So you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas but you’re also looking for a few ways to lower your costs. Between the flight, hotel, meals, drinks, shows, and gambling, a Vegas vacation isn’t cheap.
Of course, the best thing about a Vegas vacation is that you actually have a chance to come home with more money than you spent to get there. This chance is extraordinarily slim. But if you happen to be an extremely skilled (or lucky) gambler, you could totally profit from a few days in Sin City. Still, I wouldn’t plan my budget around it. It’s fun to dream, but let’s just assume for a minute that you don’t hit the jackpot. That means you’ll be paying for all those steak dinners, spa treatments and Celine Dion impersonator revues out of your own pocket. It’s extremely easy to rack up a big bill in the world’s biggest adult playground.
But here’s the good news. It’s also really easy to save on your trip if you’re savvy about the way you spend.
If Las Vegas is just one stop on a much bigger trip, check out these Ten Ways to Travel for Free … and Maybe Even Get Paid to Do It.
Otherwise, read on and find out how you can save on your Vegas vacation…
1. Bundle Your Flight and Hotel
Before you lock in either a flight or a hotel room, make sure you weigh your bundling options. Online travel agent sites like Kayak, Booking.com, Priceline, Expedia, and Orbitz are all designed to make it easier for you to find deals on flights, hotels, rental vehicles, and even event attendance upon arrival at your destination. You may be able to shave a few dollars off of both your flight tickets and your hotel reservation if you book them simultaneously. Bundling can give you access to preferential rates. As an added bonus, this can make it a great deal easier to coordinate flight times with available reservations. Before you book directly through the airline or hotel, find out what kinds of bundled deals are available. That said, there are a few unique advantages to booking directly through a specific hotel…
2. Get Rewarded for Your Loyalty
While you should always look into bundling options, especially if they can save you money on flights, don’t forget to compare these prices to the rates that you’ll get by booking directly through a hotel. The big advantage of booking directly is that you can prepare to save on your trip in advance by signing up for your hotel’s loyalty program. With enough lead time before booking, you can join your hotel’s rewards club, join the mailing list, sign up for the newsletter or whatever else they have to offer. Loyalty programs are an excellent and direct route to lowering your cost right away. According to Las Vegas Then and Now, “Loyalty programs like MGM Rewards, Wynn’s Red Card, and Caesars Rewards allow you to sign up from home on the internet. Even as a first-time visitor that just signed up for a loyalty program, rates offered by the resort directly can be 10-15% cheaper than you will find on an OTA site when booking a room offering free cancellation.”
This also underscores an important travel tip whether you’re headed to Vegas or any other popular vacation destination. While we mention the value of bundling with an online travel agency here above, you should weigh the benefits of this strategy against the reduced cost of actually booking directly through your hotel. Joining a loyalty program and reaching out directly to the hotel may actually be the most immediate path to your best price. Also be aware that many online booking sites come with fairly rigid conditions including no-cancellation policies. When you deal directly with your hotel, you’ll have a lot more flexibility when it comes to canceling or changing your reservation.
3. Beware of Resort Fees
There is one more potential cost advantage to booking directly through the hotel where you plan to stay. Just about every hotel in Vegas charges a resort fee so that you can access the Internet, use the pool, and enjoy the fitness center, among other amenities. This resort fee can vary pretty widely depending on where you stay. Not only that, but you may not see this resort fee listed in the sticker price for most hotels, especially if you’re booking through an online travel agency site like Kayak or Expedia.
If you book directly through your hotel, there is likely to be greater transparency regarding this resort fee. Vegas Unzipped even suggests that if you ask really nicely—and spend some time playing in your hotel’s casino—you may actually be able to get your resort fee waived. (This would likely be impossible if you booked through an online travel agency).
Wherever you plan to stay, make sure to inquire about resort fees and incorporate these calculations into your comparative shopping.
4. Find an Off-Strip Hotel
One more note about getting that all-important reservation. Las Vegas is famous for the Strip. Indeed, this main thoroughfare is an absolute Mecca for adult entertainment. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay the fairly high premium just to book your hotel on the Strip. There are tons of great options in the Las Vegas downtown area that offer their own charm and immediate nightlife access.
You don’t have to stay in a shady roadside lodge just to save money. Vegas Unzipped points out that plenty of iconic hotels are just off the Strip, like the Rio, Palms, and Signature MGM Grand. The downtown area is also rich with restaurants, nightclubs, venues, and opportunities for gaming. And don’t sweat the transportation. No matter where you stay, getting to the Strip is as easy as cranking the lever on a slot machine.
Speaking of transportation…
5. Don’t Waste Money on Car Rentals
Car rental costs are through-the-roof expensive right now. Fortunately, Vegas is extremely easy to get around. The Strip itself is entirely walkable. You can actually traverse significant portions of the Strip through indoor connectors. And walking the Strip itself is an absolute feast of sights, sounds, attractions and oddities. Fountains, street performers and stunningly inventive building facades make a long walk an extremely worthwhile way to spend your time in Vegas.
