Casino comps can be a fun reward for an entertaining night out or a sober reminder of how much was left on the felt. But couple that my low roller tendencies and inefficient play, and it’s rare that a discretionary comp hits my account. Instead of begging the pit boss for $3 off a buffet so I can drown my sorrows in some soggy waffles, I use a little points and miles know how to extract some value in other ways. It’s a way to comp yourself.
Yes, this red chipper actually has elevated status at both MLife and Caesars Rewards. It’s not through gambling, obviously, but by pairing the right credit card to complement my casino visits. Below I’ve listed a couple
World of Hyatt Credit Card – $95 Annual Fee
I’m a big fan of Hyatt and their loyalty program in general, but this card was especially useful for me to get my foot in the door cheaply with MLife properties.
The sign-up bonus can fluctuate, but typicaly hovers around 50,000+ points for hitting a certain amount of spend on the card within the first three months. Hyatt has a fixed award chart based on property category, but has introduced some peak and off-peak pricing recently. Despite this change, you can still get good value out of those points.
With the Hyatt and MLife partnership, you can use your Hyatt points to book reward nights at MLife properties in Vegas. The sign on bonus alone is usually enough for a weekend at any MGM resort, including Aria, Bellagio, and Delano. I have used this strategy a few times when room offers weren’t coming in. In addition, Hyatt and MLife tier match. The Hyatt credit card grants Discoverist status. This can be matched to
This one of my favorite travel cards. While Hyatt can’t match the network of Marriott or Hilton, the award chart provides a good value and the bonus spending categories on this card are more useful than many of its peers. In short, $95 gets you Pearl status and an account full of hotel points. As a bonus, cardholders are given a free night certificate for a category 1-4 hotel on their account anniversary. This easily covers the cost of the card and provides a nice excuse to head to Vegas.
Wyndham Rewards Earner Cards – $75 – $95 annual fee
The Wyndham/Caesars relationship is what makes both the Wyndham earner+ ($75) and earner Business ($95) cards attactive for gamblers and Vegas fans. You can book Caesars resorts through Wyndham with Wyndham rewards points. Wyndham, like Hyatt, has fixed redemption pricing based on hotel category. There are three levels of point redemptions: 7500, 15,000, and 30,000. Here’s the breakdown for Strip resorts currently:
|15,000 Points||30,000 Points|
Of course, availability can vary based on demand. An additional perk of the cards and the Wyndham/Caesars partnership is the tier status reciprocity. You can match your Wyndham status to Caesars and take advantage of benefits in both programs. The personal earner card offers Wyndham Platinum status. While the earner Business card grants Diamond status. Diamond status with Caesars offers a bevvy of benefits, but most notable is free resort fees. At $95, if you have a small business and qualify for the card, it’s the cheapest way I know of to get Caesars Diamond.
Overall, I think the Wyndham program is a big pile of “meh” outside of this Caesars partnership. But $75 for three free nights and a higher status may be worth it for low rolling Caesars fanboys.
Captial One Venture and Venture X – $95, $395 annual fee
Capital One Venture cards are great in their simplicity. If you catch them at the right time, you can benefit from generous sign on bonuses, which can get as high as 100k points. The Venture card earns 5x on hotel and rental cars booked through Cap One. The Venture X card earns 10x points on hotels and rental cars booked through Cap One and 5x points on flights. Both cards earn 2x points on all other purchases. Straightforward earning can act as a baseline for your travel card wallet. When in doubt, you know you’re always getting at least double points.
There are two reasons why I like these cards for Vegas and casino trips. One is because Cap One points can transfer to Wyndham at a 1:1 ratio. So you can take advantage of Caesars stays if you’re not keen on paying cash. The other is because Cap One Venture cards also allow you to cover travel purchases you’ve made on the card with your points. I like to book hotels direct when I can to be sure I’m recieving benefits and loyalty points in accordance with my status, which doesn’t always happen when a hotel is booked through a third party program. Booking a hotel using my Cap One Venture card, then erasing the purchase after, though not the absolute best redemption, gives me that option. Travel expenses are covered at a 1 cent per point cost.
The new Capital One Venture X card is the issuer’s first premier travel credit card. Despite the high fee, it’s offers quite a lot for even the casual traveler. Thrifty Traveler has a great breakdown of the card and its perks and benefits.
