Costco Membership Hacks: 2 Little-Known Travel Discounts

by Travis Pizel · 68 comments

Lodging is often the most expensive item in any travel budget. And when your whole family is traveling, not just you as a single person or couple, it can get even more pricey. But there are a few well-known discounts available when talking to a hotel representative:

  • What is your best rate?
  • Are you running any specials?
  • My spouse works for a major corporation, do you offer a corporate rate?

This had me thinking. Are there discounts available for memberships besides the normal AAA? My wife and I had first-hand experience with this recently and here’s what we found.

In addition to asking the regular questions (see above) my wife threw another one into the mix that I hadn’t heard asked before, “I know many hotels give a discount to AAA members. We’re not members, but do you give discounts for any other memberships?”

To my surprise, it worked. The representative asked if we were Costco members, which of course we are. We were quoted a new price that was 15% lower than the original.

Receive Discounts at Hotels

This was the first time I heard of a hotel that gave a discount based on a Costco membership. After checking out the Costco travel website, I discovered that members are eligible for several travel-related discounts including hotel offers.

The Costco site advertises a discount of at least 10% at Best Western hotels, as well as a 10% from the Hyatt hotel chain. One of these was the hotel from which my wife inquired about the Costco discount, and had great success.

Get Perks for Car Rentals

Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise all offer perks for Costco members as well. There are coupons listed on the website for a percentage or a flat rate discount, or even a free upgrade or GPS system. I got the impression that these coupons change, so you’d have to check and see what is available at the time you wanted to rent a car.

As an extra perk, if you have a Costco American Express credit card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on your travel purchases.

Traveling away from home can be expensive, so any savings can be very beneficial to the budget. And if you’re already paying for a Costo membership, to lower your grocery bill, this is an added bonus.

Finding out that my Costco membership has travel perks was a pleasant surprise. I wonder what other surprises I’ll discover about my membership!

Have you ever received a surprise discount from your Costco membership? What about other memberships? Do any of them save you money on travel expenses?

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter January 22, 2015 at 7:12 am

One important thing you forgot to mention about car rentals with Costco: car rental companies will waive the fee to add an additional driver, an additional saving!

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:17 am

That’s true, Peter, I saw that on their website as well – but I wasn’t sure if that was the kind of perk that they rotate out for something else or not. Thanks for mentioning it!

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Money Beagle January 22, 2015 at 8:11 am

We are planning a trip to Disney World, and Costco offers a package where you stay at a hotel onsite (but not Disney owned) and they’ll also provide your tickets and such. We thought long and hard about it, but the hotel reviews are just OK, so even though the price was pretty good (30% lower than I could find for the hotel bookings on any other site or with any other discount), we passed. It is something worth considering because priorities could be different for every traveler. Costco Travel is definitely worth a look!

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:19 am

Good point, Money Beagle, they do also offer deals to Disney world as well as certain cruise ship package deals. I wasn’t sure (like the rental car savings mentioned above) if those where deals that are currently offered and would eventually change as well. Definitely checking out what is available on their website when planning a vacation – thanks for stopping by!

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Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom January 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

We don’t have a Costco membership, but we do get discounts as professionals, alumni, and some other memberships as well. I find I don’t use the discounts much because I can usually find a last minute deal that’s better. But it’s always nice to discover ways to save! Expecially just for asking a question!

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:21 am

Kudos to you for finding some last minute deals that work out for you…..I’m more of a planner, so I like to have everything set in stone well ahead of time. :) Thanks for reading!

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Bill January 22, 2015 at 1:41 pm

The AAA discount is normally 10%, as is the AARP or senior discount, so a 15% Costco discount is better than usual.

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:21 am

True story, Bill….I’m hoping that the discount gets picked up by more hotel chains in the future!

