Our $4800 Las Vegas Trip for $800 Cost with Casino Status Matching
By Angie & Jeff
July 12, 2023
Angie and Jeff at the High Roller Ferris Wheel during the day.
In our continued casino matching fun, the next step for us was a trip to Las Vegas. We made the Vegas portion of the matching trip into a five-day trip. We stayed three nights at MGM Grand followed by two nights for free at the Wynn which we received from the Ocean match to Prime status explained in the last article.
This post will only cover the matching steps we took and related perks we received due to the statuses from matching. However, as you surely know, there is A LOT to see in and do in Las Vegas, so watch for a future post on the fun to be had during a Las Vegas trip unrelated to casino status matching.
This post has a LOT of information so we have included a table of contents so you can jump directly to specific sections.
Table of Contents
+ MGM Grand
+ MGM Grand VIP Gold Lounge Saves LOTS of Time
+ MGM Grand Free Night from Playing Games Online
+ Simple Money Saving Tip
+ MGM Grand Buffet
+ MGM Grand Pools
+ Mirage Match $100 Free
+ Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet
+ Wynn Resort – 1500 Square Feet for 2 Nights All for Free
+ The Buffet at Wynn
+ High Roller Ferris Wheel – Free Tickets with Caesar’s Diamond Status
+ Raising Cane’s
+ Overall Cost
We learned the food credit cannot be used in the MGM convenience stores, nor the MGM Food Court restaurants. We were told the Food Court is operated by a group outside of MGM. There was a rate of $12 less per night available without the daily food and beverage credit, but we decided the additional $12 per night was worth the exchange for the $50 daily food and beverage credit for us.
Angie’s MGM Gold status from our matching in Atlantic City saved us $44 per night in resort fees and related taxes as well as parking costs of $18/day for the weekday rate. In addition, we were able to check in to the hotel via the Gold VIP Lounge area just off to the right from the front desk and were told our room was upgraded to a higher floor than we had booked.
We ended up on the 26th floor with a view out the back of the MGM Grand over the pool areas, not the strip, which was still really nice.
The view from our MGM Grand room on the 26th floor.
MGM Grand VIP Gold Lounge Saves LOTS of Time
The access to the Gold VIP Lounge saved us a LOT of time. There was at most one person in front of us each time we visited the Gold VIP Lounge and many, many people in line to check in at the regular front desk. The Gold VIP Lounge also allowed us access to free bottled water and free snacks like granola bars, during our entire stay.
It was also a nice quick place to ask any questions that arose during our stay without having to wait in the line at the main front desk that always seemed to be long.
MGM Grand hotel check in desk. We avoided this line by using the VIP Gold Lounge.
MGM Grand Free Night from Playing Games Online
Our third night at MGM Grand made use of a free night from redeeming points earned by playing games on three Apps: My Vegas Slots, My Vegas Blackjack and My Vegas Bingo, all of which can be found on Google Play or the App Store. It doesn’t cost anything to play these games and as long as you refuse the offers to buy fake casino chips with real money.
Our goal with playing these games is to accumulate the gold coins that are shown on the gold bar in the upper left-hand side of the game board without spending any money. Your account is linked across all of the My Vegas apps and any of the games will show you your current accumulated points.
Touch the gold bar on the top left in any of the games to go to the rewards section where you can scroll through the offers and redeem your gold coins for real discounts. The best values we’ve seen are free hotel nights and buy-one-get-one buffets. The free hotel night for MGM Grand was 75,000 gold coins from the game.
The category rotates so the MGM Grand Complimentary Night won’t always be available; different Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other city options may be available. Check often and see what can work for you as they change often and certain offers will ‘sell’ out as well.
If you haven’t been, Las Vegas is HUGE. The scale of it will keep you walking a bunch, even if you barely leave your own hotel/casino property. Add to this scale changing between hotels and it is easy to forget your room number or where you parked the car. We kept a photo of the room number and the last location of the car in our phone to help with this and we used those photos MANY times in Las Vegas.
Take photos of your room number and parking locations so you have an easier time getting back.
Simple Money Saving Tip
We went to a grocery store the first day we arrived in Vegas and got ourselves set-up with supplies to have light breakfasts in our room snacks and/or light meals in our room to keep costs down.
MGM Grand Buffet
Using our MGM restaurant credits we found the best value to be the MGM Grand Buffet at lunch because the buffet closes at 3 p.m. daily. We did this twice since we had $50 restaurant credit for each of the two nights of our paid stay. This buffet offers a salad bar, fresh fruits, pizzas, mashed potatoes and other hot sides, a carving station with turkey and roast beef, and breakfast all day with lots of different breakfast items. There is also a selection of desserts to pick from.
