Staying on the Las Vegas strip doesn't have to be expensive. A surefire way to save money and get the biggest bang for your buck is to look for promotional or discount codes for hotel deals. Promo codes can provide you with free nights, upgrades, credits, or even dining and entertainment discounts. These are usually issued directly from the major hotels and can be booked solely through their websites or reservation lines.

A favorite site of mine is Smartervegas.com. Smartervegas.com collects promo codes for the Las Vegas strip and off-strip hotels as well as your popular Vegas shows. Travelers can save anywhere from 20% off or more on their hotel stay by using a promo code. Many hotels issue more than one promo code for a given time period.

So here are a few tips when choosing the perfect promo code:

Take note of dates. Some codes have a clear expiration date listed (e.g. Jan 8, 2012); others will give you an expiration date as well as a buy before date. The expiration date denotes when the offer ends, just as an expiration date on a coupon. The buy before date means that you must book that offer by the indicated date (e.g. Nov 20, 2011) but you can use the discount code up until the expiration date (e.g. Jan 8, 2012).

  • True Example:

Mirage Resort
: $75 Dining Credit Promotion at the Mirage! – From: $65/nt
Code: MIRDC1W
Offer Expires: Jan 8, 2012
Buy Before: Nov 20, 2011
Book two nights or more and receive $75 Dining Credit! 
Limited Time Offer, Book Today and Save at the Mirage.

Flexibility is the key. Be flexible and compare several hotel codes to see what gives you the best deal and the most bang for your buck. The best time to visit is Sunday thru Thursday. One hotel could offer a code that will give you a room-only discount. But another code at the same hotel might include an upgrade or dining credit. The room rate may be slightly higher than the room-only discount. This is to help compensate for some of the extras you may be receiving. Don't buy what you won't use! A deal simply isn't a deal if you're not going to use that amenity.

  • For instance, if you know you have no interest in using that 2 for 1 club deal than don't use that code. In the end you will be paying more because of the added amenity. Check for other promos with amenities that you will use like resort credits (which usually can get you free dining), free room nights or free upgrades.

Don't be afraid to hotel hop. This is not for everyone, but if you can get great room rates or upgrades, why not? Some travelers like to get to their hotel, get settled and start their vacation without the thought of moving somewhere else. Hotel hopping is definitely for the adventurous traveler. I do this often on my visits and have been able to take advantage of some amazing room deals.

  • I recently stayed at The Signature at MGM Grand in a Junior Balcony suite for $99 per night and then moved on to Vdara also for $99 per night. The Vdara deal gave me a free upgrade to a lake view suite as well as a $40 resort credit. That $40 was used towards my dinner! I hotel hopped simply because the Signature deal ended after my first three nights and their price was going up.

The strip is so closely concentrated with hotels that it's easy to do. If you can only find a promo deal at one hotel for two nights and another has an amazing deal for your remaining two nights, why not take advantage of both? Stay at one and then switch to the other. Ultimately it will save you money and you get to experience a whole new hotel setting. Also if you choose a hotel relatively close to your original one, it can be an easy walk, monorail ride or short inexpensive taxi ride to your next location. Do take in account that this does take some timing. You'll have to consider your hotel check out time, storing bags with bell services, and checking into your new hotel (usually later that afternoon).

Resort Fees.  A number of the hotels on the strip charge a resort fee per night. This is usually a fee of about $22 and provides you with a daily newspaper, two bottles of water (per day), WIFI, and boarding pass printing. Check with your chosen hotel to see if they charge a daily resort fee. If you've chosen a hotel that has a resort fee, factor that into your final cost. This way you won't have any extra surprises when you get your final bill at check-out.

This has been a guest post by Karen from Mount Rainier, MD
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