3 Pitfalls of Using Costco Travel

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  • Although Costco is known for its affordable prices, many of its travel packages can be expensive.
  • You might also not find a package to your destination of choice.

Many people associate Costco with being a place to go buy granola bars and toilet paper in bulk. But actually, there are a host of services you can enjoy through Costco, from getting prescriptions filled to maintaining your car.

One service that Costco is pretty well known for is its travel service. With Costco Travel, you could enjoy big savings on a host of destinations. And if you have an executive membership at Costco, you're eligible for 2% back on your purchases -- and that also extends to any travel you book through Costco Travel. Book a $5,000 vacation package, and you're looking at $100 cash back.

Now, there are plenty of good reasons to book your travel through Costco, like getting access to exclusive deals and snagging the aforementioned cash back. Plus, Costco's customer service is known to be excellent, so if you need help booking an itinerary, you're probably going to find a very helpful Costco Travel representative at the other end of the line.

But there are certain pitfalls you might encounter when you use Costco Travel. Here are a few to be aware of.

1. Costco Travel doesn't cover all destinations

You can use Costco Travel to book a trip to Europe, the Caribbean, or Hawaii -- and these are just a few of the destinations you can get access to. But if you're looking for a trip off the beaten path, then Costco Travel may not be your best bet.

Costco works with different airlines and resorts to come up with great packages for popular destinations. But it won't necessarily be possible to put together a custom package if you want to visit a remote island many people haven't heard of.

2. The best deals tend to come in package form

When you book travel through Costco, the big savings tend to come when you sign up for a package -- something like a flight and resort stay. But if you only need a flight, or you only need lodging, then Costco may not have the best deal to offer.

3. The packages aren't necessarily cheap

Costco offers a host of options when it comes to booking a vacation package. But those options aren't necessarily inexpensive. And you may get frustrated in the course of booking your travel when you realize that many of Costco's offerings are beyond your budget.

Plus, Costco may not necessarily offer the best price for a given destination. You'll need to do your research to find out.

As an example, a five-day stay at the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana (a Dominican Republic report) costs $6,522 for a family of four in December. Although that includes flights from the New York metro area, that's hardly a cheap getaway.

If you were to book that property yourself directly, you'd be looking at $5,078 for the same dates, but you can lower that price by cashing in Hyatt points if you have them. Even if you don't, you're left with about $1,500 of leeway to book a flight. And it may be possible to score a lower price on a flight if you're strategic about your booking and keep checking prices.

You may find that booking your next vacation through Costco Travel both makes sense and saves you money. But be aware of these potential pitfalls before assuming that Costco Travel is the best way to go.

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