There are a few common reasons why tickets may say “not available for resale” when you try to resell or transfer them:
The event organizer has set restrictions
Many event organizers, especially for high-demand events like concerts or sporting events, will put restrictions on ticket resales. This is done to discourage scalping of tickets at inflated prices and ensure fairness in ticket access.
Some common ticket resale restrictions include:
- Requiring the original purchaser to attend the event and show ID matching the ticket
- Not allowing transfers or resales of any kind
- Only allowing ticket resales through approved resale partners or the box office
- Placing limits on the price tickets can be resold for
If you see “not available for resale” printed on your ticket, it likely means the event organizer has prohibited any resales. You will need to contact them to see if any exceptions can be made.
The tickets are tied to your account
For some online ticket purchases, the tickets are tied specifically to the account holder and cannot be transferred. This is common with things like season ticket packages.
The tickets are essentially assigned to your account ID in the ticketing platform’s database. When you try to resell or transfer them, the system recognizes that the recipient does not match the original purchaser account.
In these cases, you will need to contact the ticketing provider to switch the tickets over to a new account if allowed. There is usually no way around this restriction.
You purchased a discount ticket package
Some venues or ticketing providers offer special discount ticket packages that come with various restrictions. These may include student, military, senior, or other special rate tickets.
As part of the discounted price, these ticket packages often prohibit resales or transfers. This ensures the tickets can only be used by those who qualify for the original discount.
If you want to resell tickets from a special rate package, you will likely have to eat the loss and buy a regular price ticket to resell instead.
The original ticket purchase violated terms of service
If you purchased tickets against the original on-sale terms, restrictions may still follow those tickets.
For example, if you used bots or automated tools to buy tickets faster than allowed, or purchased over the ticket limit, the vendor may flag those tickets as non-transferrable. This is done to discourage unfair ticket access practices.
In these cases, you may be stuck with the tickets unless the vendor makes an exception.
The tickets are part of a travel/hotel package
Sometimes, event tickets are bundled as part of a hotel or travel package. The package as a whole has restrictions on changes and cancellations.
Since the tickets are bundled with other components like hotel rooms or flights, they often cannot be resold or transferred independently. The entire package must be canceled or rebooked under someone else’s name.
You can contact the travel provider to see if exceptions can be made. But usually, the entire package must be canceled and rebooked if you want to transfer tickets.
Other illegal or invalid reasons
Less common reasons for non-transferrable tickets include:
- The tickets were purchased fraudulently with a stolen credit card and invalidated
- The tickets have already been used and are considered void
- The tickets are counterfeits
- The original ticket purchase violated laws regarding scalping or resale
If you unknowingly purchased invalid, fraudulent, or resold tickets, you will likely be out of luck. Always be sure to buy from reputable sources to avoid this problem.
What are my options with non-transferrable tickets?
If your tickets are genuinely not able to be resold, you have a few options:
- Use the tickets yourself – Obviously the simplest solution, but only if you want to and are able to attend the event.
- Eat the loss – If you can’t attend and resale is prohibited, you may have to eat the cost of the tickets.
- Negotiate with the event organizer – You may be able to contact the box office and plead your case for an exception or account transfer.
- Sell below face value – Even if resale is prohibited, you may find a buyer willing to take the risk at a big discount.
- Donate the tickets – Give unwanted tickets to charity to resell or distribute to their communities.
When reselling restricted tickets, be upfront in your listing about the restrictions. Don’t try to sell them under false pretenses. Make sure the buyer understands what they are getting.
How to avoid non-transferrable tickets
To minimize running into problems with restrictions on ticket resales, follow these tips when purchasing:
- Read all terms carefully before selecting tickets to understand resale rules.
- Avoid discount packages and bundled travel offers if you may want to resell.
- Stick to primary vendors and avoid unknown resellers.
- Be wary of prices or allocations that seem too good to be true.
- Don’t use bots or other unfair practices when buying in-demand tickets.
Taking a few precautions when initially purchasing tickets can save you the headache of finding out they are non-transferrable later on.
