs if you only plan to shop on Costco Travel and not in Costco stores.
- Make sure to compare pricing on Costco Travel any time you plan to book airfare, hotels, cruises and more. Not only could you find lower prices than you can get elsewhere, but you might even qualify for special promotions just for Costco members.
Is Costco Travel worth it?
Since Costco Travel is free to use with an executive level membership, it’s worth taking advantage of if you’re a heavy Costco shopper anyway. Just make sure you pair your travel purchases with the right rewards credit card. Doing so will effectively let you double up on rewards and get more bang for your buck.