American Express Platinum – $695 annual fee
This card, with its automatic Marriott and Hilton granted elite status, used to be able to initiate a chain of status match events that could help you draw some significant value. Because of this, it acted as a serviceable replacement for the FoundersCard. The FoundersCard, which comes with its own hefty annual fee, usually over $300, grants automatic Diamond status with Caesars Rewards. However, the FoundersCard is a membership card, not a charge or credit card, with little value for casual travelers or casino hobbyists outside of the granted Diamond status
However, the status match from any hotel change to Wyndham is currently closed, which limits easy elite status and really dampens my enthusiasm for the pricey Platinum.
$695 is a lot. To offset this, the card also offers a modest sign-on bonus and a litany of addtional benefits. Notably, the card privides a $200 airline fee credit, $200 hotel credit, $179 CLEAR credit and other perks trying to get you to justify the high fee.
For Vegas hotel fans, cardholders have access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program. I enjoy using this to book an occasional night in Vegas because FHR bookings provide a $100 resort credit, breakfast credit, and late check out, among other things. For midweek single night bookings, it can be a steal. There is also an Amex Centurion Lounge at LAS. Free admission to all Amex Centurion Lounges is another perk of the Platinum card. Though I find these lounges are lacking in quality and crowd control as of late.
I’ll repeat my awareness that this is an expensive card. However, if you’re an avid traveler, the perks may make it worth it.
It may seem odd to have these two so far down the list, but I really don’t see myself signing up for either in the near future. With the combination of cards in my wallet already, the additional benefits I would get out of these are limited. Plus, let’s be honest, I really don’t need anything else motivating me to go to a casino.
Both cards offer a 10k reward credit sign-on bonus, which can be redeemed for on-site goodies in the form of
The MLife card has a slight edge in that in addition to accelerated bonus spending in certain categories, it also awards tier credits for credit card spend. In a basic sense, both programs award reward credits (MLife calls them points) and tier credits for activity when using a players card. Reward credits are used for discounts and freebies. Tier credits are what determines your tier level in each program. Essentially, with the MLife card, your spending can help you advance to the next tier. That being said, it would take a considerable amount of concentrated spend on the MLife card to do so, which isn’t worth it. To counter, instead of awarding tier credits, the Caesars card does give new cardholders one free buffet within six months of opening an account. So it has that going for it, which is nice.
The lack of flexibility makes casino co-branded cards an afterthought for me. But, if you simply want a higher tier and a modest bonus for your MLife and Caesars trips, these cards are perfectly fine with their no annual fee.
For an in-depth look at the Caesars Rewards credit card, check out the following review from Bougie Miles:
I feel like I’m just scratching the surface here. New and interesting credit card strategies develop constantly, even in the casino space. Really, any travel card that gives you an elevated tier status can likely be matched to Wyndham and then to Caesars, thus providing some value to us gambling fans. Here are a couple of other cards to look into:
Marriott Bonvoy Cards
- Point transfers are possible between Marriott and Identity, Cosmopolitan’s rewards program
- With the purchase of Cosmopolitan by MGM and their already solidfied partnership with Hyatt, there is no telling how or if the Cosmo/Marriott relationship will change
- No status match, but elite Marriott members can get certain benefits such as priority
check in, late check out,room upgrades
Hilton Honors Cards
- Hilton Aspire is the card du jour in the travel blogosphere, but it’s expensive at $450
- Hilton Amex Surpass is cheaper at $95, offers Hilton Gold status and allows for 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits a year (The Club in Terminal 1 at LAS is a Priority Pass lounge)
- Las Vegas’ Elara, Resorts World, and Tropicana are just some of the Hilton hotels bookable with points
- I don’t find Hilton points to be a great value for any of the Vegas resorts on the Strip
- Venetian/Palazzo in Las Vegas are bookable with points at a good value
- Premier card is relatively inexpensive at $89 with a good sign-on bonus
- This is another of those “wait and see” parternships, with Sands selling both Ventian/Palazzo to Vici Properties and Apollo Global Management
Of course, all of these cards have a myriad of other benefits and nuances that I haven’t covered. Always double check card terms and details before jumping in. Please share your thoughts, ideas, and corrections in the comments below. I’m confident I’m missing something and I’d love to know how you get value out of your gambling trips. It’s hard to get an edge in the casino, but
The information herein should not be considered prescriptive financial advice. TFB receives no commission or compensation from any credit card link posted on this site. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone.