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Cutting Costs at the Movie Theater

We dig into the best ways to save money at the movie theaters, so you don't get stuck overpaying for more than just the sodas and popcorn.


People watching a movie with 3D glasses.
Going to the movies these days can be a big burden on your wallet, especially if you’re bringing the whole family. Add on a few snacks and drinks to your ticket costs, and you might be rethinking your desire to see the latest blockbuster.

However, watching the year’s best films doesn’t have to drain your bank account. There are loyalty programs, reward cards and other cost-saving methods you can use to make sure you don’t have to skip your favorite pastime.

Movie Theater Loyalty Programs

Movie theaters know they’re charging you big bucks to see films. Loyalty programs are designed to provide your wallet with a little relief. Here are some theaters that offer loyalty programs, as well as info on how the savings stack up.

  • AMC Stubs – Eligible at AMC theaters, Loews Cineplex, Magic Johnson theaters and Stars theaters. You receive a $10 AMC Stubs reward for every $100 you spend at a participating theater, and you can get upgraded concessions (buy a small popcorn and get a free upgrade to medium, for example). The membership fee is $12 per year. Online ticket fees are waived on Fandango.com and amctheatres.com, meaning no waiting in line for your ticket once you get to the theater. The savings from no-fee online ticket purchases can make up for your membership fee fairly quickly if you go to the movies frequently.
  • Carmike Cinemas Rewards – Eligible at Carmike Cinemas. You receive one point for every $1 spent at concession stands and the box office. Points accumulate and translate into rewards, such as free snacks and tickets. There is a 20-point maximum during a three-hour period and the program is open to all customers age 13 and older.
  • Cobb Theaters – Eligible at any Cobb Theater. Through this program, you'll earn two points for every movie ticket purchased (with an eight-point maximum per day). Points translate into rewards, such as free snacks and tickets. There is no fee for joining the program and you get a free small popcorn when you sign up.
  • Regal Crown Club – Eligible at Regal theaters. This program is free to join, and allows you to earn credits toward concessions and tickets. You receive one credit for every one dollar spent at the box office and four credits for any transaction at the concession stand.

Credit Card Loyalty Rewards

Credit card providers know their customers like to spend on entertainment, and the movie theater is a popular place for swiping. Here are some prominent credit card dealers who have established rewards for customers who specifically want cash for entertainment purposes.

  • Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – This card will give you two ThankYou Points per dollar spent on dining out or entertainment. Points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards from cash to electronics.
  • Visa Signature – With the Visa Signature card, you may be eligible for deals that include free movie tickets and Fandango gift cards, depending on your location and availability. As of June 2015, you can receive one free ticket on Fridays when purchasing two or more tickets. The deal applies to tickets purchased on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for a Friday movie showing through August 21, 2015. When using your Signature card at an AMC theater, you can put this money toward your AMC Stubs membership so you receive credit for all tickets. The expense will be accounted for in the $10 reward for every $100 spent portion of the loyalty program. By using the Visa Signature 2-for-1 deal, you'd only end up spending $50 to get to the $100 reward threshold, if we assume the average ticket price is $10.
  • Discover It Card – This card will give you 1 percent cash back on purchases made at movie theaters (and other vendors), which you can redeem at any time.

Bonus Savings

Of course, there are additional ways you can extend your savings beyond loyalty programs and credit cards. For instance, you can choose to buy your tickets at the box office, rather than online. This will help you avoid the service fees that can add on a few extra dollars to your final total. However, you might get stuck with crappy seats or no seats at all if you show up too close to the start time.

Vendors, such as Costco, may also be a good resource for movie ticket savings. At Costco, you can purchase AMC Gold tickets in packages of four, six or 10 tickets. Your tickets are emailed to you within the hour and ready to be printed out, fee-free. The price per ticket comes out to about $8.50, which is a few dollars cheaper than buying at the theater (though your mileage may vary).

Opting for a matinee instead of an evening movie lets you catch the latest film without emptying your wallet. For instance, an adult matinee ticket in June 2015 at the AMC Theater in Downtown Boston is $10.79. In the evening, this amount jumps to $12.79. For a family of four, the two extra dollars per ticket can quickly add up.

Finally, see what you can do without at the next flick. Is popcorn an absolute necessity? Do you have to see the next film in 3-D or IMAX, or both? By skipping out on some of these conveniences, you can save an ample amount of cash.

How Slickdealers Are Saving Money at the Movie Theaters

Images courtesy of©iStock.com/poba

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About the Author
Krystle Vermes Contributor

Krystle Vermes is a professional writer, blogger and podcaster with a background in both online and print journalism. Her passions include everything tech, sports, and the paranormal. When she isn’t freelance reporting, she’s breaking news on her blog, GetSpooked.net, and podcasting. Maureen is a graduate of Suffolk University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism.


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