From zero to hero: Saving hundreds in Vegas with an easy status match
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When I first introduced my parents to a plan that could save them a whole bunch of money on an upcoming Vegas trip, I warned them it was going to sound crazy at first, but to just trust me and not question the logic.
Now, I'm going to ask the same of you.
My parents are retired, budget-conscious travelers who enjoy visiting Las Vegas both as a destination in its own right and as a jumping-off point to explore the West Coast. But, their economical Las Vegas visits have become a bit more complicated in recent years because of added fees that, quite frankly, have taken some of the fun out of Sin City. Sure, a room somewhere like Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is advertised at $35 per night, but add in resort fees, parking fees and taxes, and that $35 carrot can quickly become a $100-a-night stick.
So, before their most recent Vegas trip, I decided it was time for them to level up, and take back the house advantage with a solution that not only wiped out resort and parking fees, but scored them some free meals and show tickets, too.
Enter, status matching to Caesars Rewards.
TPG has covered this process before, and even what it is like to stay at Caesar's Palace as a Diamond member. But, when I shared some highlights of my parents' Vegas trip on my Instagram stories, I received lots of shocked responses. Was it was really possible to go from a Vegas nobody to a Caesars Diamond member so easily? Heck, even I was a little skeptical it would all work as intended in the days before their trip. But it did. Grandma and Grandpa Points saved a few hundred dollars during just one trip. Here's how you can also go from zero to hero in Las Vegas.
The magic lies with Wyndham
The secret to "passing go" on the status match journey up to Caesars Diamond status often lies with Wyndham Rewards. Wyndham Rewards is a partner with Caesars Rewards, so Diamond status in one program will match to Diamond status in the other. If you already have Wyndham Diamond status, or you get it via that program's cobranded credit card, then you've jumped the first hurdle.
You can also match lots of other hotel mid- and top-tier elite status levels to Wyndham Diamond. My mom opened a new Wyndham Rewards account and then requested a status match from her Hilton Gold status attained just by holding the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. You had to upload a screenshot of your competing hotel status, but no specific amount of activity with that chain was required. That Wyndham status match processed within about one business day, though you should allow for more time just in case.
Travelers can also status match Hilton Gold or Marriott Gold status from The Platinum Card® from American Express to Wyndham Diamond. IHG Platinum status available with the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card would also do the trick.
The Wyndham Diamond status match you get from this process is temporary. It's really just a trial, and it expires after 90 days if you don't make 14 eligible stays in that timeframe. But, 90 days is plenty long for our purposes.
Matching Wyndham to Caesars
With (temporary) Wyndham Diamond status in hand, it was time to link that status to Caesars Rewards Diamond status. We made a new Caesars account online for my mom (note that Missouri residents need to open an account in-person) and then requested to link her Wyndham Rewards Diamond status to Caesars Rewards. A little over 48 hours later, the newly-minted Diamond status showed up on her online Caesars profile.
My folks already had existing room reservations at Harrah's for their upcoming trip (that was starting the next day). But, if you wanted to book rooms after your Caesars Diamond status processed, you could rest easy seeing the reservation clearly states no resort fees thanks to your status. (My parents had their resort fees waived at check-in.)
That $18 room? Without all the added fees, it is now pretty darn close to $18.
Reaping the rewards
Still slightly skeptical about this status sorcery, my parents landed in Las Vegas last week and headed straight to the Caesars Rewards desk within Harrah's. They were prepared to either pick up their new Diamond status card — or to be laughed out of town for trusting their daughter that this crazy process could work. Luckily for us all, picking up a Diamond card was as easy as it comes with a government ID and Caesars Rewards number.
As expected, they were told they would not have to pay certain fees at any Caesars properties. That means saving up to $39 per night on resort fees and up to $30 per night on parking fees if you're staying at Caesars Palace. The free parking was very easy to use; just scan the Diamond card to get in and out of the garage. At Harrah's, their savings on a three-night stay came out to $45 on self-parking ($15 per night) and over $105 on resort fees ($35 per night, plus tax).
That alone would have made the virtual status match domino game worth it, but the benefits didn't stop there.
Guests with Caesars Diamond status, even earned through a match, get other perks.
My parents enjoyed a $100 annual Diamond celebration dinner that they shared with a couple friends at the Harrah's buffet. Sure, there are fancier venues to choose from, but this was a way to share the newfound "wealth" with friends. There was a snafu with the $100 dinner credit having not yet loaded to their account, but after an extra visit to the Caesars Rewards desk, it was manually loaded and ready to go. (Try to complete your status match at least a couple weeks before your Vegas trip so everything is set when you arrive. Also, remember you have to use the $100 dining credit all at once.)
Caesars Diamond status can also includes two free show tickets per month for a variety of Caesars shows. Grandma and Grandpa Points learned the pickings are very slim at the end of the month.
Their advice: Head to any Caesars box office ASAP when you arrive to Vegas with your Caesars Diamond card to book tickets for your stay, as these shows can and do become unavailable. What was available for them? Penn and Teller at the Rio (which I personally want to see). Online tickets for that show start around $75 each, but even if you scored a deal and could get them for less somewhere, it's reasonable to value this perk at about $100 for a pair of tickets.
Here's a look at shows that may be available in October.
My parents have never earned elite status the old-fashioned way, and odds are that won't change. They hop on $19 Frontier or Spirit Airlines flights and don't even pay bag fees since they travel with a free, personal-sized carry-on.
They aren't fancy and don't like complicated, but enjoy having a good time exploring on their adventures. By simply opening up some online accounts with Wyndham Rewards and Caesars Rewards and requesting a few status matches, they were able to turn mid-tier Hilton Gold hotel status from a $95 per year credit card into hundreds of dollars in savings on a Las Vegas vacation.
And, if they got the urge to explore further, that same Caesars Diamond status can translate into two free nights at the Caesars in Dubai or four complimentary nights at Atlantis in the Bahamas. It's the gift that keeps on giving. I won't say they hit the jackpot in Vegas, but the house sure didn't win this round.