Ticketmaster fees have become an unavoidable headache for many concertgoers and sports fans. The ticketing giant adds on a variety of fees to every ticket purchased through their platform, often hiking up costs by 25% or more. With fees frequently reaching $30 or higher for a single ticket, fans are eager to find ways to bypass these extra charges. In this article, we’ll explore whether or not there are reliable methods for avoiding the dreaded Ticketmaster fees.
What are Ticketmaster fees?
First, let’s break down exactly what kinds of fees Ticketmaster typically tacks on to ticket orders:
- Service fees – This fee covers the costs of processing your order and delivering your tickets. It varies based on the event but is usually around $5-$15 per ticket.
- Order processing fees – This fee coversconfirming and completing ticket orders, as well as shipping tickets via delivery methods like UPS. It’s generally around $5-$10 per order.
- Facility charges – The venue hosting the event sets this fee to cover their operating costs. It varies widely but can be up to 30% of a ticket’s face value.
- Convenience fees – This is charged for the convenience of purchasing tickets online and printing them yourself or having mobile tickets delivered instantly. The fees range from $5-$20+ per ticket.
Ticketmaster estimates convenience fees by anticipating how much a ticket’s reseller price would be on secondary ticket sites. The higher the demand, the higher the fee. They essentially charge you extra for the convenience of securing popular tickets through their site.
Are there any ways around paying Ticketmaster fees?
Unfortunately, the options for avoiding fees are limited when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster. They maintain exclusive ticket sales contracts with many major venues and artists, meaning it’s impossible to purchase tickets elsewhere.
However, here are a few ways you may be able to bypass some fees:
- Purchase tickets in person at the venue’s box office – This allows you to avoid online convenience fees, though venue fees and service fees may still apply.
- Get tickets through an artist fan club presale – There are typically less fees involved with fan club presales compared to general public onsales.
- Buy group tickets – Fees are sometimes waived when buying large group ticket blocks.
- Use a Ticketmaster coupon code – Occasionally there are active promo codes that reduce service fees by a small percentage.
- Purchase season ticket packages – Per ticket fees tend to be lower when you buy season tickets or multi-show packages.
Does purchasing resale tickets help avoid fees?
Purchasing tickets through a resale marketplace like StubHub, VividSeats or SeatGeek can sometimes help you avoid Ticketmaster fees. Sellers on these sites set their own prices, so the fees may be lower or rolled into the overall ticket price.
However, every resale platform also charges their own fees. StubHub and VividSeats tend to have 10-15% in fees per order, while SeatGeek has fewer fees at around 5-10% per order. So you won’t escape fees completely.
Can I get my Ticketmaster fees refunded?
Unfortunately, once ticket fees have been paid to Ticketmaster, there is no way to get that money refunded. The fees are non-refundable. If you cancel a ticket, you will only be refunded the base price you paid, not any of the associated fees.
The only exception is if a show is outright canceled by the artist or venue. In that case, the base price and fees for the ticket should all be eligible for a refund.
Does buying tickets late help avoid fees?
There is sometimes a misconception that buying tickets late in the sales cycle, closer to the event date, will mean lower fees. However, this is not the case with Ticketmaster. Their fees are locked in and do not decrease over time.
The one exception where buying late can sometimes save on fees is if you buy directly at the venue box office on the day of the event. Desperate venues looking to sell last-minute tickets will occasionally waive some fees.
Cheapest ways to buy concert & sports tickets
While avoiding Ticketmaster altogether may not be possible, here are some of the cheapest alternatives for buying tickets to concerts, sports events, and other live shows:
|Direct venue box office
|Face value price only
|Limited hours, may need to line up
|Artist fan club presales
|Limited ticket allotments
|Lower fees vs. other resale sites
|Less inventory than StubHub/VividSeats
|Fees sometimes waived
|Need a large group
As you can see, the options for avoiding fees are imperfect and limited. But those determined to save can find small pockets where tickets have fewer fees or fee waivers attached.
Will avoiding fees get easier in the future?
