Credit Card Reviews Rewards Programs

Good Credit Cards for Casino Enthusiasts

Casino comps can be a fun reward for an entertaining night out or a sober reminder of how much was left on the felt. But those comps are only earned based on play. I’m an absolutely garbage gambler. Ask the folks around me who I tried to convince to play a terrible six-shooter bonus bet on a digital craps machine recently. Couple that with my low roller tendencies, it’s rare that a discretionary comp hits my account. Instead of begging the pit boss for $3 off a buffet so I can drown my sorrows in some soggy waffles, I use a little points and miles know how to extract some value in other ways.

Yes, this red chipper actually has elevated status at both MLife and Caesars Rewards. It’s not through gambling, obviously, but by pairing the right credit card to complement my casino visits. Below I’ve listed a couple cards worth considering. While they won’t help you at the tables, they may make your trips less expensive.


American Express Platinum – $550 annual fee

Yes, it’s expensive, but this card is able to initiate a chain of status match events that can help you draw some significant value. Because of this, it acts as a serviceable replacement for the FoundersCard. The FoundersCard, which comes with its own hefty annual fee, usually over $300, grants automatic Diamond status with Caesars Rewards. However, the FoundersCard is a membership card, not a charge or credit card, with, in my opinion, little value for casual travelers or casino hobbyists outside of the granted Diamond status. I know many of my gambling loving friends like the FoundersCard simply for Caesars Diamond benefits, like free parking and waived resort fees.

The Amex Platinum charge card is worth considering because it too can help you get to Caesars Diamond, though you have to jump through an additional hoop. Among other features, the Amex Platinum grants cardholders Hilton Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Once either of those statuses is held, you can tier match into Wyndham Diamond status. From there, because Wyndham and Caesars are partners, you have the opportunity to tier match your newly acquired Wyndham Diamond to Caesars Diamond. It may sound convoluted, but it takes a matter of minutes to do all the steps and you don’t even have to leave the house. You will have to wait at least 5 business days or so for each match to successfully process. To push it further, if you have a trip to Atlantic City planned, you’re able to status match your Caesars Diamond status to MLife Gold at The Borgata in person. Two elite casino statuses with one card isn’t bad.

But still, $550 is a lot. To offset this, the card also offers a pretty good sign-on bonus. I’ve seen this range from 50k points to 100k points. At a minimum, this is equivalent to $500 in value, essentially covering the annual fee for the first year. The bonus any one person has access to will vary based on timing and personal offers. You can check creditcard.com’s card match tool to see if you have access to a higher bonus. There are a number of other benefits as well. Notably, the card offers a $200 airline fee credit every year, $15 in Uber credits per month, and a $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Plus, cardholders have access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program. I enjoy using this to book an occasional night in Vegas. There is also an Amex Centurion Lounge at LAS. Free admission to all Amex Centurion Lounges is another perk of the Platinum card.

I’ll repeat my awareness that this is anything but an inexpensive card. However, if you pay for the FoundersCard simply for Diamond status, Amex Platinum may be worth a look, especially if you travel frequently outside of your casino visits.


World of Hyatt Credit Card – $95 Annual Fee

I’m a big fan of Hyatt and their loyalty program in general, but this card was especially useful for me to get my foot in the door cheaply with MLife properties.

Cardholders get 25k bonus points for spending $3k in the first three months of account opening, then an additional 25k points after spending $6k total in six months. Hyatt has a fixed award chart based on property category, so it’s easy to get good value out of those points. For example, the lauded Ocean Resort in Atlantic City is a Hyatt partner property and only costs 12k Hyatt points when there is availability. With rates reaching mid $300s on busy weekends, it can be an absolute steal.

With the Hyatt and MLife partnership, you can use your Hyatt points to book reward nights at MLife properties in Vegas. I have used this strategy a few times when room offers weren’t coming in. In addition, Hyatt and MLife tier match. The Hyatt credit card grants Discoverist status. This can be matched to MLife’s Pearl status, which is good for complimentary parking.

This one of my favorite travel cards. While Hyatt can’t match the network of Marriott/SPG, the award chart provides a good value and the bonus spending categories on this card are more useful than many of its peers. In short, $95 gets you Pearl status and an account full of hotel points. As a bonus, cardholders are given a free night certificate on their account anniversary. This easily covers the cost of the card and provides a nice excuse to head to Vegas.


Wyndham Rewards Visa – $75 annual fee

For a long time, Wyndham had a surprisingly simple and extremely valuable award chart- every property in their catalogue, including high-end Caesars partner resorts, could be redeemed for a fixed price of 15k points. This is reportedly changing in April of 2019, when they will have three different room categories with different redemption rates. Many will stay at the 15k rate, but some 200 of the more upscale hotels, will increase to 30k per night. I suspect a couple nice Caesars properties will be included.

