The $20 Trick has grown in popularity over the last several years as more people find out about its success rate online. That said, this is a technique that is as old as Vegas itself.
And it still works.
Let’s set it up. You just arrived at your Las Vegas Strip Hotel and you are waiting in line to check in. You have booked a modest king room with a view at a rate of $125/night. Not bad, but why not see if you can find your way into a suite. After all, it’s a Wednesday night and you’re pretty sure there’s no way the place can be sold out. You pull out your ID and credit card, wrap a $20 bill around the credit card and approach the window.
The clerk will ask you for your ID and credit card. Put the ID on top and the $20-wrapped credit card on the bottom and hand her both with the $20 bill showing slightly. While handing it to her, ask politely if the hotel has any complimentary upgrades available. If the hotel does not, she should return you the bill. If there are upgrades available, she will start pounding on keys to see what’s available.
Pro Tip: If you already know the name of the suite you’d like, mention it by name. For instance, say you’re booked at the Cosmopolitan in a Terrace Studio room. Walk up and mention the Wraparound Terrace Suite by name. If they don’t have a Wraparound Terrace Suite, perhaps they have a Terrace Suite. If they don’t, they don’t and you don’t lose anything. If they do, you just gained a room that would have cost you an extra $100-$200 per night for $20.00.
The clerk is happy too. Everybody wins.
Additional tips: (1) Be sure to chat up the clerk and be super polite. Perhaps you’re in town for a special occasion (or even if you aren’t, whatever). Mention a special occasion. Not that the clerk will give you special treatment for being nice, but it definitely can’t hurt. (2) Some people have tried it with a $50 bill. I have heard of it having “extra” success, but I don’t know that it’s necessary. (3) If the clerk comes back with a statement like, “We don’t have any suites, but we can upgrade you to a higher floor,” then weigh how much you care about that. It’s not really an upgrade at all. (4) Choose a clerk that looks like a Vegas local. They know how it works. (5) Be discreet but not shady. It happens all the time. The clerks know it. Their managers know it. The hotels know it. It’s not a big deal.