Costco members can save money on rental cars with Avis, Budget, Enterprise, and Alamo through Costco Travel’s rental program.
Costco members can also add an additional driver for free, and can avoid paying cancellation fees.
In this post, we will tell you everything you need to know about renting cars through Costco and whether Costco is truly the best deal out there.
1. You Need to Be a Costco Member
The primary driver needs to be a Costco Member and may need to show their Costco card upon pickup. But additional drivers do not need to be members.
Costco has two membership plans:
- Gold- $60
- Executive- $120
The main benefit of the executive card is 2% cash back at Costco, including rental cars booked through Costco Travel.
For example. a $300 rental car would earn you $6 in Costco Cash with an Executive Card.
2. Limited Rental Car Companies
The Costco Rental Car discount only works with four rental car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Enterprise.
However, Costco does not work with other large rental car companies such as Hertz or National, which are my two favorite car rental companies.
3. Costco is Not Always the Cheapest
We conducted a test to determine if Costco was the cheapest place to book a rental car.
We found that Costco was cheapest option only in three of our nine test reservations.
The winner was AutoSlash with the cheapest price in five of our nine test reservations.
Testing Criteria for Best Rental Car Deals
We established testing criteria to ensure that we were making an “apples to apples” comparison on the rental car reservations.
Our five testing criteria were:
- A 3-day rental for the same dates about two months in advance.
- A refundable or “Pay Later” rate.
- An intermediate car or higher.
- Unlimited miles included in the price.
- Only reputable car companies (we avoided Fox, Routes, and Easirent due to inconvenient airport locations, long lines, and bad customer service.)
Testing Discounts for Airport Locations
We tested four U.S. airports and one international airport to find the best deal. AutoSlash had the cheapest price three times, with Costco as the best deal for only one reservation.
- AutoSlash- $106
- Costco $120
- Kayak- $129
- AAA- $199
Las Vegas (LAS)
- AutoSlash- $100
- Costco $110
- Kayak- $122
- AAA- $184
- Kayak- $141
- Costco- $150
- AAA- $153
- AutoSlash- $153
New York (LGA)
- Costco- $195
- Kayak- $198
- AutoSlash- $222
- AAA- $272
- AutoSlash- $122
- Costco- $146
- Kayak- $160
- AAA- $166
Testing Discounts for Downtown Locations
We tested four downtown U.S. cities to see who would have the best price. Costco won twice and AutoSlash won twice.
- AutoSlash- $118
- Kayak- $156
- AAA- $158
- Costco- $163
- Costco- $138
- AutoSlash- $156
- Kayak- $172
- AAA- $225
- Costco- $86
- AutoSlash- $89
- Kayak- $92
- AAA- $233
- AutoSlash- $114
- Costco- $144
- Kayak- $145
- AAA- $152
3. You Can Rent in U.S. and 7 Other Countries
You can use Costco Travel to book a rental car for both airport and non-airport rental car locations in the United States (including Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) and seven other countries including:
- The United Kingdom
4. Booking Online is Easy
It is easy to book a rental with Costco. First visit the Costco Travel website and click “Rental Cars.”
Next, choose your pickup location, pickup date and time, and drop off date and time.
Then, certify that you are above 25 years old and click “Find My Car.” (If you are under 25, you must call 1-866-921-7925 to book.)
Costco will show you several car rental locations, but you are limited to comparing only four locations at a time.
You can add locations by selecting the plus (+) sign on the right-hand side.
- Search the top four locations and find the two locations with the best prices.
- Go back and search the next four locations, and find the two with the best prices.
- Finally, do a search with the four best priced locations and decide between those options considering price and the distance to the rental car locations.
Next, you will need to choose the location you want to rent from and what size car or SUV you want.
Finally, you will need to fill out your information and choose any add-on options. I typically avoid most of these options.
You will need to create a Costco Travel account if you do not have one. This account is different from your Costco.com account.
6. Free Additional Drivers
One of the best benefits of Costco Rental Car is that you can add an additional driver for free, which saves you a $10+ dollars per day.
For Alamo and Enterprise, the additional driver fee is waived for rental in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Spain.
For Avis and Budget, the fee is waived for rentals in the U.S.
The additional driver must meet all renter requirements, appear at the rental counter with the primary renter, present a valid driver’s license and present a major credit card in their name at the time of rental (they do not need a valid membership card).
Alamo, Budget, Enterprise, and Avis waive this fee normally for your spouse or domestic partner, so this Costco perk is only an “extra” benefit if you wanted to add someone different such as friend or family member.
7. Saving Money With Free Rental Car Insurance
You can save even more by having a credit card with free primary rental car insurance that pays for any damage to the rental car.
Several credit cards that offer this benefit are:
8. You Can Easily Cancel or Change Your Reservation Online
To make a change online:
- Book and confirm a new reservation.
- Cancel the previous reservation.
To cancel online:
- Log in to your Costco Travel account in top menu bar.
- Select the Current booking you wish to cancel.
- Near the top click on “Cancel”.
- Click yes, when the pop-up message asks to confirm cancellation.
- Confirmation of your cancellation will be emailed to you.
- There is no charge for canceling an online rental car reservation.
9. You Can Add Your Loyalty Account
You can add your rental car loyalty account for Avis, Budget, and Enterprise on the Costco Travel website before finalizing the reservation.
This will help you pickup the car faster, earn points, and receive a possible upgrade.
Costco offers good deals on rental cars, but you should also compare Costco’s price to AutoSlash, which will have relationships with more car rental companies than Avis, Enterprise, Budget, and Alamo.