Thank you to Lindsay Tigar for including me in her article for Better Homes and Gardens on Yahoo Lifestyle called: “6 Little-Known Ways Costco Can Save You Money on Vacations“
As a destination for saving money, Costco has a fan base around the country. Though many loyal fans know about the perks of buying in bulk and receiving discounts on prescriptions or gas, Costco is also a hidden-secret in the travel industry. Through their members-only hub, you can book deals on vacation packages, rental cars, cruises, amusement parks and more. This makes chasing after wanderlust that much more affordable, especially if you’re already a Costco-card-carrying shopper already. Here, are tips you need to know about this savvy way to set sail, take flight, and soak up the sun.
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When you book a cruise, you’ll get additional perks.
When you land on Costco Travel’s hub, you’ll see various ways to explore the globe. One of the most popular offerings is cruises, according to travel expert Lisa Niver. When people book through Costco for their getaway-at-sea, Niver says they are often amazed at how many benefits are included, without an additional fee. She gives the example of a current Royal Caribbean 6-Night Oasis of the Sea cruise, which not only includes the stateroom but dinner for up to four at a steakhouse and Johnny Rockets, one spa experience per person and an onboard soda package for two.
There are dozens of other options, all depending on what you want the most from your travel: relaxation, family-friendly experiences, or even romance. Niver explains Costco is able to provide these additional perks thanks to partnerships with leaders in the hospitality industry.
When you rent a car, you can have more drivers for free.
No one wants to be the only driver on vacation, but no one wants to pay for additional drivers, either. While Costco currently only partners with four car rental companies, they are the largest: Alamo, Enterprise, Avis and Budget. Booking through the Costco Travel can often be cheaper than booking directly through a rental company, and could come with added value. Niver explains the biggest perk is the second driver waiver fee. Rather than paying a price per day to have two (or more) drivers, Costco pays the cost so their customers can have it for free. Best of all? Your road-trip buddy doesn’t need to be a Costco member to come along for the journey!
When you book your hotel, you save cash and receive surprises.
In the spirit of transparency, Costco doesn’t offer as many hotel partners, as say, Priceline. However, depending on seasonality and location, Niver says you can rely on Costco to come with no hidden fees, additional taxes, resort upcharges or other surprising costs. Currently, Costco partners with all hotels under the Fairmont, Hyatt, Raffles and Swissotel brands, offering both stand-alone hotel booking or vacation planning. For business travelers or frequent fliers who are loyal to specific hotel chains, Niver says you can limit your search to only Fairmont or Hyatt, based on your preference. You can also opt-in to additional perks, like free breakfast and parking.
When you go to Disney, you can save by selecting a package.
Disney fans pack your bags! Costco has lots of options to meet Mickey and all of his friends. In addition to tickets to Walt Disney World, they also work with the Disney Cruise line, the Hawaii-based AULANI Disney Resort and Spa, as well as Disney Adventures, featuring excursions throughout the world. Niver says for families who enjoy the fairytales, the excitement and wonder, booking via Costco not only results in cheaper multi-day tickets but cuts back on the cost of hotels, and other benefits. As an example, if you decide to opt-in for a Walt Disney World package, you often receive extended hours in the park, cash to spend on food and drink, and other budget-mindful perks.
When you’re booking any travel, you can opt into a payment plan.
For most of us, vacations aren’t usually a spontaneous thing. Booking a trip requires matching busy schedules, requesting time off, and of course, figuring out how much to spend. Another benefit of Costco Travel is the ability to make a deposit upfront and pay the rest later. While the deposit requirement varies depending on what you’re booking, generally speaking, most options only require a final payment 45 days from departure. For packages and flights, you can book only putting down $100 per person plus applicable hotel and other deposits. Hotel fee depends on the brand, but most of the time is fully paid upon departure. The exception is cruises, which often require a full payment between 90 and 160 days before you hop on board.
When you reach Executive Level, you’ll get even more.
As every Costco shopper knows, there are tiers of membership, with the lowest costing $60 annually. The Executive level is double that at $120, but comes with super-cool traveling benefits for jet setters. You can earn a 2% rebate reward on the first $1,000 in travel purchases. And once you’ve reached your destination, you may find surprises along the way, says Niver. As an example, this Boca Raton deal through the Executive hub includes a $50 resort credit per day to be used toward food and beverage. Half the vacation fun is the food, right?!
Another option is applying for the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi the offers 3% back on eligible travel expenses. This is open to anyone, as long as they are a Costco member.
Costco travel deals aren’t only good in the U.S. either, they offer many international travel discounts that may just be the inspiration you need to book that next long flight.