Yesterday I wrote a review of the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas, and a couple readers inquired as to my reservation strategy. MGM is partners with Hyatt and Southwest Airlines, and certain qualifying stays are eligible to earn extra points with each of these programs. I realized that almost no one discusses the Southwest relationship — at least not as frequently as they mention Hyatt. I’ll summarize the basics of both programs here.
What Counts as an Eligible Stay?
An eligible stay is one that you book directly with MGM or with one of these two partners. Note that an eligible stay can only earn points with Hyatt or Southwest, not both. If you book your stay through Hyatt or through Southwest directly, then it’s likely you will be earning with that program and not the other.
There’s no particular value to booking through Hyatt vs. all of the other MGM portals. I usually prefer to book directly with M life, and if you log into your account you’ll almost always find a 10% discount or greater, as well as other offers befitting your status. However, Southwest offers the chance to earn additional points if you book directly with them (see below).
It’s fine if you visit another site first and then link through to M life to complete your reservation. I used MyCheapVegas.com to find a great offer that included a food and beverage credit, but when I clicked on the link to book it redirected me to the official Monte Carlo reservations portal. Sites like this help you find and sort through the dozens of special offers, not all of which are well advertised. But you should be on an M life, MGM, or individual property website when you’re entering your credit card information.
Earn Hyatt Gold Passport Points with M life
In the early days of the MGM-Hyatt partnership, it was often difficult to explain the program to hotel employees. They might need to request assistance, and it was easiest to confirm that the Gold Passport number was included at check-out since that was the final “check the boxes” moment. Doing this ensures you’ll receive 5 Gold Passport points per dollar, as well as stay and night credit toward Gold Passport elite status.
These days I don’t worry so much. My Gold Passport number appears to have been linked to my M life profile, so as long as my M life number is on the reservation the Gold Passport detail is already on file. I just mention it when I check in, and the agent confirms everything is in order. However, first-time users of this benefit may need to stop by the M life service desk in the casino after they arrive to pick up their card. To expedite check-in, you might even go to the service desk before getting in line at the hotel. Or if your status is high enough, check-in at the VIP lounge instead.
I continue to think it’s the best hotel partnership in Las Vegas. I wouldn’t necessarily redeem my Gold Passport points to stay at a MGM hotel given there are so many other promotions. However, it has significantly influenced my behavior, and I almost exclusively look at MGM hotels when trying to choose a place to stay.
Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points with M life
I have very little familiarity with the Rapid Rewards partnership, but it appears to operate in much the same way as it does with Hyatt. You’ll need to book a qualifying stay and make sure your Southwest Rapid Rewards number is on the hotel reservation before you check out. Unlike Hyatt, however, a fixed number of points are awarded. You can get 600 points per stay, plus an additional 150 points if you book that stay through Southwest.com.
Because Rapid Rewards points have a cash value somewhere around 1.5 cents each, this isn’t a lot. Those 750 points will be worth about $11. In order to maximize the promotion, I recommend booking several individual stays even if you will have a longer trip. Be aware that this could cause some difficulty given the more strict check-in/check-out times at Las Vegas casinos.
Here are the terms and conditions for the partnership:
A qualifying stay is defined as one or more consecutive nights at an MGM Resorts destination regardless of check in/check out occurrences, booked on southwest.com®, Southwest Vacations®, MGM Resorts Vacations, MGM Resorts International, or M life direct channels where payment is made directly from the guest to MGM Resorts. Rapid Rewards Points not valid for group bookings, third party bookings, or complimentary offers. For Vacation Package bookings, 600 Rapid Rewards Points will be awarded per reservation. In the case of a multiple passenger reservation, the 600 Rapid Rewards Points will be awarded to the lead traveler. Please allow six to eight weeks after completion of stay for the Rapid Rewards Points to be credited to your account.
Earn M life Tier Credits
Even as you’re earning points with these other three programs, you can continue to earn M life tier credits. These can’t be redeemed for actual rewards but do contribute toward renewing your status next year. That may or may not be important if you already secured your M life status through a status match from Hyatt or Royal Caribbean.
I have explained the M life rewards program in much greater detail in another post. To summarize, you’ll earn 25 tier points per dollar spent on rooms, entertainment, meals, and other charges to your account. I always try to make everything a room charge for this reason.
- Pearl status: 25,000 tier credits
- Gold status: 75,000 tier credits
- Platinum status: 200,000 tier credits
Keep in mind that Gold and Platinum status can also be earned with a status match from Hyatt Gold Passport or Royal Caribbean. But at 25 tier points per dollar, even 75,000 credits can be earned by spending just $3,000. If you go to Vegas multiple times per year, or if you travel as a group and put everything on one account, this should not be difficult to achieve.