It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine when booking travel. You search a site like Kayak, you find what looks like a good deal, and you book it.
But alas, there are more deals to be had, and finding them can be as easy as looking in your own wallet.
Whether you’re a Costco member or have a Visa credit card, here are some membership programs that offer such amazing travel deals that they basically pay for themselves.
Costco (COST) is essentially a mecca for bargain shoppers. Where else can you buy discounted luggage, an economy-size jar of Cheetos, and a princess-cut engagement ring?
But beyond those “necessities,” Costco has proven to be a legitimate money-saving option for booking rental cars, cruises and vacation packages.
Access to Costco Travel is included in the $55 membership, and after perusing the site, it’s clear that with just one booking, your membership more than pays for itself.
For instance, take a vacation package from New York to Jamaica. A six-night all-inclusive stay at the Iberostar Grand Hotel, with Delta airfare, and ground transportation, costs $3,738 for two people. The package also comes with a $500 resort credit that can be used at the spa, hotel shop or restaurants.
The same exact trip booked through Orbitz costs $4,125 — $387 more than the Costco deal. It should also be noted that the Orbitz trip doesn’t include ground transportation or the $500 resort credit.
Costco members can also book rental cars through the travel tool with minimal work. After putting in your rental parameters, the site compares rates from Alamo, Avis, Budget and Enterprise. Costco Travel uses a low price finder to scan the web for all applicable coupons, codes and discounts — so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal possible.
Sometimes just having a certain credit card is enough to save big money on travel.
The Visa offers program features dozens of deals that card users can access just by booking travel with their Visa signature card (this includes cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture Rewards Card). Some of the cards have an annual fee (sometimes up to $100), so it’s important to research before you sign up.
For example, card users can currently save 20% on rooms at the Thompson Miami Beach. On top of that, booking also comes with perks like an automatic room upgrade, free wi-fi, free breakfast, and a $25 food or beverage credit.
At any given point, Visa (V) promotes different deals, so it’s important to check in before booking travel. Right now, Hilton HHonors members can earn double the points or miles when they pay with their Visa card, and Hertz is offering one free day on a weekly rental. The savings are there, you just have to look for them.
Empty nesters and retirees are some of the most avid travelers, so it makes sense that the AARP has beefed up their travel presence. Earlier this month, the group unveiled AARP advantages, a revamped website (easily accessible on mobile) that allows members to find discounts on rental cars, flights, and vacation packages while on the go.
Currently, there’s a deal for $100 off a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, which also comes with a free hotel stay, free specialty dining and free shore excursions. Seeing as an AARP membership costs just $16 a year, joining to save on travel is a no-brainer. You have to be 50-years-old to sign up for membership.
For just $45 a year, Sam’s Club members can find discounts on everything from furniture to iPads, but the savings don’t stop there. The retailer is also known for its travel deals, which include discounted cruises, cheaper flights and lower hotel rates. In fact, Sam’s Club is so committed to helping members find cheap trips, that they have an app solely dedicated to travel and leisure.
The American Auto Association (AAA) is probably one of the most well-known membership programs to score travel deals. In addition to roadside assistance, the $30 membership gives you coupon codes for rental cars, discounted guided vacations and deals on train tickets. But one of the biggest perks comes in the form of discounts to theme parks. Planning a family vacation that the kids will always remember? Now you can save an average of $20 per ticket to theme parks like Walt Disney World Resort, Busch Gardens, and Legoland Florida Resort just by joining AAA.
Do you have a question about money-saving membership programs? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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