You may already be familiar with Costco for rock-bottom pricing on favorite bulk grocery items, household goods, and gas. However, you may not be aware that Costco offers equally great deals on car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages.
What does Costco know about travel? It turns out a lot. They have been in the travel space for over 20 years, since 2000, bringing the same highly selective group purchase practice to vacations that they deliver to their warehouse aisles.
Think of Costco Travel as an easy-to-use online travel agent offering a limited selection of quality trip options with enviable rebates and perks—depending on your membership level. While it's not typically the best deal for independent travelers, those looking for one-click booking on package trips will get value out of it. And it's hard to beat Costco's rates on car rentals.
And yes, you must be a Costco member to use Costco Travel.
How much does a Costco membership cost?
Costco has two membership categories with two levels of perks and pricing under each.
The first membership type is a Personal Membership. Anyone can purchase either the Gold Star Personal Membership ($60) or the Executive Personal Membership ($120) with a 2% annual reward.
The second type of membership is a Business Membership. The two levels within the Business Membership are the Business ($60) and the Business Executive ($120).
Which membership should you buy? The one that best fits your budget. However, the Executive Membership with its 2% reward, maxing out at $1000 each year, could save you a lot of money.
Consider one $3,000 trip booked with Costco Travel using an Executive Membership at 2% generates a $60 reward. Additionally, Executive Members are eligible for extra travel perks and upgrades, depending on the trip. And keep in mind the 2% reward applies to all Costco purchases—except gas and a handful of other items.
View a sample earning table for the 2% Executive Membership reward below to see how your savings might build.
Costco Travel flights
Costco Travel does not sell standalone flights. Costco members can only purchase flights when bundled with a lodging or travel package purchase. There are a few benefits to doing this.
- Time savings and less hassle. Find and book all of your travel needs, including your airfare, in one place. Receive one itinerary, including flight details, to keep track of it all
- Accrue frequent flier mileage. Continue to earn frequent flier mileage on your favorite carriers. Enter your mileage membership numbers during booking.
- Rewards. Executive Members earn a 2% reward on all non-taxable Costco Travel, including airfare.
Alternatively, there are a handful of downsides to buying your flight from Costco Travel. They are:
- Cancellation fees. Your flight may be subject to cancellation fees. View the example below to see cancellation fees set to $200 per person for a Costco Travel roundtrip flight from Chicago to Cancun. This same flight booked directly with the carrier is not subject to these fees.
- Pricing: Compared to the prices Scott's Cheap Flights finds, Costco's fares are pretty average. In comes cases, the price might be lower if you book your flights independently of the package deal you find on Costco.
- Limited choice. Costco Travel does not work with all airlines. A notable exception for US travelers is Southwest Airlines.
- Seat selection hassle. Costco Travel users regularly report seeing limited seating choices or finding seating maps unavailable when booking flights. As a workaround, enter your flight confirmation number from your Costco Travel booking into the carrier’s website to pick from a wider selection of non-discounted seats.
- No frequent flier mileage redemption. You cannot purchase flights with frequent flier mileage on Costco Travel.
- Costco Travel is your customer service. If an issue arises with your flight, you must contact Costco Travel for changes or resolution. Many Costco members report frustration with recent overly long hold times.
How to book a flight with Costco Travel
To book a flight with Costco Travel, go to the Costco Travel homepage to use the main search form.
If using the form to search for a Vacation Package, enter the Destination and Region you would like to travel for your dates. Alternatively, you can also search for a flight with a hotel stay or cruise. Keep in mind, you can only buy a flight from Costco Travel when bundled with a travel package.
Next on the form, select your departure airport in the Flying From field, as well as your flying class. Also, if you are traveling with kids, enter the ages of all children to get accurate package pricing. Click Find My Vacations to view your travel options.
Based on the search terms in this example, there are 16 matching packages. The lowest price is Occidental at Xcaret ($4,968). This package includes four roundtrip flights from Chicago to Cancun, lodging, and other extras.
