European Car Rental with Costco Travel

June 24th, 2009 · 8 Comments

I’m helping a friend that is planning a trip to Germany in a couple of months and wanted to get a rental car.  First, I shopped around at places like Kayak and Orbitz, and then I thought of trying Costco Travel to see how much they could help with the price.  As it happens, your Costco membership makes quite a difference.  In the end I went with a rental from Avis that was less than any of the other rental companies because of my Costco membership.  Go Costco!

In case you are unaware, your Costco membership has several benefits in the travel area: discounted hotel and cruise rates or cheaper tickets to the Disney parks, for example.  At the Costco Travel website you can find out all about their current deals on their numerous vacation packages, as well as find information about their on-going savings for hotels and rental cars.  For the rental cars, you can go through the Costco Travel website to book your car and they will fill in the appropriate discount code for your membership, though you may still have to put in the information to receive the additional coupon deals (these have some little code as well).

Currently, Costco has deals with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National rental car agencies.  So, that probably has you covered no matter where you’re going.  All of these companies have a basic discount for Costco members of up to 20 – 25%, except for Enterprise which only has 5% off for Costco members (they’re not cheap enough as a baseline to only offer 5% off, honestly).  In addition there are a variety of coupons that you can also use for things like a free upgrade, or an extra discount for renting over the weekend or for a whole week; these offers vary by agency.   Unfortunately for me, all of these extra coupons are only available in the U.S. or North America, not Europe.  But I was more curious about how much of a discount I would really end up getting.  So, I did a little comparison shopping at all of the rental car agencies.

I wanted to rent an intermediate sized car to pick up in Frankfurt and drop off 13 days later in Munich, plus I wanted a GPS system.  And this is what I found:

Costco Rate
Regular Rate
Intermediate Audi A3 Sportback or similar 4 Door Manual Air, GPS
$597.26 $661.25
Intermediate Opel Vectra 1.8 or similar, 5 Door Manual Air, No GPS
$672.47 $788.21
Standard (4 Door) Ford Mondeo or similar, 4 Door Manual Air, No GPS
$739.92 $739.92
Intermediate Audi A3 Sportback or similar 4 Door Manual Air, No GPS
$721.20 $721.20
Intermediate Opel Vectra 1.8 or similar, 5 Door Manual Air, No GPS
$867.07 $811.30
Ford Mondeo or similar Midsize 2-4 Door Manual Air, GPS
$1,040.89 $1,103.13
My German Audi A3 Rental from Avis

German Audi A3 Rental from Avis

As you can pretty easily see, Avis was the clear winner here even with the addition of the GPS system that no one else besides Hertz offered. I do feel the need to point out that apparently Budget and Enterprise do not offer their discount for European car rentals through Costco.  However, they are probably worth a look if renting in the U.S. or Canada.  But most perplexing of all is National.  They act like they offer you a ‘discount’ and it is certainly a different price, but it is actually $55.07 more to rent with the Costco ‘discount’.  What the hell is that about?  I was so confused I did the comparison more than once and double checked that all of my parameters were identical.  Sadly, they were.   What’s even more interesting to me is that both Alamo and National (as you can see above I’m getting the same exact car) are serviced in Germany by Europcar, so I would have really thought there wouldn’t be so much discrepancy in pricing.  I guess the lesson for me, is to never rent from National.  I would also like to draw attention to the ridiculously high Hertz rate.  Granted it does have the GPS unit, however, for the difference (just over $300.oo more for the exact same car vs. Budget) in price you would be better off to buy your own GPS unit for your trip. For comparison, the best I could find using Kayak, was through and offered by Sixt Rent a Car.  It was for a Peugeot 407, manual, air conditioning, and 4 doors but no GPS system, for a total of $702.24.  So, still quite a bit more than the Costco Travel discounted rate for my Avis rental.

I feel really good about the discount at Avis that I was able to receive using the Costco membership discount.  And I’m glad that I did this comparison to see how much less expensive a rental through Avis is than Hertz (which is where we used to always rent from because Dave had their membership thing through work).  Even without the Costco discount, you are still able to save on the rental from Avis, even when compared to the Alamo discounted rate.  And as a usability person, I also need to point out that Avis has the most user-friendly website too; much easier and quicker to use than the others.


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8 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 fran taylor // 2013.12.17 at 10:48 pm

    We again went through Costco to rent a car for 30 days in Europe in Sept 2013 as we did in Sept. 2012. We rented an automatic which was
    more expensive than renting a standard ($10/day) as my husband had a problem with his leg at the time. The price for the same as last
    year vehicle was around $820, was very new and Avis Opal rental. We were very satisfied as the previous year. We did find out,
    though, that now Budget and Avis are amalgamated – will be interesting to see if they are close to the same price now.
    Thank-you for giving us heads up that there is a Costco Travel – haven’t looked it up yet but will look into it in the very near future.

    • 2 Amber P // 2015.03.19 at 3:45 pm

      I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get international rental through (on rental cars). I tried to do this on my own before seeing your post. would i need to go through a costco web site for Spain (since that’s where I’m going, if they have them there)? on the only options they give are US or Canadian City. Thanks!

      • 3 Kimberly // 2015.03.20 at 4:00 am

        @Amber – I wrote that post originally in 2009, so the deals and things at Costco Travel have definitely changed quite a bit since then. And they have also changed their website completely since then as well. The good news is that it is easier now to just use the search form on the homepage to search for a rental car for your desired location. I was able to still find rental car deals through Avis for Madrid and a couple of other places around Europe. The various coupon deals might not cover Europe though, so you’ll just have to look through all of those individually to see their terms and conditions.

        • 4 Amber P // 2015.03.20 at 7:58 am

          I’m just crazy; i was thrown by it saying US or Canada…but entering the intl airport code still worked! They couldn’t help me with size of car I needed, but good to know it’s there, thx!

  2. 5 Car Rental Blogger » Blog Archive » European Car Rental with Costco Travel // 2009.07.02 at 6:28 am

    […] Kimberly wrote an interesting post today onEuropean <b>Car Rental</b> with Costco TravelHere’s a quick excerpt […]

  3. 6 European Car Rental with Costco Travel | 911 Knowing Around The World // 2009.06.25 at 2:36 am

    […] Filed Under Travel around the world, Uncategorized, cars, electronic, sport |  I’m helping a friend that is planning a trip to Germany in a couple of months and wanted to get a rental car. First, I shopped around at places like Kayak and Orbitz, and then I thought of trying Costco Travel to see how much they could help with the price. .. Here is the original post:  European Car Rental with Costco Travel […]

    • 7 fran taylor // 2013.01.06 at 10:15 pm

      We found this sight today (Jan 2013) but cannot agree with you more. We used our membership in Munich Germany to rent a 4 door Opal with Avis for 30 days and our total
      cost was approx. $850. We had excellent service, new auto, had our own GPS, and this time
      depending on the extra amt of money required we will request an automatic rather than a standard. Husband was O.K. with standard, but not wife.

  4. 8 Budget Car Rental // 2009.06.24 at 9:20 pm

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