While you can find travel savings at all three stores that will easily cover the cost of membership (usually $45-$60 for a basic membership), each store excels in different areas. Here are the pros, cons, and additional benefits you can find.
BJ’s offers a wide selection of hotel and flight options and is best suited to savvy or flexible travelers who are willing to browse through the multitude of options for the best value and convenience. If savings trump convenience, BJ’s sometimes has the edge.
Advantages: We found BJ’s travel site to be the easiest to navigate and had the nicest interface, with lots of useful filters to help you find what you want. In terms of value, BJ’s falls 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% cash back on “qualifying” travel bookings in the form of an in-store e-gift card. (The company did not respond to repeated requests for additional information about this program, including eligible travel bookings.) According to its website, BJ’s offers a 110% Best Price Guarantee on holiday and vacation bookings. cruises within 48 hours of purchase. You must meet several conditions for the warranty to apply, so read the fine print carefully.
The inconvenients: Sometimes the cheapest option is completely impractical, like the 18-hour one-stop trip from Miami to Aruba that the site offered us. To avoid such a nightmarish route, you need to pay close attention to search results.
Costco is a good choice for those who want a one-stop-shop for out-of-the-box trips to popular destinations like Hawaii, the South Pacific, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. It wasn’t always the cheapest (although it did offer thousands of dollars in savings in one case), but it adds plenty of extra perks, like airport transportation, room upgrades, or a store credit. Sometimes these justify a higher rate compared to its competitors, but sometimes not.
Advantages: Costco has the most price transparency of the warehouse clubs we’ve reviewed. It gives the total price up front, including taxes and fees (which can significantly change the total cost). We found no hidden charges or other surprises on the final itinerary. If the hotel requires any fees to be paid directly to them (like parking or resort fees), Costco makes this clear when you try to book. Their refund policies vary from booking to booking, but they are also very clear. Costco Executive Members are entitled to 2% rewards on Costco travel purchases. The Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi Card earns 3% cash back on eligible travel purchases.
The inconvenients: We found that Costco offers fewer hotel options than Sam’s and BJ’s, and does not offer any hotel options only in certain destinations. Travelers who are only looking for a hotel room and want the widest selection of hotels to choose from may be disappointed.
In our experience, Sam’s is the best for hotel reservations. In one instance, it offered a savings of over $1,000 compared to booking direct with a luxury hotel in London, although it did not consistently generate savings. According to a spokesperson, Sam’s core members are families with children who tend to buy tickets to major theme parks like Disney World, Disneyland and Universal Studios. We have not evaluated these offers.
Pros: Sam’s offers a huge variety of affordable hotel options around the world, as well as tickets (some discounted) to day trips, Broadway shows, Disney, options entertainment (such as movies, theme parks, concerts) and other tourist attractions. With a Sam’s Club Mastercard, members receive an additional 3% back on any travel or entertainment purchase for use at the 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.
The inconvenients: Sam’s does not offer flights, so anyone looking for ready-made vacation packages that include the flight will have to shop elsewhere. Some of the car rental deals we found did not include unlimited mileage. Sam’s doesn’t include taxes and fees until checkout, so if you’re doing comparison shopping, it’s harder to get the full picture until the very end. Sam’s also doesn’t include resort fees (or anything else payable at the hotel, like parking), which is explained in the fine print but, again, it can be hard to know how much you’re going. pay at the end.
keep in mind
When you purchase travel from a third party, including a warehouse club, there may be limited support if you experience a problem, such as a flight cancellation. Customer service reps are not travel agents and while a company may say travel experts are available 24 hours a day, this was not our experience. Conclusion: If you need to reschedule a flight or there is a problem with the hotel, you should be prepared to deal directly with the travel provider and not assume the warehouse club will come to the rescue.
Always compare rates directly with the hotel. A hotel website might offer special packages that might include extras like breakfast or spa credits that might make it a better deal than comparing room price alone.
Finally, always check the fine print. Cancellation and refund policies may differ between sites and even between different travel purchases on the same site. Check the conditions of any reservation before paying.