Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing model has become increasingly controversial over the past few years. Under this system, ticket prices fluctuate based on supply and demand rather than staying at a fixed price. This means that popular shows and games will have much higher ticket prices than less in-demand events. While dynamic pricing helps maximize profits for venues and Ticketmaster itself, many customers feel it is an unfair practice that makes attending events too expensive.
Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks savvy shoppers can use to get around Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing and score better deals. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to beat Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing.
Shop at the Right Time
With dynamic pricing, timing is everything when it comes to finding the best deal. Prices are highest when tickets first go on sale, then gradually drop as the event date approaches. Here is a general timeline to follow:
- Right when tickets go on sale – Avoid this time as prices are the highest.
- 1-3 months before the event – Prices will still be high during the initial rush.
- 1-4 weeks out – This is when prices start decreasing gradually.
- 1-3 days before – Prices are lowest right before selling ends.
Of course, popular shows may still have high demand and prices no matter when you buy. But for most events, shopping 1-4 weeks out will yield the best savings versus buying months in advance.
Use Presales and Discount Codes
Presales allow you to buy tickets before the general public, which is ideal since initial prices are so high. Presales are usually available to members of fan clubs, email newsletter subscribers, or users of certain credit cards (e.g Citi Card). Password-protected presales may seem exclusive, but a simple online search can often uncover the presale password. Some other sources for presale codes include:
- Official band/team/venue websites and social media
- Sponsor company websites
- Radio station websites
Similarly, look online for Ticketmaster discount codes which can save you 10-20% on your overall order. Common places to find codes include:
- Official Ticketmaster social media accounts
- RetailMeNot and other coupon websites
- Credit card reward portals
While the savings may not seem huge, every dollar counts when dynamic pricing is in effect!
Buy Upper Level or Obstructed View Seats
If you don’t mind sitting further away from the action, upper level and obstructed view seats are much more affordable ways to get in the door. At many stadiums, upper deck seats under cover can actually provide better views than lower bowl seats in the end zones. Obstructed view seats with partial views of the stage or field can go for huge discounts.
For extremely high-demand shows where even the cheapest seats are expensive, upper level or obstructed tickets are the only way average fans can realistically afford to attend.
Avoid Platinum Seats
Under Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing, certain seats are designated as “Platinum” or “VIP” and priced much higher due to extra demand. These are typically front row or floor seats very close to the stage or field. By avoiding Platinum sections altogether, you can save hundreds of dollars per ticket.
Buy Single Tickets Instead of Groups
For some reason, Ticketmaster’s algorithm tends to raise prices higher on group orders versus individual tickets. When shopping for a group, try splitting up your order and buying seats one at a time. The overall price for buying two or four single tickets is usually less than buying the entire group as one order.
Use Fan-to-Fan Resale Marketplaces
Third-party resale sites like Stubhub, VividSeats and SeatGeek are useful tools to find tickets below face value. Season ticket holders and brokers often sell extra tickets here to recoup some costs. With dynamic pricing, the marked-up face value prices are so high that you can frequently find great deals buying resale:
|Lower Level Side
|Upper Level Corner
Make sure to shop around across sites to find the lowest price. Some key tips for buying resale:
- Sort listings by price to find the best deals.
- Read seller reviews to avoid scams.
- Verify seats before buying by looking at a seating chart.
Buy at the Box Office
For some events, going straight to the box office to buy tickets can actually save on fees. Ticketmaster adds on numerous fees for online orders that can add 25-30% to your total price. Box office tickets won’t have the online processing fees. This tactic works best for local events where you can easily visit the box office in person.
Wait Until Last Minute
As mentioned earlier, prices tend to drop dramatically in the final 24-48 hours as sellers panic and seek to dump extra tickets. This can be risky as many events will sell out completely, leaving you empty-handed. But for less popular games and shows with ample supply, waiting until the very last minute to buy can yield huge savings. Some tips if trying this approach:
- Sign up for ticket alerts so you know when prices drop.
- Have a few events in mind in case your first choice sells out.
- Be flexible on seat location – Take whatever seats are still available.
Join Fan Clubs and Mailing Lists
As noted before, fan clubs and artist/team email lists are useful for getting presale passwords and ticket discounts. Beyond those perks, they also provide the best way to snag tickets BEFORE dynamic pricing even kicks in. Most fan clubs sell “Verified Fan” tickets before the general on-sale through invite-only presales. These allow fans to buy tickets at fixed prices, like $50 or $100 per seat, rather than inflated dynamic prices.
Joining an artist or team’s official fan club is the #1 way to get fair ticket prices and avoid dynamic pricing premiums altogether.
Petition Against Dynamic Pricing
While Ticketmaster is a financially-motivated company, they do pay attention to customer feedback to a degree. If enough fans push back against egregious dynamic pricing, they may consider changing certain aspects of the system. Some ways you can voice opposition include:
- Contacting customer service to complain.
- Posting on social media using #TMAbuseofPricing.
- Filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
- Signing petitions against Ticketmaster’s practices.
If artists and teams also threaten to move events away from Ticketmaster venues, that financial incentive could force Ticketmaster to scale back on dynamic pricing. So make your voice heard and let them know their system is unfair to fans!
Dynamic pricing has made buying event tickets more complicated and expensive. While Ticketmaster shows no signs of abandoning the model, fans are not powerless. Using presales, promo codes, resale marketplaces, and other tricks can help you score fair prices. Avoiding rip-off platinum seats and buying upper level or obstructed view tickets also makes events more affordable.
Keep the above tips in mind, and with smart shopping you can still attend your favorite sports games and concerts without breaking the bank. Outsmarting Ticketmaster’s algorithms takes effort, flexibility and research, but it is possible for savvy fans on a budget.