Las Vegas Stories and Tips

Redeeming a Casablanca Express Travel Certificate

Casablanca Express issues certificates for free travel. They are basically a travel agency that sells vacation certificates to a company, who then in turn gives them away as prizes. Typically, you receive a certificate as a prize for attending a timeshare presentation, but I received one for test driving a car as well. These certificates are a good sell for Casablanca because companies buy them in bulk. The companies save money on the giveaways since Casablanca cuts them a good deal. Why does Casablanca make money off this? After all, they are giving away FREE travel. The secret is that most people who win these prizes never redeem them. The instructions are long. The rules are somewhat confusing. It’s too much trouble. Casablanca doesn’t lose money because the companies already paid for the certificates. Each certificate that is never redeemed is money in the bank for Casablanca Express.

Here’s my guide to redeeming these certificates. You are allowed to choose three different dates. Travel is off-peak, generally starting Sunday - Wednesday. Trips usually last 3-5 days. The first date must be 60 days or more in the future. Keep in mind that you must account for the mailing time. When Casablanca receives the dates, they will be checking to see if it’s 60 days or more in advance from the day they receive your request. Be safe and request it 65-70 days in advance. Each date must be spread apart by at least 21 days. Don’t bother with holidays. You definitely will not get any dates that fall around a holiday. If none of your dates work, they will mail you a slip of paper with available dates. Pick three of the dates and resend the information.

When Casablanca accepts your dates, a sales representative will call you to offer an upgrade. Although I have never used an upgrade, I have wished I had a couple times. I have taken a few Casablanca trips that were less satisfactory than others. On my first Casablanca trip to Las Vegas, I drove there. I ended up at the Rodeway Inn. It was a budget motel. Definitely not for those who want a luxury trip. If that’s your taste, you’d better upgrade. For my trouble, I paid less than $5 in taxes. With the money I saved, I bought tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s O. Some folks complained about the Rodeway Inn, so Casablanca called all the folks who stayed there to offer more trips. On my second trip, I ended up going to Palm Springs to the The Plaza Resort and Spa. I paid about $40 in "taxes." I wasn’t pleased. It was a timeshare presentation in disguise. Very sneaky. I should have complained to Casablanca, but I didn’t know where to call to complain. Sometimes I wonder if I would have gotten more trips from them if I knew where to call. On my third trip, I drove to Phoenix. I stayed at the E-Z 8 Motel, another budget motel, but it was my first time being in Phoenix. I didn’t really mind. It was extra pocket money that I used towards my expenses like gas, food, and entertainment. I paid less than $15 in taxes. For my fourth trip, I finally got a certificate for airfare as well. We were offered upgrades, but decided against it. My flight times were perfect. Accommodations were good at the Sahara Hotel & Casino. We spent the extra money on Blue Man Group. I paid about $60 in taxes including hotel and airfare.

By now you should know that my modus operandi is to get free travel from Casablanca Express in order to finance my big ticket items, i.e. show tickets. I still have two or three more shows to check out in Las Vegas, so I’ll be utilizing Casablanca as much as possible.

Recently, Casablanca Express has put up a website. They have posted their FAQs online. If you check their destinations, they offer trips to places like Vegas, Reno, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Hawaii, Laughlin, New Orleans, Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs, the Bahamas, and Mexico. Most offers are 3-day trips. Take in account that you lose one day flying to your destination, then another flying home. That leaves one full day. Do you really want to fly to Hawaii or the Bahamas only for one full day? Pick a close destination so that you won’t be left with only one mouthful to taste the vacation you could have had if you didn’t use Casablanca. Don’t make it a bitter experience.

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