12 Ways to Get Cheap Movie Tickets

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Seemingly like everything else, the price of a weekend movie continues to soar. Here are some savvy ways you can enjoy your cinematic getaway without breaking the bank.

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Movie theaters are a great place to take a break from reality. But with the average price for a movie ticket at $9.16, not including popcorn and drinks, seeing a blockbuster can be pricey.[1]

Since skimping out on friends due to budgetary issues is the last thing anyone wants to have to do, figuring out ways to score cheap movie tickets becomes the only option.

Fortunately, reducing the overall cost of your cinematic adventure won’t come hard. There are many ways to score discounted movie tickets so you can save money without missing out on friends or your favorite films.

1. Check Groupon for discounts

groupon movie deals section
Groupon occasionally offers discounts that can reach up to 90% for a feature film. Source: Groupon.com

Check out sites like Groupon for deals on movie tickets in your area. Deals are not always consistent, but you can find great prices for local movie theaters for less than what they go for at the box office.

Groupon deals may have restrictions, so read the fine print before buying. Most deals are only valid for specific locations, days, or types of movies. Deals also expire, so don’t forget to redeem your tickets before the expiration date. Even with these rules, Groupon can be a gold mine for cheap movie tickets.

Related: 4 Ways to Get Free Netflix

2. Leverage discounted gift cards 

discount AMC gift cards on Raise
Get up to 30% off AMC or Cinemark gift cards on gift card marketplaces like Raise. Source: Raise.com

Pay less for your next movie ticket by buying discounted movie gift cards on sites like Raise.com. Raise is a website that sells gift cards to a variety of retailers at a discount, including movie theater chains like AMC and Cinemark.

On Raise, you can find gift cards for up to 30% off the value of the card. For example, if a gift card has $100 on it, with a 30% discount you could pay $70 for $100 credit to your favorite retailer.

Gift card discounts and availability changes daily, so you may need to check the website from time to time to snag the best deals.

3. Take advantage of loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs are a huge cash cow for businesses. They’re proven to increase customer retention and substantially boost profits. 

Fortunately, nearly every popular theater chain is in the loop and will pass back some of these profits in the form of rewards to loyal customers. 

It may be easy to shrug off your local theater’s invitation to download their app or join their loyalty program, but if you’re a frequent moviegoer, you may want to think again. 

Free movie tickets, snacks, drinks, and VIP seating are but a few of the many perks theaters will dangle in front of viewers to get them back in those comfy seats. 

4. Scout membership club offerings

warehouse sellers often offer movie tickets at wholesale prices

Wholesale shopping for groceries and everyday necessities at places like Costco and Sam’s Club has exploded in popularity over the past 20 years. 

But you may not have thought to check — or simply missed — the easy to gloss over section where they sell highly discounted movie tickets and gift cards. We’re talking super good deals, too. At least 20% off, or more, at nearly every major theater chain. 

This is a great opportunity to snag cheap movie tickets and then double dip on savings by adding an e-gift card as a payment form to an already existing rewards app. 

See current offers for:

5. Make it a dinner date 

Restaurants.com has absurdly good deals on dinner + movie combos — sometimes as much as 70% off. If you’ve got about $25 in your budget, odds are you eat locally and see a movie for cheaper than you ever imagined. 

For example, they’re currently offering 2 AMC movie tickets and a $25 Restaurants.com gift card for $29. There are nearly identical deals for Regal and Cinemark. 

Pro tip: These make for great gifts for any special couple in your life. 

6. Earn cashback on your ticket purchases

You can further cheapen your movie tickets by leveraging rewards and cashback apps.

Capital One Shopping, formerly known as Wikibuy, is one such online shopping portal that helps you earn rewards on your online purchases.

Once you have an account set up, search for Fandango on your Capital One Shopping-enabled device. Click on “Activate” to be redirected to Fandango’s site. This will activate your rewards deal.  You’ll receive an email after checkout notifying you of your earnings.

7. Look for daily specials

AMC's Discount Tuesdays promotion
AMC offers a Tuesday special that allows filmgoers the chance tickets to premier showings for as little as $5. Source: Atom Tickets

Some movie theaters run specials for weekday showings since most people go to the movies on weekends. It’s a win-win for the theater and for moviegoers looking to score cheap tickets. The theater gets to fill up seats that would otherwise go empty and you get a good deal on a movie.

Check the websites for your local movie theaters to find out if they offer a weekday discount. The ones in my area offer discounts on Tuesdays when tickets are only $5 no matter what time you go.

If you can’t find any information online, call the movie theater and ask if it runs any specials.

Related: 14 Legit Ways to Make Money Watching Videos 

8. Enjoy a matinee

two couples enjoying a matinee showing

Most movie theaters charge full price tickets during the high-traffic, evening hours, but shave off a few dollars for matinee showings.

Since fewer people go to the movies during those times, theaters offer cheap movie tickets to get more moviegoers through the door. Instead of going for dinner and a movie, try going for a movie and then dinner to save money.

Related: 11 Places to Watch Movies Online (for Free)

9. Take advantage of car load sales at your local drive-In

Besides the fun of watching a movie under the stars, drive-in theaters run specials and can be cheaper than a typical movie theater.

Check your local drive-in theater for special “car load” sales. For these, you pay a flat fee for the entire car load of people rather than the usual per-person charge. Some will specify that if the per person price is cheaper, you can pay the normal rate.

Let’s say you bring a family of four to the movies. The theater charges $7 for adults and $3 per kid, which will come out to $20 total. If they are running a car load sale for $12, you save $8 on admission.

10. Visit your local discount movie theaters

Many big cities and metro areas have discount movie theaters. They show movies that are a few months old for half or less of the cost of a regular ticket.

Discount theaters are usually older won’t always have stadium seating or reclining chairs but they still have all the ambiance of their big-chain competitors. Do a quick Google search for any discount theaters in your area.

11. Look for kids summer movie camp deals

If you have kids, be sure to check out your local movie theaters for summer movie deals. Many local and national movie theater chains run specials on kids’ movies during the summer months.

Expect to pay between $1 and $5 per ticket. Some theaters even let you decide how much to pay, and some only offer discount shows during certain days or times.

One major chain that runs this kind of program is the AMC Summer Kids Movie Camp. Tickets are $4 plus tax and include a kid-sized popcorn, a fountain drink, and fruit snacks. Showings are every Wednesday morning, and there’s a different movie each week.

12. Get invited to prerelease screenings 

Think of this as a lottery system for winning tickets to early screenings of movies before they’re officially released in theaters. You won’t necessarily get a say in which movie you’re invited to — if any — but as the saying goes, you have to be in it to win it. Movie companies are banking on you and the other early-screeners hyping the movie up on social to help draw opening day crowds. 

If you’re dying to see the next Marvel release early, this could be your literal ticket. 

Start by registering for sites like Seeitfirst or Gofobo and if they contact you with a redeemable code for an early screening it’s your lucky day. 

Sources: 

[1] Stoll, Julia. “Average Movie Ticket Price in the USA.” Statista, 25 Mar. 2021, www.statista.com/statistics/187091/average-ticket-price-at-north-american-movie-theaters-since-2001/.

 

Author
Ben Huber

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and save more money. A quoted contributor for Business Insider, Business.com, Discover, Intuit, MSN, NBC News, Yahoo Finance and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.

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