Who doesn’t love a trip to the movies? Whether there’s a new movie out that you’ve been anxious to see, or the idea of a bucket of buttery popcorn that gets you into the door, movies can feel like a little slice of heaven.
The thing that’s not so heavenly about movies is the price tag.
Movies have gone up so much in price over the last few years, and now tickets can be as much as $10 a person before you’ve even splurged for the popcorn.
While the frugal option might appear to be movie nights at home, and this is indeed an option, here is how to save money at the movies for those times you don’t want to wait for the movie to hit Redbox.
I also spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox. Watch the replay video here:
You should never pay upwards of $10 a ticket, and in some cases, you might not pay anything at all!
Here are my best tips for how to save money on movie tickets.
The Most Obvious Savings Tip: Go To The Matinee
I know, I know… no one wants to go to the “matinee” showing, during the day. But doing so could save you up to 50% Off!
What I’ve found is that if we switch the order and we go to an afternoon movie, THEN go to dinner (instead of dinner and THEN a movie), it makes for a fun night where we can chat about the movie as we are eating.
It feels like it extends our fun of watching the movie together.
We all get to talk about the storyline, the plot, the twists, and surprises… it’s actually a great way to finish the evening!
Before heading to the theatre, check the cutoff time for your movie theatres matinee. You might even be able to get a matinee ticket as late as 4:30 pm, and that means when you exit the theater it’s already dark and “feels” later!
The price difference between going to see a movie during matinee hours versus evening hours is usually 50% or more. which means if you have a large family (like I do) then the savings will quickly add up.
Buy Your Tickets Online
Sometimes it pays to buy your tickets in advance. This is one of those times.
Make sure you sign up to receive their email promotions. They may range from BOGO offers to discounts on your total purchase. You can use these codes along with discounted gift cards for an even bigger discount.
This is a great way to go to the movies for FREE! Movie companies will sometimes set up free screening opportunities before the movie officially hits theaters to build of hype and get people to post on social media after seeing the movie.
Join these movie companies (they are all free) to get notified by email when they have a FREE movie for you to attend.
Most of the time, email is the only way they notify you of a screening in your area (since they tend to run out of seats super quickly). I set up a “filter” in my gmail email account that will “star” the email and “mark it as important” so that it doesn’t go to spam and we miss out.
This was how I learned about the Smurfs Screening last year. I wasn’t able to bring my kids, but it was fun to be “in the know” that a sneak peek was happening and tell friends to sign up for it!
Use Discounted Gift Cards To Buy Tickets
You probably already know by now that I use discounted gift cards to buy things all the time. In fact, I’d dare to say that if you can plan ahead, even just slightly, you should buy discounted gift cards to use to buy your tickets.
AMC Gift Cards are usually 20% Off.
Fandango Gift Cards are typically 25% Off
If you are a member of Costco, Sam’s, or another warehouse club, you can often find discounted movie theater gift cards in packs of 4 or 10 tickets. They will typically cost around $9 each, so that is saving you about 25% Off the $12 ticket price. Well worth it if you always want to go see the newest movies at the peak time during the weekend.
You can also buy Fandango Gift Cards at Target and if you use your RedCard, you’ll save 5%!
So the strategy is to buy a discounted gift card for Fandango, then buy your tickets once you receive a discount code via email from Fandango. You’ll save some serious cash that way. And you get to go to the movie you want to see!
Join The Club & Ask About Discounts
Nearly every theatre has some type of rewards card available for frequent moviegoers. These rewards cards can not only save you money on concessions but your tickets as well!
Oh, and they are all FREE to join (some offer an option to upgrade for around $15 a year). Thankfully you only need one reward card for your entire family.
Here are reward clubs for some of the most popular theatres:
Some theatres even offer discounts for tickets for children, students, seniors, military, or AAA members.
One simple call could help you decide which theater to go to! Simply ask them if they offer a senior rate or any specific days when they offer discounted tickets. Sometimes there is special pricing only on certain days of the week.
For example, if you join the AMC Movie Stubs Card (it’s free) then they offer $5 tickets on Tuesdays. Easy Peasy!
Look For A Discount Theatres Or Drive-In’s
Nearly every city has a $1 or $2 theatre in the area. This can be a great way to see slightly dated movies at a discount, but still inside a theater to see the movie “on the big screen”.
