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Spend Your Way Into Vegas

By Jeff Hwang - Updated Feb 14, 2017 at 5:18PM

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Can you make money off of affinity credit cards on the Strip?

Affinity credit cards are all the rage these days. eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) PayPal has a card, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has a card, and The Motley Fool even has one. Nowadays, a spender can do such things as use an American Express (NYSE:AXP) credit card and earn Delta SkyMiles.

So it only makes sense that you can spend your way into Vegas.

This morning, MGM Mirage (NYSE:MGG) and Bank One announced the launch of the new MGM Mirage Rewards Visa Card. Basically, you get a point for every dollar you spend with it, and two points for every dollar you spend with it at any of seven participating MGM Mirage properties, including Bellagio, The Mirage, and MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip. And every time you accumulate 2,500 points, you get a $25 rewards certificate that you can use toward a hotel room, a meal at a restaurant, or another non-casino amenity at any of those seven properties.

That's not a bad deal, and it should only get more appealing once MGM's merger with Mandalay Resort Group (NYSE:MBG) is complete, at which point the combined entity will pretty much dominate the destination resort market in Las Vegas. Add in the rewards from using MGM Mirage's players card, and the big spender would have free access to a wide variety of options up and down the Strip.

The affinity credit card is yet another in a long line of tactics casino operators use to keep their customers' dollars to themselves and away from their competitors. Strip rival Caesars Entertainment (NYSE:CZR) recently launched its own program, and Harrah's Entertainment (NYSE:HET) -- the industry's information technology leader and pioneer of the players card -- began its affinity credit card program in 2001.

So which one to choose?

Well, if you have an eye toward the premium resorts on the Vegas Strip, MGM Mirage's card is the clear choice. Ditto if you frequently gamble at MGM Mirage's properties in either Detroit or Biloxi, Miss., both of which will participate in the program.

But if you're a low-to-mid-stakes gambler in a locals market (where patrons tend to visit several times a month) and Harrah's is your preferred hangout, then going for Harrah's card makes sense. Harrah's credit card rewards are directly linked to its Total Rewards players cards, so it all adds up -- plus it will also get you to a Harrah's property in Vegas. That should work out pretty well, so long as you weren't dead-set on staying at a high-end resort such as The Venetian next door, Mandalay Bay, or Bellagio.

Don't gamble with your credit -- check out The Motley Fool's Credit Center. For more on The Motley Fool Visa Credit Card, click here.

Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of eBay, Starbucks, and American Express.

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