Ten tips for taking a taxi in Vegas

Considering using a cab during your Las Vegas visit?

There are several pros to traveling by taxi. After a long flight or just about any time you want to get around town quickly, you can hop into a cab. Taxi stands are found at McCarran International Airport, all major resorts and many popular attractions, like shopping malls. Cabs are speedy – as long as traffic is good – because they don’t have to make multiple stops, and no time is ever wasted with parking. Easy and convenient, they also reduce your risk of getting lost.

The major con about taxi travel is that it can be expensive. But this only applies if you’ve come here alone. For families and small groups of three or more people, cabs tend to be the most affordable way to get to your destination.

Yellow Cab in Las Vegas

A Yellow Cab carries passengers to the Strip. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Taxicab Authority

Sixteen taxi companies serve the Las Vegas area. According to the Nevada Taxicab Authority, approximately 3,000 vehicles make up the city’s fleet, along with more than 9,500 drivers. In 2011, Las Vegas taxicabs completed more than 27 million trips.

Although you may hear stories about scams on unsuspecting customers, those incidents are not commonplace. With a few tips and a watchful eye, you’ll get where you want to go in a taxi – stress-free and without being taken for a ride!

Tip 1: Don’t try hailing a cab. It won’t work. The only two ways to hire a taxi in Las Vegas are to go to a stand or request a pickup. Likewise, don’t accept a ride from anyone randomly claiming to be a taxi driver.

Tip 2: Know the going rate. There is no negotiating of fares in Las Vegas. When you set foot in a cab, the taximeter starts with an initial charge of $3.30 (note: a $1.80 surcharge is also added by taxis originating at McCarran International Airport). After the initial “drop,” as it’s called, the taximeter assesses $2.60 per mile, which breaks down to 20 cents for each additional 1/13th of a mile. If the cab is moving at less than 12 miles per hour, a waiting charge of 25 cents is incurred for every 30 seconds that passes. This is why you’ll see increases on the taximeter even when you’re sitting still.

Ultimately, your rate will vary based on origination and flow of traffic. Since getting to your hotel from the airport is the most frequent journey made by visitors, here are a few approximations of minimum fares categorized by area and hotel: South Strip (Luxor, Excalibur, Tropicana, New York-New York, MGM Grand and Monte Carlo), $12-$17; Center Strip (Aria, The Cosmopolitan, Bally’s, Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Flamingo), $14-$19; North Strip (The Mirage, The Venetian, The Palazzo, Treasure Island, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, Riviera, Circus Circus and Stratosphere), $16-$21; and Downtown (El Cortez, The D Las Vegas, Binion’s, Plaza, Golden Nugget and Golden Gate), $22-$27.

Finally, you should know that there are no charges for the loading, unloading and transport of luggage.

A Las Vegas-area cab driver

Several factors like time of day, day of the week, destination and traffic can dramatically influence the fare shown on the taximeter. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Taxicab Authority

Tip 3: Know your route. If possible, it’s a great idea to carry a map with you to your destination. A taxi driver is always required to take the most direct route, unless otherwise requested – and you can specify the path you want to travel. Be aware that when leaving the airport, use of the I-215 Airport Tunnel is never the shortest route to Strip-area hotels. In fact, if a driver takes passengers that way, without their permission, it’s called “long-hauling” – and that’s illegal. However, on Friday or Saturday nights, during a busy convention and over holidays, the Airport Tunnel may actually be the quicker way to go. It’s also the fastest means of accessing downtown. So decide what you’d prefer beforehand, and let your driver know.

Tip 4: Know your rights. As mentioned above, long-hauling is illegal in Las Vegas. There are other scams to be attentive to as well – such as “diversion.” Taxicab drivers are not permitted to divert you from your original destination. Occasionally, they may suggest a restaurant, nightclub or attraction – either to be helpful or in order to receive perks from those establishments. When you know where you wish to go, clearly state that. If a driver suggests otherwise, a firm “no” will usually suffice. When it doesn’t or should there be another problem you wish to report, you can file a complaint with the Nevada Taxicab Authority. Try to jot down as much information as you can about the incident: your name, the date, the time, the place where it occurred, the cab company, a physical description of the cab, the cab number and contact information for any witnesses. It would also be helpful to include the driver’s name and permit number. Forms can be found online at http://taxi.nv.gov/Complaints/Complaints/.

Tip 5: Be able to pay. Some cabs in Las Vegas accept credit cards, while others only take cash. Check with the driver before you get in. All money must be paid in U.S. dollars. Foreign currencies are not accepted. If you don’t have cash for the fare and credit cards are not accepted, do not travel in the taxi. It’s illegal to do that.

A Western taxicab

Western is one of 16 taxi companies that operates in the Las Vegas valley. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Taxicab Authority

Tip 6: Buckle up. It’s the law in Nevada. In fact, seat belts are used to determine a vehicle’s capacity. Thus, a sedan-style taxi can only carry up to five passengers because it has five seat belts available. Larger vehicles, such as minivans, may be able to accommodate more passengers.

Tip 7: Don’t light up. Feel like a smoke? You’ll probably have to wait. Smoking is rarely permitted in cabs. It’s illegal for drivers to smoke or use tobacco products when passengers are present as well.

Tip 8: Ask if you need a receipt. Las Vegas taxicab drivers are required to give passengers a completed receipt if one is requested.

Tip 9: Treat your driver with respect – and consider leaving a tip. Most of the drivers in Las Vegas are honest and make every effort to see to your comfort and well-being. Plus, with intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny in the city, they are sure to dispense wisdom that will help you make the most of your visit. Gratuities to taxi drivers are optional. You are never obligated to pay more than the taximeter displays. However, if a driver is good and hustles you to your destination as well as helps you with your luggage, a tip of 10 to 20 percent is sure to be appreciated.

Tip 10: Check that you have everything. When you get out of a cab, take a moment to account for all of your belongings. If you forget and later discover something was left behind, don’t despair. Try to contact the taxi company as soon as possible. Drivers are required to conduct a search of the interiors of their vehicles at the termination of each trip. If they discover anything left by a passenger, they are to immediately report the property and then deliver it, as soon as is practical, to their employer. The city’s taxi companies maintain lost-and-found items and will eventually dispose of them in the manner outlined by law.



I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.