Even though our website focuses almost solely on real money online blackjack, we realize that sometimes our readers simply want to get out of cyberspace for a few days and hit some classy brick and mortar gaming establishments. Since we’ve received numerous questions about the Total Rewards program that is available through Caesars Entertainment, we decided that it was time to do a little bit of investigative work to make sure that it was the best option for our VIP’s. Here’s what we discovered-
Total Rewards is the most popular casino loyalty program in North America. In Las Vegas this is the exclusive comp card scheme for Caesars Palace, Rio Suites, Planet Hollywood, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Flamingo, Imperial Palace and Paris. There are also 30 additional Total Rewards properties located outside of Las Vegas including multiple properties in Atlantic City, Lake Tahoe, Biloxi, Tunica, and New Orleans. The amazing thing… you can gamble at any Total Rewards’ casino and earn comps valid at the other thirty-seven properties. In this article I’ll run you through their program, cover advantages, touch on the disadvantageous and then conclude with expert tips.
Earning Comp Points
Caesars Entertainment, the company behind Total Rewards, refers to comp points as “instant rewards”, but considering comp points is the industry standard term, that’s how I’ll refer to them in this article. In case you’re not familiar with these, comp points are earned as you wager in a casino and are then stored on your rewards card which looks similar to a credit card. With Total Rewards each comp point is worth one-cent. The three ways to earn comp points are gaming, non gaming purchases, and Total Rewards credit card purchases; the specifics of each are covered below.
Gaming Comp Points
- Slot Machines –every $5 of coin-in earns one comp point.
- Video Poker –every $10 of coin-in earns one comp point.
- Table Games – comp points are awarded based on length of play, average stake and specific game.
Non Gaming Comp Points
When purchasing anything at a Total Rewards property be it a hotel room, room service, or a pack of smokes in the gift shop, present your card and say “I want to earn points for this purchase”. Doing this will earn you one comp point for each dollar spent.
Total Rewards Visa Comp Points
You can apply for a Total Rewards Visa card via this link
If approved you’ll get 2,500 comp points after making your first purchase. This card works just like any other Visa and has a 0% APR, 12-month introductory rate. No matter where you use it, you’ll earn one comp point per dollar spent. Again, this purchase doesn’t have to involve Total Rewards’ casinos; use it to purchase gas, or pay your cell phone bill or whatever else and you’ll earn one comp point per dollar. When you do use it at a Total Rewards property you’ll earn additional bonus points; this is all explained on the application page linked above.
Spending Comp Points
The comp points you have on your card can be spent at any Total Rewards property in lieu of cash. You can use points to pay your hotel bill at check out, use them in the restaurant, or at the gift shop; the only place you can’t use them is to purchase chips or machine credits. You can also order products online via the Total Rewards store or even redeem points for a luxury Las Vegas vacation package that includes limo service. Generally speaking though, you’ll get the best value using points in lieu of cash for your on property purchases.
While comp point are the core of Total Rewards, comp points barely cover the tip of the iceberg of what this program offers; players are loyal to this program for value on the backend such as room comps. To cover this first, I’ll first need to explain the progressive levels of their VIP program.
Total Rewards VIP Levels
As you earn comp points at Caesars Entertainment Properties you also earn tier credits. For slots, and video poker you’ll earn tier credits at the same rate as comp points. For table games tier credits are also based on average stake, length of time per table, and type of game played, but the formulas are unique… sometimes you might earn more tier points than comp points, and other times vice versa; the margins can be considerable (see expert tips section covered later). For non gaming purchases (must present your card) one tier credit is earned for each one dollar spent. As you compile tier score earnings you’ll advance through the VIP reward levels.
- Gold Level VIP – This is the level all Total Reward members start out at. The benefits include comps (such as free and discount hotel rooms) based on play, a 10% discount in most of their casino gift shops, discounts for Norwegian Cruise Line bookings, and the ability to exchange points for a gift card (basically allowing you to give comp points to a friend). As a Gold VIP you can access special offers via their website at www.totalrewards.com.
- Platinum VIP – Once you earn 4,000 tier score points in a calendar year, you can exchange your Gold Card for a Platinum Card valid until March 31 the following year. Almost always come April 1 they’ll extend VIPs another full year as well; so basically, once you hit this level you can keep it for a considerable period of time without much need to maintain. The benefits of Platinum over Gold include a special birthday offer (this is generally a free room with dinning credit), Free tournament entry with 2 free nights stay in Las Vegas for both Summer Fest and Winter Fest (these are both high value freerolls; you can often select either a slots tournament, poker tournaments, or other type of tournament and all entrants get free gifts and chances at large cash prices), 500 free comp points AND buy one get one free show tickets each month.
- Diamond VIP – One you earn 11,000 tier score credits in a calendar year you can trade your Platinum card in for a Diamond card. The benefits are an extra nights hotel stay at Summer and Winter Fest, front of the line access to hotel check-in, taxi-stands and restaurants (most having special Diamond only seating area). You also gain access to Diamond member lounges where free food and drinks are available, plus get 2 free show tickets each month, and other special perks. As a diamond VIP you’ll be treated as a king.
