4 Ways to See Movies at a Theater for Free

Photo (cc) by Sam Howzit

Summertime, and the viewing is busy: From superhero to the supernatural, Hollywood has been delivering new “summer” product since early May.

Unfortunately, keeping up with a steady stream of blockbusters can put a serious strain on your wallet.

It may be tempting to wait until the summer flicks become available via Redbox or Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Yet some movies — especially those that involve superheroes or disasters — are just made for the big screen.

Fortunately, it’s possible to go out to the movies without paying. Here are four tips for cutting your moviegoing costs to zero:

1. Join a rewards program

Join the rewards program at your theater of choice. Show the loyalty card every time you see a movie, and you’ll eventually build up enough points to get a free ticket.

Theater chains that offer rewards include:

You may also get such extras as concessions coupons, movie contests and member-only advance screenings.

My favorites are the AMC theater rewards:

  • One movie ticket and a free soft drink (485 points)
  • Two tickets and two soft drinks (940 points)
  • Two tickets, two drinks and a popcorn (1,100 points)

Other businesses also have rewards programs that offer free movie tickets.

For example, Coke offers My Coke Rewards. Codes from Coca-Cola products (including Minute Maid juices and flavored Dasani waters) turn into points you can trade for merchandise, gift cards and other premiums.

Sites like MyPoints and Swagbucks let you earn points that can be cashed in for gift cards to Regal Cinemas and Fandango.

Some rewards credit cards also offer movie theater freebies and discounts.

2. See it before anyone else!

Some websites clue you in about free film previews in U.S. and Canadian cities. They include:

Film previews are often intentionally overbooked, so don’t wait until the last minute to head for the theater.

Another potential way to get free previews is to listen to radio stations that partner with movie studios to promote upcoming films. Station managers love giving things to loyal listeners.

You may not even have to listen to win. When I lived in Seattle, I’d regularly see ads for such previews in the two local independent newspapers.

3. Use Twitter

Sign up to follow entities such as Free Movie Screening (@screeningticket) and Advance Screenings (@screenings). A post on the Geekenstein blog suggests opting for mobile notifications.

“Some passes go so quick that if you wait for the refresh, you could miss out,” writes Craig Kandiko.

4. Repurpose an unused gift card

Did a well-meaning relative give you — a vegan — a gift card to Outback Steakhouse? Or maybe your boss gave $25 Target cards to everyone in the office, but the nearest store is two bus rides away.

The solution: Sell your unused plastic scrip to a gift card reseller, then use the cash to buy movie gift cards (also at a discount).

The aggregator site Gift Card Granny tells you how much those unwanted cards are worth, as well as the biggest available discounts for the movie gift cards you want to buy.

Got any other tips on how to score free or cheap movie tickets? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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