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For all of those movie buffs out there, this guide will walk you through how to save money at the movies and earn around 50% in cash back each time you go to the cinema.
Movies these days can cost upwards of $12 dollars or more depending on the location, and that’s before grabbing snacks and something to drink.
However, with the steps below, we can often bring our ticket price to just below $5 dollars, no matter what movie you decide to watch.
Love popcorn and other concessions? It’s not hard to save on those either by earning points and using specific cash back methods.
Do you want to see sneak previews? Become a participating club member for free and enjoy special benefits.
Since each theater is a little different, we’re going to breakdown how to maximize your saving by theater group.
Let’s go ahead and get started.
$5 Dollar Tuesdays
The Regal Entertainment Group is one of the largest movie chains in the United States, and they also offer one of the best deals available.
If you have a Regal Cinemas in your area, every movie you watch on Tuesday night will only cost you $5 dollars.
That’s roughly 50% off! It doesn’t matter what movie is playing or how many people plan to watch it.
The only thing I recommend is showing up a littler early since the theater is a little more packed on these nights.
If you want to watch a 3D or I-MAX movie, it’s going to cost you a little extra.
These will cost you $8.50 per 3D movie, but it’s still a lot cheaper than the normal price of roughly $15 dollars per ticket.
Join The Regal Crown Club
The Regal Crown Club allows you to build up points each time you purchase a ticket or concessions.
These points can be exchanged for free prizes, such as popcorn, soft drinks or even free movie drinks.
Additionally, members can gain access to member-only sneak previews for upcoming films.
Almost all theater locations qualify, but you can check their theaters list for participating theaters.
It doesn’t take any money to sign-up and only needs your name, phone number, address and email to register. You can register by going to www.REGmovies.com.
The only annoyance you might receive by signing-up for this membership is that you will receive SMS messages with special offers to your phone and possible emails.
This can easily be disabled by logging into your account under settings.
Members will earn 1 point for every dollar spent on a movie ticket and 4 points for every concession transaction with a maximum of 20 points per day.
Here’s how much the points are worth:
- 50 points = free small popcorn
- 100 points = free small soft drink
- 150 points = free movie ticket
If you want a size that’s larger than a small on the concession, you can pay the difference between a small and the size you want.
Once you hit 150 points you have reached what is called Star Status.
This means that special promotions are available to you during certain days of the week.
On Thursdays you get an extra 5 credits for each paid admission and earn 2 additional credits for each concession transaction.
You will also receive credits for any online purchased made through the Regal Crown Club.
In fact, I highly recommend purchasing tickets on their webpage since you have a chance to enter a sweepstakes for free when buying tickets.
Just click the “Sweepstakes” tab to the left after logging-in to see what opportunities are available.
If you love snacking at the theaters, it’s best to go see a movie on Monday or Tuesday at Regal Cinemas.
You can buy any candy for $2 dollars and any size popcorn for only $2 dollars. The Regal Crown Club membership is required for this discount.
Student, Senior & Military Discount
Always bring your student or military ID when going to the theaters. Regal Cinemas does offer this promotion, but the amount you can save depends on the location.
In my area in the Spokane region, you save about 10% off of each ticket (unless it’s $5 dollar Tuesdays).
If you qualify for AARP Membership, Regal Cinemas will give you $3 dollars off any popcorn and soft drink combo along with 33% off of your ticket purchase price.
Sometimes it’s beneficial to be old.
AMC Gold Pack
AMC is another popular theater chain throughout the US. Instead of paying full price for a movie ticket, but them in advanced and in bulk at a discount to save money.
A normal ticket at AMC theaters costs roughly $12 dollars. When you buy a gold pack, you can get a pack of 10 with tickets costing $8.50 each at any Costco location.
These tickets can be used on any movie during any day of the week. For 3D movies, you just pay the difference in price.
You can also buy a gold pack on the AMC website, but you have to buy them in packs of 50 and there’s also a shipping cost involved.
