Renting a car through Costco Travel
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Many of you are familiar with Costco Travel and the ways in which it can help you save money and get extra perks for vacation packages. But Costco members can also use the travel program to find great rental car deals. Most of the team at Million Mile Secrets books car rentals this way.
With Costco Travel, you can often find the cheapest prices. Plus reservations are flexible, so you can cancel at any time without paying a fee.
Let’s compare of rental car rates for sample reservations at Costco Travel and other popular booking sites.
Costco Travel rental cars
If you’re booking a rental car, you can use Costco Travel to quickly compare prices and book with these four major rental car companies:
You can book rental cars online or by calling Costco at 866-921-7925. No credit card information is required at the time of the reservation because you pay when you pick up the car.
Keep in mind, you must be over the age of 25 to book a rental car through Costco Travel. (For anyone under 25, check out my post about how to get the lowest rental car prices.)
When you book through Costco, you can link your car rental loyalty number in order to earn points and skip to the front of the car rental line. Another perk of booking through Costco Travel is you get a free additional driver at certain locations. This benefit can save you ~$13 per day depending on the rental car company.
When you book through Costco Travel, you also can add your reservation information to AutoSlash, a free service that’s an amazing way to save money if prices drop.
To compare rental car prices, I researched three sample trips using:
Keep in mind, Hotwire does not always tell you the name of the car rental agency and the exact car model until you pay for the rental. The benefit is it partners with several more rental car companies. Note that Hotwire reservations are not as flexible as Costco Travel, so while the company might have the cheapest price, you might not be able to cancel or modify your reservation.
Here’s what I found for three sample trips:
7-Day rental in Maui
I checked a week-long rental in Maui in July 2020. The cheapest option I found through Costco Travel was an intermediate car for $434.46 for the week with Alamo. In comparison, I found a standard/full size car (a grade above intermediate) through Hotwire for only $416.98 with Hertz and a similar car through the Chase travel portal for $461.42.
In this instance, Hotwire is the winner. But it’s always best to compare prices because the best deal depends on your dates of travel and the type of car you’re looking to book.
One-way rental from San Francisco to Los Angeles
I checked a four-day one-way rental from San Francisco to Los Angeles in June 2020. This is a popular route for folks looking to drive along the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway.
In this instance, the economy car was the cheapest option on every site, with Costco Travel charging $437.56, Hotwire charging $444.37, and the Chase travel portal costing $481.47.
Costco Travel is the winner in this example if you were looking for an economy car. Similar to the first example, however, the best price depends on which vehicle type you rent.
Weekend rental in Montreal
I checked a Friday to Sunday rental in Montreal in July 2020.
The majority of the rentals for this example were cheaper through Costco Travel. The exception was for an SUV, which was about $5 cheaper through the Chase travel portal (but remember you can add an extra driver for free through Costco, so it could be worth it to pay slightly more).
Use the right credit card
There are several travel credit cards that come with primary rental insurance when you use one of the cards to pay for your rental and decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver (often called CDW or LDW).
The primary rental insurance covers theft or damage to your vehicle but not damage to other vehicles and property or injuries.
For liability coverage, you’ll have to rely on your own personal auto insurance or purchase a supplemental policy from the rental car company.
Here are a few popular cards that offer primary rental car insurance:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Costco members can find great rental car deals with Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise through Costco Travel. Besides cheap prices, booking through Costco Travel means you get a free additional driver at certain locations, which will save you money.
I compared rental car prices on Costco Travel, Hotwire, and the Chase travel portal. The results showed Costco travel prices were either the cheapest or very competitive with the other sites. Remember that Costco Travel reservations are flexible, so you can cancel at any time without paying a fee.
Do you book rental cars through Costco Travel? I’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments below.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)