Will a $20 Sandwich get you the Rain Man Suite?

I am going to Vegas with my friend Mark. When we visit Las Vegas we experiment with different ways to get a free upgrade at the hotel (e.g., tweeting at the hotel in advance).

I recently came across an article that suggested that we have been going about it wrong: we shouldn’t be trying to get a free upgrade. Instead, we should be trying to get the best upgrade at the lowest possible price.


The idea: slip the person checking you in twenty dollars and inquiry about an upgrade:

Why should I tip $20 to my hotel check in clerk?

Tipping the hotel’s front desk staff means the chance of landing a cheap room upgrade. Twenty bucks for a room upgrade is a no-brainer, right?

The so-called ‘$20 sandwich trick’ or ‘credit card sandwich’ is common across the US, but in Las Vegas – a city that runs on tips – it’s universal. Your chances of a room upgrade vary with the hotel and the clerk who serves you.

How should I tip?

There is no secret handshake, sign or password. When you go to the front desk to check into a hotel, they will ask for a credit card, driver’s license or passport. Slip a $20 bill between or under your ID and credit card. Ask the clerk if there are any complimentary upgrades available.

What are your chances? It depends on the hotel. The top probabilities of the trip working according this website:

#1 Palazzo (which I have never heard of. 95% get upgrades)

#2 Caesers Place, Las Vegas Hilton, and Mirage (90%)

#3 Planet Hollywood, Trump, and Bally’s (88%)

As I poked around the internet looking for more information, I was struck by people’s reluctance to use the “trick.” Based on the comments I read on various blog posts, I noticed two psychological reasons that people seem reluctant to do it:

-Risk aversion: The trick might not work. You would be out $20.

-Morality: The trick feels wrong, akin to bribery.

Would you do it?  And, since people usually give $20, should we give $25?