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Everybody enjoys going to the movies. What most people don’t enjoy, however, is the rising cost. Every year, box office prices and the cost of theater snacks increase. By the end of the night, it’s easy for two people to have spent nearly $50 just to catch the latest movie. Theaters generally don’t make coupons or other discounts available, but it can be possible to lower the expense of seeing a movie.  Here are few ways to pay less:

Price Club Discounts
Sam’s Club or Costco memberships can help you save on movie tickets. The customer service desk will fill you in on available discount tickets. If you’re not a club member, occasionally local grocery store and gas stations offer cheaper tickets.

Matinees
Matinees are less expensive than evening showings. They typically are reserved for weekends and apply only to the day’s first two screenings, so you will need to be organized and punctual to take advantage of the savings.

Box Office Tickets
Buying tickets online adds a charge from $1 to $2 for you to use the service, making your tickets even more expensive.

Second Run Theaters
Instead of seeing movies when they first come out, being patient can help you catch them after they’ve been in release for a few weeks at a greatly reduced price.

3D and IMAX
3D movies come with a premium price. You’ll also pay more for an IMAX movie, so make sure the film is really worth seeing in 3D to justify the cost.

Don’t Go Hungry
Sneaking food into the theater is against the rules, but if you’ve got the time, grab something to eat before you hit the theater. You can also make an agreement with yourself that you’ll have only one drink or one snack to stay within budget.  Also, be aware of every bite you take — you do not want to break a tooth on an un-popped kernel of popcorn or lose a dental filling with chewy candy like Milk Duds or Jujubes.  Accidents like this usually happen when you are “mindlessly eating,” which is easy to do in a dark cinema during an engrossing film.

Look for Gift Cards
Check out gift card swap sites where a person is willing to part with a gift card that he or she probably won’t use. Buyers can sometimes find a worthwhile theater discount.

Use Credit Card Perks
Many credit cards offer member perks, some of which can translate into discounts at the movie theater. Cards may also offer 5% cash back on various purchases such as movie tickets. Check with your issuer for details.

Loyalty Cards
Some movie theater chains offer worthwhile customer loyalty programs. Loyalty programs reward your activities using a card. Each purchase adds points to your card, which can later pay for tickets or discounts on concessions.

Specialty Discounts
The majority of theaters offer discounts for both students and seniors, if you show a valid ID when you purchase the tickets. You can also get discounts based on your affiliation with certain associations.

Summer Movie Programs
Check your community theaters for summer movie programs, typically screenings of older children’s movies at a deeply discounted cost all summer long.

Regardless of how you slice it, heading to the movies can get expensive. But by being smart and finding ways to save a few dollars here and there, you won’t have to skip the latest blockbuster because of a tight personal budget.

See you at the movies!

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