Including the best and the worst rewards program
When you are in Vegas, signing up with players programs is almost a must, unless you never intend to return. This allows your to accumulate redeemable points for comps. We have used most programs in Vegas extensively and have formed strong opinions. However, before giving you a run down of which one is currently best or worst (see below), let us give you overall tips on players programs:
1 – if you are planning to return to Vegas regularly, choose which Vegas resorts you are more likely to want to stay in and then sign up for that particular resort group’s players card once you arrive. More importantly, play at their casinos their players card: so, if you want to stay at Caesars Palace, for example, there is no point in playing at the MGM Group casinos, which run the the M Life program, and you should only play under the Total Rewards program. Similarly, if your favorite resort is Wynn/Encore or Venetian/Palazzo, you need to join and play with their own players program consistently and not ‘waste’ your gambling money in other casinos and other programs. We made that mistake years ago, and received many offers from resorts we were not really interested in. Moreover, if you have a particular resort in mind as your very favorite, play in that resort most of your time, since the offers will come more regularly from that resort’s casino marketing, even above other resorts from the same group.
2 – It is worth your while signing up with every single players card program if you plan to take advantage of their free play offers and have plenty of time to ‘run around’ in Vegas. However, some resorts only offer 5 dollars free play, which is not even worth lining up for. One of the best resorts for free play for new recruits has generally been Plaza in downtown Vegas: 50 dollars free play has been offered at times, especially if you continue to play a little on the same night you sign up. Sometimes they run a program whereby you can get up to 250 dollars in free-play provided you keep playing… One night one of us won a considerable amount of money; however, the following night, one of us lost a large part of that money… So, play wisely, don’t go crazy with this free-play stuff, since it is (in our opinion) merely designed to create gamblers and not winners! Having said this, Plaza graced us all with writing off all our hotel and dining bills, which was very, very nice of them! In fact, in terms of casino marketing, they are much more generous than any Strip resorts.
3 – the best Vegas players programs to sign up with vary with time. At present, the M Resort Imagine card (do not mistake this with the MLife players card!), which however is going to change probably due to their ‘merge’ with Tropicana and ‘independent’ (namely not part of a large Vegas chain of resorts) Strip and downtown casinos offer the best value for money in terms of players card programs (what you get for your gambling points). More details on these further down on this page. What about the worst?
No longer the Worst: MLife used to be a very UN-generous players program (in terms of rewards for your casino play) but there have been significant improvements lately: all play is connected throughout their Vegas properties and you can therefore reap the benefits of your game play (points earned for comps) at any of their resorts. Mirage still hosts one of the more generous casinos marketing teams (generously comping your room charges after your have played or recycled a significant amount of money at their casino). In the past we would gamble (or recycle) hundreds and hundreds of dollars a night and not only did most MGM casino marketing teams offer very little in return (comparatively speaking) as a ‘thank you gesture’ (some resorts used to do this after a night of gambling), but the comped room offers would not arrive until our next trip; moreover, when we received them, they were not worthy of the amount of money we spent (2 nights each segment, unlike with the Total Rewards program, where you can stay much longer). We still receive comps from M Life, but in our opinion the comps are not fairly representative of the many points accumulated on the card. The different lately has been that you will also receive free-play and resort credit; the latter you need to inquire about at length to avoid the trap of ‘limited resort credits’ (namely those who are only applicable in certain resort places, usually the least popular ones). I talk about this at length in one of my Excalibur videos. When you become a seasoned member (Pearl and above) you can skip up line ups, which is very handy at buffets, but in terms of freebies, the MGM Group have traditionally not been generous at all in our opinion and experience; they seemed to favor big (reckless) gamblers at the tables, rather than average gamblers at slot machines, from what we heard and saw.
However, recently, we were comped retroactively (all our room charges were waived) after a few hours of slot playing at some of the MGM resorts; we also found their casino marketing and MLife kiosk attendants to be very amenable and helpful in the pursuit of retroactive comps. If you want to know more about how much money and how you need to ‘recycle’, read our ‘how to gamble for rewards‘ page.
