My Cheap Las Vegas Vacation with Credit Card Rewards

Us with our BFFs in Mexico.....

Us with our BFFs in Mexico…..

As many of you know, I’m heading to Las Vegas with my husband and my best friends next month….and we’re stoked!

I know what you’re thinking.  Las Vegas is the epitome of consumerism and financial irresponsibility, and frugality writers who believe what they preach just don’t belong there.  But you’re wrong.  I do belong in Las Vegas.  Why?  Because I love people-watching.  I like having a gin-n-tonic or five and being able to carry them around in the street.  I also like gambling.  Sue me.

Before you call me a huge hypocrite, please hear me out.  We haven’t gambled since the last time we went to Las Vegas three years ago, and only do it on special occasions.  Plus, we always limit ourselves to $100 each and don’t ask for more once it’s gone.  It’s still fun though, even with such a small amount to play with.  Greg likes to play craps and will literally play for hours.  The last time we were in Vegas, he played with some random woman until the early morning.  And well, I left his ass there.  Craps may be fun to play, but it’s boring as hell to watch.

My Cheap Las Vegas Vacation

Anyway, the whole point of this trip was to get away with our friends for a weekend of frugal fun.  And it all starts with the free flights I earned from signing up for a few Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards and my shiny, new companion pass.  Here it is:

companion pass

I qualified for the Southwest Companion Pass after earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points within one calendar year.  Now that I have it, all of my Southwest flights will be buy-one-get-one free this year and next, even if I pay with points.  I booked flights for four a few months ago for a total cost of 65,970 points and $20.  Obviously, $20 is a swank deal for round-trip flights for four.  Winning!

Finding a Cheap Las Vegas Hotel

I stayed in a really nice hotel the last time we went to Las Vegas, but that was only because the trip was paid for by my previous employer.  So, since we actually have to pay for the hotel on our own this time, I wanted to find something cheap.  I do have a lot of random hotel points that I technically could spend (Marriott, Hyatt, and Starwood Preferred Guest), but I don’t think Las Vegas is a good place to redeem them.  We really just need a place to sleep.  So, how about the Travelodge?

travelodge 2People have already started asking me where we’re staying, and they look at me in disbelief when I tell them.  But I’m not ashamed.  I think the Travelodge is the best deal on the strip!  First of all, it has a totally bangin’ location just north of the MGM Grand and New York, New York.  It obviously doesn’t have a casino, but it does have a pool.  I have a feeling that the Travelodge is where all the cool kids are staying.  It’s also right across the street from the Monte Carlo which is where my BFFs will reside.

Travelodge Las Vegas Center Strip Details

  • $87 per night
  • Free continental breakfast
  • Free wifi
  • No resort fees

If you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, you know how important the extra perks are.  Resort fees alone can run anywhere from $15-$45 per day in addition to your regular hotel rate, and wifi can run up to $15 per day or more.  A free breakfast will also be nice, even if it’s just cereal or bagels.  We usually don’t eat three large meals anyway.

The best part is that I paid for our two nights at the Travelodge with Expedia Rewards points and the very last of the travel credit from my Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard.  This meant that I only had to pay for the first night of our trip out-of-pocket.  (We’re spending the first night in old downtown Las Vegas at the Four Queens)

Total Cost for Our Trip:

  • Flights: $20
  • One Night at Four Queens: $72 (we’re sharing a room with our friends the first night)
  • Two nights at the Travelodge: $0

In addition to these expenses, we’ll have to spend money on food, drinks, and gambling.  Other than that, we’ll probably partake in all of the free things to do in Las Vegas, like people-watching and walking around aimlessly.  I’ve also been known to bring my own alcohol and make my own mixed drinks to save money.  Is that tacky?

Wait a minute.  I don’t care.

Want a free weekend in Las Vegas?  Sign up for the Barclay Arrival World MasterCard using this link and earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months.  The 40,000 miles can be redeemed for a $400 travel credit that can be used for hotel stays, flights, or more.  Winning!

Do you think it’s tacky to stay at the Travelodge?  Where have you stayed in Las Vegas?  Do you think that gambling is wrong?

About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. Enjoy your trip in Vegas. Gambling can also be cost effective, most casinos will give you free or discounted drinks while you are gambling so if you’re playing a game where their rake is small you can play for hours (and get a boat load of free drinks) without spending much.

  2. I plan on taking a free trip to Las Vegas sometime within the next year. There’s a little travel hack I’m sharing on Thursday to get up to 3 free Vegas hotels per month (it’s a bit out of the ordinary, just warning you haha) that I plan to take full advantage of. Combine that with my Barclaycard and I’m good to go!

  3. Wow! That is a super deal! We have family in Las Vegas and can stay free yet, I just can’t get into it. I stink at gambling…lol!

  4. Buy one get one free on flights?!? How have I never heard of this before. That’s a fantastic deal. Way to go Holly.
    When we went to Vegas years ago we stayed at one of the less expensive hotels. We still had an amazing time. Who spends time in the hotel room anyways? There is so much to take in.

