TPG’s guide to Las Vegas casino loyalty programs

Dec 1, 2019

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Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive getaway with your friends, heading to a convention or just scored tickets to the hottest concert of the season, there’s always something happening in Las Vegas. We’ll tell you how to get there on miles and points, where to stay, the best times to plan a trip and what to do while you’re there. Remember, there’s plenty to do in Sin City besides gamble.

Las Vegas is a city of status. We’re not talking about hotel status, though that can be very helpful here too. We’re talking about VIP lines for everything from taxis to top-notch shows and nightclubs. Perks count in Vegas — for discounts on shopping, free parking and waived resort fees.

So what’s the best status to earn? That depends on what’s most important to you — you won’t find a benefit like waived resort fees in every casino loyalty program. That’s why we’re exploring the top-tier loyalty programs in Las Vegas, as well as a few others you may find useful in Sin City.

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MGM Resorts — M Life

MGM owns and operates some of the most popular casinos in Las Vegas, as well as in other locations around the U.S. In Las Vegas, this means the popular MGM Grand, Bellagio, Mirage and Mandalay Bay resorts are part of the M Life program. All MGM Resorts in Las Vegas participate in the program, which has five levels.

The MGM Grand Hotel (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The MGM Grand Hotel (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Each level requires a certain number of tier credits to qualify for status. Tier credits can be earned on all gaming activities as well as through spending on hotel rooms, dining, entertainment and spa services. Earning levels vary by property.

M Life members can also earn eight Tier Credits per dollar for room and incidental charges at most Hyatt hotels. The M Life “elite calendar” runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 of the following year. You’ll need to earn the required Tier Credits for each level in that time period.

You can also earn free hotel rooms, show tickets and other prizes at MGM Resorts by playing the MyVegas app.

Sapphire

This is the M Life status level you receive just for signing up. As entry-level status, the most valuable benefit is probably the 10% discount on room rates at participating MGM properties. You’ll also enjoy a 5% discount on shopping at participating shops and early access to tickets for select events at MGM Resorts nationwide.

Pearl

Pearl status is awarded after you earn 35,000 Tier Credits in a program year. World of Hyatt Discoverist members can also match their status to M Life Pearl (learn more about how to rock Vegas with status matches).

Along with the benefits of Sapphire status, Pearl members enjoy a 10% bonus on points-earning from slot play and on earning Express Comps. They also receive an additional six months of expiration time, invitation to members-only events as well as a 10% discount on shopping at participating stores. Pearl members also have self-parking fees waived, which can add up if you have a rental car for your Vegas vacation.

Gold

Gold status is for a more serious level of gambler or those who spend a whole lot on hotel rooms and dining. It requires 75,000 Tier Credits per program year to obtain or retain, but also comes with all the perks of Pearl status and quite a few more. World of Hyatt Explorist and Globalist members can match their status to M Life Gold.

Caesars Palace and The Belagio. (Photo by Toms Auzins/robertharding/Getty Images)
The Bellagio (Photo by Toms Auzins/robertharding/Getty Images)

In addition to all the benefits of Pearl status, Gold members earn a 20% bonus on slot play and Express Comps. They have access to priority check-in lines and room upgrades (excluding suites) for hotel stays. Gold members also enjoy priority reservations at restaurants as well as VIP lines for buffets and select nightclubs in Las Vegas. Gold status also includes free valet parking. Finally, MGM’s partnership with Royal Caribbean affords Gold members some modest benefits on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises, including a $125 onboard credit on each cruise.

Platinum

Platinum members need to amass 200,000 Tier Credits during a program year. In addition to all the benefits of Gold status, Platinum members receive one free cruise per program year on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity in the Bahamas or the Caribbean in an Oceanview Stateroom. The length of the cruise is either three, four or five nights, depending on your gambling history. Platinum members also receive a $200 onboard credit on all cruises.

Platinum members also earn a 30% bonus on slots play and Express Comps as well as a 15% discount at participating shops. They also receive a Platinum Experience upon check-in. These vary, but past choices have included complimentary passes to the Shark Reef Aquarium, Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Big Apple Roller Coaster and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden.

