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View Full Version : Which has better travel deals--Costco or Sam's Club?


vhoffman
06-20-2004, 03:56 PM
I'm looking at joining either Sam's Club or Costco, for their bargains and especially for their travel discounts. I only want to join one. What has been your experiences--which club gives the better travel bargains? Costco offers a sampling of their travel discounts without joining the club, however, I can't find any examples of travel discounts at Sam's Club without actually joining the club first. So, I'd like to hear opinions about experiences using the two clubs. BTW, I thought the Costco prices were quite high until I realized that the price quoted, while per person, does NOT include children under 12. I was multiplying the price x 4, when it should have been times 2. Just in looking at some of their deals to Hawaii it seems like I could get some bargains. However, how are they to deal with? Do they give exactly as promised, or "bait and switch"? We booked a package through a travel agent to Mexico several years ago, and learned the meaning of "or equilivant". We were promised a certain hotel, or equilivant. Well, when we got there, they put us up at a different hotel which was by no stretch of the imagination an equilivant. It was so awful we checked out and checked into another hotel at our own expense. When we came back, we disputed the charge for the first hotel on our American Express bill. We took pictures of the hotel, sent in the broucheres the travel agent had sent us, and a general description as to how we felt we didn't get what we were promised. Much to our delight, AMEX agreed we did not get as promised and took the first charge off our bill! However, since then, I've always been my own travel agent. I book the airline, hotel, rent car, etc. myself. I've read that packages can save you money, however, I always come out ahead by booking myself and I'm assured I get exactly what I want. We just came back from a trip to Hawaii (fantastic!), I booked the whole trip myself. I ran it by a few travel agents, and their price was much higher than mine, in one case almost double what I paid! So, would appreciate experience/opinions, delaing with Costco and Sam's Club. Thanks!

pjlla
06-21-2004, 07:52 AM
Sorry I'm not here to help out..... just hopping aboard to find out more myself.... And I wouldn't mind hearing about BJ's travel discounts either! THanks to vhoffman for asking this question!......P

rella's fan
06-21-2004, 11:18 AM
I'm not a Sam's member but I am a Costco member. I think that there are a lot of different factors regarding prices. I had my 2005 cruise booked with Costco (seemed to be the least expensive) but then I found it much cheaper through an online travel agent so I cancelled with Costco and booked with them. The people at Costco were helpful however be prepared to be on hold for a very long time.

RoyalCanadian
06-21-2004, 01:22 PM
Frommer's Budget Travel magazine devoted an article in the June 2004 edition to answering this question. This quote sums things up fairly well, "Because travel-industry profit margins are generally thin, with many airlines and tour operators offering roughly the same prices, the bulk-discount business model doesn't really apply."
When you are booking your travel through Sam's Club or BJ's, you really aren't -- your phone call actually puts you in touch with the National Leisure Group -- a large corporation that sells travel under a number of brands it either owns or licenses, including Cruises Only, Vacation Outlet, and Cruises.com, as well as through companies like Yahoo, priceline.com, and Orbitz.
The membership card you buy from either BJs or Sam's Club isn't going to give you access to any extraspecial prices that you wouldn't otherwise be able to access without that membership card.
"Travel purchases through Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's are usually comparable to prices from other sources -- sometimes lower, sometimes higher, but typically in the same ballpark. Members pay their dues with the assumption they're getting special discounts on all products, but when it comes to travel they'll often be disappointed."

pjlla
06-21-2004, 03:25 PM
Wow.... Thanks for the info.........P

vhoffman
06-21-2004, 03:29 PM
RoyalCanadian,

Thanks for the info. You just saved me $45. As I said in my OP, I make my travel arrangements myself and always come out ahead. I can even do better than Expedia and Orbitz, usually just by going to the hotel, airline, rent car own website. That way I don't have to deal with a third party if I need to make any changes, etc.

RoyalCanadian
06-21-2004, 05:52 PM
I have found Frommer's Budget Travel magazine to be a great resource for worldwide travel info. If you're looking for that amazingly priced holiday -- Budget Travel is the place to find it.
Now we have a Costco membership ourselves -- have never used it for travel, but have enjoyed several other great warehouse club buys. We're getting a Sam's Club in town -- what are those like?