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Jonathan January 22, 2015 at 2:29 pm

I love getting freebies! In the UK I’m a member of Costco and May have to test these discounts out here to see if they work over the pond. Just goes to show that being a member of a large discounter options up discount opportunities in unexpected areas! :)

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

I’d be interested to know if the same sort of discounts are available in the UK, Jonathan – let us know!

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Mike Carlson January 23, 2015 at 12:03 am

I love discounts! I already avail before discounts from Costco and it’s really great. Thanks for sharing this post.

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:29 am

Glad you found the post useful, Mike – Come back and let us know how well they work for you!

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Nanci Felthauser January 23, 2015 at 9:55 am

For another really solid resource forfinding the best hotel deals check this out …

For the second year in a row, HotelsCombined has won the title of the World’s Leading Hotel Comparison Website in the 2014 World Travel Awards!

To use their services you can go to cheapesthotelreservations dot info where you get to compare HUNDREDS of hotel booking sites in one single search. You not only receive the best Trivago or Expedia deals but you get ALL of them in one place.

They also have a guarantee that if you can find a cheaper rate elsewhere they will pay you the difference!

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:30 am

Thanks for the tip Nanci – definitely worth checking out!

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bigyaz March 27, 2015 at 10:19 am

Nice spam, Nanci. I assume you work for HotelsCombined? I notice you spam it all over the web.

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Ted C January 24, 2015 at 7:06 am

“Hacks”? Is this site now written by vacuous minded teenagers?

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Chris Mei January 25, 2015 at 8:18 am

I guess “hacks” is the new “perks.” :–).

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Travis @enemyofdebt January 25, 2015 at 9:32 am

LOL, you know how it is, Ted and Chris – you need a title that will get people to click and read, right? The point is, though, these were discounts I was not aware of, and they saved me some money. I’m sure I’m not the only person out there that didn’t realize that you could get travel discounts through a Costco membership, so I wanted to share them with the readers here at Moneyning. Thanks for clicking and reading – looks like the title worked! :)

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Chris Mei January 25, 2015 at 6:32 pm

I’ll start asking the car rental places and other vendors if they have Costco discounts! I didn’t know about them. Thanks for the tip!

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Diane C January 27, 2015 at 12:14 pm

On a recent trip to Seattle, we saved by renting a Budget car near our hotel, well away from the airport, through Costco. At the end of the trip, we decided to look into returning the car to the airport. Budget let us do so at no extra charge, because we had rented through Costco. We were happily shocked, as we’d been expecting to be asked a hefty surcharge for the privilege.

On the topic of “hacks” vs. “perks”, I look at it this way. A perk is something that comes along with something (affinity card, club membership, employment, etc.) and is readily available to anyone and everyone who qualifies. IMHO, a “hack” is something that you or one of your closest internet friends figures out that’s not explicitly obvious.

For example, I have a Priority Club membership and credit card. I get a free night once a year. That’s a perk. This year, I noticed that there are about two weeks overlap on the certificates, so I could use them back-to-back to get a free weekend. That’s a hack. Because I’m Platinum, I got a very upgraded room. That’s a perk. We got into the Very.Expensive.Aquarium free on a guest pass because a friend of mine’s sister works there. That’s a hack.

The whole point is never, ever pay the rack rate for anything without trying to figure out a less expensive way to obtain the same or similar goods and services. Assuming that it’s something you need and can afford, of course.

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Travis Pizel January 31, 2015 at 7:50 am

I like your explanation of perk vs hack, Diane C – I think “hack” is just the “in” term right now for any way you can save while traveling. Thanks for reading!

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Robert Clayton Fairchild May 16, 2016 at 10:04 am

Diane, were you aware that you can earn priority club points at local restaurants? With IHG if you register your primary credit card you can earn points at restaurants as well? I was surprised to find out a great locally owned barbeque place called Goldies here in Vancouver is one of the restaurants on IHG’s list. They have several big chains on their list too. I do not stay at hotels as often as I used to,so this is a great way to earn oounts even when I am NOT traveling.