We both found this buffet to be an excellent value for the $1.56 we paid for both of us to eat here after taking the $50 MGM restaurant credit into account, before gratuity to our server. There wasn’t anything that was amazing or super-memorable, but the quality is pretty good. Think Old Country Buffet or Golden Corral for comparison of quality.
It’s not the over-the-top buffet now synonymous with the Las Vegas experience. The prices were $27.99 for anyone other age 5 for weekdays and $36.99 for Friday-Sunday. For those prices, without a credit, we would have skipped this one.
MGM Grand Buffet.
Plate at MGM Grand Buffet.
MGM Grand Buffet Dessert Plate.
Another perk of Angie’s MGM Gold status was the ability to skip the buffet line. The buffet sells a more expensive experience that includes a “skip the line pass” to anyone who wishes to pay more for the ability to skip. It was a nice surprise to skip the line for no additional cost on both of our visits due to Angie’s Gold status with MGM.
MGM Gold Status allowed us to bypass the main line by entering the VIP lane on the left.
This line pass was given to us in the left VIP lane because of MGM Gold Status to grant priority seating.
MGM Grand Pools
While at the MGM Grand, we spent some time at the pool area in the Las Vegas sun, too. The MGM Grand pool area is known as one of the best in Las Vegas. We learned that the tubes are not provided (as we’re used to in our Wisconsin water parks) and are available for purchase for $25 + tax for a 36” tube or $30 + tax for a 48” tube.
You are allowed to bring your own tube, but we hadn’t prepared for this aspect of the trip. We chose to just float the lazy river without tubes and still had a great time.
MGM Grand Pool Area.
Mirage Match $100 Free
Our final matching stop was the Mirage Casino, newly acquired by Hard Rock from MGM, to match Angie’s MGM Gold status to Unity Icon status. This got us $100 food and beverage credit good for any of the Mirage restaurants. Receiving this credit does seem to vary based on the representative you interact with at the rewards desk at Mirage.
You may recall from our Atlantic City article that Hard Rock Casinos are in the process of transitioning their rewards program to Unity Rewards. The Atlantic City Hard Rock has not yet made this switch, so the hope in doing this match is that the person at the Mirage Rewards Desk will not find your Hard Rock Rock Royalty account from Atlantic City because the $100 credit is technically for first time account holders.
This often happens because the Hard Rock computers in Atlantic City don’t yet interface cleanly with the Mirage computers in Las Vegas. If they find your Atlantic City account, you’ll still get your new Unity Icon card,but you may not receive the $100 food credit.
We got lucky; the person Angie matched with saw her “old Atlantic City account” in his words, but still loaded the $100 to our new Unity Icon card anyway. We have, however, read that others have not been as lucky and have been denied the $100, but we had the time and it worked great for us. You are sure to have Unity Icon status when you leave, so you know that parking will be free, which ranges from $15-18 depending on how long you are there.
We used our $100 Unity Icon food credit up at Mirage: El Diablo restaurant. We received complimentary chips and salsa at the table right away. We ordered two drinks: Angie got a strawberry daiquiri ($15) and Jeff got a margarita called The Vixen ($16) which uses a white tequila, lime, hibiscus, and mint. The Vixen is a great choice; give it a try when you go. Angie’s strawberry daiquiri was good, too, but similar to what you might get anywhere.
We tried two entrees: chicken fajitas ($29) and filet mignon alambre ($34). Our server also heard Jeff really wanted shrimp and said we could add an order for an additional $6. The full bill was $100 exactly. Therefore, this meal only cost us a $20 tip to our server.
The food was a great value for what we paid. But we wouldn’t choose this restaurant to spend $100 in this way if it wasn’t free. We had a bag of leftovers to take back to our room and enjoy later.
Strawberry Margarita and The Vixen.
Jeff with the Filet Mignon Alambre entree.
Jeff and Angie with the giant shopping bag of leftover food from El Diablo at Mirage.
Also, while we were having lunch, a man approached us and said he and his wife were flying home shortly and had a voucher for a free attraction they had gotten by sitting for a timeshare presentation that they couldn’t use and wanted to give this to us. We happily accepted and thanked him and enjoyed nighttime views from the top of the Stratosphere later that night.
The Stratosphere was the first casino we visited where we had to pay $9 for parking because we didn’t have status and it was a reminder of how many perks we had been enjoying on this trip!
PRO TIP: We also learned that we could have used the $100 Unity Icon credit in pieces at multiple restaurants if we chose to. Whatever amount spent is taken off the card and the remaining credit balance will stay on the card for later use. This credit can also be used at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas for food or merchandise. Finally, we could have chosen $50 free play, but preferred double the money for food.
Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet
You may recall from our Atlantic City article that we also still have the $100 Caesar’s Celebration Dinner saved from Angie’s Caesar’s Diamond match. We chose to use this $100 Caesar’s food credit at the famous Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet.
Angie’s Caesar’s Diamond status allowed us to skip the line here, too. The main draw is a seafood buffet featuring several kinds of crab, mussels, and other seafood. There is also no shortage of other foods including Italian, Mexican, Asian, and American inspired dishes.
Jeff enjoyed some of the crab and mussels but they don’t make it the easiest to eat. The crab legs are lightly scored so you have a chance at getting into them but you will need to ask for a set of crab crackers to have any real chance. Jeff also asked for a crab leg fork/pick to have a better chance of getting the meat out and was told by our server that they do not have the crab leg forks/picks. If you have a LOT of patience and/or better skills breaking open crab legs you might enjoy this part more than Jeff did.
Crab Legs to enjoy at Bacchanal Buffet.
Many differrent clams to enjoy at Bacchanal Buffet.
Jeff with a plate of seafood at Bacchanal Buffet.
The remaining food items at the Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet, while visually appealing, were good, but not great for taste. We most enjoyed the desserts area, which included a delicious gelato selection. As beautiful as the desserts were, the only items that wowed us were the crème brulee and the gelato.
Hummus and veggies at Bacchanal Buffet.
Meats and cheeses at Bacchanal Buffet.
Some of the desserts on the Bacchanal Buffet.
Our dessert plate at Bacchanal.
At the buffet cashier, we learned Angie had a $6 credit from her tier credits with Caesar’s and also applied this to the bill. As non-gamblers, we do not fully understand the tier credits because we haven’t gambled a penny with Caesar’s but believe they came from the hotel stay with Caesar’s in Atlantic City and a few surveys Angie had completed from home for Caesar’s tier credits.
The full bill for the two of us to eat at Caesars Bacchanal Buffet including tax was $180. After the $100 celebration dinner credit and $6 tier credit the bill was $74. In addition, we left a $20 cash tip for a total of $94 cost to us.
This was a very expensive lunch for our normal spending habits, as you know we love a Taco Bell Cravings Box. But the prices are not atypical for Las Vegas. If each member of your party has the $100 Celebration Dinner, each meal would be free and each person could even add a cocktail.
Wynn Resort – 1500 Square Feet for 2 Nights All for Free
Our final two nights in Las Vegas for this visit were planned at the Wynn resort with two complimentary nights with Prime status from Ocean Casino in Atlantic City. Just standing in line to check in at this beautiful hotel you have wonderful views out the floor-to-ceiling glass walls to the outside to gaze at the manicured hedges and flowering shrubs which surround one of the pools here. The gardens are amazing! We had no idea of the opulence in store for us at this point.
Waiting in line to check in at the Wynn.
Wynn check in. Beautiful gardens to gaze at while you wait.
We didn’t have any type of status with the Wynn, so the check in line was the first line we had to actually wait in on this trip! The line was pretty long and slow moving. Others were visibly annoyed. We let our Midwest show and smiled and admired the over-the-top décor and took pictures.
We don’t know if this is why, but when we got to the front desk, we were upgraded to a 1500 square foot panoramic suite in the Encore Tower with guest bathroom, massage room, living room, office area, dining area, king size bedroom, and main bathroom with a shower room and separate soaking tub. This room costs about $1500 per night if paying cash. And we got it completely for free!
We have a tradition when we get an upgrade to a hotel suite like this, that Jeff hams it up for a silly photo shoot. Here are a few of those shots from this suite for you to enjoy.
Jeff models reading in the dining area.
Jeff models taking at important office memo in the office area.
Jeff models using the televison in the primary bathroom.
Jeff models relaxing in the living room
Something to be aware of is to clarify how the resort fee and items covered by the resort fee work. We were initially charged $200 for the internet because we weren’t charged the resort fee and were told at check out that if we don’t opt into the resort fee then all things included in the resort fee are charged a la carte. We THINK this was an issue with the upgrade to the Tower Suites, but it would be a good idea to be clear on the inclusion of the internet before connecting.
In the end, they waived the internet charges due to the fact we had saved the card given to us at check in at the main hotel desk that said internet was included. The card that stated internet was included doesn’t apply in the Tower Suites and they mentioned the main desk messes up this detail at times.
Also, be sure to not touch the snacks or fridge in the room as we were warned just looking in the fridge or touching the snacks would activate the $50 daily service charge in addition to any item consumed.
Wynn Minibar Snacks. Look but don't touch unless you are ok paying a $50 service fee + the cost of any items consumed.
These might be a non-issues now because Ocean Casino just announced that their Las Vegas partner going forward as of July 1, 2023, is now Resorts World and no longer Wynn.
The Buffet at Wynn
We also had $50 of food credit at Wynn included with our stay which we chose to use at The Buffet at Wynn. We tried to arrive at the end of their brunch service to pay the brunch price and remain for the dinner, but they were ready for that trick and we ended up paying the full dinner price. This was the most expensive meal we enjoyed in Las Vegas, by far. With tax and tip, the bill was $183 so a net cost of $133 to us after the $50 credit.
As we mentioned earlier, we don’t have any status at the Wynn and the line was long for The Buffet. We noticed a special line off to the side and realized we qualified to skip the line here, too, just by showing our Tower Suites key card!
Overall, we found The Buffet at the Wynn less visually spectacular than the Bacchanal at Caesar’s, but the food at the Wynn was more delicious. Though, we both agreed it should be pretty spectacular at those prices! Angie’s favorite foods tend to be vegetables, potatoes, cheeses, and desserts, so with that preference for inexpensive food, we do not splurge like this typically. Jeff did his best to eat the high-dollar foods to offset Angie.
When we visited, it was the Summer Seafood Spectacular, so they also had crab legs. The crab legs here are split so they are much easier to eat. There was a caviar station where we were able to try three different types of caviar. We both learned we are not fans of caviar.
They have an entire dessert room, too. Their desserts, like the rest of the buffet, were less visually stunning than the Bacchanal, but more delicious, in our assessment.
Shrimp on the Wynn buffet.
Multi-Colored cauliflower at Wynn buffet.
Jeff with crab legs from the Wynn buffet.
Our dessert plate at the Wynn.
Even if you do not stay at the Wynn, it is worth a walkthrough to enjoy the opulence and the beautiful gardens. We enjoyed some time at the beautiful pool before our time was up but spent a lot of time relaxing in our over-the-top suite, complete with our own live orchid.
Angie and Jeff in the Wynn gardens.
One of the pools at the Wynn.
Night view from our Wynn suite.
Jeff with the live orchid in our suite at the Wynn.
High Roller Ferris Wheel – Free Tickets with Caesar’s Diamond Status
One final matching perk we had heard about and decided to check out was a pair of free tickets to the High Roller (the giant Ferris wheel) on the Strip provided each month at the Caesar’s rewards desk for Diamond status. The agent we spoke to initially said it was buy one, get one instead.
We decided we would still like to proceed and then the agent was quite surprised when the computer did, indeed, give us a free pair of tickets with no need to buy anything. We visited on a weekend night when tickets and parking costs for the High Roller are at their highest. Angie’s Caesar’s Diamond status not only got us the free tickets (normally $34.75 each) but also got us free parking ($23) and a priority line to board the High Roller!
Do not plan on getting high quality photographs in the High Roller. The globes are quite dirty which shows in photos either day or night and the light reflections at night made good photography impossible. We took a few photos to capture the memory and spent the time enjoying the experience and view with our eyes instead.
The High Roller Ferris Wheel at night.
Angie and Jeff in the High Roller at night.
Our view of the Bellagio fountains from the High Roller at night.
Our trip spanned the end of May and the beginning of June, and we had picked up the pair of tickets in May. The day our flight left was June and we had some unplanned time before needing to be at the airport, so we decided to go back to Caesar’s rewards desk for the pair of complimentary June tickets for a daytime ride on the High Roller.
It worked seamlessly and we had another fun experience in Las Vegas for free thanks to this status matching path we have been on.
Jeff with statue of Caesar.
Angie and Jeff in the High Roller Ferris Wheel during the day.
When it came time for our last meal in Las Vegas, we were out of all the free credits and perks, so we headed off strip a few blocks to a favorite of Jeff’s, Raising Cane’s, that we don’t have in our hometown. We get the Caniac Combo and we share this for a meal. We felt like us again spending only about 10% of the cost we spent at The Buffet at Wynn.
Jeff at Raising Cane's.
Our Caniac Combo at Raising Cane's.
Overall, including rental car, food, hotel, and tips, we spent just over $800 on this 5-night Las Vegas trip for two and nearly $300 was the rental car expense. We chose not to include airfare or airport parking because that varies wildly depending on where you are reading this from and time of year.
We calculated that the status matching and other tips we share in this post would have cost us almost $4000 more. We wouldn’t spend nearly $5000 on 5-nights in Las Vegas, so it is hard to approximate actual savings.
We share these numbers in an attempt to quantify the value we have enjoyed from the status matching on this piece of the journey. Stay tuned for posts about our Bahamas trip and four upcoming cruises booked into the future from this single status matching journey.