Las Vegas Parking Fees, When $10 Can Become a PR Nightmare

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This is a guest post from my dad, Grandpa Points. He and my mom are in their late-60’s, are (mostly) retired, DSCN4512and are ticking off “bucket list” destinations quicker than they ever thought possible thanks to miles, points, and travel deals. They have an intense love of this country, of its National Parks and treasures, and have no problem with a clean budget hotel room and an economy airline seat on a low-cost airline as long as it gets them where they want to be. A photographer by trade he often tells his story not just with his words, but with his images. Today he brings us a story from another one of their adventures…

I am not a complainer. I generally find joy and happiness quite easily and readily. I genuinely look at life from an optimistic angle and believe that my time on this planet has been blessed. Consequently, I do not often get annoyed as the good in my life so outweighs the less pleasant. That being established, I must confess that the recently initiated Las Vegas parking fees and the associated hassle  has significantly affected the fun and enjoyment of our recent visit to “Sin City”.

We have been to Vegas dozens of times over the past four decades. We have watched its ebb and flow, its growth and decline, its changes and transformations and its morphs and reinventions. We have watched as Vegas has gone from a mostly gambling centric mecca to more of an entertainment and sensory experience with gambling as just one of many outlets for your disposable income. With the decline in gambling revenue, came a simultaneous decline in the cheap food, cheap rooms and comped freebies that served as the mainstream incentives to get you into and to keep you near the casinos.

35 Years or Chasing Neon: Part One

35 Years of Chasing Neon: Las Vegas from the 1990’s to Now


First Resort Fees, Now Parking Fees

Shortly after the 2 for 1 buffets and 99 cent shrimp cocktails disappeared and the $19.99 rooms became just a mirage in the desert, there appeared on the Vegas radar a strange phenomenon, the RESORT FEE. I never thought it would be accepted by the masses under the ruse and pretenses that it was presented. I mean it is just a surcharge of $30 to $40 a day per room for which there really isn’t any added value for the consumer. Personally, I would prefer the fee just be included in the quoted room rate. That way, at least, the entire cost of the room could be paid for with points like the Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the silly game of virtual fees versus actual fees could be eliminated.

Following in the footsteps of the Resort Fee, is now the PARKING FEE. It ranges from about $10 to $20 a day depending on the resort and has already gone up several times since it was introduced. I know many will visit Las Vegas and never set foot in the parking garage, but that is not how we travel. We need a rental car in Vegas because while there we may ski a day in Utah, visit Zion, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Bodie, Bryce National Park, tour the Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, or just go downtown to eat at Main Street Station or to see what’s up with The Pawn Stars.

When $10 Takes a Toll on Vacation Fun

I obviously acknowledge that in the billion dollar world of The Las Vegas Strip, worrying about $10 or $15 per day does not seem to make much sense. But some seemingly small and insignificant fees come with such hoops and hurdles that the physical and mental expense becomes much greater in impact than the monetary element. Our experience on this trip with the parking fees and procedures was one of those occasions.

The whole process seemed to be inconvenient, problematic and unnecessary. It seemed almost as a punishment for staying, eating or playing at each particular property. We likely had 10 enter and exits in three different parking garages in our two days there. The first 9 had issues of some sort or other. It was stressful, discouraging and unpleasant. It was as though a cloud of parking garage blues was tinting and tainting our visit. We dreaded each in and out, hoping that there would be no car behind us that would get impatient and honk when the inevitable delay occurred.

It all started going downhill with our very first entry when slots for tickets, slots for credit cards and slots for room keys confused and obfuscated the process. Information was insufficient and our first “Press for Assistance” button was pushed.

A friendly voice came forth and offered help and in we went. Many signs greeted us as we walked into Harrah’s advising us to take our ticket with us and to be sure and pay before returning to the car. We took note and stopped on the way out to take care of the ticket.

The machine would not read the ticket or our room key card so the “Press for Assistance” button was again pushed. A friendly voice came on and told us the room key card would not register at the machine inside and to proceed to the garage exit. The garage exit could not read our key and “Press for Assistance” button was pushed for the third time. The now recognized friendly voice suggested that something was wrong with our key and that she would lift the gate. Aaaah, freedom!

Two other times we utilized the assist button before the process started to try and circumvent any potential problem. Both times a problem occurred anyway. Twice we spoke face to face with employees prior to action with the same hope that being proactive would bring us clear sailing. Wrong both times. On three of these occasions, we were advised that a “Press for Assistance” option was available if we ran into trouble. We got the impression that we were actually being warned for when a problem would occur.

Our final exit went well. Almost too well. It was as though a spy in the garage sky saw us coming and just threw the gate up as we got near. No ticket was presented and no key card was offered. Just an open gate. We got out while the gettin’ was good.

Our initial impression on paying to park in Vegas was not a positive one. The concept and implementation of the parking fee seems counterproductive to the basic tenets of the service industry, especially one that is playing the role of a compensated host. It is universally accepted and understood that vacations are to be refuges from stress and complications. Our reaction, our experience, was quite the opposite. It seems, to us, that the fee and the related processes are both very poor public relations and a sad way to make a few more bucks. Without passing judgment or making any assumptions, the car traffic in the parking garages seemed to be less than normal. I will not attempt to guess why.

We hope that our next visit does not find a seating fee at the restaurants with a plate and utensil user fee thrown in. Just sayin’.

Sorry for the rant. Our next offering to this site will be positive. Safe Travels!

Read on to learn about how to avoid some Las Vegas parking fees…though even that can’t save you from the parking fee implementation mishaps.