    • The BOGO flights are good…..even if you pay for the first flight with points. That’s what makes the deal so awesome! =)

      We never spend time in our room, so the extra expense isn’t worth it to us.

  5. Sounds like fun Holly. I haven’t been to Vegas since my best friend’s bachelor party. Great job squeezing down the cost so you can splurge a little too
    -Bryan

  6. The Mr was just in Vegas for work… and confirmed again that we were meant for each other since we seem to be among the few people that hate Vegas. But I hope you guys have a great trip with your friends!

    • Awww…..you guys ARE made for each other! I admit that Vegas does get old. We were there for five days last time and I thought I was going to freak out. It can be a bit overwhelming and not in a good way.

  7. I think Vegas can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be! It’s not tacky to stay at the Travelodge but it is unexpected which is why you’re probably getting the looks of disbelief. People probably have images of what they THINK Travelodge is like. I would read reviews and just look for specials at the least expensive coolest theme hotel and stay there.

  8. We just got back from Vegas, and we had the best time! We paid our flights with Barclay rewards. I’m going to look into Southwest rewards for our next trip. Have fun!

  9. Ok, this just makes me want to go back. :) We were there about twoish months ago and had a blast. When we lived in San Diego we were there all the time and have been to quite a few of the hotels. But, I guess it’s better that we’re not as close anymore. ;) That said, you can make Vegas as cheap or as expensive as you want. I also can’t think of any better place to people watch!

  10. Ha! I have never stayed at a Travelodge probably because I don’t know much about their properties. I am not “prejudice” to the Travelodge name, though, and I am really curious to see how your stay there turns out. I always have an issue paying too much for a room in Vegas anyway because you barely spend any time in the room, it’s just a waste.

  11. I love Vegas about every two years and for about three days. That’s enough to hold you over. I don’t think it’s trashy to stay at the Travelodge as long as it’s clean. Last time we went we stayed at a place called the Platinum. It sounds like a strip club but was actually very nice and more condo like. It was a long walk, though, so I think right off the strip is better. Where else can you see Elvis and Jesus all in one day?

  12. A vacation (going away) is a vacation! Whether you gamble or pay for some other entertainment is does not matter. Have a good time.

  13. I’ve never been a Vegas person, but I don’t think it’s tacky to save money! I’ve stayed in decent hotels but mostly it was because it was on the company dime at the time, and the other time was for a bachelorette party. I dropped like $20 bucks on blackjack, but other than that I hate losing money for no reason, so I don’t gamble.

  14. Haha, I’m thinking you’re brave for staying at the Travelodge! I haven’t been back to Vegas since I got married there over 3 years ago. We keep talking about going, but flights from the East Coast aren’t cheap. And I don’t think it’s tacky to make your own mixed drinks- cocktails are ridiculously overpriced!

    • One time we ordered two Long Islands at a bar in the Cosmopolitan and I’ll never forget that it was $23! With a tip, it was $25….for two drinks! What a racket!

  15. We were just in Vegas about a month ago. The people watching is amazing! We sat at a bar in our hotel one night and watched all these people waiting to get into the nightclub. The girls were basically naked and the guys were wearing suits. I felt bad for the girls bc they could barely walk in their ridiculous shoes. Fantastic people watching.

  16. First, I’d like to say thank you, thank you, thank you! I recently found your blog and have been fishing around catching up on all of your posts. It’s amazing!
    Second, your blog and lifestyle has inspired our family to move towards an adventurous, frugal life. I’ve always believed anything is possible and I appreciate that you have dedicated your time to show your readers the way.

  17. I was in Vegas about 10 years ago and I stayed at the Rio. We got a great deal on the hotel since we traveled Sunday to Thursday. I’m not a huge fan of Vegas but I think everyone should check it out at least once. I enjoy a little gambling but I keep it to a minimum as well.

  18. There’s nothing wrong with cheap lodging in Las Vegas. The only time I was there (yes, I’ve only been one time and I’ve lived right next door in California most of my life!) we stayed at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall for $35/night. It was a crazy good deal with a great location. Too bad Bill’s doesn’t exist anymore…I guess it was only a matter of time. Enjoy Vegas, Holly…hopefully the oppressive heat won’t have arrived yet!

  19. Have fun! $87 a night and a continental breakfast…not bad! I don’t understand the point of paying for an expensive hotel. Who goes on vacation to stay in the hotel? As long as it’s clean, I’m fine with it. And as for Vegas, that’s a great location.

  20. No need to feel any shame! We mix our own drinks in our hotel room, and make a little bar out of the desk because, hey, no studying allowed on vacation. I love inviting friends up to the room to make a margarita on the rocks and then hang out on the balcony, pre-partying. It’s a great way to spend the time while the ladies are getting ready….

    Have a great time in Vegas, and I hope you guys win big!

