What is the $20 Trick?
The $20 Trick is a method used to get a complimentary room upgrade during your Las Vegas Hotel stay. Essentially, you “sandwich” a $20 bill when presenting your ID, and ask for a complimentary upgrade. Success and failure depends on the the actual front desk agent, the hotel and its occupation rate, and how long you’re staying for!
Confessions from a Las Vegas Addict
This post is about my experience of using the “$20 trick”. Its just my experience, not meant to be instructions, nor meant to mean other methods do not work, nor does it mean my experience will be the same for you. Each hotel check in is unique, each clerk, each casino, each day, you never know.
I only do this trick to get a suite, I do not consider regular rooms to be an upgrade no matter the condition, floor or view. I am a normal-guy level gambler. Not a high roller. My reservations are all comped at the front end. Reservations are made at the lowest room available, one king non smoking, one guest.
Over the last 10 years I have tried many different styles of the 20 dollar trick. The only method that worked consistently for me was the “sandwich” which I will detail the way I do it below. The method that worked a few times but have a very low success rate is the “have the money visible” and ask method. The method that NEVER worked for me, was the “simply ask nicely” method, which I am always told that they had nothing available, but the clerk did at least go through the motions of looking at the screen and clicking away at the keyboard. I don’t recall when, but I did try the no money and birthday thing one time, that got me nothing.
About 10-20% of the time, the clerk did not understand what the $20 was for, I assume they are new to the job and did not know about the trick. Sometimes I would explain the trick to the new clerk and also reference the couple of websites that cater to this activity, Sometimes I would chat it up with the clerk if it is not busy, and we would talk about the trick.
Anyway, so over time, I stopped doing the methods that worked least, and boiled it all down to the one method that I use when I want to try the trick. Sometimes I just don’t care and get the low room assigned to me and save the $20.
How I do the $20 Trick
I would research the lowest priced suites of the property. I write down those names on my itinerary. I memorize them. I fold the $20 a specific way so that both sides has the number 20 visible, and I place it in between the driver license and credit card.
I hear the clerk say “next”
I approach with a smile
I greet the clerk with some standard greeting, “hi, how u doin”
I make a remark about the check in crowd, “wow, alotta ppl today huh?” or “wow, not alotta ppl on line”
The remark may lead to a conversation, which I am always happy to participate in, sometimes they say its because of some expo or event or etc etc.. I listen and pay attention, sometimes its very interesting stuff.
Eventually, clerk will ask, checking in?
I say, yes. And at this point, I hand over the sandwich.
At the exact moment the clerk touches the sandwich, and I let go of the sandwich, I say in a very clear voice at a volume which makes it easy for clerk to hear, but not any louder than that…
“Also, if there are any complimentary upgrades to a burgundy executive suite*, that’ll be great”.
( * This is where I insert the name of the suite I memorized)
Usually a clerk with experience will do this:
Clerk heard my request, fan out the sandwich, drops the $20 on the table next to the keyboard, and say: “I will see what is available”..
Clerk may click at the keyboard a bit.. Clerk may “go check with the manager” and vanish in the back a minute…
Experienced Clerk then will either:
Have good news for me, and put in the suite I requested or a similar suite, upon which I thank the clerk and go.
Have bad news, that no suites are available, and take the 20 from the table and hand it back to me. If this is the case, then what I usually do, is just take whatever room they give me at that point, and tip the clerk a $5, and say, Thanks for trying.
Once in a while, I would get a newbie clerk, who don’t know about the sandwich.
They might say, oh whats this? I would say, in a confident voice: “if you are able to find a complementary upgrade to the burgundy executive suite for me, That will be your tip”
You never know, I have had clerks refuse and just hand me back the 20, I have had clerks agree and then play along, each time its unique.
Advice from the Front Desk
Over time, I was given some advice about the sandwich from the clerks themselves, here it is for you.
This works best on the weekdays, not weekends.
This depends on availability, sometimes events block out the suites.
This works best for 1-2 night stays.
Come do this early, before all the suites are assigned.
If on a multiple day stay, and nothing available the first day, try again in the morning.
Suites above the lowest priced ones are beyond the ability of the front desk clerk, and may need manager approval or host intervention (if you are a gambler with history at that casino)
My Personal Opinion
This trick has been in vegas forever, obviously long before I came, and will be there long after I am dead, but after doing this so many times, It is my opinion that these clerks know this trick, and actually depends on it to make a better income. If 3 people an hour do this at check in, that is $60 extra per hour or $480 extra in an 8 hour shift. The hotel only have a certain amount of these low level suites, and if they give them away for free with no tip, they lose income, so they will tell the people who ask nicely, but not do a sandwich, nothing is available. Obviously if these suites are booked and blocked, they wont be available for you and your sandwich, so the more busy the hotel on a given day, the less availability of these low level suites on those days. With a limited number of suites, the clerk knows they wont make a lot of tips, so they would tell the $20 sandwich people, nothing is available, but the $50 sandwich would work, or if it is really busy, the $100 sandwich might work. And again, this is just my personal opinion.
Keeping in mind that I only book regular rooms, here are some of my recent successes!
Thank you to Danny Lee for this amazing post!