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For many, a trip to the movie theater can seem like a luxury.
Ticket prices can be astronomical, and things like snacks, popcorn, and drinks will only increase these prices at your local theater or even movie theater chains.
Don’t let a trip to the movies cost you an arm and a leg.
Use the tips below to learn how to save money at the movies and make your trip that much more enjoyable when there’s something that you want to see.
Table of Contents
13 Best Tips For How To Save Money At The Movies
#1. Wait Until Independent Theaters Show The Movie
If you don’t have to see a movie right now, waiting a bit until new movies are screened in your area can be a great choice.
Independent theaters often offer lower ticket prices for movies that aren’t currently showing at other major theater chains.
These discount tickets can range from a couple dollars to a few bucks off the normal ticket price you’d pay at a larger theater.
In some cases, there may even be theaters that have double features and much older movies that you may want to experience on a larger screen and with better audio.
This can be a fun idea for a date night or beyond.
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#2. See Movies On A Day When Discounts Are Offered
One of the best ways to save on a few dollars is to go to the movies on a day when the theater offers reduced prices.
Usually this will fall on a Tuesday or Wednesday when few people visit.
You can see any of the movies playing for a flat rate price of $5.
Many theaters even throw in a free or lower priced popcorn too.
When I was in college the theater had a special on Tuesdays where movie tickets were just $0.50.
This was great as a poor college student trying to have entertainment options that fit into my budget.
#3. Bring Your Own Snacks
Movie tickets can be expensive.
Movie theater snacks? Even more so!
Just buying a small popcorn and a bottle of water will set you back close to $15.
Think about what snacks you want beforehand and look at local grocery stores to see if you can get great deals on them there.
Many movie theaters will have policies regarding outside food and drink, so it’s best to check in with your local theater to see what types of drinks and food they allow in, if any.
Instead of bringing your own food, candy and such, you may also want to consider dining out before you go to the theaters.
Whether you have a coupon to a local restaurant or there’s a fast food joint that you love, you’re going to get more bang for your buck there.
And you will feel much fuller than you would if you were to buy snacks from the concession stand.
#4. Share Concessions To Save Money
If bringing your own snacks isn’t desirable because you really want popcorn, consider sharing with the person you are with.
This works best if you buy the small size of everything as this will ensure you save a few dollars.
And don’t think you won’t have enough food.
Even the small bag of popcorn is oversized to the point that two people can easily share it.
In other words, there is no reason to pay for the large popcorn.
#5. Join Your Theater’s Loyalty Program
If you normally go to the movie theater several times a month and you want to get your money’s worth, this is a great way to save money at the movies.
And even if you don’t frequent the movie theater that often, it can still be of benefit.
Rewards programs can help you accumulate points each time you attend a movie plus however many guests you bring along and pay for using your rewards card.
You also will earn points when you buy concessions too.
Then you turn these points into free movies or a free popcorn or drink.
You even get special deals on your birthday.
For example, with Regal Cinemas loyalty club, you earn a free popcorn on your birthday.
Just remember that it often takes a while to accumulate enough points to translate into some of these rewards.
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Most movie theaters have a movie app where you can see these points and save up for something you really want.
Another thing to consider is the terms of the loyalty program.
Some programs may allow you to use points during a certain timeframe, after which they expire and you’ll have to work towards getting those points back again and using them within the required timeframe.
#6. Look For Free Screenings Of Upcoming Movies
If you’re looking to save money on movies, one of the best ways to do so is to look out for free tickets or free screenings.
These types of opportunities will pop up from time to time on freebie sites and on other platforms.
You just have to make sure that you’re quick enough to get them before others have the opportunity to go after those same tickets that you want.
If you’re going to a local theater, you might be able to get these opportunities with greater ease as it will only be other people in your city who will be trying to get those same tickets.
On that note, you can always see if there are contests in your city or online as well.
Major releases that are trying to drum up hype may throw contests or give out free tickets and get people excited about the movie.
For example, in my major city, the radio station hands out tickets to free movie screenings for select movies.
The only catch is you have to go to the particular movie theater to watch movie.
And in some cases, you have to get to the theater early as they hand out more free passes than there are seats.
Another idea is to see if there are any fast food places near you having promotions where you may be able to win free movie tickets or something else so that you can save money on your next movie trip.
While opportunities like these may not be around all year, they’re worth keeping your eyes peeled for in case you can get the things that you want most for free just by signing up for them.
#7. Find Summer Movie Programs
Movie theaters know that summertime is when families take vacations and might not visit the movies that often.
So many have come up with the idea of summer programs.
These programs last up to 8 weeks and during this time, they show one movie per week at a specific time.
As of now, the films are animated movies geared towards kids.
The package offers a flat rate price on tickets, say $2 per show, which is a great way to save money.
#8. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Another way to save money at the movie theater is to buy discounted gift cards.
This can be a few ways.
For starters, you can go to websites that sell gift cards at a reduced price, like Raise.com.
There you will find a card valued at $50 selling for $45 as an example.
Another option to try are warehouse clubs.
They frequently sell gift cards for less than face value.
Next, if you shop with a cash back credit card, you can earn money when you pay for gift cards with your credit card.
For instance, with my American Express card, I earn 6% cash back at grocery stores.
I buy gift cards there and essentially save 6%.
Finally, there is Swagbucks.
This is a site that has you do tasks, like play games, take surveys, watch videos, and more.
You earn points that you can redeem for free gift cards.
#9. Buy Entertainment Coupon Books
Back in the day, Entertainment books were a great way to save money on almost everything you buy.
And while we have moved into a digital world, so too has entertainment books.
They have a mobile app that you can use to access coupons and discounts.
And most movie theaters still participate.
So if you found benefit in buying these books in years past, you might want to buy them again to save yourself some money.
#10. Use Student Discounts
If you are in high school or college, make sure you show your student identification card when visiting the movies.
Many theater chains offer reduced prices for students.
Note that the discount you get is usually only for the tickets you buy at the box office, not on the concessions.
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#11. Use Senior Discounts
This is the same idea as the one above, only for older adults.
Just show valid photo ID that you are a senior citizen and you can get specialty discounts on tickets.
And to be safe, it is best to call your local movie theater first and ask what age they offer this discount at.
Some might offer it for everyone age 55 and older, while others wait until you are age 65 to give the discount.
#12. Look For Community Summer Programs
Many towns have special movie under the stars night at local parks throughout the summer.
The show is free and in most cases they show family friendly movies.
Because of this, it is one of the best ways to save money since taking your family to see a movie can get expensive quickly.
#13. Watch Multiple Movies For One Price
A rite of passage for me growing up was to buy a movie ticket and after the movie was over, sneak into another theater to see another film.
The risk here is you get caught and get in trouble.
While most theater chains won’t press charges against you, they could ban you from coming back.
As a result, I don’t recommend you do this on a regular basis.
But once or twice is less risky.
There are 13 of the best ways for how to save money at the movies.
With a little planning and using some strategy, movie goers can bring the high cost of watching movies on the big screen down to a more reasonable amount.
And not only will your wallet thank you, but those you get to spend the time with will be happier too.
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I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
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