Did you know that going to Costco helps you fly, cruise, or drive away on vacation? Costco Travel is a great way to save on your next trip.
With Costco Travel, you can book vacation packages, all-inclusive trips around the world, fabulous cruises, rental cars, and more. It aims to be your one-stop-shop for all things travel-related. So is Costco Travel truly one of the best places to book trips and vacations? Read on through our in-depth review to find out.
- A comprehensive travel agency
- Exclusive benefits and rates
- Quality hotels and services
- Versatile itineraries
- A wide range of travel experiences
- Flexible payment options and clear pricing
What Is Costco?
Costco, also known as Costco Wholesale, is an American corporation that operates membership-only retail stores all over the world. As one of the biggest retail chains on the planet, Costco boasts stores in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, and other countries. Costco is well-known for its wide product range and affordable, wholesale prices.
When most people think of Costco, they think about wholesale groceries, clothes, pharmacy, tires, and other budget-friendly buys. Some locations sell gas, and Costco is also a business products and service supplier.
What Is Costco Travel?
Established in 2000, Costco Travel is effectively a subdivision of the Costco company. It's Costco's very own travel agency, offering vacation packages, car rentals, hotel bookings, cruises, and more.
The agency also combines some aspects of Costco's retail store strategy. That is how Costco provides interesting deals and exclusive packages to its members.
Just like how Costco stores have buying teams who negotiate deals to get the best prices for Costco's retail customers, Costco Travel agents work with select travel vendors to negotiate exclusive discounts and package deals. They then pass on those savings and exclusive packages to Costco Travel members.
One of the key aspects that makes Costco and Costco Travel so different from other retail chains and travel agencies is the fact that Costco operates with a membership system. You have to have a membership in order to shop in Costco's stores and enjoy its attractive prices.
The same rule applies for Costco Travel, too. Only Costco members can book vacations via Costco Travel.
So, how do memberships work and how much do they cost? There are three tiers of membership currently available with Costco Canada:
- The Gold Star plan
- An Executive plan
- The Business plan
- A Business Executive plan
The Business plan is aied at business users. So if you’re an individual or family looking to access Costco Travel, you’ll want to choose either the Gold Star or Executive plan. Here’s how those two tiers work.
Costco Gold Star plan
Despite the fancy name, Gold Star is actually the entry-level membership plan with Costco. It costs $60 a year and provides you with up to two membership cards. One for yourself and one for another adult in your household.
This allows you to share the membership with a family member. Gold Star membership gives you access to Costco Travel services.
Costco Executive plan
The Executive membership is the upper-level option for those interested in Costco Travel and other Costco services. It costs twice as much as the Gold Star plan at $120 a year in total.
However, it does give you some unique benefits. For example, the Executive plan comes with a household card for your family to use, and a 2% reward for qualifying purchases. But most importantly, it comes with exclusive discounts on Costco Travel packages and products.
The two business plans are for members who use Costco for their business and resale needs. They also have access to Costco Travel and can earn 2% back on their spending.
Read more about Costco Canada memberships
Gold Star or Executive for Costco Travel?
So, which option should you pick for personal travel? Well, even though it costs more, we think that Costco's Executive membership is the best value option of the two.
It gives you some really useful perks. You can also access some serious deals through Costco Travel with an Executive membership which can more than cover the extra $120 you spend each year.
Costco Travel interface and user experience
So, what is the Costco Travel site like to use? We’re happy to report that the user interface is one of the most impressive aspects of this online booking platform.
Right from the moment you arrive on the Costco Travel Canada home page, you see just how sleek and simple everything is. It has clear buttons and boxes to fill in with your basic information.
In the top right corner, you can adjust your language based on whether you’re an English or French speaker. You can also choose your location from any of Canada’s provinces.
The site automatically adjusts to offer the correct consumer protection fund for your area. Also, you can book from anywhere across Canada, including British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario.
