10 Biggest Vegas Tourist Traps

Las Vegas Strip Sunset View
Las Vegas casino resorts earn approximately $70 million in revenue every day. This amount doesn’t even account for all the revenue that’s earned away from the resorts.

That being said, Vegas knows how to take your money. This town has spent years honing all the angles that they use to get in your pocket.

Luckily, you don’t need to be like other tourists and willingly open your pockets to Sin City. You’ll save lots of money just by knowing the various Vegas tourist traps.

That said, I’m going to cover 10 common traps in Las Vegas. These ruses could leave you broke, sick, or even in jail!

1 – Long Hauling

Las Vegas cabbies have become infamous for “long hauling.” This term refers to when cab drivers take you on unnecessarily long routes so they can extract more money from you.

They’ve been successfully working this scam on unsuspecting tourists for years. Their most-common route involves picking tourists up from McCarran Airport and using the tunnel.

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The tunnel route goes down the 215 Beltway and north on Interstate 15 before finally ending up at a Vegas Strip resort. In actuality, they should be taking you north on Swenson Street and using service roads.

You’ll pay between $5 and $10 for this long haul. But you can avoid doing so by telling your cabbie to avoid the tunnel.

Another option is to simply call an Uber. Most Uber drivers don’t pull this scam, because they know that you can use an app to see the route.

If you look hard enough, there are some cheap ways to get around Vegas.

2 – Buying Bottled Water on the Street

Las Vegas may be 2,500 miles from the equator. But with summer temperatures reaching up to 110 degrees, it can still feel like the hottest place on earth.

Sin City only feels worse when you don’t dress for the weather. That said, you may find yourself desperate for water.

Water Bottles, Dollar Bill

Many street vendors sell water throughout the city. You might think that it’s your lucky day when stumbling upon one of these vendors.

However, you should think twice about buying from them. These water hawkers don’t have a license or any commitment to proper safety.

For all you know, you’re buying a reused bottle with somebody’s tap water in it. You might not notice the difference when you’re chugging the water on a 100-degree day, but you will later if it’s contaminated.

3 – Resort & Service Fees

The price you see isn’t always the price you pay. Vegas Strip resorts are especially notorious for tacking on extra fees at checkout.

You may think that your hotel room costs $200. However, the added resort and service fees can push the cost to $250.

Vegas casinos see things like this: your hotel room cost is just for your room. You need to pay extra for having access to the gym, pool, and other amenities.

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What if you don’t use the pool or gym? It doesn’t matter. The biggest and most-popular resorts still charge you.

These fees are found elsewhere throughout Vegas too. Restaurants and bars may charge a “franchise fee.” Yes, you’re expected to help pay for their franchise licenses for whatever reason.

You have two options when it comes to extra Vegas charges:

  • Know about and prepare for them in advance.
  • Look for places that don’t tack on additional fees.

4 – Fast Food on the Vegas Strip

Assuming you’re not a food aficionado, then you’ll have little interest in dining at Joël Robuchon or Gordon Ramsey Steak. Instead, you might view food as one area where you can save money in Vegas.

Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s are comforting sights in this case. You may visit the counter with visions of paying the same $3.99 for a Big Mac that you pay in Omaha, Nebraska.

Burger, Fries, Soda, Fast Food

However, rent and properties taxes aren’t cheap on the Strip. These fast-food joints jack up their prices just like every other business on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Unless you’re truly craving a Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Double, then you should skip the fast food. Vegas has numerous cafes and buffets that are similarly priced and offer new experiences beyond Wendy’s.

5 – Elvis Posing for Pictures

The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign is one of the most-iconic images you can take when you visit Las Vegas. You can’t go wrong by visiting this landmark and getting a picture or two.

You’ll even find costumed performers, such as Big Bird and Elvis, and photographers who are willing to assist you. But these people aren’t looking to make your experience more memorable for goodwill purposes.

