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Renting a car through Costco Travel

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Renting a car through Costco Travel

Meghan HunterRenting a car through Costco TravelMillion Mile Secrets Team

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.

You can find great deals on rental cars through Costco Travel. (Photo by AbElena/Shutterstock)

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:

  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Enterprise

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.

Book a one-way rental to drive on the Pacific Coast Highway to see the beautiful California scenery. (Photo by Lux Blue/Shutterstock)

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 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.

You’ll have peace of mind when you book a car rental using the right credit card, because accidents do happen. (Photo by CC7/Shutterstock)

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:

Bottom line

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.

Don’t forget to add your rental car reservation details to AutoSlash to see if you can save even more money.

Do you book rental cars through Costco Travel? I’d love to hear more about your experience in the comments below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 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.

More Info

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! :)

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I’ve rented at least 50 cars through Costco and have NEVER been surprised by extra taxes or fees when returning them. But when I strayed to a “cheaper” rate, I’ve ALWAYS been charged more then the quote. I’ll take the known “out-the-door” price any day.

I agree me too. I experience the same thing. The price I see on Costco is the price I pay unless I add-on extra stuff.

Frugal Traveller

And just remember, it is almost never a good idea to rent for multiple days on the basis of a one way rental. Just rent for the number of days needed to get you where you are going and then have a separate CHEAPER rental for the balance of days you need a car.

Costco was by far the cheapest for my recent one-way rental. Saved me about $50.

Yep!!! And I do not get hit with hidden extras, unless I add on stuff when I get to the counter

email has changed since we got card

It is very clear that Costco members do not get the best prices on rental cars. Not sure why they are telling us that we do. In fact when I was researching the cost of rental cars, the Costco prices were substantially higher.

Yeah once in awhile you do, but the problem is if you find something cheaper than Costco, then you will probably get surprised fees or some agent trying really hard to up sell you.

With Costco, I get exactly what I paid for as quoted on Costco Travels when you booked it, unless you wanted to add other things when I get there. Some companies like Alamo makes it completely hassle free for me to pick up and drop off.

Thank you for sharing your experience both of you. I am actually getting better prices on costco than on any other website. This may just be my experience though because I am looking for a car rental company that already includes a spouse or domestic partner for free and then has an additional driver for free on top of that which Costco offers saving lots of money. These are Budget and Enterprise. Enterprise has fairly reasonable prices although this may be cut by more if I wasn’t looking for these specific criteria.

Million Mile Secrets

Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s a good reminder to always double check the prices with other sites to ensure you’re getting the best price.

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