Once the basics are done, you’re free to choose what kind of experience you want to book, using the handy tabs near the top of the screen. You can simply click on any of the tabs, like Vacation Packages or Cruises, and access the specific menu for that travel experience.
Then, just like other travel agency websites, Costco Travel allows you to enter your desired destination and travel dates. It lest you choose other information like pick-up times for rental cars or desired cruise lines if you're booking a cruise.
Once you’ve entered all of the relevant information, you can simply click on the big blue Find My Vacation/Cruise/Car button to continue. It is very easy.
The whole interface has been designed with ease-of-use in mind. It’s all really simple and straightforward. Even when you’re looking at lists of potential vacations or car rentals, Costco Travel makes everything easy to understand. It displays the most important information in clear lettering, with various filters and search options to help you fine tune your results.
Costco Travel value for money
Traveling can be expensive. It’s only natural that many people want to get the best value vacations to fit their budgets and goals.
So, how does Costco Travel compare to other travel agencies and booking platforms when it comes to value for money?
Well, just like in Costco warehouses, value is clearly a big part of the Costco Travel brand. The company’s agents and travel specialists work hard to negotiate great deals and exclusive packages for their members. They also offer lots of perks and bonuses to make Costco Travel vacations, car rentals, and cruises even more appealing to everyone.
At the same time, since Costco Travel only operates with major resorts and leading hotel chains. This isn’t exactly a good platform for finding budget stays, hostels, motels, or other cheap vacation packages. When you search for vacations on Costco Travel, you’ll be browsing through lists of globally-known hotel chains and top quality resorts.
What this means is that Costco Travel may not be a good place to look for cheap trips, but it’s a great place to find amazing value. You can book a fancy all-inclusive trip to a luxurious location like the Caribbean, for example, and spend less than you would with another agent.
Plus, Costco Travel throws in bonuses and perks like spa credits, free food and drinks, and rebate cards to make your trip even better. There is no extra cost!
Costco Travel Vacation packages
Next, let’s take a look at each of the main travel experiences offered at Costco Travel. We will show you an example of the booking process and interface options for each one.
We’ll start off with Vacation Packages. This is a big part of Costco Travel’s appeal and it’s the first place most people will begin when booking a trip through Costco Travel.
Above, you can see the initial search screen for Costco Travel's vacation packages. It allows you to pick from a list of destinations, as well as specific regions. You can also enter your planned dates of departure and return, as well as setting your departure airport and room information.
In terms of destinations, Costco Travel offers trips to a wide selection luxurious and exciting places in the world. You can choose Europe, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii, California, and Florida.
Each destination has its own specific list of regions to visit. Let’s take Europe as an example.
After clicking on Europe, we can then choose from a list of European cities and destinations that Costco Travel serves. If you’re not sure where you want to go, you can also scroll down the page and take a look at some of Costco Travel’s featured destinations. For now, let’s look at an example trip to Dublin for Christmas 2022.
Once we’ve entered our search details (a family of four traveling to Dublin from Toronto for December of 2022), Costco Travel searches and finds the best possible vacation packages to suit our search. We can then browse through this list of results. There are dozens of fun packages like a London and Dublin package or a Discover Island package.
You can click on a package to learn more about it. The Discover Ireland package page, for example, provides us with some information about what kinds of experiences and advantages you can enjoy if you choose to book this trip.
There’s a full list of details to show you exactly what your vacation package includes. So you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
There’s also a list of all the unique Costco Travel exclusive perks and benefits you’ll get. For instance, if you choose this trip, you can get a 10% discount at a Dublin hotel.
This includes a free cocktail and glass of wine during your time in Galway. For other destinations, Costco Travel offers many more perks like spa credits and freebies.
Once you proceed to the next step of the booking process, you can see a list of hotels that suit your needs. You can adjust your dates accordingly and pick the hotels that sound the best to you. Then, it’s simply a matter of looking at the final price and making any other adjustments you need to suit your budget.
