Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar-Bound: 7 Tips to Save on Nominated Flicks

Before you run to the next showing and empty your wallet on tickets and snacks, it's wise to look for ways save on viewing these flicks.

Movie theater prices are more expensive than ever, with average ticket prices in 2013 topping out at $8.13, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners. Ticket costs are only the beginning, however, with concession markups reaching 700 percent. Luckily you can avoid paying a premium for the cream-of-the-crop in cinema by following these tips.

1. Marathon It
Got all the time in the world and an AMC Theater nearby? Select locations are showing four of the eight best picture nominees back-to-back on Feb. 21 starting at 10:00 a.m. (the other four were offered on Feb. 14). Passes will cost between $30 and $35 not including concessions and must be purchased in advance. Movies in this lineup are Boyhood, American Sniper, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.

2. Go Midweek
Most theaters offer discounted tickets during their slowest days. Both Cinemark and Regal Cinemas offer discount day on Tuesday with all-day tickets starting at $5 plus deals on concessions like a $2 small popcorn. Look for midweek deals at a local restaurant to make it a complete date night or family outing for less.

3. Flaunt Your Status
Students, seniors and even families get special perks at select movie theaters that offer movie savings. Check your local theater's website for information on dates and ticket prices. For example, Cinemark offers a "Seniors Day" on Mondays at participating locations with tickets ranging from $5 to $7 depending on region. AMC offers Senior Day on Tuesdays and Student Days on Thursdays, though these promotions are not offered at every location.

4. Become a Member
If you find yourself at the cinema frequently, theater loyalty programs can really pay off. Most are free and offer cash-back rewards as well as discounts and complimentary upgrades on concessions. Big theater programs include Regal Crown Club and Carmike Rewards, while online ticket provider Fandango also has a loyalty program. The AMC Stubs program has a $12-per-year fee but offers $10 rewards for every $100 spent, plus free upgrades on concessions and waived online purchase fees.

5. Discover Insider Deals
From the your employer to your credit card company to your bank or credit union, you may be eligible for insider discounts including movie passes. For example, Visa Signature cardholders are privy to an exclusive $5 off $25 discount at Fandango, while HFS Federal Credit Union offers members discount movie passes to Regal Cinemas and Hollywood Theaters. TicketsAtWork.com is a corporate benefits program that helps businesses reward and retain employees with discounts on entertainment and more. If your company isn't registered, perhaps you can persuade your HR department to get on board for the deals.

6. Buy in Bulk or Grab Gift Cards
In some parts of the country, it's smarter to bulk buy movie tickets than to pay for them individually. For example, the adult evening ticket rate at Cinemark in Portland, Ore., is $9.75, making the Costco bulk rate of $8.50 per ticket ($85 for a 10-pack) a good deal. In Lexington, KY, however, adult evening tickets run just $6, making it more expensive to go the bulk route. You can also purchase discount movie gift cards from sites like Gift Card Granny to save anywhere from 10 to 25-percent off. For example, you can buy a $50 Regal Cinemas gift card for just $40.

7. Use Movie Coupons
In addition to tickets, concessions take a big bite out of your entertainment budget. To reduce the sting, look for coupons from your favorite websites and from the theaters themselves. For example, moviegoers who place their phone in the silent "CineMode" at Cinemark Theaters receive coupons for concessions. You can find mobile and printable coupons at CouponSherpa.com for various movie theaters (a recently expired Cinemark coupon offered $2 off a large bag of popcorn). Being social will get you deals, too: "Like" Cinemark and Regal Cinemas on Facebook page and receive weekly concession coupons.

Article By Andrea Woroch

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., 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 @AndreaWoroch for daily savings advice and tips.

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