Anyone who’s traveled to a city knows the state of hotel parking.  $60/day in downtown San Francisco, $50/day in D.C., more in New York.  So when I went to New Orleans recently I was unsurprised that parking was $31/day at the Marriott Convention Center.

Considering that I only paid $61/night for the hotel room, it won’t be that long, I think, before we’re spending more to park the car than for the room.

But there are ways around these fees, depending on the city. 

In New Orleans, the hotel I was staying at was near Harrah’s and Harrah’s offers 24-hours of free parking with thirty minutes of gambling.  Since I planned on doing some gambling anyway this was a good deal.


So if you want to take advantage of this, here’s how:

First drop your things at your hotel and drive your car to the Harrah’s parking garage – self-park, not valet.

After you park, go to the casino and, if you don’t already have one, sign up for the Total Rewards card.  This is the card Harrah’s uses to track your play, so it’s fairly important.

Once you have the card, just spend more than 30-minutes gambling.  There’s no rule about the game or wager, so you can pick a low-limit slot machine or a busy blackjack table.

If you choose a table game, put the card on the table when you sit down and the dealer will take care of getting you entered into the system.  For slot machines, you’ll see a slot for the card on the machine.  The card has to stay in the machine while you play, so don’t forget to take it when you leave.

Once you’ve played 30-minutes, you’re set on parking for 24-hours.  Just return the next day and repeat each day you need parking.

When it’s time to leave New Orleans, or when you want your car to drive somewhere, just hand your parking ticket and Total Rewards card to the parking attendant. 

Obviously this isn’t for everyone.  If you’re not a gambler or not familiar with the games, then you could wind up spending a lot more than $30 in that thirty minutes.  If you are a gambler, then you’ll spend more than thirty minutes a day gaming anyway, so it’s a great deal.