A reader of the site recently asked me my opinion on the value of redeeming comps when an avenue or venue (such as certain restaurants) only let you redeem at a 2:1 value. Certainly this means you’re not getting the best comp redemption value, but should one do it?
As always, it depends, but I think you have to think about a couple of factors.
One is whether the casino or chain of casinos the comps you’re earning will expire before you can return. If they will, use them however it makes sense to you. If you can’t eat enough food to burn through your comps, maybe a 2:1 free play redemption makes sense. If you’re at an Mlife Rewards property where many of the retail establishments don’t let you use Express Comps to redeem them, perhaps a 2:1 conversion at a restaurant is alright.
Another factor is whether you’re simply earning them faster than you can exhaust them – this can make the decision quite easy for you.
I personally have not seen my Express Comps balance reach 0 at Mlife for the past few years; meanwhile, I feel like I can never earn enough Rewards Credits at Caesars. (This is probably because Mlife tends to be more generous, especially on the East Coast, but that’s another conversation.)
Comp dollars are guaranteed payback, but the trick is to use them strategically to minimize non-gambling costs to make it easier to budget. For instance, I tend to save my Express Comps earned at MGM Springfield for my longer Las Vegas trips, so I don’t feel pressured to scrimp on food while I’m out there.
I can get to MGM Springfield quickly enough that normally I don’t have to plan to eat there; that said, even if I do, a given trip has usually yielded enough comp dollars to cover a bite to eat. When I play at Borgata, I have access to Buffet and Amphora Lounge perks that keep spending of the Express Comps to a limited amount.
Could I upgrade to more expensive restaurants? Sure. But if I don’t? I might as well use the comps however they can get used.
So I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea with the comps being used at a 2:1 ratio in lieu of them going to waste, or if they help you knock out non-gambling costs. That said, I also think to the future, and so if I know another trip can make such comps valuable to have around, I’ll keep them for the next trip too. It really is just about your visit patterns, what you use the comps for, and how much you need to be happy.