Vegas Myths Busted: $20 Room Upgrade Trick


Published on: November 27, 2023 at 08:08 pm.

Last updated on: December 5, 2023, 10:18 pm.

Introducing Andrew Jackson to the front desk clerk at the Riviera Hotel may have worked for your dad in 1995, but it probably won’t get you a room upgrade in 2023 in Las Vegas.

$20 sandwich."
This step is known as the “$20 Sandwich.” (Photo:

Oh, wait, but your best friend told you it worked for him Just last week? That’s just what it might be tangible the situation.

When guests ask if an upgrade is available, there are three possible answers a front desk employee can give:

  1. I’m sorry, but we’re all booked.
  2. Yes, and it will only cost you $X extra per night.
  3. Yes, we can provide this at no additional charge.

Walking into the long, shiny office with a $20 bill, as your father did in 1995, or even handing it neatly folded between the credit card and ID you have to show — known as the “$20 sandwich” — rarely does that. In desired answer number 3.

Why it probably won’t work

This is because in 2023 Las Vegas, every front desk transaction is captured on video. Although rules vary from hotel to hotel, it is generally unacceptable for front desk agents to hand out perks with which guests bribe them.

Although we’re using this photo to represent checking into a resort in Vegas, we realize it was likely staged. However, we’ll take what we can get since resorts typically don’t allow the media to photograph their clients for privacy reasons. (Photo: Al website)

However, let’s say you’re lucky enough to get answer #3, and then Mr. Jackson frees you from your wallet after promising to upgrade your room. In this case, this is perfectly acceptable advice for the employee to accept.

This also means the $20 trick It didn’t really work Because you’re free to be a jerk and a cruel agent and still get promoted.

“You’re not paying for an upgrade, you’re thanking the front desk person for helping you make the most of your visit,” explains Scott Rubin, founder of Casino.orgprivate Vital Vegas Blog. “The reality is that an employee will help if he can – usually at the direction of higher-ups – bonus or not.

“Service will continue to be provided because Vegas is a service city.”

When a $20 scam May still be a job

Front desk agents may accept $20 if they have low risk aversion or do not aspire to work in the hospitality industry. The ruse can also still work if the hotel generally looks the other way and/or never monitors employee videos unless something clearly illegal is happening.

But there is no accurate way to know this information in advance.

However, according to Robin, it is now $40 Hoax anyway “because $40 is the new $20, just as $5 is the new $1 for bundled drinks.”

Why won’t it work much longer

The guest logs into LINQ without human assistance. (Photo:

About 75% of hotels now offer self-check-in kiosks, according to the automation trade publication Kiosk market. As with airline and rental car kiosks, guests can use their ID card to check out their reservations. After they pay with a credit or debit card, the kiosk produces their room key.

What can’t be accomplished in the kiosk is the $20/$40 trick. The device will offer paid upgrades, or if there are enough higher-priced rooms vacant and the customer exceeds a pre-set threshold of loyalty points, one will be offered for free.

When faced with the option of a 45-minute line to speak to an agent who may or may not grant a free upgrade, kiosks have become the preferred check-in option, especially for young (read: future) Vegas visitors.

What to expect next

This trend is likely to continue until kiosks completely replace the function of front desk agents. Most likely, one employee will be left behind, who – as in a supermarket self-checkout line – only staffs the area to solve customer problems with the machines.

Vegas Resorts, like all public companies that must be accountable to shareholders, is happy when they can remove humans from their books. Humans — with their nagging demands for a livable wage, medical insurance, paid vacation, lunches and other work breaks — are the second largest operational cost.

The biggest is the monthly rental payments that most Vegas resorts must pay to corporate property owners. There is no cancellation of this cost.

Look for “Vegas Legends Busted” every Monday To read previously debunked Vegas Myths, visit Do you have a suggestion for a Vegas legend that needs busting? Email

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