Can venues remove resale restrictions in the future?
Potentially, but it is unlikely for most major concerts, games, and live events. Venues and organizers implement these policies intentionally for a reason.
However, for very low-demand events, they may lift restrictions closer to the date if tickets are having trouble selling. This allows them to recoup some revenue from scalpers and resellers looking to dump unused tickets.
Some artists or teams also negotiate sunset provisions, where resale restrictions lift gradually in the weeks leading up to an event. This allows more flexible exchanges without enabling immediate scalping.
In most cases though, published ticket resale policies remain firm. Assume any restrictions present at purchase will still apply later.
Are ticket resale restrictions legal?
In most cases, yes. Ticket resale and scalping laws vary by state, but in general organizations have broad rights to set their own internal transfer policies.
As long as these restrictions are clearly disclosed up front before purchase, they are usually legally enforceable.
However, some specific types of restrictions have faced legal challenges, such as:
- Restricting all resales – Courts have required allowing at least some third-party exchanges.
- Capping resale prices below market value – Struck down as artificial price fixing in some cases.
- Restrictions deemed anticompetitive or monopolistic.
So while most resale restrictions stand, venues cannot overreach in ways that harm consumer rights or market dynamics.
The bottom line
If you buy a ticket and later see it is “not available for resale”, it is usually due to restrictions implemented by the event organizer, often for anti-scalping purposes.
Before acquiring tickets, always carefully check the fine print around transfers, resales, and account sharing. Assume any posted restrictions will be strict and enforceable.
If you end up with non-transferrable tickets, try negotiating with the box office or using them yourself. And going forward, exercise caution when purchasing hot-ticket items so you don’t get stuck.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does “not for resale” mean on tickets?
“Not for resale” printed on tickets means that the event organizer has placed restrictions prohibiting the tickets from being resold or transferred. The original purchaser will typically be required to attend the event.
Why would an event prohibit ticket resales?
The main reasons events prohibit ticket resales are:
- To prevent scalping and ensure fair ticket prices
- To discourage the use of ticket buying bots and other unfair practices
- To enforce discounted ticket programs and packages
- To identify fraud or maintain accuracy of attendee lists
Can I get around ticket transfer restrictions?
No, you should not try to get around published ticket resale restrictions, as this would be unethical and often illegal. If a resale prohibition is disclosed up front, you must honor it unless given a special exception.
What happens if I resell non-transferrable tickets?
If you resell non-transferrable tickets in violation of the event policies, the tickets may be cancelled or invalidated. You could face fraud charges or bans from future ticketing. Only resell them openly with buyer awareness of restrictions.
How do venues enforce restrictions on ticket resales?
Venues enforce resale restrictions by tying tickets directly to the purchaser’s account or requiring ID verification. They may also have partners monitor major resale sites for unwanted sales.
|Tickets tied to original purchaser account
|Check IDs at venue to match ticket holder
|Monitoring resale sites
|Watch for unwanted sales and cancel tickets
Can I negotiate with the box office on restricted tickets?
You can try calling the box office to explain your situation and politely ask if they are able to make any exceptions to their resale policy. However, most will adhere firmly to published restrictions.
Are fan-to-fan ticket exchanges allowed if resale prohibited?
Sometimes, but it depends on the specifics of the resale policy. Strict prohibitions usually forbid any transfer – even fan-to-fan. But some organizations do allow fan exchanges while prohibiting public resales.
What should I do if I can’t use my non-transferrable tickets?
If you are stuck with non-transferrable tickets you cannot use, some options are:
- Sell them at a deep discount to a fan willing to take the risk
- Eat the cost as an expensive lesson
- Donate them to a charity or non-profit
- Enter ticket contests offering them as a prize
Ticket resale restrictions are imposed by event organizers to enforce fair access and pricing of high-demand tickets. Make sure you carefully check all ticket terms before purchasing tickets that you may want to resell or transfer.
If you end up with non-transferrable tickets, explore any exception options with the box office or seek creative legal ways to recoup some of your costs. But never openly violate published resale prohibitions.