Photo: Project 365 Day 299, Kenneth Lu. Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Project 365 Day 299, Kenneth Lu. Source: Flickr Creative Commons

With first-run movie tickets running $11-12 or more, it’s well worth planning ahead to buy discount tickets, or sign up for programs that offer free tickets. Most big movie theater chains offer them; here are some ways to get them:

Wholesale Clubs Such as Costco and BJ’s Warehouse  

Costco. If you (or a friend or family member) belong to Costco, buy a 10-pack of “Gold” tickets to AMC (and affiliated theaters such as Loews and Cineplex Odeon) or Regal Entertainment Group (including Edwards and United Artist) online for $84.99 plus $1.79 shipping. That’s about $8.70 each for unrestricted tickets (as in any movie, any time) that do not expire.  Costco also sells a 4-pack of Cinemark tickets for $31.99. Tickets (sometimes even 2-packs) are sometimes also available in Costco stores.

BJ’s.   Sometimes, especially during the holiday season, BJ’s sells a 4-pack of AMC Gold Experience Tickets that includes a voucher for free popcorn. Cost is $34.99 plus shipping.

Sam’s Club. A 4-pack of AMC tickets is listed on the Sam’s Club site as available in its stores. No price given.

Discount Redbox Movies

Occasionally, Redbox will offer coupons and discounts for free DVD rentals. If you only want to watch the movie for a night, this is an awesome deal.

AAA –Yes, AAA!

The American Automobile Association  (AAA) offers  its members discounts on movie tickets. For example, a 10-pack of premiere AMC or Regal “gold” tickets is $87.50; shipping is free.

Online Bulk Buys from Theatres

Check with your local theatres to see if they sell tickets in bulk. For example, Regal Cinema offers bulk buys of 50 premier/gold tickets for $400, which translates to $8 each.  Buy with friends and share the cost.

Credit Card Rewards Programs

Many credit card reward programs offer movie tickets. For example, American Express reward points can be used for Regal, AMC and other movie tickets. That’s like free tickets!  Watch for rewards special that temporarily reduce the number of points needed for tickets.  If you want to learn about other credit card rewards, read Maximizing Credit Card Rewards: How I Get Rewarded for Almost Everything.

Theater Loyalty Reward Programs

Many chains have loyalty programs to reward members for frequent movie-going. Some charge to join, but most are free. Some examples:

AMC Stubs.  Cost is $12/year, but you get a lot: a $10 reward –which can be used for tickets or concessions–for every $100 you spend, free upgrades to the next bigger size on concessions (more popcorn!), and a waiver of the online fee for tickets bought through Fandango.

Regal Crown Club.   Free. Rewards credits earn free tickets or concessions. Some restrictions, such as free tickets cannot be used for “No Pass” movies.

Cobb  Theatre Moviegoers Club.  Free. Rewards points earn free tickets or concessions. Some restrictions on concession sizes and special engagement movies.

Wehrenberg MVP   Free.  Rewards for free tickets or concessions. Some restrictions.

VISA Signature Credit Card Discounts On Fandango Purchases

Visa Signature card holders get special movie offers through Fandango. This summer, Signature offers  +1 Movie Fridays: buy two tickets with your Signature card on a Friday- for a movie that day-and the second is free.  Another current offer:  20% discount on $25 Fandango movie ticket gift cards purchased with Visa Signature.

Groupon, Etc.

Sometimes “deals” programs such as Groupon, Living Social , and Entertainment Book (a coupon “book” that you buy), offer discounts on movie tickets. It’s worth checking.

Matinees and Special Movie Days

Virtually all theaters offer lower priced tickets for their matinees. But some also run specials on their slowest days. For example, Cinemark offers special discounts for Tuesday movies    and  some Regal theaters offer Value Days. Check the website of your local theater to see if they offer such specials.

The Fine Print : Always Read It

  • Can your ticket be used for online reservations?  Usually, discount tickets can’t used when you reserve online; you have to go to the box office to use them to purchase the actual entrance ticket.  Off course, if you want to ensure you get the show time you want, you could run to the theater box office earlier in the day to get the tickets. And, by not using online reservations, you save the additional service fees.
  • Is there an expiration date?  Many do not have expiration dates, but always check.
  • Are you buying a non-restricted  gold/premium ticket that can be used for any show on any day, or a  restricted “silver” ticket that cannot be used during special engagements or during the first couple weeks of a run?
  • Do IMAX, 3D and special event movies have a surcharge that will add to the cost of the ticket? Most do.
  • Is there a location surcharge?  A few areas (such as New York’s Manhattan) have an added fee

With the money you save on movie tickets, you just might be able to afford a bite before the show –on a restaurant discount, of course. Check back for a future post on restaurant deals.

Get Movies for Free at Home

Discount movies not good enough? You can also get free movies at home. Just grab a nice, new 50-inch TV, some popcorn, and you’ll be set for movie night.

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime overs a slew of free movies in its database along with the free 2-day shipping. These movies range from just-released to oldies-but-goodies. Why waste your membership on just free shipping?


The king of movie streaming, Netflix will give you access to thousands of movies. A subscription to Netflix costs only $7.99/mo for unlimited streaming. For an additional charge, you can also order DVDs from a larger selection.

Home Theater Options