There are more ways than one to lose your shirt in Las Vegas. Even if you don’t gamble, you can still empty your wallet on pricey hotels, shows and meals. But there are ways to cut the cost by planning ahead. Here are my best tips:
1. Never pay full price for anything. This is the cardinal rule of Las Vegas. Whatever the list price is, there’s always a discount out there somewhere, whether it’s by joining an email club for the resort you’re booking or checking on an attraction’s website.
2. Keep a watch on discounted tickets: The “half-price ticket booth” company Tix4Tonight has actually caused something of a rebound effect. These booths are so ubiquitous now that popular shows that formerly didn’t sell tickets there found they had to discount as well. And how did they do that? The same way retail stores do it: mark up the prices to ridiculous heights, then “discount” them so you’ll feel like you’re getting a deal. Nowadays, not all shows at Tix4Tonight are half price. Sometimes they’re only one-third off. But it’s still worth checking what’s on offer. You can also sign up for the mailing list and text alerts. Information:tix4tonight.com.
3. Check the websites. For example, the Cirque du Soleil website offers hefty discounts during nonpeak periods for most of the group’s shows. The advantage to buying directly from Cirque is that you can pick your actual seat through the online software. Click on the “offers” tab to see what’s up. At this writing, Cirque was offering $79 advance tickets to summer performances of “The Beatles: Love,” regularly priced at $104-$155. And note that it’s not bad to be up high – you can see some of the show better. You must buy these at least three days in advance. Information: cirquedusoleil.com.
4. Look for package deals. The Mob Museum (which I recommend, by the way) charges $21.95 for adult admission, $19.95 if you buy online in advance. But you can buy a combo ticket for the museum and “CSI: The Experience” (regularly $31.50) for a total of $45. Or combine the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum for $30. That’s really a deal, because the Neon Museum alone costs $18-$25, depending on whether you go during the day or night.
The Vegas Attraction Passport for $79.95 is a good value. It includes four attractions – Madame Tussauds wax museum, the Mob Museum, “CSI: The Experience” and the outdoor gondola ride at The Venetian – as well as one day of unlimited daytime rides on Big Bus Tours. Information: go to madametussauds.com/lasvegas and click on “Vegas Attraction Passport” at the bottom of the page.
5. Las Vegas Power Pass. Now you really, really have to consider whether it’s going to be worth buying this pass, because you’ll invariably find you can’t get to as many attractions as you expect. This pass costs $84.99 for one day and now up to $165.74 for five days, and includes admission to 26 Las Vegas attractions such as the Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck, Madame Tussauds, a driving tour of Hoover Dam, the roller coaster at New York New York and lots more. Some things I loved, though, like the Mob Museum, are not included.
6. Las Vegas Advisor. Check out Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor, which is full of expert tips for saving money. The best deals and tips aren’t revealed unless you sign up for his club. I actually did and ordered his discount book, which costs $40. The slim, pocket-size volume has dozens of two-for-one deals and freebies. I didn’t use as many as I thought I would, but the two-for-one buffet coupons at least paid for the book.
7. Resort clubs. If you join the email loyalty clubs for resorts and casinos you like to frequent, they’ll send you deals and offers. Every resort has one. And joining the club will open up other deals to you as well. For example, joining the club that links the Station resorts means you get a discounted buffet every time you go, and also access to discounted room rates. Most clubs are free. If you join Landry’s Select Club for $25, you’ll automatically get a $25 credit you can use at Landry restaurants like Claim Jumper and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., plus offers to the Golden Nugget in Vegas and Laughlin.
8. Players clubs. Now, I’m no expert on casino players’ clubs because I’m not much of a gambler. But people who are enjoy all sorts of benefits from joining casino clubs, including points they can use for free meals, lodging, free play and more. Every casino has a club, so look for yours online.
9. Ride the Deuce. I’ve only recently discovered this metro bus route that specializes in the Las Vegas Strip and downtown Vegas, and I’m in love. It beats the heck out of the price of the monorail and taxicabs. And it means you don’t have to take your car out of the parking garage every time you want to go somewhere, or rent a car to get around. And I like the fact that the buses – which seem to come along constantly – pick up and drop off in front of the casinos, which is much more convenient than hunting for parking for the monorail in the back. The buses are nice, clean two-story coaches. You can buy a $6 pass for two hours, but I suggest spending $8 for an all-day pass or $20 for three days. Multiday passes must be bought from kiosks or online; day passes can be purchased with exact change from drivers. Information: rtcsnv.com.
10. Check Yipit.com. I like this new website a lot. It shows at one glance all the offerings from the major Groupon and Living Social-type discounters, so you don’t have to go back and forth. At this writing, they were offering admission to the new National Atomic Testing Museum for $12, regularly $22. (Note that technically most of these sites require you to buy at least 24 hours in advance, though I don’t know how rigid they are.) You have to give your email address to access the deals. Information: yipit.com/las-vegas
I hope these tips help you save. Sometimes, I’ve checked off more than one. For example, in April I wanted to take my teenagers to see a real working magician, and I found a Groupon offering tickets to see Nathan Burton perform at Planet Hollywood for $10.
Out of curiosity, I looked on nathanburton.com and saw he was offering show tickets for $25 each.
Then, I phoned up his reservation line and told them I had this Groupon offer, but I’d rather buy directly from them. They offered me great VIP seats for $17 each, so I took them.
In retrospect, the Groupon offer would have been better (when I wrote this it was still available, by the way), but I still saved money off the advertised price.
If you’ve got more tips – and I know you love your Vegas deals – email them to me at email@example.com. Include your full name and the city you live in, and maybe I’ll feature them in a future column.
Contact the writer: 714-796-7994 or firstname.lastname@example.org