UPDATED January 6, 2022 to factor in new details from MGM’s press release about the program revamp. Late in the day an additional graphic with more specific information floating around was added to this article, but I have not been able to source it back to an MGM page, despite seeing many sources referencing information on the graphic.
More Mlife Rewards changes are coming. It was tipped off by an email they sent to everyone in late December 2021. The initial email seemed like a positive:
Players can earn tier credits for another month towards the 2021 cycle, so if you fell short of renewing or tiering up, you can get it done. That’s nice, of course, but the other shoe feels like it’s going to drop. In the email they also said:
“Please be on the lookout for the big announcement about our loyalty program in early January.”
So the real reason behind this is most likely that they’re about to make some changes around their rewards program, but they weren’t quite ready to roll it out.
I’d seen speculation in some circles that a rebranding is coming, and some knocking of Mlife for trying to make a rebrand sound exciting if nothing else is changing. For the most part that’s what happened with Caesars Rewards when it changed its name from Total Rewards – some changes and devaluations have happened, but the core structure hasn’t changed.
The First News: All The Bad in One Place
A friend tipped me off to a page that’s on their website with a number of changes listed. By themselves they seem like a massive devaluation of the Mlife tier program and major changes that I don’t think players will be happy with.
Here are some changes they’ve listed, and what that means based on the current program, and then I’ll talk about what came out afterwards:
Tier Credit earning rates change for eligible spend. Starting February 1, 2022 earn 4 Tier Credits per dollar spent on eligible spend, including: hotel accommodations, dining, and spa services.
In the program today, you earn 25 tier credits per dollar spent in Las Vegas, and 8 tier credits per dollar spent on everything else. If the tier credit milestones aren’t changing, that would be a massive devaluation of non-gambling spend, and impact a lot of players in the process.
Tier Credit earning rates will change when playing slots, video poker, and video lottery terminals. Starting February 1, 2022 earn Tier Credits playing slots, video poker, and video lottery terminals based on length of play, average bet, and game type.
With this, the obfuscation of how much you earn playing games is complete. As recently as a couple of years ago, you knew exactly how many dollars gambling per point, tier credit and express comps dollar you earned when playing slots and video poker. (Table games, by the nature of the diversity of them, was always opaque.)
However, in 2019 they made opaque how Express Comps dollars were earned. A few months ago they rolled out a similar change for points. Now, you won’t know what you’ll earn tier credit wise on a given game. You’ll know how many tier credits you have, and how many you need, but you simply won’t know what it’ll take to get there.
The biggest question: Will you still earn tier credits at a faster rate in Vegas vs. regional properties? Or like the hotel spend will that be normalized, making it harder for Vegas-heavy players to tier up? We don’t know.
Bonuses on Express Comps based on Tier Status earned playing slots will be discontinued but will be offered on a promotional basis. Pearl, Gold, Platinum and NOIR members will continue to receive a bonus on Points earned playing slots at the same rate as today.
Express Comp dollar earnings will no longer get a bonus percentage added to balances based on your tier, a further devaluing of the Express Comps earnings rate for higher level players. You will (for now, anyway) earn the bonus on points, which can be used for free play or more comps. But this means higher level players are taking another hit on comp dollars.
MGM Rewards members who generate high level amounts of table gaming activity may be subject to exclusion from earning further Express Comps upon notice from MGM management.
Sorry table players – you might lose out on Express Comps dollars for gambling too much. (Although did they get them at all before? I don’t believe they did.)
The Platinum Experience upon check-in at Las Vegas Resorts will be placed on hold. We will relaunch a new and improved Platinum Experience at a later date.
Sorry Platinum players – the Platinum Experience is going away, another devaluing of that tier. It’ll come back at some point, but we don’t know when.
Through our partnership with Hyatt hotels & resorts, MGM Rewards members who stay at participating Hyatt hotels may elect to earn MGM Rewards Tier Credits in lieu of World of Hyatt points for eligible spend. Starting February 1, 2022, MGM Rewards members will earn 4 Tier Credits for every eligible US dollar spent for stays at participating Hyatt hotels and resorts.
You can now earn tier credits in lieu of Hyatt points at that watered down four tier credits per dollar earnings ratio, by giving up your Hyatt Points which could be used for free rooms and such. I don’t think that’s a good trade, but some may disagree.
Then the Complete Release: More Balanced
After putting up that page with some of the more negative changes, the press release dropped on January 6, 2022 with the other changes. This followed a release of a PR page on their site with a few other changes noted. We may not know every single detail because of the way this information was distributed, but we know a lot more now.
First off, the name change is official: MGM Rewards will be the name. Other notes about the naming convention going forward:
- Express Comps will now be known as MGM Rewards Points. Table games players will now earn them, which helps clarify why there’s a note about capping table players.
- Points will now be known as Slot Dollars (or VLT Dollars for a couple of those non-slot locations). They’re only available for free play, except at Empire City where they’re only available for food and beverage (meaning more comp dollars). You no longer get a choice between comps and free play.
- For both of the above, existing balances will continue forward into the new program at the exact same value, and that means no worries about losing that value.
- The five tier levels of MGM Rewards retain their names/color schemes from the Mlife era. If you were Gold before, you will remain Gold now.