Platinum members also receive priority access to pool, cabana and spa reservations, as well as valet and taxi services.

Noir

Noir status is the highest advertised level in the M Life program and it’s invitation-only. There are rumors of needing to spend at least $250,000 per year in MGM casinos, though those are unconfirmed.

Noir members receive a seven-night Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Bahamas or Caribbean cruise in a Balcony Stateroom.

Additionally, they earn a 40% bonus on slots play and Express Comps and they have a higher limit on the number of Express Comps they can earn. Noir members have access to VIP check-in services that include a private lounge in most MGM resorts. They’re also guaranteed hotel reservations and restaurant reservations under certain circumstances and receive complimentary limo service to and from the airport to the hotel.

Related: The best starter travel credit cards

Caesars Rewards

Caesars Rewards is the other top-tier loyalty program in Las Vegas, especially when it comes to the number of participating properties, including Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Bally’s and Harrah’s. Caesars has plenty of properties, but they tend to be a notch or two below the best MGM properties in Las Vegas.

Caesars Palace. (Photo by Evan Semones - cosmophotograhy/Getty Images
Caesars Palace (Photo by Evan Semones – cosmophotograhy/Getty Images

Caesars Rewards has four elite levels. Qualification involves earning Tier Credits during a calendar year and earning rates vary on Tier Credits. Slot play earns one Tier Credit for every $5 of play, while video poker earns one Tier Credit for every $10 of play. You’ll also earn five Tier Credits for every dollar spent on room rates and resort fees and one Tier Credit per dollar spent on pretty much everything else (dining, spa services, shopping, pool, etc).

You can also earn Caesars Rewards Credits through partners like 1-800-Flowers.com and by playing their Facebook game.

Gold

Gold status is the entry level of the Caesars Rewards program. You’ll be eligible for free or discounted hotel stays, subject to your level of play. And, for every 5,000 Tier Credits you earn, you’ll be eligible for a free hotel night in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. Gold members also get access to special pricing at participating restaurants and early access to tickets for certain shows as well as discounted rates at Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Platinum

Platinum status requires 5,000 Tier Credits in a calendar year. Additionally, Wyndham Platinum members are eligible for a status match to Platinum in the Caesars Rewards program. Platinum members receive all the benefits of Gold status, plus a 15% discount at casino gift shops and free valet and self-parking at most casino locations. Platinum members and above can also enjoy a complimentary three-night stay at Atlantis.

All Platinum members can request a status match to Wyndham Platinum status, which entitles you to some moderate benefits with Wyndham such as accelerated points-earning and late checkout (subject to availability). Platinum members can also give 5,000 Reward Credits to a friend and receive a 10% discount on select Norwegian Cruise Line vacations.

Diamond

Diamond status requires 15,000 Tier credits in a calendar year. Wyndham Diamond members are also eligible for a status match to Caesars Diamond, which can be very rewarding. On top of all the benefits of Platinum status, Diamond members received a handful of valuable benefits — for example, you won’t pay resort fees at any Caesars property. Considering resort fees have started edging up as high as $50 per night at some properties, these savings can add up quickly.

Diamond members are also entitled to a 15% discount on certain hotel room and suite rates, two free nights at Caesars Bluewaters Dubai and guaranteed rooms in Las Vegas and Atlantic City with 72 hours’ notice. As a Diamond member, you’ll also receive a $100 dining credit for a Celebration Dinner when earning Diamond status (even via status match) and a 20% discount at casino gift shops.

The Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel. (Photo by Torresigner/Getty Images)
The Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel (Photo by Torresigner/Getty Images)

Other key benefits of Diamond status include access to VIP Laurel Lounges located in most casinos, priority lines for restaurants and priority or VIP check-in at hotels. Diamond members also earn a four-night stay at Atlantis (room type dependent on gaming history), as well as a 20% discount on select Norwegian Cruise Line vacations. All Diamond members have the opportunity to match their Caesars status to Wyndham Diamond. In addition to accelerated points-earning and late checkout (subject to availability), Wyndham Diamond members are entitled to suite upgrades, a welcome amenity at check-in and the ability to give Gold status to someone.