Lewisc
06-21-2004, 09:24 PM
I just used COSTCO travel for an AI in Mexico. They were about 5% less than most of the online agencies AND they included transfers (probably about another $100 savings). They came out cheaper than the major sites (Expedia, Travelocity). Most of the cheap "no-name" sites became more expensive when you went to book, they added the tax when you went to book COSTCO included the tax with the initial quote.

I agree there isn't a lot of room for extra discounts. The on-line agencies are using the same wholesalers and there is only so much extra discounting (commission rebates/reductions) that can be done. I'd rather use COSTCO over some no-name internet travel agency that I got with a google search.

I don't think COSTCO uses National Leisure Group. I don't think I'd join COSTCO just for travel savings.

crisi
06-22-2004, 06:14 AM
RC,

My understanding is that Costco is more upscale than Sam's Club in their merchandise selection. They also pay their employees a lot better. I don't have Costco on my end of town, or I'd join, just for that reason. I do belong to Sam's Club, and make up my membership each year just on gas. Looked at their travel, and it isn't great, but its ok.

piglet33
06-22-2004, 07:52 AM
I am using Costco for my Disney cruise. They beat the price from Dreams by $422 even with their rebate. It may not sound like a lot to some people, but to me that's a great savings. I'm sticking with Costco.

Lewisc
06-22-2004, 07:57 AM
Originally posted by crisi
RC,

Looked at their travel, and it isn't great, but its ok.

The travel wound up being better than it looked. The rates included taxes and transfers. I found the cheap travel websites quoted rates without transfers or taxes. Those "extras" were added on when you went to book.

ripleysmom
06-22-2004, 05:55 PM
Costco uses their own travel agency, not Nationa Leisure Group to book vacations. They are definitely the cheapest source for Disney Cruises and they were the cheapest source for a Carnival Cruise I took last year.

CheapMom
06-22-2004, 09:16 PM
rella's fan- would you mind disclosing the name of the company that beat Costco's price- my DCL cruise is booked through Costco and I haven't seen another quote that comes within $300 of beating their price. It is not too late for me switch if I can save some $$
As for the travel discounts- I only compared Sams and Costco (I belong to both) on DCL prices. Costco beat Sam's by a mile. I have read on these boards that some people got better prices from Sam's or BJs though so I guess it depends on your specific travel requirements.

rella's fan
06-22-2004, 09:50 PM
Costco beat my Dreams Unlimited quote by $100 but AllSeasons beat Costco by over $300. I've only heard good things about them and so far they have been great

vhoffman
06-22-2004, 10:49 PM
If you book your travel through Costco or Sam's, do you get frequent flyer miles, hotel frequent guest points, etc., the same as if you booked them on your own? I'm serious about accuring my points. Our last two trips to WDW we had free airfare on Southwest. We just came back from a trip to Hawaii, and I managed one free airline ticket and two free nights in a Hilton, plus one free rt interisland flight. I also got $200 off a rental car. I'm aiming to get the whole trip, excluding meals, free. I love to travel, hate to pay for it!::yes:: ::yes:: ::yes::

Lewisc
06-23-2004, 09:29 AM
Originally posted by vhoffman
If you book your travel through Costco or Sam's, do you get frequent flyer miles, hotel frequent guest points, etc., the same as if you booked them on your own? I'm serious about accuring my points. Our last two trips to WDW we had free airfare on Southwest. We just came back from a trip to Hawaii, and I managed one free airline ticket and two free nights in a Hilton, plus one free rt interisland flight. I also got $200 off a rental car. I'm aiming to get the whole trip, excluding meals, free. I love to travel, hate to pay for it!::yes:: ::yes:: ::yes::

COSTCO is no different than using any other travel agency. You'll get airline FF miles UNLESS they use an ineligible fare (charter flight or consolidator fare for example). Many hotels are starting to only credit points if you book through the hotels website.

Travel agencies (including COSTCO) still make sense for vacations like cruises and all-inclusives which offer their best deals through agencies and wholesalers. I certainly wouldn't use any travel agency to just book "regular" airfare and hotel.

Hotels are starting to exclude credit for some of the deeply discounted rates (Entertainment rates, Hotwire, PL, Expedia special rates). I'll take the deeply discounted price over stay points every day.

Remeber you'll still accrue points if you pay with a "rewards" credit card.