I'm starting a new category on the blog called 'Vegas Tips'. The category is for articles designed to be helpful to Las Vegas travelers instead of the news headlines that dominate the blog.
The first in the series discusses the infamous '$20 Trick'. I get more questions about this than anything else. I'll share what I know here and hopefully answer a few questions.
What is the $20 Trick?
An important part of Vegas lore, the $20 trick is a common technique designed to obtain free or discounted room upgrades from the check-in clerk after slipping them a $20.
Does it work? How do I do it? Will I get in trouble?
Want the answers? Keep reading...
Does the $20 Trick Work?
The answer, as with most things in life, is 'it depends'. It certainly can work and many people have used it successfully.
It seems to rely on a few factors, none of which you can control:
Perhaps you can use this information to help pick a line to stand in but mostly you just have to be lucky.
How Do I Do It?
There are no doubt countless variations on technique. The most common goes like this:
As you are handing over your credit card, fold up a $20 so that it fits neatly under the card. Make sure that it is peeking out so the clerk can see the bill slightly exposed from under the card.
Right before you hand over the card but with the 'tip' in the clerk's view, ask them if any upgrades are available. If they say 'yes', hand them the bill and the card. If you get a no, hand over the card and keep your $20.
If they can't help you they'll be polite about it. They don't expect a tip for nothing, just don't try to ask for it back after you've handed it over. That's low class.
Any Other Tips To Help Me Get The Better Room?
It always helps to ask for a specific upgrade by name. I.e. if you are checking in at The Mirage and you ask for a 'Tower Deluxe' room and hand over the $20, your chances may improve vs. just asking for an 'upgrade'.
Will I Get In Trouble? Will They?
There is nothing criminal about offering a tip - you are doing nothing wrong. Since hotel policy may discourage employees from taking tips, it is possible they could be reprimanded, hence the stealthy operation. If they are game to take the tip, the risk is on them.
Is There a $50 Trick
If you want the room this bad, just book it in advance.
Like many things in Las Vegas, this is a gamble. You don't know how it will play out but it has paid for many people (just read any of the zillions of Vegas forums out there). It can be a little scary for first timers but keeping your cool and acting like you know what's up is part of the gig.