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 are commonly found bragging 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.
Our goal here is to share what the $20 trick is, and whether or not it’s worth trying in Las Vegas.
How is the $20 trick done?
The $20 trick is 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.
We should note that there’s NOTHING “tricky” about this commonly employed strategy. Every single hotel check-in employee has seen this stunt 1.7 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.
Our advice – Should you try the $20 trick?
While Vegas runs on tips, we don’t recommend attempting the “trick” and instead, urge you to simply ask nicely for an upgraded room. To us, 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, we suggest asking politely if there are any complimentary upgrades available while holding a $20 bill in open view. 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 comped upgrade is just that. In our opinion, the “cash in hand, ready to tip” method is equally as effective as the $20 sandwich, just without the awkwardness.
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I’m a former software salesman turned Vegas aficionado. While the craps table is my preferred habitat, I pull myself away to explore new attractions, shows, restaurants, and outdoor activities around Las Vegas with the intent of sharing my experiences.
Ultimately, I just want to help folks plan a better trip and save a few bucks in the process.