The whole process of booking a vacation package with Costco Travel is seamless and straightforward. There are lots of ways you can customize your trip to get the right hotels, experiences, and price.
Costco Travel All-Inclusive Hotels
Costco Travel also allows you to book all-inclusive stays at some of the world’s fanciest hotels and finest resorts. Just like with the vacation packages, the all-inclusive stays are easy to book. With lots of options and seamless, straightforward booking platform.
The screenshot above shows the main menu for all-inclusive trips. You can pick from different destinations and specify which region you want to visit. You can also enter your dates, numbers and ages of guests, and departure airport.
The screenshot above shows a sample search for an all-inclusive stay at a Caribbean resort in the Dominican Republic. As you can see, Costco Travel found 31 possible packages for this trip. You’ll see the featured, recommended resort at the top of the list.
In this case, Costco Travel recommends a stay at the Live Aqua Beach Resort in Punta Cana. It also offers a unique Costco-exclusive perk of a $381 CAN shop card for you to spend in Costco stores. This is just one example of the kind of benefits that Costco Travel has to offer for travelers.
You can also browse through Costco Travel’s featured all-inclusive stays. Like this one in Orlando, which comes with free tickets for you and a guest to visit the Universal Studios theme park. It also includes a free breakfast for two, a Costco shop card, and more.
As you can see, Costco goes above and beyond when it comes to all-inclusive perks and benefits. So, if you're planning a trip somewhere special like Orlando or Fiji, it's worth taking a look at what Costco Travel can offer to make your trip more enjoyable and memorable.
Costco Travel is also a super agency to choose if you’re interested in taking a cruise around the world or want to relax on a luxury liner with your family or a special someone by your side. The site offers many great cruise deals and packages. Afain, you get unique perks and advantages we’ve discussed throughout the guide.
Above, you can see the main booking screen for cruises. Again, it's really simple and users can simply enter their ideal destination and departure dates.
You can also narrow down your search by looking for cruises from a specific line or of a certain duration. Costco Travel will then take the information you provide and use it to find a list of possible cruises for you to consider.
Working in tandem with leading cruise companies like Norwegian, Costco Travel offers various exciting benefits for its members. For example, as the above screenshot shows, you can enjoy up to $200 in free on-ship credit to spend on anything you like during your cruise, like drinks or meals.
Costco and car rentals
Last but not least, Costco Travel also offers car rentals. So, if you’ve already got your flights and hotels booked but need a rental to help you get around, you can take a look at Costco’s options.
Once again, the booking menu is clear, clean, and straightforward. Just type in your pick-up location, dates, and times and search for your ideal car.
It’s very easy to book car rentals through Costco. The best part is that you not only get exclusive member rates, but you also get some bonuses like book now, pay later, an extra driver per booking, and no cancellation fees to worry about.
Pros and cons of Costco Travel
Let’s focus on the pros and cons of this travel service. It’s worth noting that this agency has a lot of positives and only a few minor downsides.
A comprehensive travel agency
One of the best things about using Costco Travel is the fact that it's a very comprehensive travel booking service. While some agencies tend to specialize in just one or two areas, like cruises or all-inclusive breaks, Costco Travel allows you to book everything from vacation packages and all-inclusive hotel stays to cruises, rental cars, theme park tickets, and more.
Exclusive benefits and rates
Of course, since Costco Travel is a members-only service, you would expect some member-exclusive perks and deals. Thankfully, Costco Travel more than delivers in this department.
It provides exclusive access to various perks, benefits, and well-priced packages for its members. Not only can you get great prices, but Costco Travel packages often come with fun bonuses like food credits, spa trips, room upgrades, and even Costco gift cards when booking via Costco Travel.
Quality hotels and services
Just like how Costco's staff find quality items to sell in its big-box warehouses, the Costco team works hard to make sure that members have access to quality hotels and travel experiences. So, when you search for all-inclusive breaks and vacation packages via Costco Travel, you'll be able to choose from some of the world's most beautiful destinations, finest hotels, and most enjoyable cruises.
