GOING TO VEGAS? Get a card!

If you're going to Vegas, you'll want to use your money for the gambling, not for the shows, rooms or food! For the most part, Vegas is "owned" by a handful of people. MGM and Harrahs own 1/4 of the strip.

Even if you are not a big gambler, stop by the "Players Club", "Total Rewards", or whatever the casinos have for gambling. Earn points toward free stuff, which can lead to comp'd rooms and meals.

As I mention, MGM and Harrah's owns most of the strip, so your Harrah's "Total Rewards" card will be good at not just Harrahs, but also Rio, Caesar's Palace, Bally's, Paris, Imperial Palace, and most recently acquired Planet Hollywood.

For every $5 you "recycle" in a slot machine, you get 1 point. You can use the card at the "Tables" but there's another formula for points. I don't play tables so you'll have to ask them how to calculate the points.

If you acquire 4000 points, you'll get bumped to Platinum status, and 20000 is Diamond, and (I believe) 30000 is Seven Stars (way beyond my league). If you play at a machine for a while, you earn bonus points which can be redeemed for food or merchandise. I've played on a machine for 3 hours (with only $40!) and earned free lunch at Caesar's Palace. Loyalty does have its rewards!

A word about Harrah's Total Rewards program: The bonus points you earn are valid for 6 months. They want you back in the casino, so if you go to any Harrahs property and play at least $5 in a machine, you get to keep the comp points. If you don't play within 6 months, you lose them. Your "tier" points (which gives you VIP status) is valid for one year, and ends at midnight on December 31st. Being a VIP is very nice.... no waiting in line for check in, valet, or buffet.

MGM's Players Club is good at MGM, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island, Excalibur, Luxor, and basically most of the other casinos not covered by Harrahs. Once, I spent about an hour in NY-NY playing on the dimes slot machine and when I got home, I received an email offering me a free room for Christmas.

I prefer the Total Rewards over the Players Club (by MGM) because they have more properties all over the US, such as Rincon Indian Reservation in San Diego. I can play at the other properties and still earn points to use toward Vegas (or any Harrahs property).

Are you a gambler?? If you want a free suite, try Palazzo or Venetian's Club Grazie. If you can earn the qualifying points, they'll comp you a suite that day. Of course, you're hoping Lady Luck will be on your side.

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