Buying tickets for concerts and sporting events can be frustrating. It seems like almost all popular Ticketmaster events sell out in minutes or even seconds, leaving thousands of fans frustrated and forced to pay astronomical prices on the secondary market.
There are a few strategies you can use to help you get tickets at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, none of them are guaranteed to work all the time, but with trial and error you will greatly increase your chances and get much better at it over time!
Join Fan Clubs Ahead Of Time
When artists go on tour they tend to want their true fans at the concerts rather than ticket brokers. For this reason they sometimes give privileged access to their fan club members using a special presale code only available to fan club members.
Artist fan clubs usually have a cost (either one-time or annual) and can range in price from $10-100. Some of the fan clubs give out exclusive music, memorabilia or even signed material from the artist. However, the big draw for many is the advance access to tickets sometime after when the tour is announced and before they go on sale to the general public.
Timing is everything when it comes to fan clubs. When an artist announces a major tour they sometimes change the offers related to their fan clubs as soon as the concert dates get announced. This is because they want true fans to have exclusive access to tickets and prevent a rush of brokers from joining their fan club solely to buy tickets for resale purposes. To increase your odds of getting exclusive access to a pre-sale via the fan club, make sure you join the fan club before a major concert is announced.
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Use American Express Front Of The Line
American Express has a “front of the line” deal that allows card holders to gain exclusive access to concert tickets before they go on sale to the general public. Not all events offer this, but some do and only those who have an Amex card can gain access. If you want to increase your odds of gaining access to an exclusive presale, consider getting an Amex card.
My favourite Amex card is The American Express Gold Rewards Card because it gives you a 25,000 point sign up bonus (worth about $625 in airfare if converted to Aeroplan miles 1:1). If you want something with no annual fee, then my top picks are The SimplyCash Card from American Express for earning cash back on all your purchases and the American Express AIR MILES Credit Card to pad your Air Miles balance.
Buy Tickets Last Minute
One strategy you can try is to wait until the last minute to start searching for tickets. Of course this method doesn’t work for Ticketmaster since the event is likely sold out but private sellers are sometimes motivated to sell at the last minute. For this reason you should focus on the secondary market when searching last minute.
Here are a few tips:
- Online classifieds sites like Kijiji are popular for buyers to get last minute tickets. Sometimes plans change for people and they need to sell in a hurry, and in my experience Kijiji is best for this. I’ve got some decent from sellers the day of the concert due to a sudden change of plans.
- If you buy online from a private seller, make sure you take the necessary steps to ensure the tickets are legitimate. Meeting at the box office and having the venue verify their legitimacy is the easiest way to do this.
- Stubhub tickets tend to disappear fast and few last minute deals are available for most concerts, and eBay uses timed auctions so you’d want to make sure you’ll have time to get the tickets before the concert date.
- Last minute searches should focus on electronic tickets because it might be difficult for buyers to obtain hard copies with only a limited amount of time.
- Scalpers can usually be found in front of the venue selling tickets, but the practice isn’t legal in all areas so their numbers vary. The closer it gets to the start time, the more desperate they get, and if there are any unsold tickets after the event has started they can usually be found for very cheap - just be prepared to go home disappointed.
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Increase Your Chances When Buying Online
The large majority of people buy tickets online when they go on sale. This is the most straight-forward strategy and most convenient but it also means you’re competing with thousands of other fans.
To increase the odds of getting tickets online make sure you login to your Ticketmaster account beforehand and have your credit card set up in their system and ready to go. Also make sure you don’t constantly refresh the purchase page before they go on sale – this will get you booted out of the system. Timing is critical so you’ll want to make sure you are searching for tickets the exact time they go on sale. Click here to find the official time in your time zone (right down to the second).
Consider using multiple tabs to target multiple specific sections instead of always searching for “Best Available” which often doesn’t produce the best available seats. Do a little research ahead of time to figure out which spots in the venue has the best seats with the least obstructions so you can instantly tell if the seats you get are desirable. If you are confident you can sell the tickets later (maybe for a profit) you could also purchase multiple locations if you can’t make a split decision about which seats are best.
You may want to also consider trying to order over the phone simultaneously using your speakerphone or headset so you can request specific seats. You’ll likely get a busy signal, but in case the website slows down, crashes, or gives you bad seats at least you’ll have a plan B already in action.
Try Buying In Person
If you’ve ever tried to buy tickets online for a popular concert, you probably know that it can be almost impossible to get decent seats.
Some people have chosen to avoid buying online altogether by purchasing tickets in person. This can be done by either visiting the venue itself or going to a Ticketmaster box office outlet.
Ticketmaster doesn’t exactly encourage people to buy in person so most outlets have a random draw policy whereby anyone that shows up is given a random number which determines the order. This avoids people lining up days in advance before before they go on sale.
To increase your odds of getting the seats want, consider visiting a smaller, less known Ticketmaster box office. Click here to find a Ticketmaster outlet near you.
Be Aware Of Ticket Bots
A ticket bot is a sophisticated computer program that is designed to “butt in line” when tickets go on sale online and automatically buy all the good seats before anyone else is able to grab them. Since the program is designed to buy tickets, it is able to instantly buy them when they go on sale. By the time most people start searching all of the good seats have already been purchased automatically within seconds.
The programs cost about $1,000 and are used by brokers who buy large quantities of tickets and then resell them for a profit on the secondary market.
Ticket bots are the main reason why the chances of getting good seats online have decreased in recent years. Ticketmaster has taken some precautions to prevent this but the bots are designed to work around these precautions.
When buying tickets from an official supplier like Ticketmaster you can rest assured they will be legitimate. However, many tickets on the secondary market are fake.
Here are some quick tips on how to prevent buying fakes:
- Meet the seller at the box office/venue to verify they are legitimate.
- If you can’t meet at the box office, get the serial number of the tickets and call Ticketmaster to verify they are legitimate. If they have been reported as lost or stolen will appear as such within the Ticketmaster system.
- Consider meeting the seller at their place of residence. It’s unlikely most scammers would sell anything fake from their own home.
- Buy from ticket broker websites that offer a legitimacy guarantee.
- If possible, pay with a credit card so you’ll have recourse in the event they are fake.
- If possible, ask to see a purchase receipt and make sure the credit card name matches the seller’s name.
- Consider buying tickets from social media networks like Facebook. Having a Facebook identity to verify the legitimacy of the seller adds a layer of protection.
- Ask for the seller’s personal contact information (like full name, address, and phone number) when you meet them in person. If they baulk or act funny, call off the deal immediately and look elsewhere.