How to get free and cheap cinema tickets
Feel like trips to the cinema just keep getting more and more expensive? We have loads of tips for getting cheap (and free!) movie tickets.
Despite the rise of their cheaper rival, Netflix, cinemas are still hugely popular. But, as marvelous as it is to go out to see a film, it can be costly. And if you go full whack, prices might verge on the ridiculous!
Thankfully, there are loads of ways to save money on watching movies on the big screen – and in some cases, it’s even possible to get your cinema tickets for free.
We’ve pulled together all the hints, tips, and insider secrets we know. We guarantee you’ll learn a new trick or two by the end.
How to get free cinema tickets
Here are the best places to get free cinema tickets for preview screenings:
1. Free Movies UK
Free Movies UK is essentially a giant forum where savvy film buffs post links to sign up for free preview tickets, as well as links to competitions where you can win tickets to film screenings and premieres.
Many of the links will be from sites like Show Film First (see below) but it’s useful to see everything in one place. And, other users might spot some free film opportunities that you’ve previously missed.
There’s even a forum where people offer up free cinema tickets if they can no longer make it to the screening themselves. It’s basically a one-stop shop to hear of films you can watch without having to pay a penny.
2. Show Film First
As a member of Show Film First, you’ll get access to free tickets for films, theatre, comedy, and gigs. The only catch is that membership is by approval only, and based on your demographic information and location – so there are no guarantees you’ll get accepted.
The membership conditions mean you can’t brag on social media about your great freebies and you have to provide constructive feedback afterward.
You also get offered tickets based on your personal information, so you don’t get to pick whatever you want – but as you’ll be watching films and shows for free, the limited choice is definitely worth it.
3. E4 Big Screen Previews
E4 Big Screen Previews are ideal for any students looking to watch movies for free. E4, in collaboration with Picturehouse Cinemas, offers 16-25-year-olds a free film screening every month – and it’s completely free to sign up.
They’re pretty decent movies too, so perfect for an end-of-exam treat – or a free date night option…
How to get cheap cinema tickets and save on food
These are the best ways to save money at the cinema and get cheap movie tickets:
1. Get 2-for-1 cinema tickets
Spending a few quid on travel insurance for your holiday (you can get a day policy for just a couple of pounds) or contents insurance for your student house could come with an extra perk: 2-for-1 cinema tickets for a year. Take out an insurance policy through the comparison site Compare the Market and you’ll be able to opt-in for ‘Meerkat Movies. This gives you a code every week that you can use for 2-for-1 movie tickets on either a Tuesday or a Wednesday.
2. Avoid cinema seat upgrades
Some cinemas are bold enough to charge extra for seats with the best view, or for ones that have ‘extra comfort’ and more legroom – don’t fall for this. As long as you book your tickets nice and early, you’ll be able to choose a seat directly in front of the expensive seats, with the exact same view for much less cash.
3. Try Screen Unseen
If you’re not picky about your movie choices or fancy trying something a bit different, then Screen Unseen is definitely worth a try. You pay just £6 for a ticket when you book as a modern member online (or £7 if you buy it in-cinema) for a screening. But you won’t find out what the film is until you’re sitting in your seat and the movie begins. The risk here is obviously that you could end up seeing a movie that you hate – but you could also find your new favorite flick, and save money in the process.
4. Get a job at the cinema
If you’re looking for a part-time job at uni that comes with some serious perks, then a job at your local cinema is a great option.
For example, at Odeon you’ll get a free Odeon colleague Unlimited film pass and free guest tickets for friends and family.
Other perks include 40% off food and drink, including at Costa, Ben & Jerry’s, and other in-store franchises.
If you can’t find any vacancies at the cinema, there are loads of other jobs that come with great perks.
5. Buy off-peak cinema times
Getting your timing right can make a substantial difference when it comes to cinema tickets. Big chains such as Odeon, Vue, and Cineworld offer discounts on tickets for screenings during off-peak times. Vue cinemas also run ‘Super Mondays’, where tickets are generally around 18% cheaper than a regular ticket (although discounts vary depending on location). Claim your Super Monday code here and use it at checkout to get your discount.
6. Bring cheap cinema snacks
We all know just how criminally overpriced cinema food is, and the simple solution is: don’t buy it. Choosing your cinema snacks carefully is important though – you don’t want to be that guy noisily munching your way through carrot sticks during an intense thriller. Look out for food and drinks deals (such as half-price pick n mix) for extra savings.
7. Use cashback sites to buy cinema tickets
Keep an eye out for cashback deals from the likes of Quidco and TopCashback. There are often some great cashback deals floating about, particularly when it comes to paying for your monthly cinema membership card online. Make sure you understand exactly how earning cashback works before you sign up – we’ve got an online cashback guide to help you with that.
8. Go to independent cinemas
Independent cinemas are usually cheaper than big chains. Sure, the screens are generally a bit smaller and they might not always be showing the big blockbusters, but you’ll get to see a lot of great indie films that won’t always make it to the bigger screens. These screens often have a bit more atmosphere about them – and they often put on movie marathons, fancy dress screenings, and sing-alongs! Plus, it’s always good to support your local independent cinemas.
9. Avoid 3D screenings
3D screenings usually cost a few pounds more than a 2D ticket at the same cinema. So it’s worth asking yourself if it’s really worth the extra cash – would you be just as satisfied if you watched the film on a standard big screen? If you don’t have 3D glasses of your own, you’ll need to shell out for those too. You can get them for as little as a quid these days though, so just make sure you hold on to them for the next round.
10. Have a movie night at home
Sure, a trip to the cinema is always going to be fun, but you can’t beat a good movie marathon at home with friends. Check out our guide to the best streaming sites in the UK – you’ll be spoilt for choice! And use our tips for saving money on takeaways to keep food costs low too.