Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino at Dusk. Looking across Bellagio's Lake the casino really stand out at this time of day.

For most destinations, airline and hotel elite status is enough to keep you rolling like boss through your entire trip, from airport to hotel and back.
In Las Vegas however, the conventional hotel elite upgrades and rewards don’t normally apply. 95 percent of the time if you’re headed to Vegas, you’re not going to stay in a Hilton or Hyatt, you’re going to stay at one of the major resorts.
Did you know that casinos have their own rewards programs too?
We’re not talking “comps” here. Not a free buffet, free show, or free morning coffee. We’re talking a real, legitimate rewards program with ascending levels, just like an airline or hotel.
In fact, you can receive similar suite upgrades, free food and drink, and hundreds of dollars in value just by participating in the right program.
Las Vegas Casino Rewards Programs Background
The reason many people are unaware or – worse yet – avoid these programs is simple: They think you need to be a “high roller,” throwing around hundred dollar chips by the handful at the blackjack table.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Perhaps decades ago, but not today. You don’t need to gamble much to reach elite status with a major resort. In fact, you don’t even need to gamble.
Here’s why: The gaming industry, and consumer habits, changed drastically in the 2008 global financial crisis. Gambling used to be “recession-proof.” This time it wasn’t. This time was different. Because people curtailed their gambling, casinos had to figure out ways to continue making a strong profit.
They were quick to reinvent themselves. In Vegas, the recipe was edgier, trendier, catering to a younger crowd with disposable income. A stronger emphasis on club nightlife, pool daylife, concerts/shows, world-class restaurants, and more, all combined to create new sources of income.
It worked. Vegas is more popular than ever and gaming companies are doing better than ever. While they no longer derive the same percentage of revenue from gambling, customers are still spending huge amounts of money. They’re just doing it in a different way.
Make no mistake – casinos value your spending, no matter how they get it. More importantly, they’re ready to reward you for it.

Signing Up

You can sign up online, or if you happen to be playing any game on the casino floor (except sports betting), sign up by telling the nearest staff member you’d like to join their rewards program. If you’re not gambling you can also sign up at customer service. The simple process should take less than two minutes.

In Las Vegas, your options usually center around five programs and their benefits. Respective companies and Vegas properties listed below:

MLife (MGM Resorts International) –  MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, Mandarin Oriental, Mirage, Luxor, New York/New York, Excalibur, Circus Circus

Wynn Red Card (Wynn) – Wynn, Encore

Identity (Cosmopolitan) – Cosmopolitan only

Club Grazie (Las Vegas Sands) – Venetian, Palazzo

Total Rewards (Caesar’s) – Caesar’s, Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Paris, Flamingo, Rio

Spending and Benefits

Once enrolled, practically every dollar spent on premises will count toward your rewards points. The more you spend and more nights you stay, the higher your status and resulting rewards will be. So it’s best to concentrate your stays and spending among one company’s properties.

While the exact benefits and rate of earning points will vary by program, what’s most important is that like all great rewards programs, they eliminate hassle.

This is especially important Las Vegas. After a 5 hour flight, you’re ready to start your vacation. There’s nothing worse than arriving at check-in to a 90 minute line. (Not an exaggeration on weekends at popular resorts.) Other notable benefits include:


  • Complimentary room/suite upgrades – You already know you’re going to upgrade. Why not start from a higher level? Instead of a room to a suite, how about a suite to a penthouse?
  • Complimentary annual free nights
  • VIP line access to nightclubs and dayclubs (for member and guests)
  • Priority taxi lines (never wait in line for cabs – a huge perk on busy weekends)
  • Complimentary gym/fitness center access
  • Discounts (10-15 percent) at retail shops on premises
  • Resort Credits – This is money in your pocket. Once you reach higher levels of status, you’ll receive an annual voucher for resort credits. This can be several hundred dollars. You’re going to spend money on food/drink while in the resort. Why not start a few hundred ahead?
These are some of our favorites, but there are dozens more. Like most things in Vegas, the sky’s the limit. Climb high enough and you can have a complimentary limo to/from the airport and more.

How can you accelerate to the higher levels of elite status?

  • Always use your card – It’s the most simple rule, but most often forgotten. Whether you’re gambling, dining, hitting the gym/spa, partying in club, or having a drink by the pool, use your card. Note: For larger expenses, it’s especially important to check your receipt. You want to be sure you got credited. If not, you can always take the receipt to customer service at the end of your trip.
  • Spend with friends – Traveling with friends that aren’t program members? Put their bills on your rewards card. You’ll get credit for their spending, and they’ll get to enjoy the privileges of your membership as a guest. Another win-win.
  • Book through hotel websites – Sure, you could always book a flight/hotel package deal through Expedia or Travelocity, but did you know you can also do this on many resort websites? In fact, if you login using your membership number and password, you’ll often be offered even lower room rates than a normal visitor.


It’s worth noting Las Vegas isn’t completely isolated from major hotels. Thanks to MGM’s partnership with Hyatt last year, you can earn Hyatt points on MGM properties. The same goes for Caesars and Starwood. Notably in these partnerships, elite members enjoy reciprocity. So if you happen to be a Hyatt Diamond member, Hyatt’s highest elite level, you’ll be treated to MGM’s highest level of elite benefits on all MGM properties, and vice versa.

Vegas resort/hotel partnerships are an intriguing and welcome development for the elite status/points game. We’ll be profiling these and some suggested shortcuts in a future article.
Saving time, eliminating hassle, and avoiding lines is a great recipe for any vacation but without a little planning, this can be prove difficult in the world’s most popular tourist destination. Stay one step ahead of the crowd on your next Vegas trip by enrolling in one of these programs and hit the ground running.


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