Las Vegas can be an expensive place to visit, but with a few tricks it can be very affordable. Here’s some tips to make you feel like you hit the jackpot on your next trip to Vegas.
1. Players Club – enroll in them all (some casinos that are owned by the same company share their loyalty program) – ex. Total Rewards is the program for Caesars, Harrahs, Rio and more, while the Mirage, Bellagio and MGM Grand are all a part of the M Life group. There is no cost to join and the benefits can be huge – I’ve had several free hotel stays due to my Total Rewards card, and I swear I’m not much of a gambler. (remember you can still get points from shows and meals)
2. The Buffet of Buffets Pass – it can be expensive to eat in Vegas, especially the buffets, but if you’re looking to indulge then this is the pass for you – and if you really plan it out right you can save money too. The pass is $60 during the week and $75 during the weekend, is good for 24 hours from the time of purchase, and is good at any of the Total Rewards buffets (Planet Hollywood, Paris, Rio, Harrahs, the Flamingo and Caesars Palace ** there is an upcharge for Rio’s specialty Seafood buffet and the Buffet at Caesars Palace). A great way to get your money’s worth is to time it to get 4 meals out of it, for example: if you purchase it for a late dinner around 7 or 8 o’clock, you have 24 hours to use it so you could have breakfast, lunch and dinner the next day as well (as long as it’s before 7-8, the time you purchased it the day before). This works out to just $15 a meal (which includes non alcoholic drinks) Helpful hints: lines can sometimes be long so allow enough time (if your pass expires while in line – they will not honour it), and there is a free shuttle that picks up at Harrahs and will take you to the Rio – which is The Bugs favourite of the “Total Reward” buffet choices.
3. Show Tickets – if there is a concert or show playing that you have your heart set on it’s probably a good idea to buy your tickets in advance through the box office or Ticketmaster but if you’re looking for a last minute deal I have found that going to the concierge of the hotel where the show is playing will usually get you the same kind of price as standing in line at the Last Minute Tickets kiosk.
4. Groupons – not just for Vegas, but a lot of times when preparing for a trip (usually a month or two before), I will sign up for Groupon in that location. I have had really good luck in the past, just be sure to make sure they are valid for locations on the strip if you don’t have a car, and don’t want to use public transportation.
5. $20 Trick – no guarantees, but I did try this once and it worked wonderfully. What you do is fold up a $20 bill into a small square and place it in between your photo i.d. and your credit card when checking in. (the idea is that it’s a tip for the front desk clerk without having to ask and draw attention from the hotel manager, in hopes of a room upgrade). We were upgraded to a suite with a great view and had a bucket of champagne waiting for us when returning to our room later that night. I have heard that this doesn’t always work so please don’t be mad at me if it doesn’t – it’s a gamble!
6. Timing – timing is everything in Las Vegas, by going during the week, you will usually save money on your room and your flights – because of it’s party reputation there’s a higher demand for the weekends which drives prices up. Also I always thought that off season in Vegas was the summer because of the heat but boy was I wrong, I have seen crazy crowds there in both July and August. Another factor with prices/timing is if there is a big convention going on, which will obviously increase demand and the room prices.
7. Public Transportation – you don’t need to rent a car, if you’re wanting to go somewhere that’s outside of your walking comfort level (Fremont Street, outlet mall, etc.) there is a monorail that runs from the MGM Grand hotel all the way to SLS Las Vegas (tip: if you plan on riding more than a couple of times, buy a 24 hour pass, for $12, rather than a single ride for $5) and the Deuce (local bus) is really easy and inexpensive to use as well.
8. Red Eyes – sometimes you can save money by booking a “red eye” flight. This means that you leave Vegas late at night and arrive home (depending on time zone) very early in the morning. We have always liked these flights, especially if you don’t have a lot of vacation time because it’s like you’re getting a full extra day, (but then again, Mama Bug is one of those passengers that is usually fast asleep before the plane has even backed out of the gate.) You have two options when flying home on the red eye:, 1. ask the hotel to store your luggage in their storage room for the day, or 2. arrange for a day rate or late check out, if the hotel isn’t full they will sometimes offer you a discounted rate since you will not be staying over night. They won’t always do this but it’s nice to be able to go back to your room for a nap or a shower before heading to the airport.
Baby Bug isn’t as big a fan of the red eye as Mama Bug