I love Costco car rentals, although they are not always the cheapest

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  • I love buying affordable food and household goods from Costco, but my favorite membership feature is the low-cost car rentals.
  • Costco’s travel system searches for deals from a variety of major car rental companies, including Avis and Alamo, and then applies a membership discount to the best deal.
  • Although I have found cheaper rentals on Priceline, I prefer Costco because I always know which company I rent from (unlike Priceline), Costco has the best customer service, and I get free car rental insurance when I use a Costco visa anywhere.
  • Use your Citito Costco Anywhere Visa® Card and get 2% back on eligible in-store and online purchases.

Most people use Costco to buy toilet paper, snack foods, and meat in bulk. While my husband and I are among those who use Costco to stock our favorite household items and groceries at lower cost, we also love one of its lesser-known perks: car rentals. My husband gets discounts on car rentals through his employer, but even with this benefit, renting a car through Costco is usually cheaper.

When researching car rental options, Costco automatically searches several companies to find the best deal and then applies its membership discount to the lowest price; We got cars from Alamo and Avis through Costco Travel.

While I always recommend shopping for deals, we’ve found that due to the added benefit of a Costco membership, Costco rates are usually cheaper than booking directly through the car rental company.

Use Costco to book a rental car

In 2016, we used Costco to book two rental cars. The first was a Chevrolet Suburban that we picked up on February 25 and slipped back on it on February 29. The total rental price was $332.76, including $81.52 in taxes and fees. That comes to $83.19 per day.

The second car we rented through Costco was a Ford Fiesta. We received the car on March 14th and put it back in again on March 19th. Total cost $256.22, which included $44.81 in taxes and fees, or $51.44 per day.

Both of these rentals were automatic transmission, air-conditioned, and allowed us unlimited miles, meaning there was no maximum number of miles we could put on the rental car.

We rented these cars a few years ago, but for the sake of comparison, I recently did a quick search to look at the cost difference between the Costco platform and Kayak options and the cost of renting at an even discount. I chose February 20-23 as the dates, and set the pick-up and drop-off location as Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.

To rent a minivan (we’ve expanded our family since 2016!) it would cost $169.89 at Alamo, $163.97 at Avis, $140.44 through the Costco website (from a budget), $135.90 through Priceline, and $149.53 through my husband’s company.

Why I still choose Costco even though it’s not always the cheapest option

Although Priceline is the cheapest option, I would still choose to use Costco. In the past, I’ve had great customer service through Costco, and I like Costco to tell you which rental car company you’re booking with in advance (unlike Priceline, which withholds this information until you pay for the rental).

Another added bonus to renting a Costco car: If you use your Citi Costco Anywhere Visa® card to book your rental, the card automatically provides you with travel accident insurance, rental car insurance, travel assistance, and emergencies.

The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa® Card earns 2% cashback on in-store and online purchases and has no annual fee.

Car rental companies usually try to get you to add rental insurance even if you are already covered. According to The Simple Dollar, it can easily cost upwards of $30 per day for rental car insurance. There are some reasons why you should go for additional car rental insurance coverage, for example if you do not have insurance initially, you are traveling abroad, or you are traveling for business. However, the coverage you get with a credit card, such as a Costco card, is usually sufficient for most car rental companies.

While I wouldn’t buy a Costco membership just to use the Costco Travel discount site, it’s a nice perk for the $60 membership fee. Being a Costco member also offers other travel benefits, such as discounted hotel rooms and cruise ship vacations. And if you use your Costco credit card to pay gas or EV charges at a Costco location while traveling, you’ll get 4% cash back (up to $7,000 per year and 1% thereafter).

There are many reasons why people join Costco, and having access to a travel rewards site should be considered another great reason to sign up.

Costco Visa Anywhere Card from Citi

Rewards

Earn 4% cashback on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and 1% thereafter). Earn 3% cashback on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% cashback on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cashback on all other purchases

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi

Costco Visa Anywhere Card from Citi

Rewards

Earn 4% cashback on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and 1% thereafter). Earn 3% cashback on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% cashback on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cashback on all other purchases

Rewards

Earn 4% cashback on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and 1% thereafter). Earn 3% cashback on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% cashback on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cashback on all other purchases

Credit recommended

excellent

normal april

17.49% (Variable)

Editor’s Rating
4.2/ 5

Our editor reviews analyze fees, rewards, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest and most valuable credit cards available.
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