Costco Travel provides a wealth of great travel packages, including hotels and activities. The company also understands that you might have some specific ideas in mind about your trip.
Therefore, Costco Travel itineraries are always customizable. This allows you to plan out your daily activities and book extra services separately from your main package.
A wide range of travel experiences
Another bonus of booking your travel through Costco Travel is that this agency has something for everyone. It doesn't matter whether you want to cruise, go on Safari, or go to an amusement park with the kids. Costco Travel has options for you.
Flexible payment options and clear pricing
Costco members have multiple ways to pay for their trips. There are flexible payment methods that allow you to pay for your package in small recurring chunks, rather than paying the whole thing in one go.
Plus, unlike other travel sites which hide taxes and fees until the last minute, Costco is completely clear and up-front about its prices. The price you see is the price you'll pay.
Prices may vary
If you're looking for the cheapest packages and most budget-friendly vacations, Costco Travel might not be for you. It can offer some amazing deals, but prices vary from one package to the other.
Annual membership fees
Of course, since Costco is a membership service, you also have to keep up with the aforementioned membership fees. This will be either $60 or $120 a year, depending on whether you opt for the Gold Star plan or the Executive plan.
It’s not a lot of money compared to the cost of a vacation. However, it’s still something you have to pay each and every year to continue enjoying Costco Travel access.
Expenses aren't always included
A lot of Costco Travel vacation packages include a range of services, including all-inclusive dining and spa credits. However, you can't go into a Costco Travel trip assuming that all of your expenses will be covered.
Each package varies and you may have to pay for certain things like alcoholic beverages at your resort. Of course, you need to read the inclusions/exclusions and fine print on any vacation you book.
If you want to recuperate some costs while on vacation, use a travel credit card to help you pay for everything. there are great ones on the market, like the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite or the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.
A limited range of resorts
Some of the major travel agencies and comparison websites let you book with almost any hotel or airline in the world. Costco Travel is much more selective.
It only offers packages and deals with hotels that it wants to work with, which tend to be high quality hotels and major resort chains. So this isn't the agency to choose if you like to stay at little independent hotels or small boutique spaces.
Costco Travel: the final word
Overall, Costco Travel is a great travel agency that stands out from the crowd with its unique perks and packages. If you're a budget-conscious traveler who tends to stop at cheap motels and basic hotels to save cash, Costco Travel may not be for you.
However, if you're someone who likes to experience comfort and luxury while on vacation and wants to get the best experiences and the finest value for money, with lots of fun bonuses to make every day extra special, this is a great agency to use.
Frequently asked questions about Costco Travel
At the time of writing, Costco Canada does not sell its own travel insurance, but it does have a partnership with Manulife to offer travel insurance for Costco Travel members. It’s always a good idea to compare travel insurance policies before you travel to find the best option.
Yes, Costco Travel offers some super travel deals and vacation packages. The prices are sometimes quite high, as Costco mainly works with leading resorts and major hotels, but you get lots of perks and bonuses in most packages, so there’s great value to be found.
Yes, as long as you cancel more than 48 hours before the departure time, it's possible to log in to your Costco Travel account and cancel your vacation package. There may be some penalties and non-refundable fees.
Yes, the Costco Travel service is staffed with Costco's very own team of travel experts and professionals. These agents can help you when booking your vacation and work hard to find the best packages and deals for Costco members.
No, Costco Travel does not price match. This is because, just like with the products in a Costco warehouse, the packages on the Costco Travel site are specially selected and developed by Costco's team and often come with the best value and unique perks, making them effectively impossible to price match, as no other agency offers the same perks as Costco.
No, Costco used to accept American Express cards and had a partnership with American Express for several years, but that partnership ended in 2014. However, there are plenty of other ways to pay for your vacations and hotel stays at Costco Travel in Canada.