Planning to visit Las Vegas on a budget?
You might think that’s crazy, but cheap Vegas trips are possible!
Below are my tips for Vegas on a budget including the most affordable hotels in Las Vegas, free things to do in Las Vegas, where to find Las Vegas discounts, best places to eat in Las Vegas on a budget, how to save money on alcohol and gambling, and more!
There truly is no place like Las Vegas Nevada, and it’s a place I recommend seeing at least once in your life.
I even recommending traveling to Vegas with kids. Many people may tell you kids don’t belong in “Sin City”, but we saw plenty of kids wandering around and our girls love visiting Las Vegas!
There’s plenty of fun cheap things to do in Vegas to entertain them and as long as they are off the strip by around 9pm they’re not going to see anything too bad – it’s all an education!
The good news is, whether you are visiting Vegas on a girl’s or boy’s getaway, as a couple, for a bachelorette party, or with kids, a cheap vacation in Vegas is not out of reach.
In fact, you can probably find more deals and savings on a trip to Vegas than you can in any other US city.
However, Vegas is not as cheap as it was when we first visited in 2006. We have since been a couple of times, the last three with kids, and as recent as March 2019.
We have wasted a lot of money and saved a lot of money and worked out how we wasted and could find better deals in the process!
You get to benefit from our wins and losses.
There is just so much competition and the casinos know they can make a ton of money from people gambling (house always wins) so they reduce the price of so many other things (like hotel rooms) to get you in and entice you to gamble.
Just be strict with yourself in regards to the gambling and you’ll be fine.
A high-roller budget is not necessary for a good time in Sin City.
Just remember the golden rule – what happens in Vegas is no fun unless you share it!
How to Save Money on Alcohol in Vegas
You know it, Vegas is a party place!!
It would be the rare traveler to visit Vegas and not seek out a drink somewhere. I think this is possibly the only post on our site out of thousands that gives you tips on how to save money on alcohol in a city.
So if you want to visit Las Vegas on a budget, be warned the opportunity to drink is there all the time and you’ll drain your funds if you don’t find ways to drink cheaper:
- If you’re betting in a casino you’ll get free drinks (don’t forget to tip of course). I’ve gotten them just by sitting next to my friend who’s put money in the slot machine, or by just betting with a dollar. Be sure you’ll get your money’s worth though, there is no point putting $20 through a machine just to get a free $5 drink.
- There are loads of happy hour prices all over the strip. Do your research to find them. The lowest we saw was at the Bird Bar in the Flamingo for 50 cent beers. They will most likely be awful domestic US beers though. Check out Las Vegas happy hours here.
- People on the street will hand out 2 for 1 drink coupons. We got one for the bar in The Mirage. Sadly it only included domestic beers or well drinks – which are the lower levels liquor/spirits. I don’t know why they can’t include wine! A shitty $6 bottle can easily be included in it.
- Buy your alcohol from the grocery stores or mini-markets. You can totally drink your own alcohol and walk in and out of the casinos. You can drink almost anywhere in Vegas at almost any time. It’s very normal for people to leave a casino with their drink so they’ll have no idea its your own. Yep. I had a bottle of wine in my bag that I poured into a plastic cup. And we snuck a few cans of beer down by the pool. Classy I know. It’s Vegas baby!
- Sign up to the casino’s loyalty card for extra perks. I got a discounted rate on our room at the Excalibur for doing that. As we were a new member to the Caesar’s rewards which I joined upon checking into Harrah’s Hotel & Casino we got a $10 drink voucher, a free million dollar wheel spin which gave me a 2 for 1 pass for the High Roller Wheel, and free tickets to a comedy show – although that did require a $13 drink purchase!
- Whatever you spend in the casinos managed by that card e.g. Caesar’s or MGM, use your membership card to collect points. They’ll give you rewards and move you up different membership levels.
- All you can drink at buffets for $15!! If you plan to sit for awhile and eat, why not take advantage of this great deal. Head to the buffet late afternoon. See below for tips on saving money on Las Vegas buffets.
Ways to Save Money on Hotels in Vegas
Looking for cheap places to stay in Vegas? Finding affordable hotels in Las Vegas is possible:
- Visit Vegas midweek. Sun to Thursday is typically when you get much cheaper prices on hotels in Vegas. Tuesday and Wednesday night are generally the cheapest. Don’t worry, Vegas parties like it’s Saturday every night.
- Room rack prices are very cheap in Vegas as they know how to get money out of you in many other ways. Don’t let the room rack price fool you though – they don’t mind throwing out a few extra fees. For that cheap room rack price all you’ll get is a bed, a TV, and an ice bucket. If you want anything else, you’re going to be paying for it like $25 daily fee for a bar fridge. So if you don’t need any of the extras stick to the basic cheap price.
