If you’re a film fan, there’s nothing like watching on the big screen. But prices can be high. So here are my top ways to get cheap cinema tickets.
By combining these money saving methods, it’s rare that I’ll pay more than £6 to see a movie. It’s even possible for me to see a new release for just £2.50!
Of course, how much you will pay depends on where you live. And sometimes the film you want to see, the time it’s showing, the day you go and the people you want to see it with don’t always align with the cheapest option (hello The Force Awakens).
But even just one of these tips will cut want you pay – possibly even to zero!
1. Take advantage of special offers and deals
From Groupon deals offering three Odeon tickets for £12 to free Cineworld tickets on the side of Tic Tac mints, the biggest saving are through via limited time special offers.
I’m always looking out for these promo codes, vouchers and flash sales, and I list them on my cheap cinema ticket deals page. Follow me on Twitter to hear about them first.
2. Get student prices even if you’re not a student
Most cinemas will have lower prices for students. But you’re not a student I hear you say.
Well that’s not actually a problem. Anyone can legally get an NUS Extra card by signing up to specific online learning courses. I’ve written here how you do this and found the lowest prices for e-learning.
Even better, NUS card holders can get an additional 25% off student prices at Odeon from Monday to Thursday.
3. Get two for one tickets every Tuesday and Wednesday
For around £2 you can buy a travel insurance policy that gives you access to Meerkat Movies.
Replacing EE/Orange Wednesday last year, the app provides two for one tickets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Here’s my full guide to how get this for just £2.
What cinemas take Meerkat Movies?
- Odeon – YES
- Vue – YES
- Cineworld – YES
- Picturehouse – YES
- Empire – YES
- Showcase – YES
- AMC – YES
- Curzon – YES
For independent cinemas, you can check on the Meerkat Movies website.
4. Avoid the weekend
The standard pricing structure for cinemas is cheaper seats in the day Monday to Friday (off-peak), and more expensive ones in the evenings and weekends (peak).
But some cinemas extend this so one evening, usually a Monday or Tuesday is priced as off-peak too, making it a far cheaper night out than going at the weekend.
It varies depending on each location, but many Vue, Picturehouse and Cineworld cinemas do this.
For a full list of these and other discounts (children, family etc) at the different chains, read my Ultimate guide to cheap cinema tickets.
5. Forget 3D, IMAX and premium seats
With the rare exception (Gravity, Hugo), I don’t believe it’s worth paying the extra £2 or £3 to watch a film in 3D.
If you really want to watch the film like this you can usually get a discount if you bring your own 3D glasses from a previous visit.
IMAX is also really expensive, sometimes as much as £18 to £20 a ticket!
However, in big cities you can always find another cinema with a huge screen that doesn’t charge extra.
And if you’re tempted by the posh seats in the best position, pick a showing in the biggest screen on the least busy day and you’ll probably be able to upgrade yourself to empty seats once the film starts.
6. Become a member
Most of the time I’ll say shop around and don’t be loyal – but this time big savings can be made, particularly if you do want to go at the weekend. You’ll save on ticket prices and get a discount on food and drinks.
If you have a Picturehouse cinema near you, a membership gets you four free tickets, no online booking fee and a discount on each further ticket you buy. The student membership, which comes with two free tickets, is only £15.
Cineworld Unlimited annual passes could be worth it if your local cinema is a Cineworld and you go more than twice a month, but getting a student card would probably save you more.
If you live in London or a city with lots I cinemas I’d definitely stay clear of the Unlimited pass. You might find the film you want to see is only showing elsewhere, or your friends want to go to a different cinema. In both cases you’d essentially end up paying twice.
7. Find your local “flea pit”
The days of falling apart flea pits are behind us, but there are plenty of older cinemas which charge far less than the latest multiplex.
For me, the Stratford Picturehouse has got good screens, comfy seats and shows a wide variety of films, not just the blockbusters. It’s also my nearest cinema. So far, so perfect. But it gets better.
It costs me just £5 a film. Every day. Except if I use Meerkat Movies, when it drops to £2.50.
The reason? Over the road is a state of the art Vue.
And it’s not alone. In Central London, Odeons at Tottenham Court Road and Covent Garden charge just £6 for student tickets all week. And we know how to get an NUS card, don’t we?
So take a look at the prices for all your nearby cinemas, not just the multiplexes.
8. Go for free
Sign up for ShowFilmFirst and keep an eye on papers and magazines for news of free previews.
You’ve a better chance outside London as seats are like gold dust in the capital.
Students can join the E4 Slackers Club for monthly previews at Picturehouse cinemas.
9. Check for perks
You might already have a membership or loyalty scheme that can give you an extra saving.
A few worth knowing about:
- Tesco Clubcard and Nectar points can both be exchanged for cheaper tickets.
- Lloyds Bank customers with the Club current account can get six free Vue tickets each year.
- The Sun, Times and Telegraph membership schemes all have occasional free screenings or 2-4-1 vouchers.
- Tastecard+ and Gourmet Society members can save 40% at most Cineworld and Picturehouse.
More details on these schemes can be found on my Ultimate guide to cheap cinema tickets.