To book the package, click View Details & Customize. And then review, checkbox, and click I Understand on the Travel Advisory. Now you can view your flight options. You will see Included Flights at the top of the page. These are the flights Costco Travel selected as the most convenient and affordable for your package.
Scroll down the page to view Additional Flights Available or use the filter to narrow your search. For this trip, there are more than 200 matching flights.
If a cheaper flight appeals to you, click Select and then Accept when Costco Travel displays a notification screen confirming the price change and your new flight selection.
However, if you want to stick with the included flight, click Continue to Hotel in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to complete your booking.
Are Costco Travel Flights a good deal?
Avid Costco Travel fans swear they get better deals on flights bought as part of a Costco package. However, it is best to research comparable flight prices before you book.
Because Costco Travel does not itemize travel package pricing, it is hard to know how much a flight costs without extra effort. To compare your Costco Travel flight, you need to compare package pricing with and without the flight. Unclick the Flying From box to do this.
For example, from our Xcaret trip from above, the cost for a weeklong Costco Travel package that includes airfare to Cancún for a family of four to stay at an all-inclusive resort is $4,968. This same Costco Travel package without the airfare costs $2,849.
The price difference is $2,119, or the cost of the airfare.
Can you get a better price for a similarly well-timed roundtrip non-stop flight to Cancún? Most likely.
A search on the carrier’s website for the same flight showed the cost for four tickets at $2,305, or $186 more than the Costco Travel price. But a week later on the Google Flights page, a similar flight was down to $1,924. That works out to $481 roundtrip per person, which is roughly the average airfare for a flight to Cancún.
But Scott’s Cheap Flights doesn’t find average airfares. In fact, we’ve frequently found deals under $200 roundtrip to Cancún like $170 roundtrip from Chicago, $157 roundtrip from Austin, or $189 roundtrip from Denver—all on nonstop flights.
How to use Costco to book flights with Scott’s Cheap Flights
The best way to use Costco Travel and Scott’s Cheap Flights together is to receive SCF alerts to stay informed on the best fares. When you see a flight price you love, go to Costco Travel’s website to explore packages to that location.
Once you find a package you like, price it for the dates you can travel—with airfare and without—to know your flight cost.
If the price looks better on Costco Travel and you are okay with the potential cons of booking your ticket through them, then jump on the deal. Otherwise, you can book the flight directly with the airline or an OTA and still buy the land-only package from Costco Travel.
What airlines does Costco travel use?
- Aegean Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air Europa
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- Air Tahiti
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Air Transat
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Bahamas Air
- British Airways
- Cayman Airways
- Delta Air Lines
- Fiji Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Sky Express
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Costco Travel car rentals
Costco Travel regularly offers some of the best deals on rental cars. Expect better models for lower prices from the industry’s most reputable car rental agencies.
The pros of renting a car with Costco Travel are many. They include:
- Pricing. Costco Travel generally offers the lowest prices from the highest quality vendors.
- Booking a car with a reputable agency. Costco Travel does not work with low-cost carriers.
- Free additional drivers. Additional drivers, which can often cost $10 or more per day, are included with every booking.
- No upfront payment. Reserve Costco Travel rental cars with no deposit or prepayments.
- Free cancellation. Cancel a car rental with zero penalties.
- No hidden fees. Costco Travel rental car pricing includes taxes. Expect no surprises at the rental counter.
- Easy comparisons. The Costco Travel website shows car rental options in an easy-to-view grid, making it simple to find the best deal across vehicle types.
- Earn loyalty program points. Enter your preferred loyalty program number at booking to earn points.
- Rebates. Some rentals include a Costco Shop Card.
- Rewards. Executive Members earn a 2% reward on all non-taxable car rental bookings.
There is one major con to renting a car through Costco, it is:
- Limited choice. Costco Travel only works with four rental car agencies. You will not be able to rent from major players like Hertz, or discount agencies like Sixt, Fox, or Payless, among others.