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Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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  1. Could not agree more with your comments. Unfortunately travel overall has become an unpleasant experience with so many rules, fees, expected tips, taxes, mandatory this, mandatory that. Seriously, I won’t leave my home to get stressed while spending money. Regarding Vegas, although I understand why many people like it, I don’t. I’ve been there twice in my life and it is the kind of place that if you pay me to go I may say NO. It is too artificial and fake to my taste.

    • Thanks for adding to the discussion. I am a big believer in simple and straightforward and also practical and logical. This experience did not fall into these categories. We do love the natural beauty found in so many magical destinations but also find Las Vegas to be a unique and exciting locale. I am often in awe at what unlimited resources and unrestricted imaginations can mutually achieve. Las Vegas is a classic example. Thanks so much for your comments and for your loyalty to this site.

  2. Seems like a fair and reasonable assessment. This is unfortunate. I never park in Vegas, but nevertheless I have dealt with this somewhat in Atlantic City (although not recently) and in hotels where the valet parking can be $35/day! I will be at Bellagio in 3 weeks and I’m sure those on the trip with me will not love the $35/day resort fee, which for most will be $105 for 3 days. I would think they would come up with a better system on the parking gates that actually work or give a pass that just works until you check out. At least for those of us going to different casino’s in Vegas, Uber has been a positive in reducing costs and avoiding taxi’s, which I always thought were very expensive for how outdated and poor condition the cars are in. Better luck next time, I hope this doesn’t discourage you too much from going back to Vegas, and I hope Vegas improves the parking experience!

    • We appreciate you taking the time to read the blog and also for offering us your insights and experiences. We will continue to frequent Vegas as it is both a good portal to some amazing places and is a one of a kind maze of color, electricity and energy. We may reevaluate some normal tendencies there, but we will be back. Good luck, in all aspects, on your upcoming visit. Thanks again.

  3. The last time I went to Vegas was in 2012. At one time I was a frequent visitor but the constant scams was too much for me. Got tired of arguing with cabbies who insisted on using the tunnel, etc.

    Can’t say I miss it. Prefer trips to Europe or local trips.

    • There are a lot of things that we like about Las Vegas. I hope we do not get to the point where the negatives outweigh the pluses. As per your comments though, there are certainly many, many other great travel and destination options available. Thanks for reading the blog and for offering your comments.

  4. Great post and so well-written. My aversion to these bogus fees is the primary reason I now avoid Vegas. It is a short-sighted money grab and I wonder how many visitors they are losing to this practice.

    • Thank you for the nice compliments. I hope visiting Vegas doesn’t become like going into a car dealership to buy a car. An experience everyone seems to dread because of the add-ons, package option upgrades and up selling you have to fight through. Thanks again!

  5. Yeah, last time in Vegas the traffic on a weekend was so bad that it took almost an hour to drive from one end of the strip to the other. The Cirque shows were tired and boring, the room costs were thru the roof, and ordinary dining cost more than a nice meal in Paris (France).

    No free drinks while gambling. Strangely, when we asked for the cocktail waitress, they didn’t tell us that, they just never called one over. Eventually we figured that no one was coming for our order.

    We haven’t even thought of going back since, and that was before the resort fees and parking fees. Don’t miss the overcrowded, over expensive, don’t care about you unless you are a ‘whale”, experience at all.

    Using our FF miles, we can stay in Paris or Berlin for far less money, and have a much better time. No Viva Las Vegas for us…

    • The “new” Vegas is certainly different than the “old” Vegas. I suspect that until the next economic downturn occurs, that the current attitude and business philosophy will continue. Thanks for adding to the discussion and we hope you always have safe and rewarding travels.

  6. Planet Hollywood still has free parking. I’m a local and parking fees discourage locals from visiting the Strip too. I think Excalibur may have free uncovered lot parking, but not sure. Also, you can park at Fashion Show Mall and get to the TI, Mirage, Wynn, Encore, Ventitian areas fairly easy. The Tuscany (a family owned and huge room hotel on Flamingo) has free parking with a short walk to center Strip. Best of luck.

    • Thanks for all the local tips about parking. The Fashion Show Mall is a good idea. If I were a “Strip” property, I would consider advertising upfront room fees with no parking or resort fees and see how so a move would affect foot traffic. I know this is not likely since all the hotels seem to be owned by a couple of conglomerates. Thanks again for the comments.

  7. As I found last time, the Tropicana still has free parking, so if you are going to NY NY, MGM, or Excalibur, just park at the Trop and walk over. I hate that if you want to visit multiple places in a day, you have to pay at each garage, one reason I now stay at the South Point, free parking, great rooms and nice people.

    • Thanks for the tip. The Tropicana should advertise this as a friendly throwback offering to entice the public to their property. It is almost akin to giving each car $10 to $15. We are thinking of maybe seeing Gary Puckett at South Point in November. Nice to hear such good things about it. Thanks again.

  8. We live in Vegas and stopped going to the hotels on the strip. We’d spend $100+ on dining and shopping each time but got turned off by the high parking fees just to take a stroll.

    Last time we went was to Caesars, went to H&M, bought a $9 belt, left within the hour and went to eat somewhere else. We still go to Fashion Show and Planet Hollywood, but that’s it unless we plan on staying for less than an hour which is okay with us. As for walking, you could easily spend 20 minutes walking each way, and that’s not very appealing especially in the heat.

    Before the fees, we’d spend a day hotel hopping and have a great time. Not any more. We do other things outside of the strip instead of spending $50 just for parking. Vegas is not what it used to be, and no one should move here thinking they’re going to have a blast on the strip unless they’re willing to pay for parking every time.

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