  21. I’m not really a Vegas person, but I’m definitely not above staying at the Travelodge, especially if you’re only going to be there to sleep! Good for you!!

  22. I’m so sad that we will be missing each other by just a few days! Las Vegas is always one of my cheapest vacations. I hardly ever spend anything because promoters, clubs, and restaurants are always BEGGING groups of girls to use their company lol.

  23. Nice! I love your cheap travel posts. I can’t do Vegas for too long, but street drinking is enough for me to understand the appreciation people have for it.

  24. Heck, no I don’t think it’s tacky to stay at the Travelodge. You did your homework to find a cheap, clean place near or on the strip. And it’s true – all those darn fees add up fast too! And let’s be honest: the room is purely a place where you sleep for a few hours when you’re in Vegas. Have fun!

  25. If I was going somewhere and planned to be out most of the time, I’d stay in the cheapest (safest) place possible, too. No point in spending more if you’re not going to be there to enjoy it. Sounds like you guys got a great deal for everything! I’m not a gambler so Las Vegas never interested me, but people watching is one of my favorite activities.

  26. Nah, the Travelodge seems like a great location! We stayed at the Excalibur when we last visited Las Vegas and drank margaritas out of 2 foot plastic glow in the dark glasses (talk about tacky!)

  27. I don’t particularly like Las Vegas mostly because of all the smoking. Last time I went for work (September), I intentionally stayed in a hotel off the strip (Homewood Suites). I also had a car, so I took a drive out to Hoover Dam – best part of the trip.

    I don’t have issues with gambling, I think it’s pretty boring actually, but my limit is $25!

  28. If you know how to do it, las vegas is one of the cheapest vacay destinations. I stayed at that travelodge two years ago and was crazy impressed. I was weary at first, but it was perfect, and free with my hotel points that I accrued touring.

  29. FYI… you can drink in public in Indiana… you just can’t do it in Indianapolis City Parks.

  30. Super sweet! The hubs and I just did one of these Vegas weekend trips – actually for Valentine’s Day! We used our Marriott Rewards points so we got to stay at the Courtyard Marriott for free-99! It turned out to be a very expensive weekend for hotel rooms so even the Courtyard, it was going for $200 – God only knows what the other hotels were going for LoL. That’s the best thing about our little credit card churning hobby: we can have a cool little getaway weekend on the cheap :-) We also have a Hyatt and a Hilton night for free every year – so in by book, that 3 different getaway weekends for us wooo hoooo!! (PS Our next project is the Southwest companion pass – hopefully the rumors are true that they’re gonna start flying to Hawaii soon!)

    • I haven’t heard about Hawaii, but I do know that they’re going to start flying to several international locations later this year- Cancun, Punta Cana, Aruba, Montego Bay, etc.

  31. I am literally making the same trip this summer. Can’t wait, however, I am staying in the Bellagio with some amazing reservations. Hope it was fun!

  32. WOAH. You’re companion pass is amazing! Here, we have a couple of cards that offer companion flights but it’s one companion flight within North America and you still have to pay $100 + taxes and fees. I would love to be able to get that card.

    • I am so excited about it! The best part is that we both have points and a companion pass. So, even though I spent 65,000 points this time, we till have almost 200,000 points left.

  33. I used to go to Vegas quite a few times when living in California. It is just not my style, but people do love it. Nice work on earning the companion pass. I don’t think staying in the Travelodge is that bad. Who really cares?

  34. Congratulations! that is some awesome deals. One of my Aunt lives there by the way hehe. Personal finance blogs like this warms my heart and gives me hope about my financial predicament. Cheers

  35. I love me some Vegas, but for different reasons. My BFF moved there for college and now works for one of the big hotels. I visit her once a year and only have to pay for my flight — room and board is free! Enjoy your time there — it’s not TOO hot right now but just hot enough to enjoy a dip in that Travelodge pool. :)

  36. Wow! I am impressed with your travel points from the southwest card! I travel a lot for work and thus get the opportunity to put a lot of reimbursed $$ on my credit card.. for the past year I have been using the American express Hilton honors card.. its nice b/c I get free hotel rooms anywhere and they tend to be nice b/c you are GOLD status just for having the card and DIAMOND if you spend a lot.. Despite all of that I do need to begin getting more airline miles and I think you have inspired me to get a southwest card. thanks holly! PS when betting your $100 try to put a buck on green double zero on roulette.. It pays 40 to 1!

  37. Totally winning!! Eric’s been dying to go to Vegas for over a year now and I’ve been dragging my feet. I signed up for a British Airways card a couple months ago and I now have a bunch of avios to use. I’ll have to see what the mileage is like and if it’s worth it to use the miles on Vegas, or if I should save them for a bigger trip. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Travel lodge, good location, cheap rates, rock on!

  38. I just got back from Vegas with my friends/cousins for my 25th birthday! Weather is great! Have fun :)

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