M Life – MGM Rewards Review

M Life is the loyalty rewards program for all MGM Resorts International casino properties. First introduced at MGM Grand Detroit in June 2010, this program was fully integrated to their US properties by January 2011. In Las Vegas, this includes Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THE Hotel, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur.

Far Beyond the Basics

Spend a day as a dolphin trainer. Cook side by side with a celebrity chef. Get married aboard the Titanic. M Life is certainly not your old-school rewards program. It still offers the basic room, food and entertainment comps that have been the staple of previous MGM loyalty programs, but the pampering is taken to entirely new levels with such innovations as “M Life Moments” and “Exclusive Tier Benefits.”

Upon joining M Life, each new member receives a unique ID number. This number allows the M Life system to keep a record of every action taken, from check-in at the front desk to meals ordered through room service, drinks at the lobby bar, slot machine play, tickets booked at shows, shopping for souvenirs, and much, much more.

As of mid-June 2011, only customer spending on the casino floor was being tracked, but nongaming spending is scheduled to be added to the system in September. That means MGM guests who are members of M Life will get credit for ever penny they spend, and that credit can be turned into a fabulous array of awards.

Getting Credit Where Credit Is Due

M Life members accumulate redeemable credits in four different ways. The first of these, PointPlay, provides casino Players Club points that can be turned into cash for additional play. Points are earned at a rate of at least one for every $2 of slot play or $10 of video poker action. As it currently stands, table games are not eligible for points.

FreePlay is the second form of credit—promotional cash that can be used on members’ favorite games. It may be awarded as incentives for reaching certain milestones, such as attaining a new tier of membership, or as gifts on special occasions, such as birthdays or anniversaries.

Third are the Express Comps, which are earned at a rate of two cents for every casino Players Club point earned. These cash-denominated comps are also awarded for table games activity, based upon the average amount wagered and the length of time played. They can be used to pay for rooms, meals and shows, along with other services offered by each property, such as spa treatments and nightclubbing. And for member convenience, Express Comps can be redeemed at M Life Express Kiosks, the M Life Players Club or online at mlife.com.

Holiday Gift Shoppe (HGS) Points are the fourth form of redeemable credit, and they accrue automatically in conjunction with spending and casino play throughout the year. Points earned between January 1st and December 11th can be exchanged at year end for jewelry, electronics, home and sporting goods, gift cards, additional FreePlay, and more.

Enjoying M Life Moments

One of the truly unique aspects of M Life is its menu of memory-making events that members can choose from called “M Life Moments.” From the countless experiences available at MGM Resorts International, a list of unique activities has been compiled, all of which are available by redeeming M Life credits.

For example, there are behind-the-scenes tours of Cirque du Soleil productions, dancing lessons with the world-renowned Jabbawockeez, and swimming with sharks in a 1.3 million gallon, 22-foot-deep Shipwreck Exhibit. VIP concert seating, cooking instruction from renowned chefs, private parties and sports viewing events, the chance to be the DJ at a hot Las Vegas club… these are just a few of the many experiences on offer exclusively to M Life members.

According to Bill Hornbuckle, who oversees the M Life program as MGM chief marketing officer, “People won’t be redeeming points for toasters. Loyalty programs that work involve emotion.” By creating unforgettable opportunities, from beachside casino parties to compiling the play list for the Bellagio fountains, M Life gets to the heart of what matters deeply to its members—truly personal once-in-a-lifetime Moments.

Getting Exclusive Tier Benefits

Although the benefits of membership in M Life are open to all who join, the very top privileges are reserved for those who are most loyal to the program and make the most of the system. All members start out at the Sapphire level and have the opportunity to rise through higher and higher tiers—from Pearl to Gold and eventually Platinum.

One of the key perks of the higher tier levels is that casino Players Club points and Express Comps accrue much faster thanks to accelerated “Bonus Points.” Another important aspect is that the number of credits required for obtaining free rooms, meals, show tickets and M Life Moments may be discounted by tier, thereby providing even greater access to program benefits at the higher levels. Other benefits include priority check-in/out, room upgrades, line passes and retail shopping discounts. Top-tier members may be assigned casino hosts to assist them, too.

Currently each member’s tier level is determined by the total number of “Tier Credits” accumulated in conjunction with slot and table play and valid for one year from the time they are earned. On reel and video slot machines, members receive 10 Tier Credits for every $2 of coin-in. For video poker and specialty games, the rate is 10 Tier Credits for every $10 of coin-in.

Promotion to the Pearl level requires 25,000 Tier Credits, while Gold starts at 75,000 Tier Credits and Platinum at 200,000. As the M Life program continues to evolve, nongaming spending will also be taken into account, providing new opportunities to earn additional benefits at restaurants and shops.

The Couples Advantage at M Life

As is the case with most loyalty programs, the benefits of M Life are non-transferable. That includes M Life accounts, points, FreePlay, complimentaries (“comps”), Express Comps, tier credits, and all other membership benefits. Furthermore, an M Life member’s card or ID number may not be used by another player to accrue points, comps or credits.

However, M Life recognizes that couples make up a huge portion of the clientele at MGM Resorts, so the system has added a new wrinkle just for twosomes. The rules allow up to two eligible M Life members residing at the same address to link accounts and share M Life benefits. That means a potential doubling of opportunities for many members, who would otherwise have to participate alone.

Participating MGM Resorts

The M Life program is universally integrated at all of the major MGM properties. A single membership ID is all that’s required to gain and use credits at 15 different resorts including their flagship MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip and its upscale expansion, The Signature at MGM Grand. It also covers two of the hottest newest venues in town—the twin-towered Aria Resort & Casino and the all-suite Vdara Hotel & Spa—both located at CityCenter.

Among the other eleven participants are some of the world’s other favorite holiday destinations on Las Vegas Boulevard—the Bellagio, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor and Excalibur. The Mandalay Bay is also included, along with its luxurious high-rise companion, THE Hotel.

Beyond the Las Vegas Strip, there are two premier locations for M Life members in Mississippi—the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi with its beautiful Fallen Oak Golf Course and the lavish Gold Strike Casino Resort in Tunica. Michigan also has an M Life-linked property, the MGM Grand Detroit which was the first to introduce the program back on June 15, 2010.

Closing “M Life” Thoughts

When first reading the press we were skeptical of this program. The mention of tier score, and the VIP levels sounded a lot like Total Rewards by Caesars Entertainment, and PointPlay sounded a lot like Boyd’s B-Connected Program. It seemed almost too busy at first, considering some points are going to machine credits, others to comps, others to tier score, it was quite complex to make out. After reviewing in more detail, it started to make a lot more sense. What MGM did was take all the best features of their competitors, make them better, and add this together with their own unique innovations to create the ultimate casino loyalty program.

The only area of concern, and this most certainly doesn’t affect many of our readers, is… the program is not local friendly enough. With casinos popping up all over the country, less people travel to Las Vegas each year, which is where MGM is heavily based. If you’re a gambler who someday dreams about living in Las Vegas, and believes this might someday be a reality, consider Stations or Boyd Casino for your comp play focus. For everyone else we at Casino Loyalty Programs most certainly give “M Life” the nod, with only one competitor worth considering, Total Rewards by Caesars Entertainment.