Movie chain loyalty programs and the right rewards credit card can help you save on movie theaters both in the summer and year-round. These tips will help you score blockbuster savings.
Heading to the movies may be your preferred way to beat the summer heat. Joining movie theater loyalty programs that offer discounts or rewards can make summer fun less expensive.
“Most theaters offer a great loyalty program that lets you earn discounts when you come back to see more movies,” says Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot. “This means that the more shows you see, the more you save!”
The savings may increase when you pair movie theater rewards with rewards from your credit card. Use these tips to stay cool at the movies and save money this summer.
See related: Best rewards cards
5 tips to save money at the movies
Compare theater rewards programs
If there’s more than one theater nearby, take a look at what’s on tap for loyalty rewards. Here’s how rewards programs stack up for some of the most well-known theater brands:
|Program||Cost to Join||Features and Benefits|
|AMC Stubs Insider||$0|
|AMC Stubs Premiere||$15 + tax/year|
|AMC Stubs A-list||$19.95/month|
|Cinemark Rewards Movie Fan||$0|
|Cinemark Rewards Movie Club||$8.99/month|
|Marcus Theatres Magical Movie Rewards||$0|
|Regal Cinemas Crown Club||$0|
If you’re only looking for savings over the summer, you may want to stick with a free loyalty option. But if you go to the movies year-round, one of the paid programs could help you earn more rewards toward free tickets.
Joining any or all of these programs is as simple as visiting the theater’s website and creating an account. You’ll just have to enter your credit card details if you’re signing up for a paid loyalty option.
See related: Staycation savings: Earn rewards on local summer entertainment
Take advantage of free online ticketing
Buying movie tickets online could be convenient if you’re taking the whole family to a summer flick and you don’t want to stand in line at the box office. If you prefer to buy online, that’s a great reason to consider joining the theater’s loyalty program.
“Many theaters charge an added fee to order your tickets online through a website or with a mobile app,” says Skirboll. “Those little fees can even add up to the price of an extra ticket when it’s multiplied by the number of members in your group.”
Several of the loyalty programs included here waive ticketing fees for online and mobile app purchases. It’s a small savings but not one to overlook if you plan to see all the summer blockbusters.
Double up on theater rewards with online ticket portals
Purchasing tickets through Fandango.com or a similar ticketing site could be an easy way to earn additional loyalty rewards.
If you’re an AMC Stubs, Cinemark or Regal Crown Club member, for example, you can book tickets through Fandango and earn rewards from those programs. If you’re also a Fandango VIP member, you can earn 125 points per ticket through that program.
Once you rack up 500 Fandango points, you’ll get a $5 reward you can apply to your next ticket purchase. Plus, Fandango offers other perks such as discounts and advance screening access and it’s free to join.
See related: Learn how to maximize card rewards for family fun, saving
Choose the right rewards card for movie spending
If you’re using a credit card at the movies, make sure you use one that offers maximum rewards.
“There are credit cards which offer particularly spectacular deals in terms of points for entertainment-related purchases,” says Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. Steiner’s personal favorites are the Citi Premier Card and the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card.
- The Citi Premier Card offers 2 points per $1 on entertainment.
- The U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, which lets you earn 5 percent cash back on your first $2,000 in combined eligible net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose, including entertainment.
Steiner says the Marvel Mastercard could also be a contender for Marvel film aficionados.
“Not only do you get 3 percent back on all entertainment purchases, but it also gives the same cash back on any purchase on Marvel.com, as well as at any official Marvel merchandise booth,” he says.
Other cards you might consider for movie spending include:
- Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which offers unlimited 4 percent cash back on dining and entertainment.
- Sony Card from Capital One, which offers 5 points per $1 on entertainment, including movie tickets.
Consumer finance and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch says to check for quarterly or seasonal rewards bonuses for dining and entertainment.
- From July through September, for instance, Discover is offering its five percent rotating quarterly cash back bonus on restaurants and PayPal on up to $1,500 in combined purchases, after you activate, then one percent.
- Chase Freedom is offering 5 percent on gas stations and select streaming services in the third quarter, too, on up to $1,500 in combined purchases upon activation.
- You could buy movie theater gift cards at gas stations with a Chase Freedom card and score 5 percent savings.
“Just make sure to opt in when necessary to qualify for the bonus rewards,” she says.
Nab additional movie theater savings for summer
Woroch has a few other tips for spending less at the movies:
- Skip weekend showings. “Many movie theaters offer discount passes when you go midweek, usually on Tuesdays,” she says. “You’re looking at scoring up to 50 percent off movie tickets and you can even get deals on concessions.”
- Buy in bulk. Woroch says to check Costco and Sam’s Club for deals on tickets. Costco, for instance, runs specials on four-ticket packages to AMC, Regal and Cinemark. If you have the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, you could earn 2 percent cash back on those purchases, plus 2 percent on Costco purchases for being a Costco member.
- Take advantage of family movie programs. If you want to take your kids to the movies and you don’t care about seeing the latest new releases, check your theater for family-friendly summer programs. You may be able to get tickets for $1 or $2, plus get discounted concessions.
Skirboll says to look for discounted gift cards or promo codes for your favorite theaters online. “Plan your movie day ahead and buy gift cards on sale to get more screen time for your buck.”
Also, think about where you plan to buy gift cards. For example, you can purchase AMC gift cards at target using your REDcard and get 5 percent back.
Most importantly, compare pricing when it’s time to head to the movies.
“You already know there’s a matinee and you know there are group tickets that offer discounts for buying in bulk,” says Steiner. “So, if you see a website selling you movie tickets at ‘unbeatable prices,’ compare them against those – they may be trying to trick you by saying those prices are unbeatable as compared to box office prices for prime-time showings.”