10 Best Hacks to Save Money at the Movie Theater

A lot of us really enjoy spending some of our free time going to the movies. It can be a great escape from our daily lives and a great source of entertainment. However, it can also cost an arm and a leg to go if you’re not careful. A big part of this is due to the fact that the theater’s don’t really set the ticket prices, the movie production houses do.

Which means that most theaters only really make money off of concessions. This, in turn, is what makes the prices of those so wildly inflated. But, throughout the years, we have found some great hacks to help save money at the movie theater. These hacks work on ticket prices and also on some of the concessions.

1. Fandango

If you haven’t heard of Fandango yet, you should definitely check it out. They are a movie app that helps you find the movies you are looking for at theaters closest to you. But, on top of that, they also offer discounts and specials for becoming a member.

Once you sign up for the free app, you can use it to purchase your tickets ahead of time. But, you should also use it whenever you purchase items at the concession stands. This is because once you purchase $15 in concessions, you will then get a $5 gift card from Fandango. Of course, this may vary and only be on specific items purchased at concessions, so you should double check ahead of time to see what qualifies.

They also make it easy to exchange your tickets for a different movie or show time if your plans suddenly change. And they do that for free!

2. Groupon and Living Social

Groupon and Living Social are both sites that offer discounts or reduced rates for a myriad of products, services and experiences. Movie theaters and concessions just happen to be included in those potential options. I know that we’ve used both of these sites to help us find some great budget friendly family activities in the past and loved the savings!

Now, they don’t always have deals running at your local movie theater, but it doesn’t hurt to check. A lot of times if one site doesn’t have any promotions running, the other site will. So it is always best to check both sites regularly to help you save money at the movie theater.

3. Matinee

One of my favorite movie theater hacks is to go to a matinee instead. Matinees are always cheaper than the night movie showings. Now, sometimes it can be difficult to get to a matinee, depending on what is going on that day. But, we do our best to only go to matinees when we go to the movies since it can save us a lot of money right out of the gate.

Here is a great example of the price breakdown from our local Regal theater:

  • Matinee (Noon – 4 pm) Child & Senior – $7.44
  • Matinee (Noon – 4 pm) Adult – $8.14
  • Prime (4 pm – Close) Child & Senior – $7.94
  • Prime (4 pm – Close) Adult – $10.74

Another tip to keep in mind is that some smaller theaters offer a special Tuesday price that hovers around $5 – $6 per ticket. Our local Regal theater doesn’t offer that, but some of the others do. So, I would look into that first as another potential option to save even more money on the ticket price.

4. Late Run Theaters

Another great movie theater hack is waiting to see the movie until after it has been out for a few weeks. There are theaters that specifically gear their showings towards later run movies. This means they don’t show newly released movies as soon as they come out. But, by waiting until the movie is out of a first run theater, you can save some major money on the movie ticket price.

These theaters can be as low as $1 – $2 per showing! They still have wildly inflated concession prices though, so keep that in mind when you find a late run theater.

5. Theater Website

Most major movie theaters have their own website and loyalty club you can join. When you go to their website, you are not only looking for the newest movie releases, but deals they may be offering. Usually, when you sign up to become a loyalty member, they give you some sort of discount right off the bat.

It could be a percentage off a movie ticket, concessions rewards or free small popcorn or drink. Either way, most theaters are going to give you something for being loyal to them. So why not add this to your movie going experience and help save money at the movie theater? I don’t know about you, but I happen to be a big fan of free popcorn!

6. Buy at Box Office

Another quick tip is to go straight to the box office to purchase your movie tickets. This would be instead of purchasing them through an app. The main reason this can save you money is because almost every single app has some sort of convenience fee.

Therefore, you may be getting some rewards by using an app. But if the rewards don’t add up to what you are spending on the convenience fee, then it makes more sense to go straight to the box office. When this is the case, I would still use the app to purchase concessions so you might still get some rewards that way.

7. Gift Card Swap

Let’s face it, sometimes we get gift cards that we are simply never going to use. When that happens, there is a great gift card swapping website called Raise to help us out. This website lets you swap an unwanted gift card for something else you might actually use. But, you can also purchase unwanted gift cards for a discount on this site.

What this means for you is that you might be able to snag a movie theater gift card for somewhere around 10% – 25% off. Which will save you even more money! Of course, this site isn’t great for just movie gift cards. So it’s certainly worth checking out to see where else you might be able to save some money.

These hacks can really help you save some major cash at the movie theater this year! Click To Tweet

8. Summer Movie Programs

Most theaters have some sort of summer theater program that is geared towards children. That doesn’t mean that all of their summer program movies are rated G or PG, but most of them are.

I have been taking advantage of this program for years now because it really helps me save some money when I want to take the kids to a movie. And during the summer, the kids can get pretty bored, so this is a great option to spice things up.

At the theaters near us, these summer movies usually run anywhere from $1 – $2.50 per ticket. And the movies are usually during the day. So, if you are looking for a prime time movie, this won’t help you out. But if you are willing to be flexible with your time frame, this might be a great option to really help you save money at the movie theater during the summer.

9. Specialty Discounts

Almost every movie theater I have ever been to offers some sort of specialty discount. These discounts are geared towards people who fall into the following categories:

  • Children
  • Seniors
  • Students
  • Military
  • AAA Members

Every now and then you might run across one that offers discounts to teachers or government workers also, so that is something to check for. So, if you fall into one of these categories, make sure you ask about their potential discounts for you. After all, you never know if you don’t ask!

10. Snack Division

Concessions are almost always the most expensive part of the movie going experience. So, this is where you should really try to save the most money, when possible. Besides eating beforehand, so you won’t be tempted to go crazy at the concession stand, here are a few other tips to help save money at the movie theater:

  • Buy the large popcorn and split it up between all of you by bringing your own paper bags
  • Buy the large candy and perform the same equal division
  • Ask for water cups and fill them up at the water fountain

No matter what, when you purchase the large, refillable, options, you will end up saving more money. So find ways to divvy up the larger portions amongst your party and then go back for the free refills. This can really help you save a boatload in the long run!

Save Money at the Movie Theater

Overall, there are so many ways to help you save money at the movie theater. Some of our favorite options are:

  1. Fandango
  2. Groupon and Living Social
  3. Matinee
  4. Late Run Theaters
  5. Theater Website
  6. Buy at Box Office
  7. Gift Card Swap
  8. Summer Movie Programs
  9. Specialty Discounts
  10. Snack Division

No matter which options you choose, by combining some of these options, you should be able to save a ton of money on your movie going experience. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of foresight and planning. But, if it saves you money in the long run, what have you got to lose?

What are some of your favorite hacks to help save money at the movie theater?