Now, for some of the other changes (and there are a lot):
- Tier credit goals remain the same, except for Pearl, which will now be 20,000 tier credits instead of 25,000, so it’s a bit easier to reach Pearl.
- The tier year remains the calendar year cycle they shifted to as of 2020, and the tier evaluation will take place on February 1. This matches Caesars.
- New cards with the new design/program name will therefore be available on February 1, when the 2022 tier evaluation takes place.
- Hotel and dining spend will also earn one MGM Rewards Points per dollar spend. This matches Caesars in that regard and effectively works out to a 1 percent rebate – certainly helpful.
- The fine print indicates it can take up to a week for MGM Rewards Points to post to your account when earned. This may be added because of the addition of table games and non-gaming spend to the buckets; I would presume slot play would show up instantly still given the infrastructure is already there.
- Pearl level players and above will have no expiration date on their MGM Rewards Points or Slot Dollars. It used to be a 12-month expiration for those tier levels. Sapphire, presumably, remains at six months. Caesars has a six month expiration for all tier levels.
- Pearl and above will qualify for complimentary show tickets. This was a big deal for Caesars Diamond and above players visiting Vegas, but that has been heavily scaled back during the pandemic, so this could really be a draw for Caesars players who loved that perk.
- Matching Caesars, resort fees will now be waived for Gold members and above. It remains to be seen whether players below Gold will get waived resort fees depending on the offer; it was previously offer dependent on whether you’d get waived resort fees.
- Gold players and above will qualify for Tier Appreciation Events, which sounds similar to Caesars Diamond and up events.
- Platinum players and above will now qualify for a Tier Advancement Travel Credit, which sounds similar to Caesars travel offerings for their higher tier players.
- Platinum players and above will also qualify for advanced suite upgrades for up to three nights; this on the surface sounds similar to a Marriott program suite upgrade opportunity when you hit their Platinum tier. If so, that’s an interesting perk that could be quite valuable.
- Platinum players and up also can have complimentary late checkout (4 p.m.) when available; this too comes from the playbook of hotel players like Marriott and is a really nice perk.
You may see me referencing Caesars a lot – they seem to be directly designing the program to compete head to head with Caesars, not surprising given they’re the strongest national competition they have. And since many of those perks did not exist within Mlife, this does constitute an improvement for players who successfully maintain those tiers.
But since details are coming mostly from press releases and online marketing pamphlets of a webpage, the details are still to come. When the program officially launches around February 1, I will do a full revamp of my rewards program overview going over the details of the MGM Rewards program as it will exist in 2022.
2nd Update: The graphic above has been floating around a number of forums that has specific information and additional perks not referenced in the press release or marketing page. I’ve seen multiple reputable sources citing information also listed here, but I have not specifically found this myself on an MGM page, so take that for what you will. This includes:
- Resort fees will actually be waived for up to two rooms (the two rooms detail wasn’t in the press release I reviewed)
- Complimentary room upgrades, when available, at check-in for Gold and up
- $100 as the tier achievement celebration dinner for Gold
- $200 as the tier achievement celebration dinner for Platinum
- $500 as the tier achievement celebration dinner for NOIR
- $600 as the air travel credit to Las Vegas once a year for qualifying Platinum members
- $1200 as the air travel credit to Las Vegas once a year for qualifying NOIR members
One of the biggest remaining question marks is how tier credit earning looks starting February 1. If they devalue Vegas to match the regional properties, that combined with the hotel cuts will likely make some of these new perks tough to appreciate if you can’t get there in the future.
Of course, many of these also have monetary value (resort fee waivers, celebration dinners, free show tickets, etc.), so it would also make sense that MGM has to see a certain amount of spend and/or action to justify giving them all away.
Those players in regional properties achieving Gold and Platinum will likely benefit the most, as they already had the hardest time achieving those tiers.
There are other benefits announced as well:
- Vegas players will see a 2x tier credit multiplier in February, March and April of 2022. (This raises further questions for me on what that means for tier credit earnings, but we’ll have to wait and see.)
- They list MGM Rewards Points as being able for redemption on rooms, spas, food and beverage and more. In the past you couldn’t use them for shopping except in places like Borgata; I would suspect that exclusion would continue.
- MGM Rewards and BetMGM will be linked, so spending on BetMGM will help you earn tier credits in MGM Rewards. They also indicate BetMGM spend could lead to offers at MGM Resorts properties.
- An enhanced app will be released as part of the rollout of the revised program.
If there was a time to do it, now’s the time, given how much Eldorado is changing things on the Caesars side already, and before all the new competition is fully up and running (San Manuel with Palms, Hard Rock with Mirage, whatever happens to that Caesars property slated to be sold, and potentially more to come).
MGM’s offers still tend to be among the more generous that I encounter when booking Vegas stays, and there could be other changes lurking in the new program that could be an improvement.
Outside of Vegas, they have regional properties in a number of markets, but the level of competitiveness simply depends on the property. Their offers have trounced other casino offers in some cases as well, especially where they need to draw the business, but in other cases, where they have market leadership, it’s been not so hot.
It started off looking like a heavy watering down of the program. The bigger release is more balanced. Their marketing department should really be ensuring that everyone’s in sync so things don’t drip out like this in a weird order, but on balance it looks much better than it did a week or two ago.