The bad news is Ticketmaster’s grip on primary ticket sales seems unlikely to loosen anytime soon. They renewed long-term ticketing deals with the NFL and LiveNation in the past two years, further entrenching their dominance.
However, the rise of mobile ticketing does seem likely to reduce convenience fees over time. More and more venues are implementing fully digital ticketing, with tickets delivered instantly to fans’ smartphones. This transition means fewer printed tickets, less shipping and lower processing costs. As those costs go down, convenience fees collected by Ticketmaster will hopefully shrink as well.
Additionally, fans seem more fed up than ever with excessive fees. Consumer pressure may continue to nudge artists, teams and venues toward doing more fan club presales and utilizing other lower-fee options. Unfortunately, these changes are likely to be gradual rather than immediate.
Should fees just be baked into ticket prices?
Music fans have floated the idea of venues simply baking processing fees into the initial list price of each ticket. Rather than tacking on fees at the end, just make the base price of every ticket slightly higher to cover those costs.
In theory this pricing model seems simpler and less frustrating for fans. However, there are some hurdles:
- Artists want to advertise lower ticket prices to seem more fan-friendly.
- Fees vary per section, so some tickets would have to be more inflated than others.
- Ticketmaster’s contracts stipulate they collect separate fees.
So while baked-in fees make logical sense for consumers, the live events industry’s business model essentially relies on separated base prices and fees. It may take disruptive innovation or major consumer backlash to change this entrenched pricing structure.
Should Ticketmaster be broken up?
Critics of Ticketmaster’s dominance and fees have often called for legal antitrust action against the company. The idea would potentially involve breaking up Ticketmaster into smaller regional businesses to restore competition within primary event ticketing.
However, legal experts say the U.S. government likely no longer has grounds to pursue antitrust litigation. Ticketmaster has sophisticated contractual relationships with venues, leagues and teams that make accusations of monopolistic behavior difficult to prove in court.
It’s also unlikely that artists and venues would abandon Ticketmaster en masse even if an antitrust case went forward. The ticketing infrastructure they provide remains unrivaled.
Will upstart competitors disrupt Ticketmaster’s dominance?
Though Ticketmaster sits comfortably atop the ticketing industry, a few hungry startups are attempting to undercut their business. Companies like SeatGeek and ScoreBig emphasize transparent fees and lean ticketing technology.
The challenge these startups face is breaking through Ticketmaster’s and competitor Live Nation’s long-term exclusive deals with major venues, sports leagues and top artists. However, if they can score even small victories locking up inventory that Ticketmaster can’t sell, it may represent cracks in Ticketmaster’s armor.
Rapid innovation in mobile ticketing could also open new opportunities for disruptors. As venues adopt digital ticketing, they may be drawn to newer technologies rather than remaining locked into Ticketmaster’s ecosystem.
Is avoiding fees worth the trouble?
While excessive fees undoubtedly contribute to rising costs that squeeze fans, ultimately events are charging market prices adjusted for demand. Avoiding $20 in fees to score a hot concert ticket would feel like a coup. But keep in mind, you’d likely just be paying that extra $20 to a scalper or secondary seller instead.
Physically traveling to a box office to buy tickets may cost you more in time, gas and headache than you’d save in fees. And obsessively hunting presale codes doesn’t enhance the live event experience – you just want to buy tickets and enjoy the show.
It’s understandable to be irked seeing $25+ in surprise fees at checkout. But accepting them may be the price (literally) we pay for the convenience of buying tickets instantly online to high-demand events.
The unfortunate reality remains that Ticketmaster and other major ticketing companies have limited incentive to reduce service fees when fans and venues continue paying them. While buying directly from venues or scouring presales can occasionally save a few dollars, most methods of avoiding fees require extra time and effort.
For the live events industry to substantially lower fees, consumers would likely need to change their purchasing behavior en masse. A full-on ticketing fee revolt seems unlikely. Beyond voicing displeasure, fans have few options other than quietly accepting the array of fees as the cost of admission.