In cruises, the benefits may include a cabin upgrade and shipboard credits; in rental cars the discounts generally range from 15 to 25 percent, according to the company. To get these, most members pay $60 or $120 to join (the higher level of membership offers 2 percent cash back on all Costco purchases). The Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, which has no annual fee for Costco members, offers 3 percent cash back on Costco Travel purchases.
To test the system, I tried booking a hotel and flight combination, a new offering from Costco. On the Costco Travel website, I searched for a weeklong trip from Chicago to San Francisco for two in mid-April and received a quote of $2,079 for a basic economy flight and a room at the Hampton Inn San Francisco Downtown/Convention Center. When I tried to replicate the reservation on my own, I priced equivalent airline tickets at $866 and the hotel at $1,698 for a total of $2,564: 23 percent more than the Costco package.
Sam’s Club charges $45 for basic membership and $100 for premium, both of which offer access to travel deals including, recently, 30 percent off ski lift tickets at Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vt., up to 60 percent off an array of Las Vegas hotels and access to three Universal Orlando Resort theme parks for the price of two.
Membership at BJ’s costs $55 or $110, but I found its travel booking engine was faulty. The club’s website recently advertised a four-night stay, from May 18 to 22, at the all-inclusive Royal Sunset Royal Beach Resort in Cancún, Mexico, with airfare for $580 a person. When I proceeded with the booking, it offered airline tickets to Orlando, Fla., rather than Cancún and no way to correct this. A helpful agent who answered the toll-free number was able to straighten it out and secure other dates in April for a similar per night package price of $147 a person.
In room searches, hotels commonly offer discounted rates to members of the American Automobile Association (AAA).
“With more than 60 million members, there is strength in numbers,” Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA Northeast, wrote in an email.