Get 80% of the Savings with 20% of the Effort on Your Next Las Vegas Trip
This post started out as an idea to help friends and family save some cash for an upcoming Las Vegas birthday trip.
The idea is this: List the ‘quick wins’ for saving money in Vegas, the 20% of effort which will bring 80% of results.
You won’t find ways to save a dollar or two here. No ‘tips’ to bring your own packed lunches - get a coffee for 45c less by walking a couple of miles, or even where to find the very best blackjack rules. All that is covered elsewhere.
Planet Mark’s 80 / 20 for Las Vegas Money Saving
#1 – MyVegas / MyKonami Apps
Over the years, these apps (and Facebook games) have saved Erika and I thousands of dollars. The idea is simple. You play free slots, collect chips for missions and challenges and then swap them for free things.
Rewards include 2-for-1 buffets, free booze, room nights, show tickets, monorail passes – even helicopter tours if you collect enough points.
These apps will try and get you to buy chips, though there is no requirement to do this. You can set the slots on automatic play, then get on with your day while the chips accumulate. Head to Facebook and search for MyVegas as your starting point. You'll need to build your virtual Strip before things get easier, though once you are up and running accumulating gold coins is very easy.
#2 – Wynn Slots App
This is a new one for me for the upcoming trip. I already have 2 nights booked in the Wynn, 2 buffets and some extra ‘gems’ for next time. This is an app, where you play slots to collect gems. You can spin up to 500 times on automatic. Once again there are missions and challenges to complete. You’ll get scratch cards for completing ‘events’ which award you more chips.
One caveat here. You’ll need to buy chips to get the rewards.
It cost me $84.99 to get enough crowns to get to VIP level 2, where you can book the rooms.
The savings are still there. Those rooms were almost $270 a night on Expedia, and the buffets are around $60 each.
As a bonus, if you join the loyalty program and play some slots when you get to the Wynn, you’ll get extras like show tickets or even more buffets. This depends on what promotions are running at the time. I’ll report back on this after the next trip.
Edit: Wynn updated this app the day after I posted. You now need to be VIP level 3 to book rooms. This will cost at least $200 with in-app purchases. It could still be worth it (a few room nights + 4 buffets would cost up to $1k). Be aware of the upfront expense before you jump in though!
#3 – Watch the Flight Deal Aggregators
If you are simply searching on your favourite online travel agent and booking a reasonable deal, you are leaving $$$ on the table. Finding cheap flights is an art as much as a science. Complete guides have been written on the topic.
For big results with just 20% of the effort, I recommend the deal aggregator sites. A few I use are Secret Flying, the Points Guy, Jacks Flight Club and ‘Turning Left for Less’ (the last one is business class focused). A quick look every few days is usually enough to highlight any bargain deals.
There are others, plus Momondo, Skyscanner and Google Flights for dates / fares.
If you are flying over the Atlantic, remember that a late evening arrival ‘costs’ you can extra night in a hotel… It will likely be too late to enjoy much once you are checked in.
One more thing: Grab a loyalty card from your airline. Those points / Avios etc do add up!
#4 – The American Casino Guide / LVA Coupon Books
The American Casino Guide must be the least-read book ever. It contains information on different games and slots, plus a state-by-state guide to casino locations.
Nobody pays the $19.95 just for the guide.
It is all about the coupons.
There are 100’s of them. They cover food, drink, match-play, discounts on attractions, 2 for 1 show tickets and so on. Many are for Downtown or locals (off-strip) casinos – though there are plenty for the Strip too.
You can find a list of the current coupons on the ACG website. These expire at the end of each year, so make sure you order the correct book.
Las Vegas Advisor do something similar for their paid members. I have not tried this one myself, though plenty of people do.
#5 – Lyft and Uber
Taxi’s are expensive in Las Vegas. They are also prone to taking unsuspecting tourists the long way around. Lyft and Uber are half the price and take you direct. There are pick-up points at every casino.
You can find coupons for money off of your first rides.