Anyone earning over 100,000 tier score in a calendar year may find themselves invited to the Seven Star rewards program which earns them all sorts of perks such as $500 dinners, immediate anytime on demand complimentary suites, golf course access, use of the casinos limo, selection of designer gifts annually and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
As a Total Rewards VIP you can expect to be rewarded. Using their website www.totalrewards.com you can log in with your card number and pin and access exclusive offers such as free hotel stays, discounted hotel stays, free cash offers etc. Also different properties have their own unique promotions for VIPs. Several times per year most properties offer reward multiplier days. For these a Platinum VIP might earn triple comp points for the day and a Diamond VIP 5x the standard number of comp points.
Caesars Entertainment is also well known for offering Diamond VIPs a shopping spree in Las Vegas just before Christmas. This is completely free, and does not require comp points. They arrange a huge show in their convention center that sees around 100 of the top retailers and manufactures show up with products available for purchase. Each member is given a gift card of a different denomination to go shop. I remember just a lower tier Diamond I had $538 available to spend when invited to this event in December 2008. They also gave me five nights free hotel stay and free entry to a $25,000 poker tournament on top of the shopping spree.
Also Diamond (and sometimes Platinum) VIPs are on occasion emailed some shocking value. Caesars (then Harrah’s) Entertainment once sponsored an MLB playoff game and gave Diamond VIPs access to presale sale passwords that allowed them to lock in tickets at face value. I also once got free tickets to a boxing match that was long sold out. While these are all perks for frequent gamblers, don’t be intimidated if you’re only a small time occasional gambler; they value your business as well and are still likely to comp occasional mid-week stays, or provide healthy discounts to keep your business.
Advantages of Total Rewards
One of the most promising aspects of the Total Rewards program is that it recognizes high rollers immediately, meaning that the rulebook goes out the door if a pit boss sees you betting heavy. Instant comps are readily available under this program and can include free hotel rooms/upgrades, show tickets, tournament entries, store purchases, and just about anything else a gambler could think of.
Loyalty points are calculated separately from tier points, and these can be used for just about anything available at a participating casino. Use them to pay for your room, for meals on the premises, purchases inside the boutiques, or even for casino chips. Total Rewards is very flexible in this aspect, which makes is an excellent overall program.
While the Gold and Platinum levels have little to brag about when compared to other loyalty programs, the incentives begin to really shine at the Diamond and Seven Stars tiers. Members receive perks such as free hotel stays for life, a number of annual gifts from the Total Rewards catalog, tournament entries, and a number of other comps.
Disadvantages of Total Rewards
Caesars Entertainment owned casinos are notorious when it comes to their odds. To give some examples: for field bets in craps they short-pay the bookend pairs, many blackjack tables are 6:5, the video poker odds shorted, and slots seem a little tight. If you know what to look for you can still find full pay blackjack and favorable video poker, and of course their baccarat, roulette, let it ride, three card poker and pai gow poker odds are as good as, or better, than anywhere else. You just need to be advised there are more “paying less because tourists don’t notice” type of games spread out at Caesars owned casinos than you’ll find elsewhere.
The other disadvantage… the comp card programs of most Las Vegas casinos allow members to exchange their points for video poker and slots play credits; with Total Rewards this is not an option. The players this affects most are video poker players, who already have to deal with short pays on top. If you’re a fan of video poker, consider staying just off the strip at The Orleans which is not a Total Rewards property, but rather part of Boyd’s B-Connected and offers great video poker odds.
Another negative about this program is that all tier points are based on a calendar year. That means that if you wager $5,000 in the month of December and $6,000 in January and February, you would not be invited into the Diamond level of the program without a pit boss override.
The final disadvantage, although also the case at most leading casinos… comp points expire after 6 months of inactivity. If you visit a casino and are sure you won’t be back within 6 months, be sure to spend your comp points before you go. If you want keep your comp points, you need to earn just one comp point to trigger a new 6 month expiration date. If you’re a Total Rewards Visa holder this is easy, just make any purchase one dollar or greater using your card.
Total Rewards Visa Card
There is an easy workaround to these rules, however, and it actually makes earning the Diamond or the Seven Stars level rewards much easier. Customers can also acquire a Total Rewards Visa and link it to their personal account;
it earns 1 loyalty/tier point for each dollar spent and it ensures that loyalty points will never expire Update February 2012: Thanks to ILoveVegas1119 from TipAdvisor, pointing out that our information was in-correct. Although it was correct at the time of writing, it appears that tier points are not earned with the current credit scheme . Here is the official quote from the updated Terms and Conditions:
“Reward Credits earned through the purchases made with the credit card will not be added to your Tier Score.”
Those that are financially able often just “purchase” their entry into Seven Stars since it includes free suites for the life of the member (with 48 hours notice).