The town where I grew up had a Theater where we could get tickets for only $1. Our whole high school went all weekend long!
My sister lived in Virginia Beach and they had a “Dine-In” Theater that showed movies for $2 each. We took the kids to see Cars 2 and we had a blast. We ate nachos the whole time!
Drive-In Theaters are also a great option because they show the current movies at a discount. We pack a cooler of hot dogs (already cooked and inside the buns) as well as the bottles of Ketchup, Mustard and Relish and our own popcorn and make a night of it. Usually they allow you to see 2 movies for one price. Just don’t forget the sports chairs (kinda like tailgating), it’s more comfortable than sitting in your car the whole time and if you are in FL with me, bring along a can of bug spray 🙂
Avoid IMAX and 3D Movies
These movies come at a premium price and can add $9 to some ticket prices (that could DOUBLE the cost of your ticket)!
If you must see the movie in one of these special experiences, make sure this is something you’ve thought about carefully.
Personally, I get nauseous when I watch a 3D movie, so the extra expense is not worth it for my family. If it doesn’t matter for yours, go for a 2D showing instead and save your money to see another movie later.
Got Friends? Buy Tickets In Bulk!
I know that buying 50 tickets all at one time sounds a bit crazy (like stockpiling movie tickets), but this practice secures your tickets at a slightly better discount. If you have a large family (we have 6 in our family) so that means we’d get to go 8 times. That’s about how many times we go in a year.
You could also ask friends on social media if they’d like to go in together. Ten friends would each get 5 tickets! And everyone gets a nice discount.
- Premiere Movie Tickets from Regal never expire, and cost $8.50 each ticket
- AMC Corporate Orders, never expire and also cost $8.50 each ticket
- Cinemark SuperSavers never expire and cost $8.00 each ticket.
Since the tickets aren’t assigned to a specific movie or movie time, you can use them whenever you please. All you have to do is redeem your tickets at the box office.
Have A Monthly Date Night With MoviePass
If you are a major movie buff, then you’ve gotta look into the MoviePass. For $10 a month you can go see a movie every single day. ALL in the theater.
There aren’t even any blackouts for new releases either. But it does have to be a “Standard” movie showing, no 3D or IMAX.
The catch? You can only see one per day. That means if you want to go on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You need to choose a 6pm showtime on Friday, then a 7pm showtime on Saturday and an 8pm showtime on Sunday (where there’s a will… there’s a way, right?)
This program also requires the use of a SmartPhone to be able to select your movie before you buy it and you can only connect one phone per account (so you can’t share accounts with your hubby)
Right now MoviePass has a special deal if you pay for the year in advance it’s $7.95 per month +$9.95 Membership making it $105.35 total per person for a full year of movies. That’s $8.78 per MONTH. If you think you’ll go to the movies once a month, then that’s the deal for you!
NOTE: This is not a family option, because you have to be over 18yo to use the MasterCard they give you to buy your tickets at the theatre (they are currently working on a family plan that will include kids). You could, however, go with your kids to use your phone and the MasterCard to buy their tickets and then go home (there is nothing in the rules that says that is unethical).
Popcorn Savings: Eat Before You Go (& Share)
While popcorn might seem like a staple of all moviegoing experiences, the truth is that in most cases, it can get really expensive.
If you still want popcorn at the movies, eating before you go can help you control those impulse purchases. That way you’ll be less tempted to splurge for the larger popcorn if you already have a full stomach.
I have a designated “movie” bag which has paper lunch bags, Ziploc bags, and plastic cups inside it. I bring that bag with me every time we go to the movies so that we can buy one large popcorn and divide it up to share among all six in our family. The Theater usually gives you at least one refill when you buy a large drink and popcorn, so I always divvy it up right when we get to our seats, and then get our refill right away so that no one has to leave during the movie to go get the refill!
Super Cheap or FREE Summer Movies
Don’t forget that when summer comes around the movie theaters play FREE or discounted movies during the week.
I’ll update the post here with the FREE Summer Movie Schedule once we have it.
Whether you’re going for date night, or just a trip to see the latest movie, you never need to pay full price for a movie ticket ever again! Planning ahead by purchasing gift cards to buy your tickets, or just to know about deals or FREE Screenings could save you a TON of money if you are buying tickets for a crew like I am!
YOUR TURN: What movie are you most excited to see next? Let me know in the comments below!
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