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Robert Clayton Fairchild May 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

Diane, were you aware that you can earn priority club points at local restaurants? With IHG if you register your primary credit card you can earn points at restaurants as well? I was surprised to find out a great locally owned barbeque place called Goldies here in Vancouver is one of the restaurants on IHG’s list. They have several big chains on their list too. I do not stay at hotels as often as I used to,so this is a great way to earn points even when I am NOT traveling.

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Diane C May 16, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Thanks, Robert. I am aware and registered, but we eat out so little I’d all but forgotten about it. Since I pay for everything on that card, should I happen to stumble into a restaurant on the program, I’ll score a few “surprise” points.

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Sarah February 2, 2015 at 8:54 pm

My local Honda dealership gives a discount to Costco members when you have work done in the service department. 10%, I believe. It isn’t advertised–I found out when I overheard another customer asking for the discount.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 4, 2015 at 5:56 pm

@Sarah – SCORE! It never hurts to ask……..sometimes you win! Thanks for sharing!

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Ann May 20, 2015 at 4:12 pm

My local sporting goods retailer (Sports Basement) gives 10% discount for me having a Costco membetship.

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com May 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

@Ann – That’s awesome! Love hearing all the ways Costco memberships save people money!

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Mike February 4, 2015 at 12:58 pm

Thank you for sharing the Costco insights you uncovered. I like the questions you ask when searching for a discount (What is your best rate?, etc). NEVER hurts to ask and that is usually how you save $$!

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 4, 2015 at 5:57 pm

True story, Mike…..if you run across any great discounts you get by asking questions, come back and share them!

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Edward S February 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm

I’ve used Costco for car rentals several times and it has always been significantly less expensive than other discounts. But, go through the Costco website under “travel” where they have a low-cost-finder feature.

Also go through the Costco website to find a car dealer that discounts repairs or to buy a new car. I bought my last minivan through Costco. They sent me to a dealer that provided a no-haggle price–and my local dealer, from whom I purchased my last 3 vehicles, said they couldn’t come close.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 8, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Oooh, I love the “no haggle price,” Edward…I’m horrible at negotiating. 😉

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Tom R. February 11, 2015 at 11:44 am

A couple of stories to share about renting cars through Costco…

I rented a fullsize car for a weekend in Kansas City in Dec 2014 through Costco.com that cost literally $4 per day (plus taxes and fees of course) for a total of something like $40 for two and a half days. No other site, nor the car rental company’s site itself (I think it was Budget) even came close to that. Not sure how they can even rent a car that cheaply.

I also just rented a car for a trip to Ireland in May/June via Avis. Costco.com quoted me something pretty outrageous for what I needed, as did Avis.com. But I went to Avis.ie, which is Avis’s Irish website, and was able to rent a car using the Costco discount code for about half of what the other sites were quoting me. Their price was in Euros rather than dollars so I had to do some math but going to the Irish website saved me hundreds of dollars. And using the Costco code lopped 15% off the price I was quoted without the Costco code (in other words, the Costco code worked even on the Irish Avis site!)

As an aside, I also used Costco in my purchase of a new car…my local Honda dealership matched and actually beat the Costco price by a couple hundred dollars (my local dealership is not part of the Costco network). So while Costco provides a nice low “no-haggle” price, it is not necessarily the best price you can get with just a little more haggling.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Great stories, Tom – good to see the discounts in action! Thanks for sharing!

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RB February 12, 2015 at 11:04 am

Recommend Costco Travel. Did a cruise through them it it was flawless. First time taking a cruise as well. I thought it was good value and handled well.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm

I saw that they offered some discounts on cruises on their website, RB….if it matches what you’re looking for, it’s definitely worth looking into. I’ve never taken a cruise, but will check to see what they offer when I do – and I’m sure I will, since my wife had mentioned it I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. 😉

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Blake February 14, 2015 at 7:21 am

A huge Costco travel perk is free immediate ability to cancel car rental. Find better price elsewhere? No cancellation fee. Actually several times price on Costco is suddenly cheaper so I cancel it and rebook. Saved me tons if money over the years

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

That’s a great tip, Blake – late cancellation is usually a wallet killer!

