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7 ways to go to the movies for free

The average cost of a movie ticket is more than $8. But why pay at all?

By MSN Money Partner Jul 21, 2014 12:56PM

This post comes from Donna Freedman at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneySummertime, and the viewing is busy: From the superhero to the supernatural, Hollywood has been delivering new product since early May. Keeping up with a steady stream of blockbusters (and blockbuster wannabes) can put a serious strain on your wallet.

Hollywood © Comstock, SuperStockAccording to The Wall Street Journal, the average cost of a movie ticket was $8.13 by the end of 2013. That gets pretty pricey if you’re taking a date, let alone an entire family. It's tempting to wait until the summer flicks end up at the $3 house, or 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 see movies without paying out-of-pocket. This can be as simple as the first of these tips for seeing free movies.

1: 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.

Among the theater chains that offer rewards are Regal Cinemas, Cobb Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Wehrenberg Theatres and Regency Theatres. You may also get extras like concessions coupons, movie contests and member-only advance screenings.

See it before anyone else!

2. And speaking of screenings. You can sign up for previews. Sites like gofobo, Wild About Movies, and clue you in about film previews in U.S. and Canadian cities. Note: 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: 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. Another way I lucked out: A film publicist took our email addresses and sent out invites for special-interest films.

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.

Reward yourself

4. 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. My favorites are the AMC theater rewards: a movie ticket and a free soft drink (485 points), two tickets and two soft drinks (940 points) or two tickets, two drinks and a large popcorn (1,100 points).

True, nobody should drink that much soda. But there's more than one way to amass points:

  • Ask family and friends to save the codes from 12- and 24-packs and from individual bottles.
  • Haunt the recycle bin in your workplace break room.
  • If you're not opposed to scavenging, you may find them on the street or sticking out of city trash cans.
  • Fairs, sports events, community festivals and any other places where lots of people congregate are good places to find caps.

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

6. Cash in points from rewards credit cards. If your plastic's program offers cards for theater chains (mine does!), then you're all set.

Your mileage may vary

7. Repurpose an unused gift card. Did a well-meaning relative give vegetarian you 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 will tell you how much those unwanted cards are worth, as well as the highest discounts for the movie gift cards you want to buy.

Not all of these tactics will work for everyone. Perhaps you live in a small town where free movie screenings rarely (or never) happen. Maybe you don’t use credit cards, or you use a card that doesn't give rewards.

But it's likely that one or more of these tips will work for you, even if it takes time to build up enough loyalty points or collect enough Coke caps. Keep at it: The holiday movie season will be here before you know it.

More from Money Talks News

Jul 21, 2014 9:23PM
Now that we can no longer comment on actual news articles, just the fluff stories, I feel duly suppressed.  Suppressed by the news media who have become pawns of the government and who do not wish for the people of this country to express their opinions and feelings to others in an open forum. 
Jul 22, 2014 10:01AM
Time to boycott MSN. If I can't discuss real stories here then what's the point. I agree entirely with TheKhanKubala.
Jul 21, 2014 10:37PM
I just wait a few days and it's online for free. Yeah, I know it's pirated but so what? I don't download, just stream but I can't afford to go to the movies, they have priced themselves clear out of my price range. Even then it's 1-2 times a month. Most movies, even free, aren't worth a crap.
Jul 22, 2014 2:08PM
Other than signing up for  free screening that one must arrive up to two hours early for, none of the other suggestions are actually free - rewards programs, unused gift cards, really?  Rewards programs are generally rewarding one for money spent, the same as Coke rewards, although I guess you could dig through other peoples trash or recycling if you didn't want to spend your own money on Coke products. This story is lame
Netflix is my movie theater. I control the volume and the temperature. And no yakking bozos around!
Jul 22, 2014 12:39PM

Obamacare ruling today guts obamacare and subsidies.  Yet now democrats aren't screaming "its the law of the land".  Nope today democrats are crying, "unintentionally written"


Well if you wrote the law wrong, then rewrite it and pass it through congress.  Thats how the system works.


But no democrats are in tears today and are trying to bypass the court ruling because its not ruled in the democrats favor

Jul 22, 2014 10:58AM
How about getting a job at the local theater?  Free screenings is often a perk.
Jul 22, 2014 3:01PM
Why bother.  Hollywood turns out nothing but sludge.
Jul 21, 2014 11:14PM
maybe find a theater playing a Rob Schneider flick
Jul 24, 2014 10:19AM
The public library has all the latest movies as soon as they come out on DVD. You can check out 5 movies and keep them for 3 days, and it's FREE!
Jul 22, 2014 12:10PM
8. stick it to the MPAA and theaters for raping us on admission and overcharging us for popcorn and drinks and go to the torrent site of your choice and download it.
"How to see movies for free"..................WOW, I bet every Liberal and Democrat voter out there receiving government handouts is salivating at THIS article.
Jul 23, 2014 11:14AM
Just put on your filthy 0bama t-shirt and then arrogantly march into the theater lobby and proclaim that seeing a movie is now a 'human right',..then claim that 'free' refreshments are a 'human right' too. If the manager gives you a hard time,..then you claim that he's a bigot, homophobe, racist or any other 'ist' that you can invent.
# 8.  Cash your welfare check and purchase a ticket.  The Welfare check is free money, ergo the tickets are "free".
Jul 22, 2014 3:33PM
This is all completely useless to me where I live. Our theaters are independent, all owned by the same group. They do not have a members club, they do not accept any of the points programs, etc. About the only thing I could do is sign up for their newsletter to learn about screenings but that doesn't mean they are free. The only other option is the last one, but normally I only get useful gift cards.
Jul 24, 2014 12:26PM
Yes, why pay at all....get everything free...Just steal it....Way to go MSNBC...Dont worry about silly things like jobs...or pride...or doing your share...or making an effort...Let someone else pay your way,.right? Those people who pay must just be the greedy rich....right?
Jul 27, 2014 2:10PM
Just enter the movie theater and scream that you are from some oppressed minority and demand that the mother effers let you in or you'll sue.
Aug 8, 2014 4:11PM

Obuma went kicking and screaming bombing those heathen, muslim animals and  sand nggrs . it killed him , could have been one of his brothers.

Vote ALL the commie demoncats out in Nov

Take back the house and senate

IMPEACH the muslim, Kenyan fraud in Dec

How's that for a game plan,  lefty losers ?


Jul 28, 2014 12:48AM
Like TheKhanKubla noted, MSNBC stopped allowing comments on anything other than fluff stories. And this story was "recycled" from earlier last week. Way to lower the bar. We no longer have any kind of INVESTIGATIVE journalism in this country. Everything is spun to the right or to the left depending on what media source you are reading or watching. So why even call it news anymore. We might as well call it by it's real name. And that would be propaganda.
Jul 27, 2014 12:00PM
Join a rewards club like AMC Stubs.  After you rack up a $100 spend, you get your next movie for free.  The $100 can be a combination of movie tickets and/or concessions.  If you go to the movies a lot it's worth it.
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