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All the Ways Costco Saves You Money on Travel

This is not a sponsored post, I just really love Costco.

Yesterday a friend asked me to recommend a credit card with no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee. Of course, I recommended that pay the $95 a year and get the Chase Sapphire card, because it’s just the best travel card. But since she asked, I did a little research, and found this:

Costco’s Anywhere Visa card has no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee for Costco members. I mean, it’s like your Costco membership fee also covers the credit card fee. This makes me kinda sad since I have actually applied for this card and gotten denied, a rare experience for me since I have excellent credit. Maybe it was because I already hold too many Chase cards. I plan to try again later this year.

But this got me thinking about all the other ways Costco saves me money when I travel.

  • Best rental car price
    This weekend, Erik is visiting our daughter at college, and you better believe the rental car he’s picking up was reserved through Costco Travel. Over the past several years, I’ve found that Costco nearly always has the lowest rental price. You get to choose the company you rent through and enter your loyalty number, so if you are a preferred member (like we are with Budget) you can still enjoy those perks. And if you’re an Executive Costco member, you’ll get 2% cashback on the rental fee.
  • Best gas price
    If you’re a Costco member, do you plan your road trips around gassing up at Costco? I do — sometimes. At about 25 cents less per gallon than other stations, obviously filling the tank is going to be cheaper this way, but of course you also have to factor in the time. While traveling, I’ll search for Costco gas stations on Google Maps and fill up there if it doesn’t add more than, say, 15 minutes to our route. Going to the bathroom at Costco is also going to take a lot longer than it would at a gas station.
  • Cheap road meals
    If you do fill up at Costco, you might also want to stop at the food court for a hot dog or slice of pizza. You’re not going to beat those prices at a fast food drive in. If you have time, a giant bag of chips or a case of sparkling water isn’t going to go amiss with a car full of kids.
  • Fun local items
    In Maui, Costco is less than a mile from the airport, and my family is not the only one that stops there before going to our rental. Not only can you stock a rental condo kitchen for a family affordably using Costco, but you will find items your Costco at home doesn’t have. In Hawaii, that includes different types of rice, delicious cookies, seaweed snacks, etc. We also picked up cheap sarongs to wear at the beach and beach towels. Now, some people will take advantage of Costco’s generous return policy to buy items like beach chairs or even a stand up paddle board, use it for a week, then return it. I’ll leave that up to your conscience. But I didn’t mind returning a whole package of shelf stable food that we hadn’t gotten to.
  • Attraction gift cards
    Either locally or before you travel, look for discounted gift cards for theme parks and other attractions. Check the restaurant gift cards, too.
sale sign at Costco
This is from a few years ago: $500 Alaska gift card for $400
  • Airline gift cards
    Costco is currently selling a $500 Southwest credit for $450 — but that periodically goes on sale for less. Last time I bought, the sale price was $429. I’ve also seen Alaska Airlines gift cards.
  • Luggage
    To be honest, I haven’t bought any luggage at Costco, but I did notice that this Delsey hard-sided set is on sale for $30 off.
  • Best cruise price
    I’ve never been on a cruise. But before Covid, I was planning an Alaska cruise with my parents. Everyone told me to go through an agent, so I contacted one and got some quotes. Then I looked on Costco Travel and found a slightly better deal for a similar cruise. If you’re comfortable booking a cruise without the help of an agent, Costco’s packages seem great.
  • Vacation packages
    I haven’t tried this personally, but according to Travel & Leisure, “the packages Costco offers can “Costco Travel vacation packages can offer tremendous savings over booking a hotel and flight separately, and they often come with extras like airport transfers and Costco shop cards.” I just noticed the daily deals section of Costco Travel, and now I’ll be stalking it, like, daily.
  • When you get home: Discounted photos
    Costco doesn’t have photo centers any more, but I recently found you that members can get a discount at Shutterfly. Use it to make a photo book of your trip.

What did I miss? I’d love to hear how Costco saves you money while traveling.

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