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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Experiencing Las Vegas for free

There is no doubt that the Sin City is like no other place on Earth and whether you like to gamble or not the city offers a little bit of something for everyone. That is one reason I've found myself returning time and time again and there are definitely ways to take advantage of what Vegas has to offer without having to break the bank. In this post, I'm going to highlight some of the ways I've managed to go back on numerous occasions basically for free.

There are numerous airlines that have direct flights into McCarran International Airport (LAS) from all over the world and depending on how adventurous you are you can often find some pretty cheap flights, especially if you are brave enough to use a budget carrier such as Allegiant. I tend to be pretty frugal when it comes to travel so I have used Allegiant before since they offer a direct flight from Indianapolis (IND) to Las Vegas (LAS) but they seem to only offer flights maybe once or twice a week at only one time so depending on your flexibility this may not even be an option. They also charge for everything including luggage, seat assignment, and even to print off your boarding pass so the savings may not be worth it in the end. The flight itself was less than desirable but I was already expecting the worst. The seats wouldn't even recline and they kept the air conditioning set to ice box. I also got stuck next to some pretty drunk girls on the way back who were vomiting the whole time so my husband made me vow that we would never fly Allegiant again.

Once you eventually get to Las Vegas the great thing is that McCarran International Airport recently welcomed Uber and Lyft to be able to provide ride sharing services. And if you've never used Uber before you can sign up at and both you and I will get a free ride (up to $15) which should be plenty to get you to your hotel. We usually end up staying at the Luxor, mainly because they are one of the few places that have $5 craps tables and they are also very inexpensive (sometimes rates as low as $19/night). They are also an MGM resort property which has a relationship with Hyatt so your hotel stay earns Hyatt qualified stays and Gold Passport points and you are able to charge anything from any MGM resort to your room.

The relationship also extends to their loyalty programs and they offer reciprocity as follows:

As mentioned in my prior post, I currently have Hyatt Diamond status through a status match which matches me into M life's top tier Platinum status. In order to match your tier status you obviously need to be members of both loyalty programs and then go to and follow the "opt-in" link. I don't really use many of the benefits of my Platinum status but it has come in handy during hotel check-in having access to their priority check-in line and they recently instituted a new "Platinum Experience" last December which allows free access to certain MGM resort exhibits (Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Mandalay Shark Reef Aquarium, etc). I've also been greeted with a nice bottle of wine waiting in my room upon arrival before so it likely depends on which hotel you're staying at.

Another perk of the M life program is that they offer free games you can play on your phone or on Facebook (myVEGAS slots, blackjack, and myKONAMI slots) that earn points that can be redeemed for various rewards at their properties ranging from free room stays, free lunch/dinner buffets, show tickets, and even freeplay money. This has provided me large savings over time since I tend to use my rewards to purchase food which can really add up when multiplied by 3 or 4 people. The only problem is that these games can take a while to earn enough points for a redemption and you are only allowed to redeem 3 rewards per account on a rolling 30 day period.

And one final way you can save money is if you're really brave you can elect to participate in a timeshare presentation that offer various incentives ranging from comped stays, show tickets, and even cash. However, you need a very strong will and extreme patience if you're going to do this as you'll probably want to poke your eyes out by the end of the presentation. I went to my first and probably last timeshare presentation in January which lasted over 3 hours and was very high pressured and the woman that was giving us our presentation literally got pissed after we said no. We did end up getting 2 free trips (3 days, 2 nights), 2 show tickets, and $125 cash out of it though.

Bottom Line

Las Vegas has a lot to offer and can also be budget friendly depending on what lengths you are willing to go. For the extremely frugal traveler, you can find a round trip ticket on a budget carrier for around $100, take a free Uber ride to your hotel which was also free using your myVEGAS award redemption or timeshare gift, eat for free again using your myVEGAS award redemption, and then get into multiple exhibits such as the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Mandalay Shark Reef Aquarium, etc using your matched Mlife Platinum status from Hyatt. Of course, there's much more to do in Vegas than just gamble and I usually like to explore so I visited the Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam the last time I was there. Whatever your interests, you can likely find something to occupy your time.

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