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7 Ways To Save Money At The Movie Theater

Going to the movies is not dead (as we all saw with last summer’s Barbenheimer phenomena), but it is expensive. Our 7 Ways To Save Money At The Movie Theater post can help with that. 

For more help saving, check out all of our frugal posts.

Movies in the theater can be so expensive! Be sure to check out these 6 Tips To Save On Going To The Movies from

I like movies. Pete and I often sit and watch them at home. We either watch them in the living room or we make an event out of it, make snacks, and watch on the big screen in our garage-turned-home theater.

Going to the movies can get so expensive. From the tickets to the concessions, it’s a costly night out. And then, if you spend all that money and the movie is bad, it feels like such a rip off. So I’m here to help. I put together a great list of easy ways to save money at the movie theater.

That way, if you save some money but it’s a bad movie, it wasn’t expensive. And if you save on movie tickets and your whole night out, you can go again at another time.

A man and a woman, holding popcorn, with the words "How To Have An At Home Movie Night" digitally written on top.

If you like movies, but you really don’t want to go out to them, check out our post about How To Have An At Home Movie Night. There are tips for making your own tickets, setting up an at-home theater, serving your own snacks, and more.

7 Ways To Save Money At The Movie Theater

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The Palace 4D Cinema theater in LEGOLAND.

Go to a matinee

Movie tickets can be expensive, but ticket prices are less during the day. Most people work during the day, and you generally can’t slip out for a long lunch to see the latest blockbuster.

But if you’re able to get to an early showing on the weekend, you may be able to get matinee prices. Be sure to check with your local theater to figure out what times are matinee prices and what times are full price, then plan accordingly.

Sometimes, matinee prices are any showings before noon and sometimes it’s the first showing of the day. That varies per theater chain, so it’s definitely worth it to call ahead.

Two boys eating movie theater popcorn.

Look for concession deal days

Some theaters offer special discounts on concessions on specific days.

For example, Marcus Theatres has the Magical Movie Rewards program. Tuesday is the movie chain’s discount day. Members get discount concessions and discount tickets (plus, online fees are waived on Tuesday too).

If you go to AMC Theatres a lot, you can purchase a Refillable Popcorn Bucket. That gives you a deep discount on refills. Even better, if you’re an AMC Stubs members (that’s the chain’s free loyalty program), you get an additional discount on the bucket, plus a free second same day refill.

And at Regal Cinemas, Regal Crown Club members get 25% off candy on Mondays and 50% off popcorn on Tuesdays. 

Other chain theaters may have different deals as part of their loyalty programs, so be sure to check those out so you can save on snacks.

The outside of the Appalachian theater in Boone, NC.

Join a loyalty program

The cable company my parents had in New York also owned a nearby movie theater. Each Tuesday, cable subscribers could get two free passes to any showing of any movie. My friend and I went nearly every week. It was such a great way to see movies without actually having to pay.

This is different than a movie theater’s loyalty program. Although you should join those too. In addition to cheaper prices on tickets, you also get other freebies like free popcorn for your birthday, free refills on concessions, and more.

Joining these types of programs is free although many have will a paid program, like becoming an AMC Stubs Premier member, where you earn perks and loyalty rewards faster. If you go to the movies sporadically, sign up for the free program. If you go a lot, the paid program might be for you.

An AMC Movie Theater.

Buy your tickets at the theater

Shopping online is so easy. You can do it from your home, in your pajamas. You don’t have to wait on lines or interact with people.

But there’s also a convenience fee that comes along with it, even when you’re buying movie tickets. Those extra fees can add up if you’re taking your family members to the movies because you’ll be charged an online ticket fee per ticket.

So, honestly, the best way to buy tickets is to put on pants, head to the theater, and get your tickets at the box office. You have to go to movie theaters to see the movies anyway, so you might as well buy your tickets at face value when you get there.

Subscribe to emails

Join email lists for your movie theater chains in your area.

Every few months, I get an email from Gofobo that comes with an opportunity to attend a free screening at a local movie theater.

Pete and I have gone every time because it’s basically a free date night. We’ve seen King ArthurCriminal, and more this way. My mom and I saw In The Heights for free on Mother’s Day a few years ago because of this. These are always advanced screenings that are offered before the movie itself hits the theater. So that in itself is just fun.

My parents on are AARP’s mailing list and often get free tickets from AARP. They’ve seen Rocket Man and a few others. Those ones are usually older movies that are already out in the theater. I’m not sure how they choose the movies, but the free movies from AARP are always geared towards seniors.

Check out summer movie programs

Many theaters have summer movie programs with a free movie or very discounted movies on select days. Regal Theater’s Summer Movie Express is its program where you can see family movies for $2 every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the summer.

For a large family, this is a great option. The movie changes each week, so you can spend one summer day every week watching a movie … for about what you’d pay to rent the movie on Amazon.

Look for credit card perks

In the past, a Visa Signature card came with a great perk for Fandango. Visa Signature cardholders were able to get BOGO tickets on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

This offer isn’t available anymore, unfortunately, but the program did last for a few years. Keep an eye out for emails from your rewards credit card. It might offer a similar perk.

A Costco Store in Issaquah, Washington.

Buy tickets at Sam’s Club or Costco

If you have a membership card to a warehouse club, like Sam’s Club or Costco, purchase your movie tickets there before you go to the theater.

Sam’s Club sells cheaper tickets than you can buy at the theater. These are vouchers that you purchase at Sam’s Club then exchange for actual tickets at the box office. You can purchase tickets or combo deals for tickets and concessions at a discount. Most major chains are available, which is great.

Costco has options where you can either buy discounted gift cards to theaters or you can buy a package with tickets plus a digital gift card as a bonus. All of these options are less than what you would pay at the theater, so it’s definitely a good deal.

No matter what option you choose, you can save a lot of money buying tickets at a membership store.

We would love to hear your tips to help save on going to the movies too. Be sure to leave them for us in the comments!

Cindy Richter

Sunday 30th of July 2017

Great ideas! I didn't know that theaters had a loyalty program.