- You will have to pay extra for any extra bodies over 2 people. It’s ridiculously high. You can just pretend you don’t have children checking in as they don’t check. You didn’t hear that from us and you accept all responsibility if you get caught.
- Pretty much all Las Vegas hotels charge a resort fee. I think the only way you can get out of it is if you are a certain membership level on their reward cards. The resort fees are to help the government pay for roads etc. as they have a lower local population tax base. That is what our Downtown Las Vegas walking tour guide told us anyway. The following hotels don’t have resort fees, but as you’ll see most are not on the Strip:
- Best Western Plus Casino Royale (on the strip)
- Alexis Park All Suite Resort
- Arizona Charlie’s Decatur
- Arizona Charlie’s Boulder Highway
- Casino Royale Best Western Plus
- Eastside Cannery
- Four Queens Hotel & Casino
- Fremont Hotel and Casino
- Lucky Club
- M Resort Spa & Casino
- Main Street Station Casino Brewery & Hotel
- Wyndham Grand Desert
- Check to see if any conventions are on. Vegas is a convention city and if there are big conventions happening the hotel prices will be higher. Check out the Las Vegas Convention Calendar.
- Also, Vegas is a big sporting city, especially UFC and boxing. Don’t visit when a fight is on or you’ll be paying premium.
- Are you members of any professions – Members of the military can save anywhere from 10-20% on room rates. First responders can save 10% off Caesars Properties. Teachers and students can also save 10% on Caesars properties.
- Use sites like Booking.com and Trip Advisor to get good hotel comparisons and to read reviews. We found the best prices on Booking.com. You can also check out BestofVegas.com and LasVegas.com for specials and deals.
- Stay in the center of the Strip. It can save you money getting around. We’ve stayed at the Luxor and Excalibur at the south end of the strip and Harrah’s and Treasure Island in the center of the Strip. We much prefer the center. We find we spend most of our time in that section anyway. The Strip is much longer than you realize and walking from the south end (Mandalay Bay) up to the center (Mirage & Caesars Palace) and back again takes it out of you (although it’s one of the many free things to do in Las Vegas). We have never stayed at the north end of the Strip (Stratosphere) as we don’t think it’s that great. The best hotels in Vegas on a budget in the center of the strip would be: Harrah’s, Bally’s, Treasure Island, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and the Best Western Plus Casino Royale.
- Consider staying in Downtown Las Vegas. We loved the vibe here. It is crazy and Fremont St is not for kids after dark! But there is plenty to do here and they are putting a lot into revitalizing it. We especially love Downtown East. The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is an awesome property and has a pool that was named in the Top 10 list in the world. Of course, there is an aquarium in the middle of the pool with sharks and a waterslide that goes through the middle. I do want to stay here.
- Stay off the strip. Hotel rates will be cheaper. But do consider the extra time to walk to the Strip if that is where you want to hang out. Some to check out would be the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino and Hilton Grand Vacations Suites.
- Sign up for player’s cards and casino reward programs. It’s a great way to save money on hotel rooms and in preparation for your next Vegas visit. Because once you stay and use your card to collect points, they’ll send you offers almost immediately after your stay. Vegas knows how to get you to come back and spend more money at the casino.
- Mlife (MGM Grand Resorts rewards program)
- Total Rewards (Caesars Entertainment rewards program):
- Grazie (Venetian and Palazzo)
- Wynn Insider
- Wynn & Encore Red Card (Loyalty Program)
- Identity (Cosmopolitan Rewards Program)
- Station Casinos Boarding Pass (Palms, Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station and more…)
- The Code (SLS Vegas)
Recommended Hotels in Vegas:
For cheaper Vegas hotels, but still offer a great experience, we recommend the following:
- Harrah’s (center of strip / we think it’s the best value hotel in Las Vegas)
- Flamingo – (center of strip) this is actually my favorite on the strip
- Excalibur (end of strip)
- Luxor (end of strip)
Saving Money on Las Vegas Shows & Entertainment
Another way to have a cheap vacation in Vegas is by saving money on shows and tapping into all the Las Vegas discounts:
- Vegas.com had the lowest prices we could find for show tickets. We went to Mystere Cirque du Soleil and got it for almost $40 cheaper. Also check BestofVegas and LasVegas.com which has a best guaranteed price.
- The Sightseeing Pass includes several shows in Las Vegas. We LOVED the Matt Franco Magic Show that we used on our Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass. He was such a great entertainer and magician. Our girls loved it. See more in the section below
- Downtown Las Vegas is where you can find some incredible deals. The machines there also have a higher payout percentage. Find an old machine in a dark corner somewhere
- The Downtown Las Vegas walking tour will give you a bunch of coupons for Downtown after it. We really enjoyed that tour and highly recommend it
- On the first Friday of the month, Downtown Las Vegas has a First Friday art event. Over 100 local artists display and sell their work on the streets and there’s also live music, street performers, food carts and art lessons for kids. Another one of those things to do in Vegas for cheap. We love experiencing First Fridays around the USA.
