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Sin City on a Budget: How to Save on Your Next Trip to Vegas

Aug. 29, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Vacations & Trip Planning
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When you think Las Vegas, one of the first words to come to mind is expensive. Signing the bill for your astronomically priced drink at the nightclub hurts almost as much as your stomach when you’re leaving the hotel buffet. You had to get your money’s worth, right?

Luckily, there are some surefire ways to save money on your trip to Las Vegas. Here are some of our tips for saving in Sin City.

Avoid peak travel times

It’s always party time in Las Vegas, so if you have the flexibility to travel when crowds are lighter, you can save yourself a lot of cash.

Shoulder season for the region is late March (after spring break) through May (before peak summer), and September to November. You’ll also want to avoid major holidays, three-day weekends and big conventions or events that bring an influx of people to the city, like the CES trade show or the Electric Daisy Carnival music festival.

If possible, try planning a midweek trip to save big on accommodations. For example, we found a two-night stay at Circus Circus for less than $30 per night for a Monday to Wednesday stay, but $160 per night for a weekend stay.

No matter what time of year you visit Vegas, mandatory resort fees can quickly add big bucks to the cost of a stay — so always be sure to factor those in, as they’re generally not included in a room’s base rate. Resort fees of over $30 per night are common along the Strip.

Use your hotel rewards to book a room

You might be surprised to learn your hard-earned hotel points can get you award stays at some of the most famous Vegas hotels.

For example, thanks to a partnership between MGM and Hyatt, you can use World of Hyatt points to book award stays at properties including the MGM Grand, Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, and others. Holders of The World Of Hyatt Credit Card get a free award night after their cardmember anniversary, good for hotels in Category 4 or below.

If you’re looking to use that free night in Vegas, you could book a room at the Park MGM, one of the newest hotels on the Strip, complete with the Italian market Eataly and a 5,200-seat theater.

Members of other hotel programs have options, too:

  • IHG Rewards Club members can redeem their points for award stays at the all-suite Venetian or Palazzo resorts.
  • Marriott Bonvoy members can splurge on a stay at the ritzy Cosmopolitan Hotel in a great central location on the Strip.
  • Down the street is the Tropicana, which is actually a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel that Hilton Honors members may want to check out.

One way to accumulate enough points for these stays on the Strip is to get the corresponding hotel credit card. You might also want to see if your current travel rewards card offers point transfers to these hotel loyalty programs. Chase Ultimate Rewards®, for example, transfers to World of Hyatt, IHG and Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.

Stay off the Strip

The Strip might be where all the flashing lights are, but there’s plenty more to Vegas than one congested boulevard. Staying in hotels slightly off the Strip can get you more space (and quiet) for your money. Just make sure you factor in the cost of a rental car or rideshares around town.

You can also apply this mentality to other aspects of your Vegas trip. For example, save money on meals by checking out some of the affordable, high-quality restaurants in the strip malls of Chinatown or the burgeoning Arts District.

Get around the Strip for free or cheap

The cost of using rideshare services in Vegas can add up fast, especially if high-demand pricing is in effect. If you’re doing some sober exploring and you’ve got a car, take advantage of free self-parking that some hotels offer. There are also free trams you can catch inside several hotels that run as late as 4 a.m.

Don’t forget that many hotels along the Strip are connected by indoor walkways and outdoor pedestrian bridges, so you might be able to walk to your destination without leaving the air conditioning for too long.

While not free, city buses are a cheap and relatively convenient way to get up and down the Strip as well, or to connect the Strip to downtown Vegas.

Pay brunch price for buffets

Eating at an excessive buffet is a quintessential Vegas experience. If you want to save money on your smorgasbord, try timing your arrival so that you’ll pay the brunch price when you get there, but the food will change over to the more extensive dinner menu while you’re seated. (If you do this, give yourself a bit of a buffer to account for waiting in line.) Check the buffet times and plan accordingly.

Find discounts on shows

You can get tickets almost daily to everything from Cirque du Soleil shows to magic shows to residency concerts. These shows don’t come cheap, but there are some ways to find discounted tickets.

First, check directly on the show or hotel website, and see if Best of Vegas has any special promotions. If you are staying at the same property as the show, the hotel might be able to offer you special pricing, too. Next, you could try scoring a same-day discount from a Tix4Tonight booth, which has some convenient locations at the airport and the Strip.

Do free and cheap things

Take a break from spending big money with some of the many free (or very affordable) activities in Las Vegas. The Pinball Hall of Fame, for example, is a gem off the Strip with old-timey games at old-timey prices — a pinball game only costs 25 or 50 cents. You can get into Red Rocks Canyon Recreational Area for $15 per car to enjoy hiking, rock scrambling and a look at 800-year-old petroglyphs carved by Native Americans. And just outside of Vegas you’ll find Seven Magic Mountains, a popular free art installation and photo opportunity.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

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