August 3, 2011

More and more, getting a good value on tickets to movies and sporting events feels like an unwinnable contest. The average price of a movie ticket has increased 23% over the last five years — double the rate of inflation. The average price of a baseball ticket rose at least 10% over last year in four Major League markets. Want to save more on sports and entertainment? Here’s your game plan:

Movies

  • Go off-peak. You can often get ticket discounts by going early in the day or on a weekday; check a theater company’s website to see what’s available. The movie chain AMC, for example, runs A.M. Cinema, which gives the best ticket price on all shows before noon.

  • Join a rewards program. The major theater chains offer reward programs that are free to join, such as Regal’s Crown Club, and can pay off with free movie tickets and food discounts. The Crown Club, for example, gives members a credit for each $1 spent ($50 lands you a free popcorn) along with access to discount days such as $2 Candy Mondays and $2 Popcorn Tuesdays.
  • Buy in bulk. Purchasing a bunch of tickets in advance or buying for a group can save you $2 to $4 per ticket. Costco.com members can purchase discounted tickets, like a Gold 4-pack to AMC for $34.99 — useful for discounts on non-3-D movies. An AMC Movie Bundle (2 tickets, 2 small drinks, 1 small popcorn), priced at $29.99, gets you 35% off in-theater prices.
  • Use Twitter. Tweets from Advance Screenings will alert you to movie screenings in major cities and provides links to the distributor’s website for free screenings.
  • Buy from third parties. You can typically save $3 to $4 per ticket via the websites bulktix.com and movieticketsavings.com, though there are some catches. With bulktix.com, which participates with the big theater companies like AMC and Regal, tickets often can’t be used during holidays. Furthermore, you might not be able to use passes for the first two weeks of a film’s release. Check the fine print.
  • Join a rewards program. The major theater chains offer reward programs that are free to join, such as Regal’s Crown Club, and can pay off with free movie tickets and food discounts. The Crown Club, for example, gives members a credit for each $1 spent ($50 lands you a free popcorn) along with access to discount days such as $2 Candy Mondays and $2 Popcorn Tuesdays.
  • Buy in bulk. Purchasing a bunch of tickets in advance or buying for a group can save you $2 to $4 per ticket. Costco.com members can purchase discounted tickets, like a Gold 4-pack to AMC for $34.99 — useful for discounts on non-3-D movies. An AMC Movie Bundle (2 tickets, 2 small drinks, 1 small popcorn), priced at $29.99, gets you 35% off in-theater prices.
  • Use Twitter. Tweets from Advance Screenings will alert you to movie screenings in major cities and provides links to the distributor’s website for free screenings.
  • Buy from third parties. You can typically save $3 to $4 per ticket via the websites bulktix.com and movieticketsavings.com, though there are some catches. With bulktix.com, which participates with the big theater companies like AMC and Regal, tickets often can’t be used during holidays. Furthermore, you might not be able to use passes for the first two weeks of a film’s release. Check the fine print.

Sporting events

  • Check out the venue. The stadium’s website is the first place to go to see how much tickets are at face value. These often sell out quickly, but stadiums will post deals for free tickets through gimmicks like birthday seats. The stadium itself is also a good place to purchase resold tickets, rather than going through sites such as Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange, which tags on extra fees. Buying tickets in person also enables you to avoid ticket surcharges that you’d encounter with online purchases.
  • Get a package. Teams offer good packages, like the Baltimore Orioles’ Left Field All-Inclusive Picnic Perch, which includes a club level ticket and unlimited food (except for alcohol) for just $45. These seats help fans with big appetites save money in a stadium with inflated food prices, where hot dogs will run you $4 and a burger and soda will set you back $10.
  • Use Twitter. ABC Tickets tweets links to discounted sports games — everything from baseball to Nascar. Tickets Now works with Ticketmaster to post discounted second-hand seats to often sold-out sports games.
  • Look for daily deals. You can find last-minute deals on Ticketgenie.com — baseball game tickets as low as $4, for example, or $55 seats at a recent Colorado Rockies game for $35.

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