Of course, it’s great fun to go see your favorite band, sports team or traveling theater troupe live. But what’s less fun is paying for the tickets. And just wait until you get an eyeful of the ticket fees—this can be enough to make you lose your stomach for the event altogether. Is there any way to avoid paying those inflated ticket fees? This is a question that continues to be debated. As of yet, there’s no one definitive answer. Some fans refuse to buy tickets at all on principle—voting with their wallets to protest outrageous ticket prices and fees. Other fans find creative ways around those exorbitant fees on a case-by-case basis. Regardless of how you work it, these ideas can help you avoid pricey fees without forcing you to sacrifice enjoying the concerts, productions, sporting events and other events you enjoy.
1. Ask for a group discount
If you can get a large enough group together, you may be able to purchase tickets as a group. This can save you money in two ways: a) on the price of the tickets themselves, and b) on the ticket processing fee (you’ll pay just one fee rather than 5 or 10 separate processing fees).
2. Seek out a discount-ticket seller
Some ticket sellers are able to procure tickets in bulk, passing some of that discount along to their customers. Other ticket sellers may not be able to waive the fees, but they can sell reduced-price tickets to ease the pain a bit. Here are a few worth checking out:
- Goldstar: This ticket reseller offers tickets up to half-price off and provides an iPhone/iPad app so you can track the tickets you want to purchase.
- At the Booth: If you salivate at the idea of attending a Broadway play, this app is your new best buddy. The app is available for Blackberry, Android and iPhone.
- SeatGeek: This app is offered for Android and iPhone. SeatGeek allows you to shop both for the best and the cheapest seats.
- PeakSeats: This reseller has an app for Android, iPhone and Kindle Fire. You can cash in on promo codes to get you discounts and track your favorite teams, artists and events online.
3. Try purchasing tickets the day of or an hour prior to the event
If you can show up the day of the event—or even better, just one hour prior—you may be able to score half-price or other discount deals on unsold tickets. At this point, merchants are often willing to part with tickets for a discount—after all, at the end of the night, an empty seat makes zero profits.
4. Buy from scalpers
The term "scalpers" may sound scary, but often these aftermarket ticket sellers are working in cahoots with those very same fee-heavy, major ticket sellers. Operating on the same principle that an empty seat delivers zero profits, ticket scalpers work out a deal with the ticket merchant to split the proceeds of whatever they can make on last-minute ticket sales. You can benefit here by showing up just before an event starts or even after it has begun to benefit from deep discounts on tickets.
5. Purchase tickets after the event has started
If you can afford to wait, purchasing box office tickets after the event has started may pay off in discounts as much as half off. It’s a gamble for sure, but at this point even if you have to pay a processing fee, you’ll pay a greatly reduced face value per ticket.
6. Price out local ticket sellers to see who has the lowest fee
The local ticket market is highly competitive. While some events may be exclusive to one merchant, in which case you may need to try the other tips here to see if you can get a better price, for those that permit multiple merchants to sell tickets, be sure to price out fees before purchasing tickets. You want to look at ticket prices, fee prices and pricing for an online purchase versus an at-merchant purchase versus an at-box office pickup.