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Big Bird and Elvis fully expect a tip if they pose with you. The photographers, meanwhile, will charge you quite a bit for a photo.

You may still opt to get a photo with Elvis. However, you should definitely avoid the photographer and use your own your smartphone.

6 – Airport Slot Machines

McCarran International is one of the few airports that offer slot machines. It by far features the widest selection of airport slots.

You may turn your nose up at these games after touching down. After all, Las Vegas is full of more-entertaining gambling environments.

Las Vegas McCarran Airport, Slot Machines in Airport

However, you might also see airport slot machines as your last chance to break even before leaving. The airport and their gaming suppliers know this.

These slot machines feature lower average payout percentages than anywhere else in the city. Bellagio slots beat the airport, the Excalibur casino slots beat the airport, Ma’s truck stop slots beat the airport…you get the picture.

If you’re going to blow your last bit of money before leaving Vegas, then you should spend on souvenirs and not games with a paltry 86% RTP.

7 – Street Gambling

You can gamble pretty much anywhere in Las Vegas—even the street. However, you should definitely avoid gambling with unlicensed entities.

Some people set up shop and offer a “shell game.” These same people may even use a street performance to lure you towards their game.

You can enjoy their performances, but you should never let yourself get sucked into their con. They’ll just cheat you out of money.

The shells (often plastic cups) cover one item. You’re supposed to guess which cup contains the item. However, the dealer will swap out one item for another under the table if you guess right.

8 – Street Salesman

Well over 100,000 people walk up and down the Vegas Strip on a daily basis. This large amount of people makes Las Vegas Boulevard a perfect place for salesmen.

Aside from those selling bottled water, vendors also hawk show tickets, drink tickets, buffet passes, food, and more. Some of these offers are legitimate while others aren’t.

Crowd at Club, People Dancing, Two Drink Tickets

For example, you might come across fake nightclub promoters. They sell club “passes” that supposedly help you avoid lines and get in right away.

But real promotors don’t sell passes. Instead, they earn commissions for every person they get to the nightclub.

9 – Not Dressing for the Weather

Again, Las Vegas can be an extremely hot place during the day. It can just as easily be a cold place during the desert night.

Depending upon the season, you should be prepared for both extremes. You want to pack a jacket when visiting during the fall and winter just in case the weather turns chilly at night.

Meanwhile, you don’t want to wear long sleeves and/or jeans during the daytime. You’ll really be feeling the heat if you do any walking at all.

On another note, you want to dress comfortably before walking down the Strip, Fremont Street, or anywhere else. Dress shoes and high heels are killer by the end of a long day.

10 – The Mini Fridge

You should be careful about the costs associated with hotel mini fridges in general. However, you especially need to be mindful of this in Las Vegas.

Remember, everything costs more here. The tiny liquor bottle might look cute and convenient, but it’s also going to cost as much as a full-sized bottle.

Mini Fridge Stocked with Beverages

You shouldn’t even touch anything inside. These mini fridges have sensors that determine when items are moved.

You could be charged for something that you don’t actually consume. That said, you’re better off not even opening the fridge at all.

Conclusion

Las Vegas doesn’t feature your usual tourist traps. You must worry about far more than just overpriced gift shops and ice cream parlors.

Sin City features shady salesman, crooked cabbies, opportunistic Elvis impersonators, and overpriced fast-food joints. Fortunately, you can avoid many of the city’s expensive trappings just by knowing what to look for.

For instance, you should always check your bills at restaurants and hotels. Many of these establishments tack on extra fees that are totally unnecessary. You might not be able to talk your way out of the fees, but you can at least avoid visiting again.

You should just look straight ahead when dealing with strangers on the streets. No good comes out of buying show tickets or water from a Vegas rando.

You may still find yourself spending big in Vegas even when avoiding all the tourist traps. But you’ll at least be spending on what you enjoy rather than overpaying for misleading items and services.