You Can Use Your Costco Membership to Book Travel at Great Discounts - ForumDaily
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You can use your Costco membership to book travel at great discounts

Shopping at Costco most likely brings to mind a crowded store with huge packages of grocery essentials and snacks. While booking a vacation might not be on your mind, you can actually purchase vacation packages (and even get great deals) through Costco using the chain's travel agency, Costco Travel. The publication told in more detail Travel and Leisure.

Photo: IStock

Let's take a look at what you can expect when you use Costco Travel to book your next vacation.

What is Costco Travel

Costco Travel is a travel agency owned by Costco. It's open to all Costco members, but you must have a separate Costco Travel account before booking. Anyone can visit the Costco Travel website, but only members can view prices and book travel.

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It operates like other online travel agencies by allowing Costco members to book vacation packages, as well as hotels, cruises, rental cars and theme park tickets. Please note that airline tickets cannot be booked separately through Costco Travel (they must be part of a travel package).

Do I need to be a member to use Costco Travel?

Yes, you must have a Costco membership to use Costco Travel. There are two Costco membership levels, and either one will work: the Gold Star membership costs $60 per year, and the Executive membership costs $120.

An Executive membership is smart for big spenders at Costco because it allows you to earn 2% back annually, or up to $1000 per year, on select purchases at the chain, including Costco Travel.

So if you spend at least $3000 a year at Costco (including online, in-store, and Costco Travel purchases), the Executive membership will be a better deal than the Gold Star membership.

Executive members are entitled to, among other things, additional benefits when purchasing certain holiday packages. You'll find these deals on the Costco Travel website under Deals>Member Specials>Executive Member Benefits.

Benefits vary by package, but include things like $100 spa credit, $100 resort credit, $100 ship credit, private beach lunch and more. These bonuses may be worth more than the price difference between Gold Star and Executive.

How to Book with Costco Travel

Hotels

While you can book a hotel stay through Costco Travel, options are limited unless the hotel is part of a vacation package. What's more, in some vacation destinations, including Maui, Cancun and Punta Cana, you won't find any stand-alone hotels through Costco Travel.

If you do find an individual hotel that can be booked through Costco, remember that if it is part of a hotel loyalty program (such as Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott or IHG), then you likely will not be able to earn hotel points or elite nights. and any status you have will not be recognized. This makes booking hotels through online agencies like Costco Travel unattractive for many travelers.

Cruises

Costco Travel offers travel on 11 cruise lines, including popular brands like Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian and Princess.

There are many cruise booking sites out there, and they all offer relatively similar prices. The difference comes in the form of added perks like drink packages, onboard credits and, in the case of Costco Travel, free Costco store cards. The cost of a store card varies by cruise and room type, but typically ranges from $25 to $95 for short cruises and goes up to $425 for longer ones.

While Costco Travel has great deals on cruises, one of the downsides is that you can only search one month at a time. This adds work for those who select travel dates and want to search across a wide range of dates at one time.

Theme Parks

Costco members can purchase Disney (U.S. only) and Universal Orlando vacation packages through Costco Travel, among others. These packages include hotel stays and theme park tickets, and usually come with extras such as early park entry, transportation, resort fee waivers, or food and beverage credits.

Cars for rent

Booking a rental car through Costco Travel couldn't be easier, with four car rental companies to choose from: Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise.

Search results are displayed in an easy-to-read grid format, with the lowest price for each vehicle type highlighted in red. While it's a great option for those who prefer simplicity, Costco Travel won't always offer the lowest prices because it doesn't take into account the large number of car rental companies.

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Holiday packages

Costco's vacation package includes a hotel, airfare, and car rental. Packages are offered throughout North America, as well as the South Pacific, Europe and Africa. There are also special holiday packages offered by a small number of companies, including Contiki, Lion World Travel, Adventures by Disney and Trafalgar Worldwide Guided Vacations.

Costco Travel vacation packages offer huge savings over separate hotel and flight bookings, and often include extras like airport transfers and Costco store maps.

There are packages that include entertainment included in the price. This may be a great deal for some, but be aware that these activities may increase the price compared to what you would pay if you booked through another site or separately.

Costco Travel can save you money, especially on vacation packages, but it's smart to shop around for your vacation on multiple sites to make sure you're getting the best price and package that suits your needs.

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