AMC Stubs is the name of the AMC theaters rewards program. While there is an upfront cost to join, it makes sense if you’re frequent movie-goer.
The cost is $12/year (but right now there’s a special for only $8/year). Every $100 dollars you spend – whether it be on tickets or concessions, you are awarded $10 dollars in your rewards account.
This money can be redeemed anyway you choose: drinks, candy, snacks, or tickets.
For joining you also get a free upgrade on any concession that you purchase.
Buying a medium popcorn? It automatically gets upgraded to a large.
Want a small soft drink? They’re going to give you an upgrade to a medium.
Student Discount Thursdays
Again, if you’re a student, you can take a lot of advantages of promotions. Bring in your student ID on Thursday and you get roughly $3.50 off per each ticket.
This of course varies by location, but it’s usually a large amount of savings.
For those of you who have a Carmike Cinemas nearby, you can join the Carmike Rewards Program. Every dollar spent earns you 1 point toward movie tickets or concessions.
It takes 80 points to receive a free drink and 320 points to receive a free movie ticket. You can view their point levels in the image below.
There are many other chains that offer rewards programs. Just make sure to ask each time you go to the theater or look on their website.
Save 10% – 15% By Buying Online With Discover
There’s a neat little trick that can be done when you buy tickets online through Fandango.com if you have a Discover Card. This will save you nearly 10% – 15% every time off of your movie ticket.
Furthermore, when you buy on Fandango, there’s no $1 – $2 dollar surcharge like you’d pay at the box office. We’re going to walk you through this in 3 steps.
1. Get a Discover Card.
The reason we want a Discover Card is because when we use their card and go through Discover Deals, we save 10% on any Fandango purchase.
The card we recommend is the Discover It Card because it comes with no annual fee and you receive a $150 dollar bonus after spending $750 within your first 3 months of opening an account.
Here are the details below:
- No annual fee
- $150 sign-up bonus after spending $750 within three months
- Receive 5% cash back on categories that rotate quarterly: gas, restaurants, improvement stores, theme parks and movies.
- All other purchases receive a 1% cash back bonus
- Free FICO credit report on each monthly statement
- Save 5% – 50% on online purchases through Discover Deals
2. Go Through Discover Deals
Now that you have a Discover Card, log-in to your account.
From there, you’re going to click on the “Rewards” tab at the top of the page and then click on “Discover Deals.”
Now you should see a huge list of cash back offers. Scroll down until you find Fandango or use the Search Box to make it easier.
Click on the box and you’ll be redirected to another page that shows terms and conditions. You must use your Discover Card at the time of purchase in order to qualify for the 10% cash back bonus.
This money will go into a small rewards account that you can find on your Discover homepage and can be redeemed for gift cards or other statement credit.
Buy a ticket on Fandango like you normally would.
On your next billing cycle you’ll notice that you have 10% of whatever you spent on Fandango.com in your rewards account.
Note: Make sure to leave your cookies enabled. Otherwise, Discover won’t be able to tell that you made the purchase through their website.
3. Activate Cash Back Category Bonuses
Another great thing about the Discover It Card is that it has rotating cash back categories that give you 5% cash back when you buy at certain retailers.
For the months of April – June, you receive 5% cash back on all purchases made at the movie theaters at restaurants.
Combine this deal with the step above that saved us 10% and all together you’re already saving an extra 15%.
Even if you don’t go to the movies that much, I still highly recommend getting the Discover It Card since it has one of the best savings portals on the web.
Buy Theater Gift Cards At A Discount – Save 20% – 30%
Let’s say you completely ignore all of the steps above. From the bottom of my frugal heart, that would be okay with me, as long as you follow these steps.
Maybe you don’t have time to go to Regal Cinemas on Tuesday for a student discount, or forgot to buy tickets in advance.
This step will give you a large enough savings no matter when you go to the theater and can be done immediately.
