While you can find travel savings at all three stores that easily cover the cost of joining (typically $45 to $60 for a basic membership), each store excels in different areas. Here are the pros and cons and additional benefits you can find.
Offering a wide variety of hotel and flight options, BJ’s is best suited for the savvy or flexible traveler willing to browse the multitude of options for the best value and convenience. When savings take precedence over convenience, BJ’s sometimes has the edge.
Advantages: We found BJ’s travel site to be the easiest to navigate and had the nicest user interface, with lots of useful filters to help you find what you want. In terms of value, BJ’s is right in the middle. It’s rarely the cheapest, but it can offer fully refundable options when other sites don’t. BJ’s is offering 5 percent cashback on “qualifying” travel bookings in the form of an e-gift card. (The company did not respond to repeated requests for more information about the program, including specifically which travel bookings are eligible.) According to its website, BJ’s offers a 110 percent Best Rate Guarantee for vacation and cruise bookings within 48 hours of purchase. You must meet several conditions for the warranty to apply, so read the fine print carefully.
Disadvantages: Sometimes the cheapest option is totally impractical, like the 18-hour one-stop trip from Miami to Aruba that the website offered us. To avoid such a nightmarish itinerary, you need to pay close attention to the search results.
Costco is a great choice for those looking for a one-stop shop for prepackaged trips to popular destinations like Hawaii, the South Pacific, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It wasn’t always the cheapest (although in one case it offered thousands of dollars in savings), but it adds plenty of extra perks, like airport transfers, room upgrades, or a store credit. Sometimes these justify a higher price compared to the competition, sometimes not.
Advantages: Costco has the most pricing transparency of any warehouse club we review. It gives the total price up front, including taxes and fees (which can change the total cost significantly). We didn’t find any hidden fees or other surprises in the final itinerary. If the hotel requires fees that are paid directly to them (e.g., parking fees or a resort fee), Costco will clearly state this when you try to book. Their refund policies vary from booking to booking, but again they are very clear. Costco Executive Members qualify for 2% Rewards on Costco Travel purchases. Receive 3% cash back on eligible travel purchases with the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi card.
Disadvantages: We’ve found that Costco offers fewer hotel options than Sam’s and BJ’s, and that it doesn’t offer hotel-only options in certain destinations. Travelers who are just looking for a hotel room and want the widest range of hotels to choose from may be disappointed.
In our experience, Sam’s is best for hotel bookings. In one instance, it offered a savings of more than $1,000 compared to booking directly with a luxury London hotel, although it did not consistently result in savings. According to a spokesman, Sam’s main members are families with children who tend to buy tickets to major theme parks such as Disney World, Disneyland and Universal Studios. We have not rated these offers.
Pros: Sam’s offers a very wide variety of budget hotel options around the world, as well as tickets (some discounted) to day tours, Broadway shows, Disney, entertainment (like movies, theme parks, concerts), and other attractions. With a Sam’s Club Mastercard, members receive an additional 3 percent cashback on any travel or entertainment purchase to use in-store. According to Sam’s website, it offers a Best Rate Guarantee within 24 hours of booking, but with a maximum refund of $150 and lots of fine print.
Disadvantages: Sam’s doesn’t offer flights, so anyone looking for prepackaged vacation packages with flights will have to shop elsewhere. Some of the car rental offers we found did not include unlimited mileage. Sam’s does not include the taxes and fees until you check out. So when you compare, it’s harder to get a full picture to the end. Sam’s also does not include resort fees (or other fees payable to the hotel, such as
Keep in mind
When purchasing travel from third-party suppliers, including a warehouse club, support may be limited if you encounter an issue such as B. a flight cancellation. Customer service representatives are not travel agents, and while a company might say that travel experts are available 24/7, that wasn’t our experience. Bottom line: If you need to change a flight or there is a problem with the hotel, be prepared to contact the travel provider directly and not assume that Warehouse Club will come to the rescue.
Always compare prices directly with the hotel. A hotel website might offer special packages that might include extras like breakfast or spa credits, which might actually make them a better deal than just comparing room rates.
Finally, always check the fine print. Cancellation and refund policies can differ between websites and even between different travel purchases on the same website. Check the terms and conditions of each booking before paying.