I love Costco rental cars, even though it’s not always the cheapest

Insider experts pick the best products and services to help you make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive commission from our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

Disclaimer: Citi is an Insider Advertising Partner.

  • I love buying affordable food and home goods at Costco, but my favorite membership perk is the low-cost car rental.
  • Costco’s travel system looks at deals from a variety of major car rental companies, including Avis and Alamo, and then applies the membership discount to the best deal.
  • Although I’ve found cheaper rentals on Priceline, I prefer Costco because I always know which company to rent from (unlike Priceline), Costco has the best customer service, and I get free rental car insurance when I use a Costco Visa Anywhere.
  • You can use the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citito 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 up on our favorite household items and groceries for less, we also love one of its lesser-known benefits: car rentals. My husband gets rental car discounts through his employer, but even with that perk, 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 rate; We got cars from Alamo and Avis through the Costco Travel site.

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

Use Costco to book rental cars

In 2016 we used Costco to book two rental cars. The first was a Chevrolet Suburban that we picked up on February 25th and dropped off on February 29th. 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 returned it 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 to rack up unlimited miles, meaning there was no cap on the 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 Costco’s platform and Kayak options and the cost of renting at an even discount. I chose February 20-23 as my dates, and set my pick-up and drop-off location as Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.

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

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

Even though Priceline is the cheaper option, I would still choose to use Costco. In the past, I’ve had great customer service through Costco, and I like that Costco tells 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 with a Costco rental 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, and travel and emergency assistance.

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi earns 2% cash back 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 a few reasons why you should go for additional car rental insurance coverage, for example if you did not have insurance to begin with, you are traveling abroad, or if you are traveling on business. However, the coverage you get with a credit card, such as a Costco card, is usually sufficient for most rental car 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 provides other travel benefits, like discounted hotel rooms and cruise ship vacations. And if you use your Costco credit card to pay gas or EV fees at a Costco location while traveling, you’ll get 4% cash back (up to $7,000 a year and then 1% after that).

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

The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa Card

rewards

Earn 4% cash back on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and then 1% after that). Earn 3% Cash Back on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% Cash Back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa® Card from Citi

Citi Costco Anywhere Visa Card

rewards

Earn 4% cash back on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and then 1% after that). Earn 3% Cash Back on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% Cash Back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

rewards

Earn 4% cash back on your eligible gas and electric vehicle purchases for the first $7,000 per year (and then 1% after that). Earn 3% Cash Back on eligible dining and travel purchases. Earn 2% Cash Back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Credit recommended

excellent

Ordinary Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

18.99% variable

Editor’s rating
4.2/ 5

Our editor’s ratings break down fees, rewards, rewards, and benefits to highlight the simplest, most valuable credit cards available.
Show more

chevron symbol Indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous/next navigation options.

chevron symbol Indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous/next navigation options.

chevron symbol Indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous/next navigation options.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: