How to Score Cheap Concert Tickets

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Concert attendees
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

People have been complaining about ticket-selling platforms like Ticketmaster for some time now.

Who can blame them? Sellers often stack on dozens, if not hundreds, of dollars in fees on top of a ticket’s price. In 2022, Ticketmaster had an average of nearly 116 million monthly users. That kind of base makes it hard for competitors to break through.

Lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and others are calling for Ticketmaster’s head, saying the company has too much power and it charges too much money because it has no real competition.

“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reined in,” AOC tweeted. “Break them up.”

Why Is It Like This?

Woman shopping online
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There’s nothing more disappointing than missing out on seeing your favorite artist live in concert. Unfortunately, it can be really hard for the average Joe or Jane to score tickets to see big-name artists without paying an arm and a leg.

Concert tickets get so expensive because experienced brokers gobble up big chunks of them during the presale and general sale, often enlisting illegal bots to make bulk purchases.

Then the tickets get scalped — sorry, they get “legally resold” — on secondary market sites like StubHub, Vivid Seat or Ticketmaster, with anywhere from a 50% to 5,000% markup. It’s all totally legal, even though it’s all a total scam. We call this “modern life in America.”

Skip the Scalpers, Bypass the Bots

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Why the high prices? Supply and demand.

Resale prices rise with high demand and once the pandemic was over, demand skyrocketed.

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get cheap concert tickets to your next unforgettable show.

Get In On the Presale

Excited woman shopping online
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Buying concert tickets at face value — especially to high-profile stadium shows like Beyoncé or lesser mortals who aren’t Beyoncé — is no easy feat.

The presale period might be the best time to snag cheap tickets before the sale is opened to the general public.

Here are a few ways to get in on that presale action.

Become a (Super) Fan

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Joining an artist’s fan club can get you early access to their ticket sales.

You can join a fan club (check the artist’s website for details), sign up for email lists or follow the social media accounts of your favorite artists to receive early-access presale codes.

Some musicians also have street teams of volunteers. In exchange for spreading the word about your favorite band by putting up posters and posting about them on social media, you may be able to score discount tickets or at least a presale code.

Whip Out Your Credit Card

Woman shopping online
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While you always want to be cautious signing up for (and using) a credit card, that small but mighty piece of plastic can sometimes be your ticket to the presale realm.

Ticketmaster, the main site for concert ticket sales, often offers exclusive presale opportunities to Chase, Citibank and American Express cardholders.

A growing number of credit card companies also let you redeem your cash-back points for live event tickets.

Capital One Entertainment, for example, allows cardholders to purchase or redeem rewards for tickets to hundreds of thousands of events worldwide, including sporting events and live music.

Whether you carry one of Capital One’s travel cards or a simple cash-back card, you can get access to presale events along with curated “exclusive” packages that can include things like meet-and-greets not available to the general public.

Search Online for Presale Codes

Woman working remotely
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As a last-ditch effort to get your hands on a presale access code, you can simply take to the internet with a Google or Twitter search. “Artists name” + “presale” will generally get you where you want to be.

Buy Tickets the Day They Drop

Excited woman shopping online
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To purchase concert tickets to your dream show during the general sale period, you need to be quick — and come prepared.

Create an Account

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Prior to the day tickets go on sale, create a user account on whichever website you’ll be using to purchase your concert tickets.

Nothing slows you down more in those frantic moments between loading your cart and checking out than having to create an account and fill out all of your information.

Make a Plan

Thinking about the future.
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Set yourself up for success by making a plan. Look at a map of the venue to see how the different sections are labeled and decide which area you’d like to be in.

That way, on the day of the sale, you won’t end up panic-picking seats you’re not totally thrilled about.

Watch the Clock

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Don’t just set an alarm for the exact moment the tickets are supposed to drop. Some sales roll out in phases, and the first bunch may drop a few minutes before the designated time (although there’s no telling when).

Either way, you’ll want time to log into your account and get ready, so make sure you set a reminder for 15 minutes before the actual on-sale time.

Speed Counts

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Get online using the fastest Wi-Fi or wired internet connection you can. A slow internet connection could seriously impede your chances when you’re competing against thousands of other fans (and machines).

Grab Your Ticket on the Go

Young woman smiling and happy with her credit card
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Most ticket sale sites have a mobile site or phone app, so you don’t have to miss a sale just because you can’t be tied to your home computer.

Depending on the speed of your device, it might even make sense to buy concert tickets on your phone instead of your regular computer if your mobile device gets the job done faster.

Up Your Chances

Couple shopping online
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If you plan on going to the show with a friend, have that person try to buy tickets at the same time on a different device.

This will up your odds of getting concert tickets on the first try.

If you both (magically) end up buying two tickets, you can sell the extras through a verified resale site. (Just remember to be a good groupie and resist the urge to rip off other fans by jacking up the price.)

Strength in (Smaller) Numbers

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If you’re going with a big group, you might have to split up.

Buying a large chunk of tickets is difficult, since even one already-bought seat could make the site cancel your entire order. Decide ahead of time who will sit with whom and plan on buying tickets in pairs instead.

If you’re really on a budget, you can also save money by sitting solo.

Blocks of seats are more popular (and more expensive) than single seats, so venues and ticket brokers often sell isolated single seats at a discounted rate.

Look for Last-Minute Tickets

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In the same way that waves of tickets may be released a bit early, some tickets may be held until hours, days or weeks later. Check back once in a while to see whether there are any more tickets available.

When scalpers and resellers fail to sell all their extra tickets, they offer cheap prices at the last minute so they can recoup some of their initial costs.

The day before or the day of an event is the best time to find cheap concert tickets if you missed the presale window.

It might be tough to wait until the very last minute to secure your tickets, especially if you’re traveling to the show and need to arrange accommodations.

But if you live near the venue and can keep your calendar clear that night, waiting until the last minute can be a great opportunity to get cheap tickets.

Just make sure to buy tickets from verified, third-party sites like StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats.

You’ll still pay fees but they’re generally cheaper than Ticketmaster’s bevy of charges.

You can also try aggregator sites, like Ticketwood, which scans the web for the best deals from several resale sites at once.

Even if you didn’t beat the bots, there are other ways to get cheap concert tickets — if you’re willing to get creative.

Go for the Cheap Seats in Cheap Cities

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Be willing to compromise for nosebleeds if seeing Taylor Swift live is really important to you. You’ll always pay more for seats close to the stage.

And remember: Some tour dates and venues are cheaper than others. If you live within driving distance of two major cities, check ticket prices for both sites. You might find tickets are cheaper in Louisville, Kentucky, for example, than in Nashville.

Try the Box Office

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You can always shave a little off the ticket price by going directly to the venue’s box office. Most theaters and arenas have a box office where you can buy concert tickets directly, avoiding ticket seller service fees. Box office hours are limited so make sure to check what hours they’re open before you visit.

Work the Event

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Contact the venue to see if event staff or security get free tickets or discounts. You won’t get to hang out and relax like a standard concertgoer, but you could save a ton of money on tickets or get access to a sold-out show.

Win a Ticket

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Sometimes bands, music venues and radio stations offer free concert tickets. You may need to be caller number X to get a pair of free tickets on the radio. Follow your local radio stations or favorite bands on social media so you can learn about giveaways and contests.

Try Groupon

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Groupon offers great deals on lots of local events and activities — including sports tickets and concerts.

You can score discounted tickets on Groupon, especially for shows less than two months away. For example, lawn seats for Train and Jewel in concert in Tampa, Florida, were available for $20 on Groupon — but went for $35 on Ticketmaster. The seats probably might not have been great, but it’s a way to save money.

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