♥♥♥[ Total Rewards is still a good players program first of all because they tend to offer cheaper rooms in general and, very importantly, because they allow you to be comped (stay for free + resort fee) for many days rather than the pesky 2 nights only (typical of MGM Group). In defense of the MGM Group, their comps usually entail a resort-fee-free stay, whilst Caesar’s Entertainment apply a hefty resort fee on their ‘comp’ stays. Secondly, because they count everything you spend at a resort and that adds up pretty quickly in terms of credits (which you can then spend on buffets, for example). Now M Life (MGM) are trying to catch up to this idea, but they’re still not rewarding every resort purchase as Total Rewards (Caesars’ group) do. The downside is, of course, that many of their resorts are, in general, of lower quality (in terms of quality and opening times of amenities and room quality) than the MGM group ones. Caesar’s Palace is a huge exception: their gym is simply fabulous and it’s open late; their pools are very nice too.
♥♥♥[ The beautiful M Resort (Imagine card) has a good players card program and you can quickly receive free buffets for your play; in fact they send us 4 free buffet coupons (and we know that their Studio B buffet is definitely worth it!). I would say it’s probably one of the best players card program in terms of value for money played; the good news is that now they purchased Tropicana, which means that you will no longer be limited to either resorts but you’ll rather be able to enjoy benefits from both.
The Worst Players Program?
Be Connected (Orleans, Gold Coast, Main Street Station, Fremont etc) used to run a very generous players card program (free rooms easily obtained, free food and other comps); however, lately, we found them unusually rapacious: future comps are minimal for average players (2 free nights per month per resort), dining credits are only pocket change and, worst of all, the Orleans resort seems to refuse to comp retroactively after many hours of casino play at higher denomination slots (this has been our recent experiences, after recycling thousands of dollars!). From our recent experiences, we would not recommend that you gamble at any of their properties. Finally, all their buffets are sub-par compared to other affordable ones in Vegas, which means that your meager food credits would not even be enjoyable. BeConnected offers affordable rooms and ‘reasonable’ resort fees in general, especially useful during weekends; unfortunately, their generosity does not seem to extend to rewarding play appropriately.
More Good Players Programs in Vegas
♥♥♥The Cosmopolitan (inside the Vegas City Center, mid Strip) is a standalone resort with many great features, such as a 24 hour gym and a very popular night club. Well worth playing at Cosmo (using their unique Identity Card): great place, great location, good buffet and a great casino. However, their rooms are generally more expensive so it’s mostly about what you value most during your stay (luxury or cheap drinks, for example, or a ‘generous casino’?). I found Cosmopolitan casino to be more ‘generous’ than other Strip resorts, but of course it’s all relative and nobody, in the long run, ever makes any money at any casino, of course.
♥♥ Downtown Vegas hotels and casinos tend to have more generous programs in general (in particular the above-mentioned Royal Rewards by Plaza), they tend to offer better ‘odds’ when you gamble (more ‘generous’ slot machines, for example, though lately I don’t think it’s been the case any more) and are more affordable through and through, with some really nice perks.
♥♥The Station hotels and casinos have a Boarding pass worth signing up with if you plan to stay, play or eat at any of their properties, the star being the beautiful Red Rock Resort, offering the very nice yet very affordable Feast buffet or the budget Palace Station.
♥♥♥There are other ‘stand-alone’ resorts worth signing up with, such as the Venetian Grazie Card, the Stratosphere Play card, the Silverton Rewards Players Card, the Palms’ (Club Players Card), the Imagine card by the gorgeous M Resort. It’s worth doing if you plan to stay with them (and you may well want to stay at Venetian or Palazzo!), eating there or playing there in the future. Some of them offer incredibly generous deals, especially if off-Strip, including regular free buffet passes, as in the case of the beautiful M Resort.
We always welcome your opinion via our comments page!