Frugal Las Vegas: Status Matching, Free Rooms, and the $20 Trick

by | Published Oct 26, 2021 | Edited Aug 29, 2022


Las Vegas – one of my favorite destinations to casually vacation to. With it being only a 3-hour direct flight from Edmonton and an easy destination to visit for two or three nights, the question that begs to be asked is: are there any frugal opportunities I can take advantage of in Vegas to better my vacation while keeping costs to a minimum?

Benefits of Casino Players Cards

Players card programs are the meat and potatoes of the rewards and loyalty programs on the Las Vegas strip. These programs reward guests for on-property spending (often including room and dining) in addition to gambling play. These rewards can take the form of reduced or free (comp) rooms on your next stay, dining credit, or resort credit.

There are five main players card programs on the strip:

  • MLife Rewards: Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Park MGM, NoMad, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, and Excalibur
  • Caesars Rewards:Caesars Palace, The LINQ, Cromwell, Flamingo, Bally’s, Harrah’s, Nobu, Paris, Planet Hollywood, and Rio
  • Identity Rewards: Cosmopolitan Resort
  • Grazie Rewards: Venetian & Palazzo Resorts
  • Wynn Rewards: Wynn & Encore Resorts

Wherever you end up staying, I recommend stopping by the players’ card desk at the respective resort to sign up and pick up your card. It doesn’t hurt to have one and it may help you unlock cheaper or even free stays in the future. Even if you are not a gambler, there are benefits; for example, the Identity Rewards program at the Cosmopolitan gives $5 back in resort credit for every $100 spent on the property. While not a massive sum, even being able to erase a few dollars from your final bill is always appreciated.

mirage las vegas november 2021 free room calendar
My current comp offers at the Mirage Las Vegas after a stay in August 2021 with some light gambling – not too shabby.

Caesars Rewards Status Match to Diamond and Other Opportunities

Note: As of October 2021, Wyndham is currently not matching status from other hotel chains. Whether this is a permanent change or temporary is left to be seen, but for now this status match opportunity will have to be put on hold. Keep an eye on this page for further updates from Wyndham.

The status match game has endless opportunities and you should always consider when/where you can match your existing hotel/airline status to, even if you don’t have an immediate use for it. In recent times, a very lucrative Vegas-related status match opportunity came to light which many frugal travellers and churners will be able to take advantage of. The basics of the match are:

One of your existing hotel statuses > Wyndham Diamond > Caesars Diamond

The following hotel statuses are eligible to be status matched to Wyndham Diamond: Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, Best Western Diamond Select (which has a very easy status match opportunity), Hyatt Globalist, IHG Platinum, and Radisson Gold. Any of the statuses higher than the ones listed will also match to Wyndham Diamond status as well. The status match can be submitted via Wyndham Rewards here.

wyndham rewards caesars rewards status match

Some of the best benefits you can receive from taking advantage of the Caesar’s Rewards status match to diamond include (more benefits here):

  • 15% off of publicly available hotel rates (if not comped completely – always check the availability calendar when logged into your account)
  • No resort fees for any hotel bookings made through caesars.com (typically $45 USD/night)
  • Free valet and self-parking at many properties in Las Vegas
  • $100 celebration dinner to be used in one sitting at many restaurants on Caesars’ properties (further details and eligible restaurants)

These benefits can add up immensely. For example, even if you had to pay the normal rate for 3 nights at a Caesars resort, you would be saving $135 USD in resort fees which is massive. Pair that with a free $100 dinner (easily to cover a reasonable meal for two with drinks or an excessive meal for one) and you are stacking some serious savings.

Even better, with the Wyndham status match, you are able to match Caesars Diamond status back to Wyndham Diamond yearly, and then match back to Caesars Diamond again, all within your Caesars Rewards account! As a result, you can indefinitely maintain both statuses year-after-year with minimal effort. This can be done yearly in January, so I recommend making a note in your calendar to remember so both statuses don’t lapse. You can find more information on matching back and forth here.

Additionally, with Caesars Diamond status you are able to status match to MLife Platinum, which comes with a slew of benefits related to those properties. While not as lucrative as Caesars Diamond, there is no harm in taking a few minutes to stop by a MLife desk at any affiliated casino in Las Vegas to have them complete the match for you.

Caesars Rewards also has an eStore in which you can earn Rewards Credits on your online purchases – learn how these portals work and how to best utilize them to save on your upcoming vacation as Rewards Credits can be redeemed for anything, including free play on gambling, at Caesars properties.

Already Receiving Room Offers From Resorts? You Can Match Those…

Kevin Sweet, the VP of Slot Operations & Marketing at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, has posted a thread on VegasMessageBoard.com where he will match existing marketing offers that you would have earned from previous gambling at other resorts on the strip.

The Cosmopolitan is a gorgeous property with excellent gaming, dining, and partying, so if you have existing relationships and offers on the strip, I would definitely consider taking Kevin up on his offer for your next stay in Vegas.

On a side note, if you find yourself at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on your next Vegas vacation, stop by any level of the Chandelier Bar to order yourself a Verbena. This cocktail is quintessential Las Vegas in that it is creative, mysterious, and exciting. It isn’t on the menu officially but has been around for many years and the bartenders are making an average of 439 Verbenas daily so it definitely has a following.

verbena cocktail las vegas cosmopolitan chandelier bar
Take a sip, chew the flower, and drink the rest.

A $20 Bill at Check In – Does It Make a Difference?

“The 20 dollar trick” or “20 dollar sandwich” is a phrase most people seem to be familiar with when Vegas is brought up. The gist of the trick is to sandwich a $20 bill between your ID and credit card when checking in as a tip for the check-in agent to get you a better room. There are countless blog posts, videos, and success/failure stories out there if you want to go deep down the rabbit hole.

$20 trick at hotel check in caesars palace las vegas
The $20 trick – know what you want and don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

Have I had success with this trick? Absolutely, but I am specific in my methods and don’t leave anything up to chance.

If I am going to try this trick, I ensure that I have looked at the room types in advance so I know what I want (and what is a reasonable ask) in addition to checking availability on the day of check-in to determine that the room type I am interested in is still available. I don’t sandwich the $20 bill between my credit card and ID like most would, instead I place it on the countertop in front of me when I make my request. As I am checking in, I mention something like:

“I see that you still have availability for the [insert room name] rooms. Is there any chance you would be able to upgrade me to that room type?”

By asking for exactly what you want, you are minimizing the potential disappointment in performing this request. Countless people just ask for an upgrade without specifics, and then are disappointed when their “upgrade” is simply a basic room with a strip view or located on a higher floor. I would much rather ask for exactly what I want and be told that isn’t possible as opposed to leaving things up to chance. From there, if the check-in agent is unable to fulfill your request it is up to you if you take the $20 back from the counter or not. For me, I treat it as the first gamble of my vacation and at worst I leave the $20 with the check-in agent as a token of my appreciation for trying to make my request work.

planet hollywood ultra resort vista room upgrade $20 trick las vegas
My most recent data point: Upgraded from a basic room at Planet Hollywood to their Ultra Resort Visa Room – not bad for $20.

Vegas is a popular destination for many different reasons and as can be seen, there are many opportunities to take advantage of as a Frugal Flyer. Whether it is free rooms, free meals, or free upgrades, you should always be looking for ways to improve your vacation at a minimal cost.

Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell

Senior Editor at Frugal Flyer
Hugh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points-earning potential in recent years. In 2019, Hugh stepped things up when he met Reed in addition to a few other miles and points fanatics (err degenerate churners) and has since been able to capitalize on the various expertise that each member brings to the group.

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