HomeMoneyManaging your Money

10 Ways to save money at the cinema

4 min read

10 Ways to save money at the cinema
There's nothing quite like seeing a new film on the big screen! But with cinemas not being the cheapest day out, here's how to make a few savings
Even though it’s never been easier to see the latest movies at home, there’s still nothing quite like watching a film in the dark of the cinema on the biggest screen possible.
And ticket cost shouldn’t be a barrier. There are a number of ways you can bring the cost down to make it more affordable, whether it’s an occasional treat or regular activity.

Get two tickets for the price of one

Buy an insurance policy from Compare the Market and you’ll get free access to Meerkat Movies, which offers two for the price of one on tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday. Fortunately, there’s a hack to get this for around £1. All you need to do is buy a single day UK travel insurance!
It works in most major chains and independent cinemas. Sadly Everyman cinemas aren’t included, but Times subscribers can get 2-4-1 there on a Wednesday.

Avoid premium tickets

The most expensive tickets are going to be on peak times, which will usually run from Friday night until Sunday evening. But if you have the flexibility to go midweek or in the daytime you’ll hopefully find lower prices.
"Ask yourself whether you really need to pay extra for a premium seat or 3D screening"
There might also be certain days where all tickets are reduced further—it’ll depend on which cinema you have near you.
I’d also ask yourself whether you really need to pay extra for a premium seat or 3D screening. If you don’t think it’ll make much of a difference, go for the cheaper option instead.

Nab some free tickets

If you do want to go at the weekend then it’s the perfect time to use freebies. It’s possible to get one a month via the Halifax Reward current account to use at Vue. And since you can have three of these accounts, that’s 36 freebies a year! You will have to spend £500 on your debit card and deposit £1,500 each month though.
Person buying drinks at the cinema
Alternatively, the Club Lloyds current account offers six to use at Odeon or Vue and you’ll get these within a month of opening the account. You’ll need to add £2,000 to the account to cancel out a £3 monthly fee, but that money doesn’t need to be in one go or stay there—you can transfer it straight back out.
Meanwhile Sky Cinema customers can claim two free Vue tickets every month—though you will be tied into an 18 month contract with the satellite company. Or subscribers to streaming service Mubi Go can get a free ticket every week. However this will be for a specific film and locations vary, so you might not be able (or want) to see every film. 

Consider a membership

Some cinema memberships also offer free tickets and then discounts on future visits, so they’re worth looking at if you know you’ll make the money back.
But if you are going at least twice a month then the all-you-can-watch memberships at Cineworld and Odeon can be fantastic value. Curzon and Everyman also offer these but you’ll need to be going every week to cover the huge upfront fee.
"If you are going at least twice a month then the all-you-can-watch memberships can be fantastic value"
One downside though is that if you want to see a film at a different chain you’ll be paying again. Do check the normal selling price for your local screen too as it could work out cheaper to just pay as you go.
There is sometimes also a free membership option which could save you a little on things such as online booking fees, or even access to lower saver prices—so it’s well worth signing up!

Look for special screenings

Most cinemas also run reduced screenings for retirees or families with young kids. They’re normally at the same time each week and might even come with an extra like a free cup of tea!

Shop around

If you live somewhere with multiple cinemas, check what ticket prices are at each one. Often you’ll find one is far cheaper than the other.

Buy special offer tickets

From time to time there are deals running that offer cut price tickets. Sites like Groupon often sell bundles for the likes of Odeon and Vue that work out around £4 or £5 each. Other deals include National Cinema Day (usually in September) where all tickets are £3.
Couple enjoying film in the cinema
Anyone with Tesco Clubcard points can swap them for double value at Cineworld or Picturehouse—including memberships (if you have enough points). Nectar points can be exchanged for Vue tickets, though there’s no boost in value compared to just using them at Sainsbury’s.

Check for perks

If you’re signed up to another membership scheme you might be able to save via that too. Amazon Prime, for example, now offers members two Odeon tickets for £10.
"There are many schemes that allow you to buy reduced tickets"
There are also many that allow you to buy reduced tickets, including the likes of Tastecard and Kids Pass. However you do need to pay for these schemes, so instead it’s worth downloading the Lidl+ app and seeing if they are offering free Cinema Society membership.
Often these discounts are generic so once more check you can’t buy your ticket cheaper going straight to the box office. Your mobile phone loyalty scheme might help you save too. Three users can get £3 Cineworld tickets, while O2 customers can get two Vue tickets for £9.

Use discounted gift cards

You can also save by buying cinema gift cards when they’re on offer. You’ll regularly see the likes of Tesco, Amazon and Costco cutting 15% to 20% off Vue, Odeon and Cineworld vouchers. 
Alternatively, you can use cashback apps like JamDoughnut and HyperJar to buy the gift cards and get a percentage back. What’s good about these is they stack with other offers, such as Meerkat Movies and silver screenings, so you save twice.

Bring your own snacks

Finally, armed with your cheap cinema tickets, don’t undo all your good work by raiding the pick'n'mix and popcorn. The mark up on these is huge and can be easily avoided by hitting a supermarket beforehand to buy much cheaper snacks and treats.
You won’t need to smuggle them in either as all the big cinemas allow you to do this—though it’s worth checking with independents.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...