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Cricket February 14, 2015 at 7:26 am

Costco has lost all of it’s zeal. The Silverdale Washington Store has the worst customer service of any retail store I have been in. I wont shop there any longer. You can find better prices than Costco at several stores that carry like products. I bought a Hawaii trip through my local travel agent at a price better than Costco’s. Most of the employees are pissed off and if you ever meet a manager you can see why. Steer clear of Costco is my best advice.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm

That’s unfortunate that you had that experience, Cricket…..and while I certainly don’t doubt you had a bad experience….and I’m exactly like you – if I get bad service I’m not going back…..others may have a very different experience. I personally haven’t had a bad customer experience at Costco.

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PommeDG March 4, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Sounds pretty implausible given my customer service experience at EVERY Costco I have ever been to, that they pride themselves on customer service and compensating their employees fairly to ensure such, and that Washington is where the company’s headquarters are. In short, no one believes you Cricket. Perhaps you were at a Walmart, Target, or Sam’s Club.

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com March 5, 2015 at 9:24 am

You never know, PommeDG…you get one bad employee, or someone on a bad day. It happens. :)

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Shawna June 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I am very pleased to be a Costco member and feel it is one of the few companies left that takes pride in having a clean store and having great customer service. I have been to one that had FILTHY bathrooms and reported it right away to a very polite staff who I don’t know if they took care of it promptly because I took my son and hightailed it out of that nastiness. Then there was a Costco in the city where I lived and half the employees were angry looking and rude. I would joke about the rude ones who had a stick up they booty with the very polite Costco employees and tell them I felt bad for them to have to work with the rude ones everyday. Basically you just learn which ones to avoid and if its too bad report them. COSTCO is worth the deals and discounts. My children even notice the shoppers are happier and nicer there than other stores.

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Diane C February 15, 2015 at 10:27 am

Dear Cricket,
The advice I like to live by is to steer clear of haters. Your sweeping generalizations are anecdotal (non-scientific observations or studies which do not provide proof) at best.
Kind regards,
Diane C

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

People do have different experiences at the same store – if I were Cricket I would contact a manager and let them know what happened, and give them a chance to make it up to me.

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Edward S February 17, 2015 at 6:45 pm

Keep in mind that car rental rates are like airline rates; they go up and down dramatically. I just returned from renting a car in Florida through Costco. I rented in Jacksonville and returned it to Orlando for a 9 day cost just under $300.00. I had reserved it about 3 weeks ahead. When I checked a week later the rate was over $1,000.00 and a couple of days later it was over $700.00. It pays to follow the trends for awhile if the rate seems high.

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 23, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Good point, Edward……it always pays to keep checking back to see if the price has gone down! Thanks for reading!

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Arya February 23, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Informative article.
Any idea if COSTCO gives discount in renting a car outside USA too?
We as a family plan a trip to Iceland and Switzerland Thanks..

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Travis @enemyofdebt February 23, 2015 at 7:55 pm

Good question….you may have to give Costco a call and find out. If you do, come back here and let us know the results!

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Sue June 7, 2015 at 12:01 pm

I have just had the same experience. Rented a car through Costco about a year ago, and got the best deal I could find at the time. Now, I just rented a car through AAA because it beat Costco by about $70.00 for a 2 week rental. Near as I can tell, AAA and Costco offer similar perks.

But, the rental I did a year ago was a pickup from an off-airport location, and return to the airport location, while this rental is the same off-airport location for both pickup/return. So it may not be comparing apples to apples.

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Sue June 7, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Meant that to go under jmartin’s post.

