Costco is more than just a huge place to buy bulk products. As the largest membership warehouse club in the United States, Costco offers members fantastic discounts on products and services, including travel. These travel discounts from Costco can be found in the warehouses (selection varies by location) and/or online.
- Giftcards. Costco sells restaurant giftcards usually at a 20% discount (typically $100 for $79.99). Giftcards are like cash and can be used with other restaurant coupons or promotions. Costco sells giftcards for national chain restaurants (like McCormick & Schmicks, California Pizza Kitchen, and Wolfgang Puck) and local restaurants. Costco also sells giftcards for lodging (including BedandBreakfast.com), ski lift, movies, and much more.
- Attractions. Costco sells discounted passes to Disneyland and other theme parks. Costco also sells CityPASS booklets at a discount.
- Prepared Foods. Whether you want a quick snack or a banquet for many people, Costco will save you money. For over 20 years (since I have been a member), all Costco locations have sold a hot dog and drink for $1.50. Costco food courts have a variety of items, including pizza, salads, and ice cream. In the grocery section of Costco, you can find ready to eat items (such as rotisserie chickens, ribs, shrimp platters, veggie trays, and salads) and ready to cook items (such as paella, pizza, seafood, and more). For a niece’s birthday party, I bought two large pizzas and a birthday cake ($35 at Costco, estimated $65 at pizza shop/bakery).
- Groceries. Yesterday I showed you how to save $1000s on lodging expenses with a vacation rental. To save money on dining and eating expenses, buy your groceries at Costco. Some items can only be bought in bulk quantities, which may be convenient for a large group on vacation. However, you can also find typical groceries, such as a gallon of milk. Costco has outstanding filet mignon, fresh seafood (usually on Thursday-Saturday), produce, baked items (pies, cakes, cookies), and other groceries. In my experience, not every item will be less expensive at Costco than grocery stores. However, if you are on vacation and need lots of food, Costco is perhaps the best single choice; after all, you do not want to spend too much vacation time doing comparison shopping.
- Gas. Not every Costco location has fuel service but those that do sell gas for much less. Last week when I filled up at my local Costco, the per gallon price was 24 cents less than the closest gas station and at least 15 cents less than all others. I certainly do not encourage people to drive several miles or minutes out of their way to save a couple of dollars but buying fuel at Costco WILL save you money.
- Photos. It must be an international law that if you travel you must take photographs. Many people simply take photos, download to a computer, and post and share online. When you want to make prints or buy equipment, Costco is a great choice. Costco has an online photo center, where you can upload images and order prints and gifts. I have seen the price for prints as low as 6 cents. I have not tried this service but I heard that you can have prints delivered to any Costco warehouse. So, you can request prints and have your family and friends pick them up at their location (saves time and postage costs). Costco also sells photo equipment. I bought my last point-and-shoot camera at Costco; it was about 20% less expensive than anywhere else and included a larger memory card.
- Entertainment and Gifts. Every Costco location has a great selection of discounted magazines, books, DVDs and CDs. Costco is a great place to buy reading, music, and movies for your vacation rental, road trip, or the beach. Costco is also a fantastic place to buy gifts, especially at Christmas or other holiday times. On one trip a few years ago, I bought gifts for siblings, nephews, and nieces. Costco sold a gift wrapping set that included six rolls of wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, and fasteners—all for under $10. I left the remainder with my sister, as another “gift.” I have also bought higher end (not ultra premium) liquor and champagne for gifts from Costco. Yes, less expensive than from other sources.
- Household Items. With the air travel security
hasslesenhancements, Costco is a great place to buy suntan lotion, especially for a large group or extended vacation. I have also bought pillows, towels (beach and house), clothes, sunglasses, and household goods (including cleaning and garbage bags) at Costco. Apparently, Costco pharmacies sell medicines for less than Wal-Mart. Did you know that postage stamps are discounted at Costco?
There you go. 8 Great Travel Discounts from Costco. Oh, yeah. I did not even include CostcoTravel.com, which offers discounts on cruises, vacations, lodging, rental cars, and attractions. How about that?
Please also see the other McCool Travel articles about Costco: