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What is the $20 Trick and is it Worth Trying?

Key Points:

  • The $20 trick is commonly used in an attempt to get an upgraded hotel room.
  • This is done by handing over a $20 bill to the front desk employee alongside your credit card and ID.
  • I recommend against the “trick” and instead have a $20 visible and ready to be tipped if an upgrade is available.

The $20 trick is a popular maneuver employed by Las Vegas visitors at the hotel registration desk in an attempt to score an upgraded hotel room.

Those who have successfully executed the $20 trick commonly brag on social media, showing off their additional space, better view, or more luxurious amenities.

Those online testimonials leave many eager to try the trick for themselves, and they commonly turn to Vegas-centric Facebook groups to ask for advice. Usually, they’re hoping to gauge if others have had success with the $20 trick in general, or at the resort that they’ll be staying at.

My intent here is to share what the $20 trick is, and whether or not I feel it’s worth trying in Las Vegas.

See Also: Let me guide you to the loosest slots in Vegas.

How is the $20 trick done?

The $20 trick is typically executed by sandwiching a $20 bill between your driver’s license and credit card when checking into the hotel. While handing over the $20 sandwich, most guests also ask if there are any complimentary room upgrades available. Simple right?

Now the uncomfortable part… Waiting through the silence and clicking of the keyboard, hoping that you didn’t part with $20 for nothing in return.

I should note that there’s NOTHING “tricky” about this commonly employed strategy. Every single hotel check-in employee has seen this stunt 1.9 million times. They’ll know exactly what’s going on.

Does the $20 trick work in Las Vegas?

Opinions vary, but greasing the wheels can’t hurt your chances at an upgrade.

Obviously, though, there’s a lot more to getting an upgrade than tipping at check-in. After all, the hotel could be at capacity, no upgrades could be available, or the employee could be in an ornery mood.

Additionally, some hotels have policies that don’t allow the front desk to accept tips.

While there are stories of front desk employees rejecting the tip stating there is nothing available, many others claim the bribe has earned them upgrades that would cost more than $20. Common upgrades include Strip views, larger rooms, and even resort credit or champagne in the room.

A “worst-case” scenario you should be mentally prepared for is the front desk employee taking your bribe, but not providing an upgrade. It happens.

Another potential unfortunate result is receiving a “minimal upgrade”. In this case, your $20 is gladly accepted, but the upgrade received is modest at best and not worth the cash outlay. An example of this would be getting “upgraded” at Excalibur from the Resort Tower to the renovated Royal Tower. Just not a huge difference.

My advice – Should you try the $20 trick?

While Vegas runs on tips, I don’t recommend attempting the “trick” and instead, urge you to simply ask nicely for an upgraded room.

To me, discreetly passing a $20 bill adds a layer of awkwardness to the check-in process for both customer and the employee that isn’t necessary.

Instead of a $20 bribe sandwiched between your ID and credit card, I suggest holding a $20 bill in open view while asking politely if there are any complimentary upgrades available. This way, the employee knows that if an upgrade is available, they’re in for a small payday.

I’m happy to tip for great service and a complimentary upgrade is just that. In my opinion, the “cash in hand, ready to tip” method is equally as effective as the $20 sandwich, just without the awkwardness.

Inflation and the $20 Trick

I think that it’s important to note that many visitors are now using larger denominations for the $20 trick.

Especially at upscale resorts like Wynn & Encore, Bellagio, Venetian & Palazzo, Caesars Palace, Aria, etc., you may have more luck putting a $50 to work.

Related: Hotels with a view of the Bellagio Fountains and Resorts with Recently Renovated Rooms!

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Greg Rupnow

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

My wife and I just returned from a stay at The Polazzo . We checked in at 10 am. and handed the employee a credit card and I held a $50.00 bill for her to see . She was very pleasant and ask if we were celebrating anything . I said " We are celebrating my wifes birthday and our 40th anniversary . I also told her that I would be willing to pay for 1 day of resort fee's as we were planning to use the pool. Making the story shorter . She said she would wave the resort fee's which were $ 52.05 x 6 days . Also upgraded us to a high floor ( Center ) with an awesome view . She also gave us early check in and late check out. I think that I saved about $ 500 using this method. At the end I asked if she could take tips and she said "yes ". Could have I got this deal with a $20 bill or just asked for free ? I don't know but it was worth the $50. bill for me.

Thursday 20th of October 2022

@Greg Rupnow, CLASSY!


Monday 18th of October 2021

I did employ the 20.00 tip at the Venetian and got an upgraded room with a strip view, another couple with us who checked in 2 days later, tipped 100.00 and received the room directly under ours. I don't know why we got the better room/view than them, other than to say I tried being as personable as possible.


Wednesday 18th of November 2020

I didn't have to do this to get an upgrade. I was asked by the person checking me in if if I wanted to upgrade for $20.

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