The $20 trick is commonly employed by Vegas visitors looking to entice hotel front desk staff into upgrading their room to one with additional space, a better view, or more luxurious amenities. Many who wish to attempt the trick are apprehensive about it and often take to Vegas-centric Facebook groups to ask for advice, or to gauge if anyone else has had success executing the $20 trick at the hotel in which they will be staying. Mainly, folks are concerned about looking like an idiot if shot down, or if the front desk employee doesn’t understand what they are trying to accomplish.
How is the $20 trick done?
Guests attempt to pass a $20 tip when checking in by sandwiching the bill between their driver’s license and credit card. Most also simultaneously 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 hand cash over for nothing.
We should note, there is NOTHING “tricky” about this commonly employed strategy. Every single hotel check-in employee has seen this maneuver 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 is 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 attendants rejecting the tip stating there is nothing available, many others claim the bribe has earned them upgrades that would have cost more than $20. Common upgrades include Strip views, larger rooms, and even resort credit or champagne in the room.
The worst-case scenario is the front desk taking your tip without an upgrade. It happens, and you should be mentally prepared for that possibility.
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 are 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.