Are Costco car rentals a good deal?
How do Costco car rentals stack up against other booking sites? Let’s compare a springtime week-long car rental in Honolulu to find out.
The cheapest car available on Costco Travel from the Honolulu airport costs $610 for a week, including all taxes and an additional driver. This price and same vehicle type are available from both Alamo and Enterprise.
A quick search on CarRentals.com tells us the cheapest car in Honolulu for the same period is from ACE Rent a Car and costs $577, including tax.
On the surface, the ACE rental looks like a better deal.
However, the ACE rate does not include an additional driver. The fine print on the ACE Rules and Restrictions page tells us that adding a driver costs $11 per day. Across eight days, this fee increases the ACE rate by $88, making the Costco rental the better deal for those who plan to have more than one person drive.
Which car rental companies work with Costco?
Costco Travel only works with four rental car agencies. They are:
How to book a car rental with Costco
On the Costco Travel homepage, start a car rental booking from one of two places—the Rental Car tab in the main search box or from Rental Cars in the main menu.
To search car rentals, enter your Pick-up and Drop-off Locations, Dates, and Times. For roundtrip rentals, your Pick-up and Drop-off Location will be the same. For one-way rentals, click Drop-Off At a Different Location to enter a different Drop-off location.
Once you set your search details, click Find My Car to view your rental options. See below for a search results table for a one-way rental from LA to San Diego in April. The cheapest rental costs $621.
From the search results grid, click on any price to show more detail for the rental car, as is shown above.
Once you see a price and vehicle you like, click Continue to book it. You will now have a chance to select optional equipment for your rental, such as booster seats, Wi-Fi, and more. After making your selections, click Continue at the bottom of the screen.
You now have one more chance to upgrade your vehicle. If you like your original price and vehicle, skip the upgrade and click Continue.
After this step, you must log in to book the rental. Once logged in, enter contact information and accept the terms and conditions. Then click Finalize Booking.
Costco Travel Packages
Costco travel packages typically include lodging and may also include airfare, airport transfers, and car rental, as well as activities—depending on the trip—for some of the best pricing in the industry.
Costco separates travel packages into four main categories. They are:
1. Vacation Packages which include stays at resorts or hotels, as well as airport transfers and some extras. Package pricing usually defaults to include airfare, though you can buy a package without the flight. Or you can build your own package by selecting any combination of hotel, airfare, or car rental.
2. Specialty Vacations are for African safaris and guided vacations booked with outside providers that are priced exclusively for Costco members.
3. Cruises are available on 12 different cruise lines for some of the best value and rebates in the industry.
4. Theme Parks include discounted stays bundled with admission tickets at Disney or Universal properties.
Costco Travel will sometimes assign one of three value labels to their travel packages. These labels are:
Kirkland Signature. Expect the most extras and the best rooms at the lowest prices. View Kirkland Signature Vacations here.
Buyer’s Choice. Typically one tier below Kirkland Signature trip value. Find Buyer’s Choice trips on the Costco Travel home page or here.
Limited-Time Deals. Members must book these trips by a set date to take advantage of savings and perks. Find Limited-Time deals here.
There are many pros to booking a travel package with Costco Travel. They are:
- Pricing. Costco Travel's package bundling can save hundreds of dollars on your vacation.
- Time savings. By shopping for pre-vetted vacation providers and entering all of your traveler details only once in one place, you will simplify your trip planning and save time.
- Travel advisories. Costco Travel will alert members to travel advisories and important visitor information during the booking process.
- Partial payments. To secure your booking, Costco may require only a partial payment.
- Price reductions. If you see a price reduction on the land portion of your Vacation Package, you can call Costco Travel customer service to ask them to pass on the savings.
- Rebates. Earn rebates on many packages in the form of a Costco Shop Card valued at 5-8% of lodging costs.
- Rewards and extras. In addition to earning a 2% Reward on all non-taxable travel spending, Executive Members are eligible for perks, such as room upgrades or resort credits—depending on the trip.
The main con to booking a Vacation Package through Costco Travel is:
- Limited choice. Costco only works with a limited number of lodging vendors to set destinations. If you do not see a hotel or resort you like for a place you want to visit, you will need to search elsewhere.
Are Costco vacation packages a good deal?
Like with flights or car rental bookings, it is best to research pricing to ensure your Costco Travel package offers the best deal.
Let’s consider the same Xcaret package we used above. The total cost for this package, which includes roundtrip airfare for a family of four to stay at an all-inclusive resort, is $4,968.
Pricing this same trip without airfare, we discovered tickets cost around $1,900 when bought from the carrier at an average price. Add this to the room bought directly from the resort, which costs $2,422.
How does this stack up? The total for our independently booked trip is $4,336, or $622 less than the Costco Travel package. Also, considering the resort offers free airport transfers for stays longer than six days, there is no added value to this extra in the Costco package.
But, when you add the $229 Costco Shop Card that comes with this package and the 2% Executive Member rewards, higher-tier members can expect to see a return of over $300, making the price difference only $300. For some travelers, the convenience of being able to book everything at once may be worth it. For more price-conscious travelers, booking separately—especially if you can score a deal from Scott's Cheap Flights that cuts your airport in half—it's smarter to book everything on your own.
Cruises on Costco Travel
Some of the most experienced travelers who love cruises claim Costco Travel is their first and last stop when planning a cruise due to its hard-to-beat pricing, rebates, and rewards. For example, the cost for a five-night Western Caribbean Disney cruise for a family of four in the most affordable room on Costco Travel is $7,303, including tax and a $595 Costco Shop Card.
This same trip costs $7,358 on the Disney Cruise website. Considering the rebate and 2% Executive Member rewards—Costco Travel offers a better deal.
Costco Travel works with 12 cruise lines. They are:
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Celebrity Cruises
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Princess Cruises
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
- Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
The pros of booking a cruise with Costco Travel include:
- Pricing. You will find Costco Travel offers highly competitive pricing on cruises, even before taking rebates and rewards into account.
- Value labeling. Kirkland Signature and Buyer’s Choice cruises offer the best value for members.
- Price reductions. Members can track cruise price drops to get a better deal and contact Costco to honor price reductions.
- Rebates. Most cruises offer a 5-8% rebate on non-taxable cruise costs in the form of a Costco Shop Card.
- Rewards and perks. Executive Members earn a 2% reward on all non-taxable cruise spending and are eligible for extras such as room upgrades, shipboard credits, and more—depending on the trip.
The cons of booking a cruise with Costco Travel are:
- Limited choice. Costco does not work with all cruise lines, including many higher-end ones, such as Windstar, Viking, and Oceania, among others.
- Rebates instead of shipboard credits. Instead of offering shipboard credits as most travel agents do, Costco offers cruisers rebates on a Costco Shop Card. Although the cards generally offer a higher value, cruisers have to wait four to six weeks after the trip to receive them.
- No one is tracking price drops for you. Costco does not proactively track cruise prices and share price reductions in the way a travel agent might. Cruisers must do this themselves and request Costco Travel for the adjustment.
- Less hand-holding. Costco Travel customer service agents are not cruise specialists. First-time cruisers with questions may prefer booking directly with a dedicated specialist.
Theme parks on Costco Travel
Costco works with the following theme parks:
- Walt Disney World
- Universal Orlando
- Disneyland Resorts
For example, a one-week trip for a family of four that includes five-day Park Hopper tickets staying at The Art Of Animation in Walt Disney World costs $5,139 on Costco Travel. This same package booked directly on Disney's Art Of Animation website costs $6,985. The Costco Travel savings here are huge.
The two major benefits of booking a theme park package with Costco Travel are better pricing and reward earnings for Executive Members.