The Wyndham credit card is an interesting option because of the streamlined Caesars partnership. The card grants automatic Platinum status with Wyndham which, as I mentioned earlier, can be matched directly to Caesars Platinum. Much like the MLife and Hyatt partnership, rooms can be booked at Caesars properties with Wyndham points. The Wyndham card offers a 30k point sign-on bonus, broken down into two 15k point opportunities. The first 15k comes after making your first purchase, with the remaining 15k depositing after hitting $1000 in spending on the card within 90 days of account opening. This is one of the easier bonuses to achieve. For now, 30k points can be used, as long as their is availability, for two nights at any Caesars property. A great deal for Vegas and Atlantic City visitors without comped rooms.

Overall, I think the Wyndham program is a big pile of “meh” outside of this Caesars partnership. But $75 for two free nights and a higher status may be worth it for low rolling Caesars fanboys and girls.


MLife Mastercard and Total Rewards Visa – $0 annual fee

It may seem odd to have these two so far down the list, but I really don’t see myself signing up for either in the near future. With the combination of cards in my wallet already, the additional benefits I would get out of these are limited. Plus, let’s be honest, I really don’t need anything else motivating me to go to a casino.

Both cards offer a 10k reward credit sign-on bonus, which can be redeemed for on-site goodies in the form of freeplay and comps. The MLife card requires $1k in spending in 90 days compared to TR’s $750 in the same time period to get the bonus. For cards with no annual fee, the bonuses are quite good. Each card also allows users to elevate their status, MLife to Pearl and Caesars Rewards to Platinum. Those tiers have similar benefits, notably free parking and some line cutting.

The MLife card has a slight edge in that in addition to accelerated bonus spending in certain categories, it also awards tier credits for credit card spend. In a basic sense, both programs award reward credits (MLife calls them points) and tier credits for activity when using a players card. Reward credits are used for discounts and freebies. Tier credits are what determines your tier level in each program. Essentially, with the MLife card, your spending can help you advance to the next tier. That being said, it would take a considerable amount of concentrated spend on the MLife card to do so, which isn’t worth it. To counter, instead of awarding tier credits, the TR card does give new cardholders one free buffet within six months of opening an account. So it has that going for it, which is nice.

The lack of flexibility makes casino co-branded cards an afterthought for me. But, if you simply want a higher tier and a modest bonus for your MLife and Caesars trips, these cards are perfectly fine with their no annual fee.


Others

I feel like I’m just scratching the surface here. New and interesting credit card strategies develop constantly, even in the casino space. Really, any travel card that gives you an elevated tier status can likely be matched to Wyndham and then to Caesars, thus providing some value to us gambling fans. Here are a couple of other cards to look into:

Marriott Bonvoy Cards

  • Point transfers are possible between Marriott and Identity, Cosmopolitan’s rewards program
  • No status match, but according to our good friend Bethany Walsh from Miles to Memories, “Marriott Elites do get certain benefits, such as priority check in, late check out, room upgrades”

Hilton Honors Cards

  • Hilton Aspire is the card du jour in the travel blogosphere, but it’s expensive at $450
  • Hilton Amex Surpass is cheaper at $95, offers Hilton Gold status which will tier match into Wyndham/Caesars Diamond, and allows for 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits a year
  • Las Vegas’ Elara is a Hilton hotel bookable with points

IHG Cards

  • Venetian/Palazzo in Las Vegas are bookable with points at a good value
  • Premier card is relatively inexpensive at $89 with a good sign-on bonus and Diamond tier match accessible

Of course, all of these cards have a myriad of other benefits and nuances that I haven’t covered. Always double check card terms and details before jumping in. Please share your thoughts, ideas, and corrections in the comments below. I’m confident I’m missing something and I’d love to know how you get value out of your gambling trips. It’s hard to get an edge in the casino, but hopefully a few ideas here will help you free up some cash to pad your bankroll.

The information herein should not be considered prescriptive financial advice. TFB receives no commission or compensation from any credit card issuer or affiliated companies. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone.

For information on how the churn and burn process can impact your credit score: Churn and Burn Credit Score Guide

About the author

Travel Fanboy

Adam is the host of the Travel Fanboy Podcast, editor of TravelFanboy.com, and a super famous travel influencer. He's no expert, just an enthusiast who enjoys having a top-shelf trip at a happy hour price. Formerly of Vegas Fanboy fame.