If you’re feeling tired, cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts are beyond plentiful. You can also save by grabbing a ride on the city’s elaborate monorail system or by inquiring about the free shuttles that come with most hotel stays. Las Vegas Now and Then also advises visitors to use the Downtown Loop Shuttle. They note that this entirely free transportation option makes it easy for visitors to hop on and off at key locations like the Strip, Fremont Street, and the Arts District. There are far too many good ways to get around Vegas to waste money on a car rental.
6. Go During Off-Peak Seasons
Now that you know how and where to book, let’s talk about when to book. The time of year you choose to visit can have a pretty strong bearing on the costs for flights, hotels, and just about everything you’ll do when you get to Vegas. Simply stated, the more extreme weathered months are your best bet.
Try booking your trip in the dead of summer. Vegas Unzipped says that “the prime times to go to Vegas for a cheap flight are July [and] August.”
Granted, the temperature in the desert can easily reach triple digits during these hotter months. But here’s some good news—every hotel, casino, cocktail lounge, and performance venue in Vegas has really awesome air conditioning. And the Strip is more or less designed to minimize the amount of time you have to spend out-of-doors if that is your preference. If you wish to avoid the hot sun, you can move between some of the most iconic hotels and casinos through a series of walkways and connecting corridors. Save a few bucks by traveling to Vegas during the peak summer months, spend most of your trip enjoying indoor amenities, and hopefully the only time you’ll get really hot is at the blackjack table.
Travel is also generally lower during mid-December and February. As long as you’re not traveling during the Christmas holiday season, it’s not a bad idea to go in the dead of winter either.
Oh, and while you’re avoiding peak seasons, be aware of any conventions that might be coming to Vegas in the not-too-distant future. Vegas is a top destination for major national and international conventions. For instance, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) draws more than 100,000 attendees every January. Convention dates can lead to price spikes (not to mention unattainable reservations) for show tickets, drinks, and casino table game buy-ins. Steer clear of conventioneers and visit during off-peak months for your lowest costs.
7. Travel Midweek
Not only is the time of year important, but the days of the week that you choose to travel can impact your cost. Any time you travel anywhere, you can anticipate that flights and hotel rooms will be cheaper Sunday through Thursday. Now, that might be a dealbreaker for certain destinations. (What is there to do on a Tuesday night in Dallas?) But when it comes to Vegas, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
There’s no such thing as a school night in Las Vegas. Every performance troupe puts on a show every evening. Everything is always open until sunrise. Every breakfast buffet pumps out bacon and eggs the next morning. Every night is Saturday night in Las Vegas. Save your money by visiting during the middle of the week. You won’t miss a thing.
8. Get Your Groupon On
Speaking of all those shows and breakfast buffets, this is another area where you can save a lot of money by doing your due diligence beforehand. Sign up for one of those coupon clubs a few months before your trip and keep your eye out for relevant deals. If you’re willing to be flexible and go where the deals are, you could save a lot on food and entertainment.
According to Periodic Adventures, “The reduced hotel rates are unbeatable (especially if you pair Groupon with Rakuten (Ebates)). Food in Las Vegas is expensive, so any vouchers for food help…especially if you don’t care where you eat. If your heart isn’t set on anything, check Groupon first.”
9. Find Some Cheap (Or Even Free) Activities
Lots of stuff costs an absolute fortune in Vegas. Try to offset these experiences with a few of the city’s more low-key offerings. For a break from the glitz and glamor of the Strip, check out some of the cheaper but nonetheless worthwhile things you can do in this desert oasis.
Nerdwallet suggests, for instance, The Pinball Hall of Fame, which it describes as “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.”
You don’t have to pull out your gold card for every Las Vegas experience. Find temporary relief from the bright lights and big price tags by seeking out some of the city’s more culturally enriching (and therefore less expensive) attractions.
10. Ask About Upgrades
Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and ask about potential free upgrades once you’ve arrived at your hotel. If you’ve taken the rest of our advice, it means you’re decided to visit Las Vegas during an off-peak season, and in the middle of the week. This means there’s a slim chance that a nicer room is vacant somewhere in your hotel. And if you’ve taken our advice, you’re probably also a member of the hotel’s loyalty club. It couldn’t hurt to mention this fact when you ask about a free upgrade to a bigger suite, a grander view, a poolside terrace, or whatever else your hotel has to offer. The worst they can do is say no.
And don’t forget, money talks in Las Vegas. A $20 tip at the front desk could work wonders toward scoring you that more luxurious room at a reduced rate.
Speaking of tips, you should always have ample cash on hand in Vegas. If you like excellent service, make sure you tip accordingly. It could be the difference between compulsory service with a sort-of-smile and true pampering. For a few pointers on how to navigate one of the most service-oriented cities in the world, check out Tipping in the U.S.: 12 Things You Need to Know About Gratuities.