Seven Stars

Seven Stars is the highest published level of the Caesars Rewards program. It requires 10 times as many Tier Credits as Diamond: a whopping 150,000 per calendar year. But for the serious gambler, the perks may be worth staying loyal to Caesars.

In addition to all the benefits of Diamond status, Seven Stars members are entitled to a room upgrade at check-in, complimentary early check-in and late check-out, a $500 Celebration Dinner and a 25% discount at gift shops.

Seven Stars members also receive $1,200 in airfare to fly to any Caesars Rewards destination and a $500 dining credit when they arrive. They can share their status with a companion and they get access to Signature Events (based on their Tier Score). Previous examples have included complimentary hotel stays accompanied by free dinners, lake cruises and free events where players can earn prizes.

Seven Stars members earn a free four-night stay at Atlantis with perks like a resort credit for restaurants as well as slot play and other amenities. And they receive a free Congratulatory Voyage on Norwegian Cruise Line.

Related: How to get to Las Vegas with points and miles

Other programs

M Life and Caesars Rewards are, by far, the biggest loyalty programs in Las Vegas but they’re not the only ones. Some other popular casinos have loyalty programs too. As with airline and hotel loyalty programs, we always recommend signing up for the program just in case. You never know when a valuable offer may come your way. Here’s a look at some of the smaller programs:

Station Casinos MyBoardingPass

Station Casinos used to be known as the casinos where locals did their gambling. With 18 casinos in Las Vegas, you are never that far from one wherever you live. Casinos such as Sunset Station and Santa Fe Station have hotels and restaurants but also cater to locals. The vast majority of Station Casinos have affordable buffets and lower table limits. However, Green Valley Ranch and Red Rock Casino both represent a dramatic step up in quality.

These off-Strip casinos rarely charge for parking and other perks, so the benefits of MyBoardingPass focus more on discounts at buffets and restaurants, as well as private parking and access to special concerts and events. However, serious gamblers or spenders can earn free Princess Cruises vacation and other VIP benefits like limousine service.

Venetian and Palazzo Grazie

The Venetian and Palazzo casinos are run by the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Both participate in the Grazie program, which offers similar benefits to M Life and Caesars on a smaller scale. Perks include a partnership with Canyon Ranch Spa for discounts on spa services and the ability to get VIP access to Tao Beach & Nightclub. Grazie members can also transfer their Slot Reward points for IHG Rewards Club points, redeemable for IHG hotel stays worldwide.

Gondola rides at the Venetian Hotel. (Photo by Eddie Brady/Getty Images)
Gondola rides at The Venetian (Photo by Eddie Brady/Getty Images)

Wynn and Encore Red Card Club

Wynn and Encore are two connected resorts at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. The Red Card Club program is deliberately vague about how you earn benefits and the benefits are more aligned with gifts than discounts on various services. That’s probably a nod to the clientele at those casinos who may be less price-conscious (room rates at both are some of the highest on the Strip). One of the benefits to the Red Card is the ability to earn points and benefits at the new Encore Boston Harbor and Wynn Macau.

Bottom line

Las Vegas is a land of limitless attractions, whether gambling, dining or zip-lining over the casinos. The occasional visitor can have plenty of fun but you’ll probably see VIP lines and hear about special events you think are closed to you. When Vegas was all about gambling, that may have been the case. But these loyalty programs all generally award points (and status) for your dining, shopping and spa services, a clear indication that the definition of loyalty in Las Vegas has shifted.

The bigger programs, such as M Life and Caesars Rewards, give travelers the ability to visit a host of different casinos (and restaurants, shops and spas) while amassing points and loyalty currency in a single program. And the benefits and experiences in the larger programs also seem to have spawned others. Specifically, the Princess Cruises benefit at Station Casinos appears to be a competitive answer to M Life and Caesars Rewards. With competition, customers can reap rewards. Don’t leave those benefits on the table.

Featured photo by nicola tolin/Unsplash.

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