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jmartin April 3, 2015 at 4:30 pm

For several years, Costco was consistently beating all other websites with rental car deals. I try them all (Orbitz, Travelocity, Carrentals.com, Hotwire and on and on..). Then about a year or so ago, that all changed and Costco prices have been disappointing since. My last 7 rental purchases have all been through other sites.

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com April 6, 2015 at 8:21 pm

That’s disappointing to hear, jmartin…I wonder what changed????

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Ann July 8, 2015 at 7:40 pm

I just made a reservation and saved $200 on a week’s rental. While I chose the lowest, all of the rentals were at least $100 cheaper. One thing that is still helpful is either clearing your cookies or going incognito with Google Chrome.

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com July 9, 2015 at 7:29 pm

I just heard that going incognito will make a difference Ann…I’ve got to try that out!

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Jerry Maple April 17, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Not Costco related, but I always find great discount codes for car rentals at mousesavers.com

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com May 15, 2015 at 10:30 am

Thanks for the tip, Jerry – it’s always good to have more resources to save money!

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Jess k June 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

We booked a Royal Caribbean cruise through Costco last year. Not only was it $300 less than what a different travel agent quoted me but we also received a $125 on board ship credit. The customer service people were also very nice and helpful. They had tons of great tips for us, since we were first time cruisers.

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Travis @enemyofdebt.com June 28, 2015 at 4:30 am

Can’t complain about that, right Jess K? Thanks for sharing!

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Ellie July 21, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Costco is by far the best deal if you are NOT picking up from an airport and especially for longer trips. We took a 22 day trip last September and the ENTIRE trip was around 310.00. We had a credit card that allowed us to waive the collision insurance AND they gave us an upgrade because they did have the car we ordered. So we drove an SUV the entire trip and put nearly 3500 miles on the car. We considered that a great deal since we have older cars and a Long road trip would be risky in case of a breakdown!

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Travis @enemyofdebt December 5, 2015 at 7:00 am

Thanks for Sharing, Ellie!

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David July 24, 2015 at 1:09 pm

I have nothing but great things to say about the customer service at costco. I had purchased an expensive grill which was two years old and failed to work. After calling costco, they suggested to take it back and then found the store which would have the demo with the product to replace it. It took less than 10 minutes to return no problems. I left very happy with a brand new grill which had improved. Now I knoe to look at their travel benefits next vacation.

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Travis @enemyofdebt December 5, 2015 at 7:00 am

Nobody beats the return policy at Costco, David. I brought back an electric blanket over a year later because it just stopped working – no hassles!

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Amber December 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm

Costco sells cars… Check it out, if you use your membership right it pays for itself.

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Travis @enemyofdebt December 5, 2015 at 7:01 am

I know that some dealerships will give a Costco discount…but I didn’t know they sold cars themselves. although I have seen a car sitting out in their entry way a time or two…..thanks for reading, Amber!

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Jim January 21, 2016 at 9:20 am

The cars you see outside Costco are not for sale by Costco but are cars from dealerships that belong to a network run by Costco Auto company that negotiate prices and shop cars for you when you call Costco auto and inform them what your looking for in car brands, style and options on car you want and price of car and how your going to pay for it. That company does the work for you and send you to the dealer once they locate and get the car your looking for

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Jim January 21, 2016 at 9:26 am

I meant to also add that The laws of the land prohibit Costco from selling cars directly But never say never , would be awesome if Costco sold cars cause hey , it’s a year later…. My car breaks down and or starts falling apart… Well if your a Costco member. You know how that story ends.

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Anita Faulkner April 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm

I use rental cars a lot because my only car is all electric. Booking Enterprise through Costco not only allows one additional driver for free (even non family if they have a Costco membership), but a free upgrade depending on availability. I have never failed to get my free upgrade. Plus, by sticking with Enterprise, over time, you will get additional perks and the best customer service. And, they will pick you up at home and bring you to the office and vice versa.

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