The best ways to save at the movies this summer

If you’re anything like me, this summer, you’ll spend a lot of time at the theater. I just came back from seeing Avengers: Endgame, and let me say: WOW! But, going to the movies can be quite expensive. $20 each for Dolby or IMAX tickets, $30 for popcorn and drinks, and bam, you just spent $100 to see a single movie that you could buy on Blu-ray in three months for $20. But it’s all about the experience of the theater, right? As a frequent film connoisseur myself, here are some of our best ways to save at the movies this summer.

Saving at the theater isn’t always just about reward programs and bulk-buying tickets. No, it’s sometimes about picking the best choice when it comes to what program you join. MoviePass is one such program that has been around for a while, but we really can’t recommend joining at this point. Through frequent policy changes, the once great value of a company now can limit your service in any way it sees fit. Plus, the best way to save (yearly subscriptions) require basically direct access to your bank account through eCheck or ACH, likely due to the fact that many of its customers requested refunds through their credit cards after the company completely changed its policies on a whim.

Sinemia is another service like MoviePass, that while one a great contender in the fight, has now withdrawn all of its presence from the United States and is no longer offering its service to US-based customers. In lieu of using pop-up services like this, the best option is always to use your favorite theater’s reward program, be it paid or free.

The Best Ways to Save At The Movies This Summer

AMC Stubs

AMC’s Stubs programs are probably among the best reward programs out there. There are three different tiers here, and we’ll break it all down for you.

AMC Stubs Insider

As an AMC Stubs Insider, you’ll be on the largest theater chain in America’s free rewards tier. You’ll earn 20 points for every dollar spent, enjoy discounted tickets on Tuesdays (generally $5 for normal showings), free large popcorn refills, a $5 reward for every 5,000 points, and a free large popcorn on your birthday. Though the $5 reward will take some time to earn, it’s always nice to earn money for spending something you would normally. Plus, when purchasing four or more tickets, there are no online ticketing fees for Stubs Insiders.

AMC Stubs Premiere

This is AMC’s first paid reward tier and where most people should land if they go to the movies a few times a year. At $15 per year, you’ll get the above features, and now earn 100 points per dollar spent and you’ll get free size upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks (if you buy a medium, you’ll get upsized to a large at no cost). Alongside these great features, you will also enjoy priority lanes at the box office and concessions, waived online ticketing fees for all purchases, and both a large popcorn and large fountain drink on your birthday.

With 100 points per dollar, you earn a $5 reward for every $50 spent, which is a 10% return. Most movie-goers will fall into this tier, as it’s not super expensive per year, and the savings at the box office on Tuesdays alone will cover the cost of the program.

AMC Stubs A-List

This is my favorite rewards program. A-List is generally around $20 per month, but pricing could vary by the area you live in. It provides all of the same benefits as the previous reward tiers but adds a unique feature. As an A-List member, you’ll be able to see up to three movies per week at no charge outside of your normal monthly fee. This goes for Dolby, IMAX, 3D, and other premium showings, as well. A single Dolby ticket could cost $15, $20, or even more, paying for your month of A-List with a single screening. The only restriction is you can’t use your A-List membership multiple times for the same showing, so you can’t get friends tickets to a movie at no cost to them.

Regal Crown Club

Regal’s Crown Club is similar to the AMC Stubs Insider program, trading in paid programs for frequent movie-goers. For those who see six or more movies per year, you’ll be Emerald, giving you 250 bonus credits for every visit. See 10 or more movies, you’ll get 500 bonus credits every visit. Do you go super often and see 20 or more movies a year? That’s a bonus 1,000 credits every visit.

Credits are also earned just by spending money at the theater. You’ll earn 100 credits for every dollar spent at Regal. A 2D movie ticket costs around 18,000 credits and a small popcorn is 6,000 credits, to put that into perspective.

Cinemark Movie Club

Cinemark’s Movie Club is more along the lines of AMC’s Stubs A-List, as it’s a subscription-based reward program. For me, it’s $9 per month, but pricing does vary by location. With Cinemark Movie Club, you’ll enjoy one 2D movie ticket per month with rollover, meaning if you don’t see a movie this month, you can see two next month.

There’s 20% off concessions and no online ticket fees. Plus, members will receive special pricing on tickets, giving discounts for friends who buy their tickets through you.

Cinemark’s Movie Club also offers point banking to give you movie swag, digital downloads, and more for spending money at their theater.

Shopping online at Atom Tickets or Fandango

If you don’t want to join your movie theater’s rewards program, this is the next best option for you. Atom Tickets and Fandango often offer discounts or deals on ticket purchases. Fandango actually has its own rewards program, called Fandango VIP, for those interested. These deals are ever-changing, but we try to stay on top of them all and keep them right here in our handy Atom Tickets or Fandango guides for your saving pleasure.

Your local theater’s program

If you don’t have an AMC, Regal, or Cinemark near you, there’s likely another theater close by. Always be sure to check it out, as you could likely find a similar program to the ones above at a movie chain you frequent.

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