Expert Total Rewards Tips
Rather than flood this section with a bullet type list, or cover tons of common sense information let me instead debunk one the greatest myths about the Total Rewards program. You’ll hear this on the tables, and also read it on forums… “Caesars (Harrah’s) doesn’t care about table game players”. This is false, the players they don’t care about are the ones who jump table to table and ultimately don’t gamble much. There are a few reasons for this, but for starters: it’s hard for a floor supervisor to get a good idea of how much someone gambled during a 10 minute or even one hour session. For this reason their proprietary equation that awards comp points and tier score point for table game play uses time as a MAJOR factor.
To explain let’s look at how the casinos award points for table game play. First off each specific game has its own hourly advantage rate which we’ll call X. Figure X is based on how many hands, rolls, spins or whatever are played on average per hour, and what the casinos house edge is for that game. So let’s say the casino has determined that if you’re betting $1.00 per hand on average, over one hour they expect to average $1.15 profit, well then here X is $1.15. The other factors are time spent on the table, which we’ll call T, and average bet size which we’ll call A. Their starting equation is: (A*X)*T
Let’s say we’re betting $35 per hand (A) and sat for 1.50 hours (T) and we’ve already determined for them X is $1.15. Here we plug in (35*1.15*)*1.5 = $60.38. This is how the casino expects to make as a result of you sitting at the table. However this is just estimate. If you buy in for $2,000 at a table, bet $350 and as soon as the floor supervisor walks away start betting $45.00 per hand. You can probably get away with earning near eight times the comp rate you should be earning for say 10, 20 or maybe even 30 minutes. Casinos don’t like that risk, plus they’re also in the business of rewarding the most loyal players first. So what happens here is something like this.
- 1 hour of play = 2% payback in comps
- 2 hours of play = 3% payback in comps
- 3 hours of play = 4% payback in comps
- 4 hours of play = 8% payback in comps
- 6 hours of play = 11% payback in comps
- 8 hours of play = 16% payback in comps
As a reminder we just calculated 1.5 hours earned the casino an expected $60.38. If you were getting 2% payback in comps that’s $1.21, if you did this 4 times (each time its own session) you’ll have played 6 hours and earned $4.84 in comps. However if you played those 6 hours all at the same time you’d earn $26.57 in comps. Now for disclaimer purposes, these numbers are ones I made up. I’m simply illustrating the key to earning comp points at table games is to play longer hours.
While I did make up the numbers, the considerable jump at the 4 hour and 8 hour marks are legit; this is a proven fact advantage players have been open to share. To get a good comp point rate at Total Rewards’ table games, sitting at the same table (bathroom breaks okay so long as leave chips on the table) for four will help you accomplish this. For diehard gamblers, sitting 8 hours or more will give you an even larger payback. Understanding this and adjusting appropriately will earn you a great deal of comps.
Another area to comment on is tier score. As you start gambling table games, you might soon realize you tier score earning and comp point earnings rarely seem to correlate. If you play different stakes, or even visit multiple Total Rewards casinos on the same day this will be even more the case. This is because for tier score the average stake is an extremely important factor. You tier score is updated every 24 hours. I won’t go into the specifics because it’s more complex than most would want to read but will say this. If you’re betting $200.00 per hand for 4 hours at Pai Gow, then are bored and decide to kill some time betting $5.00 per hand blackjack, you’ll actually be lowering your tier score earnings instead of improving them, for the day. Yes you’ll get more comp points because each session is separate for those, but their tier score merges all table game sessions together and uses average stake. The tip: if you’re concerned with backend comps (such as complimentary suites) and tier score, don’t give you card when just messing around well below your usual stakes.
The final tip… make sure Total Rewards is the right program for you before getting too deeply concerned with tier score accumulation. If you’re local to Las Vegas you might consider one of the smaller local friendly casinos as tourist strip fascination wears off in time. For most, Total Rewards is the best casino loyalty program, although recently M Life by MGM has become a serious competitor worth considering.
Total Rewards- Conclusion
Even though Caesars Entertainment tried to create a four-tier reward system that would appeal to everyone, it definitely came up short for the average player. Besides a weekend tournament invite, Platinum members really have nothing to look forward to in terms of perks except for the occasional freebie or meal comp.
On the other hand, heavy betting over a short period of time can influence reward levels just like in previous gaming eras or status can simply be purchased outside of Caesars completely with the Visa card offer. The average person could easily qualify for Diamond status just by paying off their monthly expenses with the Total Rewards credit card, which makes the only exclusive group the Seven Stars.
Overall, the Seven Stars rewards are excellent when compared with the rest of the industry but Diamond and the other tiers are somewhat lacking. High rollers should definitely make it a point to speak to a Caesars representative before wagering so they are guaranteed entry into Seven Stars program immediately after their first visit.
That’s all I have left to say about Total Rewards by Caesars Entertainment, so I’ll conclude by saying, I wish you the great luck during your next Las Vegas trip.