Are Costco travel packages a good deal?

The Costco big box store sells everything, including travel packages. But are they any good?

Costco is famous for its hot dog and soda offering, its rotisserie chicken that feeds a family for under $10, and its oversized tubs of everything from olives to peanut butter. Bottom line: If you want something cheap, Costco probably has it in bulk. Plus, they promise and keep their vow to accept all returns, which has tempted some to buy engagement rings there, just in case.

But what about their travel packages? They seem good. The costs appear being weak. But how does Costco stack up against all the other low-cost competitors? We did a deep dive.

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Flexible payment options

Costco members have payment options, including setting up recurring payments to cover the full cost, says Nick Mueller, chief operating officer of HawaiianIslands.com. After youAfter paying your initial deposit, you can set up your payments, unless your trip is too close to your booking date.

Tailor-made travel package

Costco also offers a hotel-only purchase option, although they don’tdon’t offer a flight-only option, says Chris Hendrix, general manager of merchandise at Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Travel. Choose from over 8,000 hotels in 2,000 cities across the US and Canada, plus international destinations, then add a flight and a car (or just a car) to browse the package.

Executive members earn more

Are you an executive member? A regular subscription costs $60 per year, while an executive subscription costs $120 per year, but you get 2% off purchases per year. As a family of four, we spend enough at Costco to justify executive membership (and we get even more money back), so if you plan to travel, you might want to upgrade your membership. Note: Costco Executive Members earn the 2% annual rewards only on trips up to $1,000 and receive other benefits such as onboard credits, spa credits and other discounts.

Costco is generally inexpensive

Costco travel packages usually beat other travel packages in terms of price, but this is not the case.it’s a given, says Jon Stephens, director of operations at Snowshoe Vacation Rentals. Since Costco does nott partner with all airlines, such as JetBlue and other low cost airlines, there are times when Costco does nott have the cheapest travel option.

If youI look for convenience booking a trip, Costco excels at that,” he says. It’s incredibly easy to organize a trip to your unique taste and simply book everything in one place, eliminating much of the stress of trip planning.

Costco is not a travel agent

Gloria Miller, a senior account manager, booked a trip with her husband to Cabo San Lucas to celebrate a friendhis 40th birthday. She purchased her flight, hotel and transportation through Costco Travel online six months before an adults-only all-inclusive Secrets resort, which Costco upgraded with a swim-up pool deck and airplane seats. For the four-night trip, the total price was $3,200. But before the trip, the flights were changed at least three times, and Millers flight upgrades do not havet postpone.

We had to call Alaska and Costco separately several times before we found our upgraded seats and the correct layover flight,” she says. We had four other couples flying with us, all of whom had booked through Costco – and each of us had to call Costco and Alaska airlines several times before we finally got our seats upgraded and our flights changed to the same flights as each other. the others,” Miller says. . When she phoned Costco’s travel department, they referred her to the airline, although she purchased the seats through Costco. Meanwhile, some people in his party have been told the opposite: that they have to go through Costco. It was basically just a run around,” Miller says.

Car rental

Costco Travel limits its offerings to four brands in the car rental space: Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise. They offer member-exclusive rates on rental cars, which often include an additional driver. If you do notYou don’t need the additional driver, however, you can find a cheaper option with other brands.

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Cruises

Costco offers 11 cruise lines with itineraries that span the world. Lines include Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Uniworld. Cruises are big business for Costco, and a major perk is that Costco’s phone reps don’tt sell on commission. Although they charge similar prices to what youAs you’ll see on other travel sites, Costco tends to offer a refundable onboard credit equal to about 8% of your fare, plus any additional cruise specials, such as drink packages or gratuities. You can use the 8% credit to book spas or excursions, buy drinks, or you can choose to have the credit back on your credit card.

If you’re flexible on dates, routes, or cruise lines, search the Costco site for its Kirkland Signature deals, which tend to be about 20% better than other travel deals. These are definitely a steal, and if you can catch one, you should. For example, a recent Kirkland Signature deal offered was an 11-night Holland America cruise through Alaska, departing in May 2023 and starting at $1,562 per person (although you may find this price on other sites, it tends to be earlier in the year when it’s cooler in Alaska).

Cassie Alongi recently used Costco Travel for an Alaskan cruise aboard Holland America in September. She paid $2,082 for two people for a package that included drinks under $11. Costco also offered her $60 onboard credit and a $95 Costco gift card.

What I noticed is that the prices are almost the same as on the cruise lines site, but you get additional perks like the gift card and onboard credit,” says Alongi.

Conclusion: Is Costco Travel a Better Deal?

we spent way too much time sorting through Costco packages and comparing them with other sites including Travelocity and Expedia, and even pricing each hotel/flight/tour option individually. Usually Costco was about the same price or less than $200 from other sites. But Costco almost always offers additional perks like gift cards, upgraded rooms, spa credits, or fancier tours, which almost always makes Costco the better option. If youyou’re really on a tight budget, however, it will be cheaper to book your trip on a low-cost airline.