- Party bus tours.
- If you’re a woman, you have more chance of getting free (or discounted) entry into the nightclubs. There are plenty of people handing out vouchers on the street. Once they recognize you as someone who is out for a party, they’ll get them in your hands. They ignored us obviously since we had kids with us.
- Pool passes. If you are staying at a Caesars or MGM property, you can typically use the pools of resorts in that chain. Some may charge an extra fee so check first. Hanging out at a pool in Vegas for most of the day is the thing to do, especially in the hot summer months. Many of them will be closed during the winter. A pool pass is one of the attractions included in the Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass
- The Casinos on the Strip are filled with free stuff to do in Vegas. Check out the nightly Volcano Show at The Mirage (usually 8pm, 9pm, 10pm) as it’s one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, the Bellagio Fountains (every 15-mins to an hour depending on time of the day) and the Fall of Atlantis Show at Caesars Forum Shops. They’re short but sweet and worth watching. The kids will love it. The Cosmopolitan has a modern art collection, the Flamingo has the Wildlife Habitat which has flamingos (of course) and other exotic birds, fish and turtles in its beautiful gardens. Circus Circus has a free circus show every hour from 11:30am to 11:15pm. Clown and acrobat lovers will enjoy it. Harrah’s have live dueling piano shows every night, which we quite enjoyed watching! Paris and New York, New York also has them.
- Fremont Street Experiences is on every night at Downtown Las Vegas. It involves a light and music show (and lots of advertising) on the roof. They often have live bands playing on one of the three stages on Fremont Street.
- If you do intend to gamble on your Vegas getaway, set a budget for your time in Vegas. That is the advice we heard from tour guides and even fellow travelers we struck up conversations with. Most of them said, “I come to Vegas knowing I have X amount to gamble with. “I’m okay with losing that. So I use only that and have fun in the process and if I walk away with that or more in my pocket then I am thrilled, or if I walk away with that amount gone, I’m okay as I planned for it.” It’s so easy to get swept up into those flashing lights and winning jingles. Vegas is craftily designed to take your money. Don’t steal from yourself to keep adding to the casino owners very full bank accounts. I found just watching people gambling thrilling enough for me and I was so happy I did not go over my $20 budget!!!
- There are loads of cool free things to do near Las Vegas in gorgeous nature areas like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. And of course you could visit Zion National Park on an extended trip!
- You could spend all day checking out the designs of the casinos on the Strip. It’s completely free to walk around and admire how they have recreated so many parts of the world on one long Boulevard. Some of our favorites are Paris, The Venetian, Caesars, and the classy Bellagio, Wynn, and The Mirage.
- If you’re tempted to gamble and don’t have much control, go out only with your credit card. You cannot gamble on a credit card. If you don’t have cash you’re out of the game. If you have a debit card with cash on it you can – but if you intend on sneaking out an extra $100 from the ATM at 1am know that ATM is going to charge you a $9 fee + whatever your bank charges. OUCH!!
- Check out the hotels special promotions they may be running. You may end up with a free (or discounted) show tickets, nightclub line passes etc.. We received free tickets to a Magic Show at Harrah’s with our Caesar’s New Member rewards card.
How to Save on Las Vegas Attractions with the Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass
This is one of the main ways we were able to do Las Vegas on a budget!
The Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass is a city attractions pass that offers savings on popular attractions.
You can choose from a wide variety of tours and attractions and either a certain number of attractions on the card OR a certain number of days.
The day pass entitles you access to all attractions on the pass but you’ll have to plan your day well.
Choose the activities or attractions you most want to do and then do the math to see if the day pass or attraction pass would suit better and what time frame you’d want it for.
- The 7 attraction Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass costs $379
- The 3 attraction pass costs $229
- And the 3 day Las Vegas pass would cost $369.60
Some of the Las Vegas attractions that we used on the card were:
- Hoover Dam and Lake Mead tour
- Downtown Las Vegas Walking Tour
- Matt Franco Magic Reinvented Nightly Show
- The Mob Museum
Some other attractions included on the card worth mentioning:
- Grand Canyon South Rim tour
- Cowabunga Bay Water Park
- Vegas Nights Helicopter tour
It’s worth noting that the children’s pass for Vegas cost the same as the adults. I think this is because Vegas has mostly “Adult” attractions.
There are many the kids can still do though, including some of the night shows. It’s worth thinking about.
Definitely do careful research so you know you’ll get the savings from it.
The Sightseeing Pass also has a USA pass if you plan to travel through multiple US cities in 30 days.
We work with The Sightseeing Pass as affiliate partners and they provide us with the passes. We share them because they offer great savings. We’ll be doing more of the attractions on the pass when we visit Vegas.
