[-- Read Time: 3 mins --]

Long gone are the days when going to the movies was considered a cheap date.  Although Box Office Mojo claims the average ticket price is $8.89, you can easily pay twice as much in big cities.  Add an additional ticket for your partner plus snacks and your wallet will be begging for mercy.  However, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a night at home watching Netflix instead.  There are plenty of tricks you can use to score free or cheap movie tickets.

Attend an advanced screening

You don’t have to be a celebrity to attend exclusive movie screenings.  Sites like Gofobo and AdvanceScreenings make it easy for the average Joe to catch feature films before they hit theaters. Simply enter your zip code and they’ll provide a list of upcoming events in your area.  Based on the results, you’ll have the option of grabbing your passes or entering a contest to win tickets.  Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis so check their sites regularly to avoid missing out.

Catch a matinee

If you have the whole day free, opt to catch a matinee versus a late-night movie.  By scheduling your trip between the morning and mid-afternoon, you can save a few dollars on each ticket.  The earlier you get there, the better: some theaters gradually increase the price throughout the day.

Purchase your tickets at the box office

There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the theater and finding out the movie you’ve been dying to see is sold out.  To save yourself from heartache, it’s not uncommon to buy your tickets in advance online.  However, this convenience comes with a fee.  Typically, you’ll pay $1-2 extra per ticket.  Fortunately, there is a way to beat the crowd and still save money.  Many theaters have kiosks which allow you to purchase tickets for movies a few days in advance.  So do yourself a favor and swing by the theater early to reserve your seats without paying more than necessary.

Sign up for MoviePass

Go to the movies often? If so, you can save a lot of money signing up for MoviePass. For $9.95 a month, you can see a new movie every day.  All you’ll need is your smartphone and MoviePass card. Start by quickly browsing the MoviePass app to check out the local theaters and showtimes. Once you select your movie, MoviePass will load the cost of the ticket onto your card. From there, you’ll just pick up your ticket and enjoy the show. There are a few drawbacks though. Your subscription is only good for one ticket so you’ll either need to fly solo or encourage your friends to join too. Enjoyed a film and want to see it again? Sorry but you’ll need to pay full price for another ticket because MoviePass doesn’t allow repeats. 3D and IMAX films are also excluded from the offer.

Inquire about discounts

Sometimes scoring the best deal means hitting the movies during the week instead of waiting for the weekend.  On Monday’s, Cinemark offers Reel family time which saves $1.15 per ticket for parties of 3 or more.  Meanwhile, Bow Tie Theaters has a Super Tuesday program which allows moviegoers to purchase tickets for just $7 all day.  Many theaters also offer special discounts for seniors, student and active military members.  You just have to show up on the right day and present your ID.  Since discount days and times vary depending on the theater, we suggest checking your local box office for details.

Join customer rewards programs

One of the easiest ways to save big at the movies is to join your favorite theater’s rewards program.  Aside from getting sneak peeks at upcoming films, you can score discounted movie tickets and snacks.  Regal Crown Club members earn points which can be redeemed for free tickets, popcorn and soda.  Additionally, members get 25% off candy every Monday and 50% off popcorn every Tuesday.  Prefer AMC theaters?  As an AMC Stubs Insider, you can save up to $2 on tickets every Tuesday.  They’ll also refill your large popcorn for free whenever you go.  Becoming a rewards member only takes a few minutes and usually doesn’t require anything more than your basic information.

Buy your tickets from wholesale clubs

If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, you’re in luck.  Both retailers sell movie theater gift cards at a discount.  Sam’s Club is currently offering 2 Regal premiere movie tickets for $18.  Since movie prices can run as high as $20 for one adult ticket in NY, you’d be making out like a bandit. They even have dinner and a movie multi-packs which are perfect for date night.  If you plan to buy your cards online, be sure to read the fine print because some cards can only be redeemed in certain states.