Costco is known as the ultimate emporium for great deals, from bargain-priced groceries to value pack toilet paper. However, you should also be looking to the megastore for things beyond your everyday household purchases: The brand also operates Costco Travel, an online travel agency offering discounted bundles on hotels, rental cars, cruises, and vacations.
While the brand claims to take the lead on the lowest prices for many physical products, it's travel services arm is relatively unknown. So, how do Costco's travel products stack up? We've narrowed down everything you need to know about the packages — from the best deals to the shortcomings — before you book your next big getaway.
You Have To Be A Member
You're probably familiar with Costco's members-only sales model. If you're already a Costco member, you'll be able to make bookings on the Travel portal. A basic "Gold Star" membership costs $55 annually, while $110 will get you an executive membership with 2% rewards on everything you spend, plus special add-ons for certain travel products.
Costco Travel offers deep discounts on its car rental packages. If you're based in the U.S., you can add one additional driver free of charge. You will also be able to reserve a car and cancel your booking without incurring any penalty. One downside is that insurance is not included in the packages, so you should make sure that it's either covered by your own insurance plan or your credit card.
The vacation packages section is a great place to look for all-inclusive deals, especially if you factor in all the additional perks included in the price: As an example, we've picked random dates for a six-night stay in April at The Royalton Negril, a new resort in Jamaica. An all-inclusive package on Costco Travel costs $3,680 for two adults, with round-trip Delta flights from New York included in the price tag.
The package also includes a $150 resort coupon, free transfer to and from the airport, a $50 credit for resort activities, and a Costco Cash card to the value of $230. That's a lot of additional benefits, especially compared to the flat rate of $3,478 on the hotel's official website — without roundtrip flights. Keep in mind that there's a fine print to all this: You will only get a 85% refund for cancelling two weeks before the trip, and 75% refund if you cancel one week prior.
Major cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Uniworld are included in Costco Travel's cruises portfolio. The prices are competitive, especially considering that extra credit — ranging from $25 to as high as $235 — is always included in the package, which can be used towards onboard experiences such as specialty dining, spa services. Cruise packages with the "Kirkland Signature" sign are the best deals, and be sure to factor in about $200 on top of the price tag for cruise taxes and port fees.
It's worth looking at Costco's theme park offerings before booking directly from the official website. According to Highya's write up on the service, Costco Travel can save your an average of $500 or more on theme park tickets and resort bundles. Additionally, the Costco deals also covers breakfast, resort fees, and airport transfer, so the price tag you see is what you'll really get.