Alternatively, the Las Vegas Pass is also another discount city attraction card designed to help you save money on Las Vegas Attractions.
The Go Las Vegas Card also gives access to 35+ attractions. You can click here to see what attractions are included on this card and the prices
We don’t have experience with either of those cards, but I know the brands have a good reputation.
Tips to Save Money on Eating Out in Vegas
Besides drinking, this is where doing Las Vegas on a budget can go off the rails. But use these tips:
- It’s hard to go past Vegas Buffets. If you want to enjoy more than one course, it can be better to eat at a buffet then an expensive restaurant. Depending on your style of course, but many Vegas buffets serve high quality food. We loved the Bellagio and Paris buffet.
- Breakfast is cheaper, and lunch is cheaper than dinner! On weekends, food and drink will be more expensive again. We went to the Bellagio for lunch and entered 4 minutes before lunch started and so were charged breakfast prices!! We did not plan it like this. A cool money saving tip we discovered. They were changing from breakfast over to lunch so we were able to have bacon with our chicken curries!
- Downtown Vegas will have loads of cheap eats for you. Check out the following: Hash House a Go Go (one of the best places to eat in Las Vegas on a budget), Pizza Rock, and the places in Container Park!
- The Sightseeing Pass does include a few restaurants. You get a $15 voucher with it. You’ll have to do the math on it to see if it’s worth using the attractions for dinner. If you get the day attraction pass then I’m sure it will be worth it. We certainly enjoyed knocking $60 off our Planet Hollywood check. By the way, the food there is delicious and ginormous! You can definitely share a nachos with three of you and save money.
- Check out the hotels special promotions they may be running. You may end up with a free (or discounted) buffet.
- Check out Groupon for any restaurant deals.
- Prize-fix menus or the pre-theater menu can offer quality food and cheap prices. You don’t need to be seeing the show to get the prices.
- Eat late at night. There are plenty of late night happy hours in Vegas.
- Hotel food courts can offer cheap eats.
- Overindulge on breakfast and lunch and have a snack for dinner.
- CVS and Walgreens are a lifesaver for quick snacks or bottled water, although we recommend carrying your own water bottle and refilling it yourself.
- Do NOT get a coffee at Starbucks. It was the most expensive coffee I have had in the US. And it’s freaking Starbucks. It cost me $7.60 for a Grande almond milk latte. Absurd.
Las Vegas with Kids Travel video
How to Save Money on Flights to Vegas
The good news is the strategies for saving money on flights is pretty much the same no matter where you are flying to.
We have an in-depth post on how to save money on flights. I’d recommend reading through that for expert tips to help you save money flying to Vegas.
Here are a few tips specific to Vegas
- The cheapest time to book a flight to Las Vegas is 14 days in advance
- The cheapest day to fly to Vegas is a Sunday. Sometimes it can be a Saturday, but that is the most expensive night for accommodation.
- Consider flying home on a Tuesday.
- August or October is the cheapest time to fly as its low season. Not in August you’re going to have baking hot summer temps, which is great for pool days.
Be sure to add in all additional costs before purchasing.
Things like baggage fees, extra leg room, in-flight meals can add up. It may be cheaper to book through a more premium airline that includes some of these costs
Getting around Vegas
Part of the Vegas experience is walking up and down the Strip. So prepare your legs – you’ll be clocking up 20,000 steps before you know it. Good for the body, good for the wallet as it’s free!
Las Vegas Bus
The Deuce is a double deck bus that goes up an down the Las Vegas strip 24 hours a day. Note that the bus takes a long time to go a short distance. You are probably better off getting an Uber. Our friends jumped in an Uber to meet us in Downtown from the New York, New York hotel after learning the bus would take two hours!!
- 2-Hour all-access pass – $6
- 24-Hour all-access pass – $8
- 3-Day all-access pass – $20
You can get from SLS to the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Monorail. It costs $5 for a single ticket or $12 for an all day pass. If there are a few in your traveling party (like a family) you’re better off jumping in an Uber. However, I always prefer to walk
Uber or Lyft
You know the drill by now. They are usually the cheapest and most convenient way to get around.
Car Hire in Vegas
If you want to explore beyond Vegas, which we highly recommend as there are some STUNNING regions to visit (check the links below) then you will want to hire a car. Check out prices here.
Free Parking in Vegas
The good news is you can find free parking in Vegas.
If you are staying at an MGM resort and have parking there, you can park for free at any of the MGM resorts. Same to with Caesar’s.
Other free parking in Vegas is at the Fashion Show Mall across the street from Treasure Island (parking deck behind Dick’s). And if you are going to see a show at one of the resorts, you may get free parking. Check first.
Places to Visit Near Las Vegas
- Exploring the Valley of Fire State Park – Best Vegas day trip
- 6 best things to do at Lake Mead
- 9 amazing things to do in Death Valley