With summer around the corner, Hollywood is about to roll out a slew of sequels, blockbusters and indie films sure to satisfy most people’s craving for easy entertainment. Before making your summer selections, however, you should consider how best to spend your movie money.
According to TIME Moneyland, ticket prices are expected to increase this year thanks to lackluster sales in 2011 — and that’s not including the exorbitant cost of concessions. Don’t let the inflated cost of the cinema deflate your family’s desire to catch the season’s best flicks on the big screen.
Follow these 11 tips to avoid blowing your budget and save money at the movies.
1. Join AAA
The automobile club offers $8 tickets to Regal, United Artists and Edwards movie theaters. The catch is that you have to go to one of their offices to buy them.
2. Buy Movie Packs
This is the way to go for families. You can buy a four-pack of tickets from Costco, good for a variety of theatres, for just $34.99 and a 10-pack for $82.99. There’s no expiration date and you can use the tickets seven days a week. BulkTix.com also saves you an average of $2 to $3 off a ticket’s face value for seven different chains.
3. Attend Second-Run Theatres
There are several chains that show movies a bit past their prime. If you can wait to see the latest iteration of a Marvel comic, you’ll pay anywhere from $3 to $6 for the same movie.
4. Ask for Senior Rates
If you’re 60 or over, you’ll get a discount from select locations of AMC Theatres. And Cinemark offers Seniors Day every Monday at some locations for seniors 62 and older. Ultimately, it helps to ask the cashier or one of the theatre managers about available discounts for seniors. Just be prepared to show your ID.
5. Skip the Concession Stand
Eat before you head out to the movies so you won’t be tempted by the many treats on offer. Granted this is how theaters make their money, but it’s also how you double the cost of your ticket.
6. Use Discount Gift Cards
Save 10 to 30 percent by purchasing discount movie theater gift cards from such sites as GiftCardGranny. In addition to saving instantly on ticket prices, you can cut the cost of concessions if the smell of popcorn is too tempting to overcome.
7. Swipe Your Plastic
Credit card companies and banks have increased their reward perks over the last few years and some of those include free passes to the theater. Visa Signature offers their credit card holders two-for-one movie tickets via Fandango on Fridays. Deutsche Bank Debit Card users can get one free pass for every one ticket purchased through BookMyShow.com. Ask your credit card or bank about such reward perks and take advantage of the discount.
8. Be Loyal
Kerasotes Theaters has the FiveBuckClub, which sends weekly emails with a list of movies members can see for $5. AMC Theatres offers points toward discounts, concession upgrades and more if you join their Stubs Rewards Program. Check with your local theatres to see if they provide similar deals for loyal customers.
9. Daily Deal It
Though daily deals for restaurants and spa services overwhelm your inbox, you have good reason to search through the clutter. Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial have featured movie theater savings of up to 50 percent, and will likely offer similar promotions this summer. The vouchers typically expire within a couple months so make note of the date and use them up before then.
10. Early-Bird Deals
Matinees can save you anywhere from 30 to 50 percent off prime-time ticket prices, leaving more money in your wallet for warm summer evenings.
11. Say Something
Have you ever watched a movie where the sound system was off enough to drive you crazy? Perhaps you ended up surrounded by a swarm of teenagers who shouted at the screen throughout the film. Don’t be afraid to ask for a voucher or your money back if you have a bad experience. You may be surprised how often theaters will accommodate a polite request.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.