Is COSTCO the Cheapest Way To Rent a Car for Your Disney World Trip? We Found Out.

I travel almost full-time, and the way I make that happen is by choosing to save money on trips just about any way I can. 

©Spirit Airlines

I will absolutely fly a budget airline, and you might see me packing only a personal item for my trip to avoid luggage fees. I have experimented with house sitting to have free lodging in a location I want to visit. I’ve bought hotel points on sale to pay for a stay cheaper than paying with cash. I’ve tried out a new bus route between the Orlando Airport and Disney World to see if saving the money on a rideshare would make sense. I’m willing to skimp on some things so that I can splurge on others and travel more. Today, I’m checking out whether Costco Travel is a cheaper way to rent a car for Disney World. 

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Renting a car can be a good way to go for your Disney World vacation. Rental car rates have come down quite a bit since they skyrocketed during the pandemic, and if you consider the cost of getting your family to and from the airport, it might not be a whole lot more than that to just rent a car for your trip. If you’re staying in a Disney World hotel, you won’t have to pay to park the car at the hotel or at the parks. Free Disney World transportation is a great benefit — but sometimes it’s nice to not have to wait in those long lines for buses at the end of the evening as the parks are closing, right?

And having a car might help you save money in other ways — like going to get groceries and supplies at a nearby store, shopping for souvenirs (nearby Targets and Walmarts have huge selections of Disney items for way less than in the parks), or eating some of your meals in restaurants outside the Disney bubble where there’s not an upcharge for the location.

So. Many. Souvenirs at the Target stores nearest to Disney World.

I recently joined Costco and have been trying out their travel services to see if the discounts are worth the cost of the membership, which was $59 when I bought it. I do suggest looking around for a deal if you’re going to buy a Costco membership — I wound up buying mine through Groupon, which got me a $30 Costco gift card once I activated my membership. So while I couldn’t find a discount on the price of the membership, having that gift card got me $30 in free Costco merchandise.

Costco Travel allows you to book rental cars through well-known national brands like Budget, Alamo, and Avis. I have used the Costco Travel rental car services twice, on trips to Cincinnatti, Ohio, and Evansville, Indiana. In both of those instances, I saw slight savings over the rental car rates I could find on the companies’ own websites — but the rates were close. I saved about 10%. But the additional benefits made me go with Costco — in both instances I was able to get a larger class of vehicle, and in one instance Costco was running a promotion where I got a $25 Costco gift card after I completed my rental. Again — free food from Costco, basically. So while it wasn’t a direct discount off the rental car, it was still some savings I could realize. I’ll take it!

Parking in Disney World

So let’s run the numbers on some rental cars for a trip to Disney World. We’ll say we’re flying into Orlando International Airport on Wednesday, September 4th, and flying home on Sunday, September 8th. We’ll look for an Intermediate Car — which rental car companies say will carry 5 passengers and 3 large suitcases. The cheapest Intermediate Car through Costco Travel is with Budget for $255.32. Budget says it is a Toyota Corolla or similar.

Costco Travel rental car quote

The price that Costco Travel shows on the search screen is the “all-in” price. It includes all taxes and fees. You will also see there that you do not pay until you pick up the car, and you have free cancelation — even on the same day. I have canceled a rental car I had reserved through Costco Travel on the day I was supposed to pick the car up (because my flight was canceled). This was easy to do online and resulted in no charges. Now, let’s look at the actual rate for the car and what the taxes and fees amount to.

Costco Travel rental car price breakdown.

So the actual car rental is $182.31 for an Intermediate Car through Budget from September 4th-8th with pick-up and drop-off at Orlando International Airport. With the taxes and fees, the total is $255.32. Now moving on to Budget, here’s what pops up on the search screen when I look for an Intermediate Car from September 4th-8th on Budget’s website.

Rental car quote from Budget’s website

Wow! That looks quite a bit cheaper. Except, it’s not. The prices on the search screen are the rate for the car only — without taxes and fees. We’re going to try to match up the rentals exactly, so we’re choosing the “Pay Later” option here that offers free cancellation. So, here’s the total…

Total from Budget’s website

It’s $290.19. (Yep, the total is at the TOP, and not down at the bottom where the base rate and fees and taxes are outlined. Kinda tricky.) Through Budget’s website, the total is about $35 more. Is it a huge savings to use Costco? No. But these are exactly the areas where I skimp when I can … because that same $35 can buy me two margaritas at La Cava del Tequila. 

The La Cava Avocado margarita

Now, this example is me checking one set of dates. Might you find a super sale on Budget’s website on another day? Sure — likewise with Costco, which sometimes offers free Costco gift cards of varying amounts when you use their services. My advice is to check Costco first, and then go check the actual rental car website to see if a better deal can be had. So far, the better deal for me since I joined has been Costco Travel 100% percent of the time, but that could change. And, well, I’m gonna keep looking for the best deal I can find!

I’ll keep looking for travel hacks to save on your next vacation if you’ll keep following us here at DFB. Deal?

I Travel Full-Time. Here Are 8 Surprising Things I Carry With Me.

WE KNOW DISNEY.

YOU CAN, TOO.


Oh boy, planning a Disney trip can be quite the adventure, and we totally get it! But fear not, dear friends, we compiled EVERYTHING you need (and the things to avoid!) to plan the ULTIMATE Disney vacation.

Whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned pro, our insider tips and tricks will have you exploring the parks like never before. So come along with us, and get planning your most magical vacation ever!

Have you used Costco Travel before? Share your experience in the comment below!

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