While there is a pick-up spot at the airport, for me this is less important than it once was. These days the regular taxis have fixed fares for strip / downtown hotels. It is more expensive than a Lyft. What you get is convenience – the rank is right outside, no trek to the parking lot, and no worries about the long-haul.
#6 – Tix4Tonight
Las Vegas shows are rarely at full capacity. Cirque du Solei, burlesque nights and comics perform among music-themed shows, musicals and more.
If you are a little flexible on which show to see, then the Tix4Tonight are quick way to get discount tickets. You’ll buy from Tix, then get a voucher you take to the venue to swap for the actual tickets. There are also dining offers at Tix.
Make sure you have the right brand, there are show ticket booths outside many MGM properties which have horrible (if any) discounts.
#7 – Hop Some Happy Hours
Some of the happy hour deals in Las Vegas bars literally last all day. Examples include the $3 cocktails and beers at Interlude at the Cromwell, $7 cocktails at Harvest in the Bellagio and many more.
This page at Vegas Message Board is updated sporadically, though it has you covered for the main happy hours. You'll find some entertaining trip reports and tips on this board. Keep in mind you'll need to filter the 'noise' of old people complaining about their health and constant complaints that Vegas is 'not as good as it used to be'. You'll need to be a member to view it.
You’ll also get free drinks while you gamble. Depending on your luck, this can be a lot more expensive than buying them. There could be a case for low rolling (playing a 30c minimum bet on slots for example) while you enjoy the free drinks… that just does not feel like making the most of your Las Vegas trip for me.
#8 – Grab a Players Club Card at Your Casino
Every casino will have a loyalty scheme. The idea is that you get a card which tracks your resort / restaurant spend and gambling. For MGM and Caesars, the same card tracks you at any of their properties. Other casinos like the Wynn and Venetian have their own loyalty programs.
Here are the popular ones:
- MGM: MLife Rewards
- Caesars: Caesars Rewards
- Cosmopolitan: Identity
- Wynn: Red Insider
- Venetian: Grazie
If you are staying downtown, you’ll find others too.
There are two reasons that these cards save you money. First, points you collect via spend and gambling can be spent. You’ll also find small rewards available for signing up too (a free drink here, $5 slot play there).
More important, if you do gamble, you have a shot at having some of your spend ‘comped’ when you check out. This can be significant if you gamble a lot. Even as reasonably low rollers, we have had $350 in charges removed (and resort fees waived) on previous trips.
If you ever return to Las Vegas, you’ll get free hotel nights (or discounts at the better properties) and other incentives like free play and resort credit too.
#9 – Get into the Outlets
A different angle this time, ‘spend to save’ so to speak. There is a huge ‘village style’ outlet centre to the north of the strip – plus a mall style one to the south.
I’m no fan of shopping, though outlet shops can save you a small fortune.
If you need a coat, shoes, sports gear, luggage, a suit maybe… you name it, you’ll save a fortune. As a single example I have a leather jacket – a known brand – that set me back $89. RRP back in the UK is more like £400.
Sure, this is not saving, its spending.
If you stick to things you needed or would have replaced, then it counts.
#10 – Groupon Deals
These are patchy, though sometimes there are genuine bargains. One example from a previous trip was a half price meal at Pampas. You sit with a plate and people walk round with steak and other meats on skewers.
If you are happy to be flexible, you’ll find plenty more.
Wrapping Up: Where are the Biggest Las Vegas Savings?
I’ll keep notes for the next (spring) trip and report back as part of the detailed post-trip report.
So far, its $500 for the Wynn Rooms, plus around $700 for some NoMad rooms (based on comped rooms + free play / resort credit*). Add £200ish discount by getting bargain flights compared to the usual pricing (out of Heathrow, back to Gatwick helped) and at least $200 in MyVegas savings already snagged and $200+ more planned. The American Casino guide should add another $150ish via a combination of free drinks and matched / free play.
*I realise this one is based on past play / spend… not a direct saving.
Its easy to save money in Las Vegas.
If you don’t have the time / inclination to do them all, then why not choose a few?
GL at the tables, Mark
Submitted by Planet Mark on Fri, 02/21/2020 - 10:48