The significant con in buying from Costco Travel is that theme parks visits can be confusing. Inexperienced or first-time visitors may find it helpful to book with a dedicated theme park travel agent who can answer questions, such as how to reserve rides, make dinner reservations, or get tickets to special events.
Costco Travel hotels
Costco Travel works with a limited number of pre-selected hotel brands so expect only a few lodging choices for any given destination.
However, if it turns out Costco Travel has lodging that you like for a place you plan to go, expect to get a better price, as well as perks, rebates, or rewards unavailable elsewhere.
The pros of booking a hotel through Costco Travel include:
- Time savings. For travelers who suffer decision fatigue, sorting through a smaller list of pre-vetted options is a welcome change.
- Pricing. Costco Travel nearly always offers a better price for rooms with their vendors. Even before considering potential extras.
- Partial payment. Costco Travel may only require a deposit to secure a hotel booking—depending on the property and travel date.
- Price reductions. If you see a price reduction on your hotel booking, you can call Costco Travel customer service to ask them to pass on the savings.
- Rebates. For some bookings, Costco Travel may offer a rebate valued at 5-8% of lodging costs in the form of a Costco Shop Card.
- Extras. Regardless of membership level, extras—such as airport transfers or late checkout—may be included at no cost. Executive Members may be eligible for additional perks.
- Rewards. Executive Members earn a 2% reward on all non-taxable hotel spending.
The cons of booking a hotel through Costco Travel are:
- Limited selection. Costco works with four major hotel brands, some of which only have middling ratings. Travelers looking for exemplary service or boutique lodging may have to look elsewhere.
- Not many family-friendly accommodation options. Many families appreciate having space to spread out while traveling, such as separate bedrooms within one unit. Costco generally does not provide this kind of lodging, nor does it offer an easy way to search for properties that have it.
Are Costco hotels a good deal?
Even before assigning a value to the rebates, rewards, and extras, Costco Travel will nearly always offer a better price on hotel stays for the properties it sells.
For example, Costco Travel prices a 7-night stay in a San Juan, PR hotel for a family of four at $3,621. This room for the same period costs $3,900 on the hotel website.
Coming in nearly $300 less, Costco Travel offers better hotel pricing. And Costco further sweetens the San Juan hotel package by providing complimentary roundtrip airport transfers, a $235 Costco Shop Card, and an Executive Member benefit of a $15 resort credit per day.
Which hotel companies work with Costco?
Costco Travel works with four major hotel brands. They are:
- IHG Hotels & Resorts. This includes 15 different hotel brands like the Holiday Inn, the InterContinental, and the Kimpton Hotel, among others.
- Hyatt. This includes 11 Hyatt brands across North and South America.
- Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
- Swissotel Hotels & Resorts
How to book a hotel with Costco
To book a hotel with Costco Travel, use the main search form on the Costco Travel home page. Click on the hotel icon to conduct a hotel-only search.
Or, browse hotel brands from Costco Travel’s main menu dropdown. Select your preferred brand, and you will arrive at a page with the same search box, though you can scroll down to view that brand’s featured properties.
When using the main search box to query hotel stays, fill in your destination, travel dates, number of rooms requested, and number of travelers. If you are traveling with children, enter that here. Their ages may affect lodging pricing. Once you submit your travel details, click Find My Hotel to view options.
From this hotel snapshot, you can see several things, including the total price for your stay, included extras, property photos, and reviews from other Costco Travel members. To continue with the booking, click View Details & Customize. Read through and agree to the Travel Advisory. You will now arrive on your hotel detail page. On this page, you can click to Learn More about the property, including the on-site dining options, room types, and member reviews. You can also review rate details, cancellation policies, and additional information regarding included extras.
You can also explore other room options from this page by clicking Modify Room. If you want to keep your original room, click Keep Current Selection.
Also, note the Total Price of your hotel package in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, as well as the Amount Due Today—the deposit required to secure the reservation and make the booking.
Once you have reviewed all details and are ready to book, click Continue To Transportation—if transportation is part of your package. Otherwise, select Continue to Recap to log in and the booking.