1. Get A Cash Back Credit Card
This time, we’re going to use a credit card that gives you cash back on all purchases, because we’re not going to use it directly on buying movie theater tickets.
Instead, we’re eventually going to use it to buy movie theater gift cards.
As we’ve mentioned many times before on this blog, the best card you can go with is the Citi Double Cash Card.
This card gives you 2% cash back on all purchases no matter what category they fall into.
Here are some quick details below:
- 2% cash back on every purchase no matter what the category
- No annual cap on cash back
- First late payment is waived
- No annual fee
- Free concierge service
- Awesome Citi benefits
If you prefer going with another cash back credit card, you can try the American Express Fidelity Card which also gives you 2% cash back on every purchase.
2. Find The Highest Discounted Gift Card
As an example, we’re just going to say that we like going to AMC theaters since there’s one in my area.
I go to Gift Card Granny and type in AMC in the search bar.
I notice that Cardpool has the highest discounts on gift cards at AMC theaters, so we’re going to remember this for the next step.
If you’d like a trusted list of gift card vendors, you can read our review on the top 8 most trustworthy gift card resellers.
3. Find Out Which Cash Back Portal To Use
We noticed that the two gift card resellers above (Cardpool and giftcards.com) give a large savings of 18.8% and 18.5% off AMC gift cards purchased through their website.
With these two in mind, we’re going to see if we can earn cash back through them by going through a shopping portal.
We can see which portal gives the most cash back by using a tool called Cash Back Monitor.
Go to Cash Back Monitor and type in both ‘Cardpool’ and ‘giftcards.com’ to see what comes up.
Nothing came up for giftcards.com, but we can see that if we go through BeFrugal or TopCashBack we can get up to 4% off of any purchase price made at Cardpool. (It’s actually only 2%. Once you log-in to the portal, you’ll see that it’s 4% for selling gift cards and 2% for buying them).
While at first glance it seemed like giftcards.com had the better deal, we can add an extra 2% off of our Cardpool purchase by first going through a shopping portal, giving us a total of 20.5% off of our AMC gift card.
4. Go To The Online Shopping Portal
You can sign-up at their website here. Once you have an account, search for ‘Cardpool’ in the search box.
You’ll notice that any gift card you buy will get you a 2% discount.
Click on the ‘Get Cashback Now’ button to be redirected to the Cardpool website. From there you can make a purchase like you normally would.
5. Buy The Card At Cardpool
Now that we’re on the Cardpool website, we can finally purchase our gift card! Just hit the ‘Buy Gift Cards’ button on the front page and search for AMC.
We notice that there are plenty of gift cards for 18.5% off of their purchase price. And it’s even electronic, meaning it will be sent almost instantly to your email.
That’s a really good deal. Add to cart and go through the purchasing process.
When you get to the payment information, use your Citi Double Cash Card that we mentioned in step 1 so you get an extra 2% off of your purchase.
So let’s do a quick recap of how much we’ve saved so far:
- 18.5% by buying a gift card from Cardpool
- 2% by buying our gift card through TopCashBack
- 2% from using our Citi Double Cash Card
We’ve just saved a total of 24.5% on everything purchased at AMC Theaters!
What I like to do is use my student ID at AMC theaters along with my gift card that I purchased, and I can save about 50% or more off of my original ticket price.
Remember that these steps can be used in addition to any rewards program available that we mentioned above. In fact, this method can be used for any purchase.
We’ve broken it down into 5 steps here.
Each time you go to the movie theaters, never ever pay full price for a ticket.
There’s plenty of ways to save money by just doing a little bit of research. Going to the movies should be fun rather than being stressful about how much money you’re spending.
Are there any other ways on how to save money at the movies? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
My name is Jason Wuerch and I'm currently located in Madrid, Spain running a personal finance blog called Frugal For Less. My goal is to help everyone and anyone willing to make and save money through easy and simple ways that don't require much effort. Just because you're frugal doesn't mean you have to give up life's luxuries.