How to Use Your Costco Membership to Get Amazing Vacation Deals
Costco seems to have everything: really inexpensive frozen yogurt sundaes, free samples, and more ketchup than a very large family can consume in a year. But even serious deal-hunters may not know that the membership-based wholesaler also sells discounted vacations.
Costco Travel sources affordable travel offers the same way Costco it stockpiles non-perishable canned goods. The company buys in bulk, and then passes off the discount to its members. When it comes to travel, that means the company is able to secure hotels, car rentals, and more at a group rate. Costco Travel even applies to cruises, theme parks, vacation packages, and all-inclusive resorts.
Costco offers special rates on cruise lines such as Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Viking River Cruises. They also offer special cruise itineraries available only to Costco members, such as an eight-day Kirkland Signature Wine Cruise through Burgundy and Provence on a Uniworld River Cruise vessel.
Costco members can search for the lowest rate available from Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise rental car companies. There's no fee to cancel rental car reservations booked through Costco, so if you find a better deal before your departure, you can rebook for the lower price without a financial penalty. Enterprise, in particular, offers Costco members a 10 percent discount, a waived additional driver fee, and (sometimes) eligibility for a vehicle upgrade.
Costco offers theme park packages from Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resorts, and Universal Orlando. Packages might include seven nights for the price of five, or complimentary theme park tickets with a room reservation.
Costco members can shop a global array of specialty vacation offers from Trafalgar Worldwide Guided Vacations, Lion World Travel, and Guided Vacation. And there's really nothing "budget-like" about these trips, which range from safaris in South Africa to guided tours of yuletide Europe to culinary expeditions through India.
Find the best deal for an all-inclusive resort (where trip-goers pay a flat price up front for all their vacation needs) when you use Costco's travel portal. Costco offers packages across the world's sunniest, sandiest spots: Hawaii, Cancun, and Aruba, among others. Search for packages with "Included Extras" to find potential upgrades or benefits such as resort credit or a Costco Cash Card.
Good to Know
Don't forget to shop around. While Costco is justifiably famous for its discounts, that doesn't mean it's got the best (much less only) deal available at any given time.
Also, travelers who book through Costco Travel will likely still need to shop around to find the best deal on flights. Airfare can, however, also be purchased as an add-on.
Flexible travelers who prioritize value should check Costco's weekly special offers, which might include a five night stay in an overwater suite at the InterContinental Bora Bora in Tahiti — with airfare — for a cool $4,345.
Costco memberships start at $60 per year for Gold Star members, and reach $120 for Executive-level members who can earn a 2 percent reward on eligible Costco and Costco Travel purchases.