The perks of booking with Costco
- Pricing. Costco Travel will offer the most competitive pricing on many of the products it sells, even before considering rebates and rewards.
- Rebates. Many Costco vacation packages and some hotel bookings include a complimentary Costco Shop Card, or gift card, calculated up to 5-8% of the lodging value. Members receive the card in the mail four to six weeks after the trip.
- Rewards. Executive Members earn an additional 2% reward on all non-taxable trip costs. All 2% Rewards accrued for the year are paid in one certificate approximately three months before membership renewal.
- Credit card savings. Pay for a trip with a Costco Anywhere Visa card and get an additional 3% cashback on travel. Combine this benefit with a Costco Shop Card and an Executive Membership, and you could tally a 10% return on your travel spending.
- Extras. Some trips sold on Costco Travel offer extras such as late checkouts or complimentary airport transfers regardless of member status. However, Executive Members get additional perks that could include complimentary meals, spa credits, room upgrades, or VIP airport experiences, among others.
- Price reduction pass-through. Costco Travel will pass on lodging price reductions. Travelers who see a price drop on the land portion of their trips can call Customer Service to request the savings.
- Stay informed. Booking on Costco Travel will keep you informed about travel advisories, as well as government taxes and fees for international trips.
- No surprises. Costco Travel package pricing includes all taxes and fees—except for departure taxes and other local taxes and fees collected by local governments.
- Convenience. All of your travel documents and bookings will be from one vendor in one place.
Costco Travel insurance
Costco Travel does not directly sell travel insurance. Instead, it offers member-only rates through their preferred travel partner, Zurich Travel Insurance.
Members have the option to buy plans through Zurich that could include any of the following coverages:
- Trip Cancellation
- Trip Interruption
- Travel Delay
- Baggage Loss or Delay
- Emergency Medical Expense, including those related to Covid-19
- Rental Car Damage, including due to accidental collision, theft, and vandalism
Costco Travel contact info
- Main Customer Service For Questions Or Bookings: 1-866-921-7925
- Main Customer Service Hours: Mon - Fri: 7A to 7PM; Sat - Sun: 8A to 5PM (PST)
- Customer Service While Traveling: 1-866-317-4711
Frequently asked questions about Costco Travel
Can I use Costco Travel without being a member?
Unfortunately, you cannot use Costco Travel without being a member. You can browse the Costco Travel website as a non-member. However, you cannot book any travel unless you log in.
How does Costco Travel work?
Similar to their warehouse stores, Costco Travel offers a limited selection of travel products from a small number of pre-vetted providers. Costco members can book travel at resorts, on cruises, at theme parks, as well as reserve car rentals, all at significant discounts.
Members reap savings in terms of lower prices, generous rebates, Executive Member rewards, and other extras that regularly exceed the value of what the competition can offer.
Should I book my flight with Costco?
You can only book your flight with Costco Travel when you purchase it in combination with a travel package.
The major benefit to buying your flight with Costco is that if you are an Executive Member, you will earn a 2% reward on the non-taxable portion of your fare. The biggest downsides to purchasing your flight with Costco are that you may be subject to cancellation fees, and you must resolve all issues with Costco Travel customer service, which has recently suffered from extended hold times. Plus, you may find cheaper rates elsewhere.
What are the Costco Visa travel benefits?
The Costco Anywhere Visa Card provides excellent cash back rewards, including 3% on travel. See the table below to view cash back percentages earned across different spending categories
Where can I login to Costco Travel?
Log in on Costco Travel from any booking login prompt or the Login icon in the upper right-hand corner of the site. Enter your Costco Travel membership number and password. Your Costco Travel membership number is different from your Costco membership number. You can create your Costco Travel account from the link on this screen using your membership number. If you do not have a Costco Travel account and still want to book a trip, select Continue without an account during the booking process, where you can enter your Costco membership number to book the trip.