Award season represents a busy time for celebrities and others in the entertainment industry. Despite the glamour of the Grammy’s and the glitter of the Golden Globes, no event is more anticipated by artists and fans than the Academy Awards.
Whether you’ve seen all the nominated flicks or are more interested in independent films, a night at the movies can cost a pretty penny. In fact, the average cost of a movie ticket in 2012 was $7.96, an all-time high according to Deadline.com. Since this expense doesn’t include 3D glasses, popcorn or Junior Mints, consider the following tricks to save at the movies this year.
1. Attend an Oscar Marathon
In anticipation of the Oscars, many theaters are offering discounted back-to-back showings of best picture nominees this Saturday, Feb. 23. Cinemark’s marathon event features Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained for $30, plus discounts on popular concessions. If you want to catch all nine best picture nominees, hit up select locations of AMC Theaters for $60 of Oscar-worthy cinema.
2. Silence Your Phone
This standard pre-movie request can actually save you money at Cinemark. By downloading their Cinemode app to quiet your phone during a movie, you can earn rewards towards coupons for free candy or a small popcorn with concession purchase.
3. Join Reward Programs
Like your favorite froyo shop or clothing retailer, most movie theaters have a loyalty club where you can earn rewards. AMC’s Stubs program costs $12 per year and offers a $10 credit for every $100 spent, plus free upgrades on concessions and waived online fees for Internet ticket purchases. Free programs like Carmike Rewards and Regal Crown Club offer free candy, soft drinks and movie tickets for accrued points.
4. Gift Yourself
There’s no better present for a movie buff than a gift card to the local theater. However, you don’t have to rely on subtle hints to get gift cards; you can pick up movie gift cards at a discount from GiftCardGranny.com. With an average discount of nearly 14 percent, you’ll save instantly on tickets and concessions without ever touching your cash stash.
5. Buy in Bulk — But Compare
Families and movie buffs can benefit from buying their movie tickets in bulk, but be sure to compare costs before you buy. For example, a 10-pack of AMC movie tickets from Costco will run you $86.99, or about $8.70 per ticket. This is a great deal for movie-goers in Riverside, Calif., who pay a regular-ticket price of $11.50; it’s not a deal for people in Greeley, Colo., who can see an AMC flick for $8.50.
6. Select Your Showtime Wisely
Opting for a matinee over a Friday-night opening is an obvious way to save money at the movies. However, select theaters offer discounts on low-traffic days, like Cinemark’s Discount Tuesdays or Regal Value Days.
7. Look for Coupons
Like anything, you can typically find a discount or coupon for concessions at your favorite movie theater. Through Feb. 20, for example, Cinemark is offering a mobile coupon for $2 off popcorn when you purchase a Coca-Cola beverage. Discounts like these can make spending money on marked-up concessions a bit less painful.
8. Use Credit Card Perks
You can save on coffee, clothing, movie tickets and more when you shop through your credit card’s online store. For instance, Visa Signature cardholders can save 20% on a $25 order of Fandango gift cards when they order the cards online. Some cards offer cash back on specific purchases, including Chase Freedom which will credit you 5% on all movie theater purchases between April and June.
9. Speak Up
Whether it’s speaking up about an unsatisfying movie experience or asking for a specific discount, saying something is key. Some managers will offer vouchers to patrons who complain about screaming babies, rowdy teenagers or poor movie sound. Additionally, don’t forget to ask for senior, student and military discounts if you have the ID to prove your status.
Kendal Perez is a frugal fashionista and bargain shopper who helps fellow shopaholics find hassle-free ways to save money. As the marketing coordinator for Kinoli Inc., site manager for a family of money-saving websites, Kendal has the resources to be an extreme couponer but prefers a less complicated approach to staying in-budget. Kendal has been quoted in such media outlets as People StyleWatch, CNN Money, FOX, ABC, NPR and Kiplinger Personal Finance. For savings tips and more information, visit HassleFreeSavings.com.