How to Score Cheap Concert Tickets

A group of three friends dance as fireworks go off at an outdoor concert
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There’s nothing more disappointing than missing out on seeing your favorite artist live in concert. Unfortunately, it can be really hard for the average Joe or Jane to score tickets to see big-name artists without paying an arm and a leg.

Concert tickets get so expensive because experienced brokers gobble up big chunks of them during the presale and general sale, often enlisting illegal bots to make bulk purchases.

Then the tickets get “legally resold” on secondary market sites like StubHub, Vivid Seat or Ticketmaster, with anywhere from a 50% to 5,000% markup. It’s all totally legal, even if it’s frustrating for the average fan.

There are ways to get around those outrageous prices, though. Here are a few tips and tricks for how to get cheap concert tickets to your next unforgettable show.

Skip the Gougers, Bypass the Bots

Why the high prices? Supply and demand.

Resale prices rise with high demand. And demand has been breaking records as a seemingly endless procession of big-name musicians started hitting the road again once the COVID-19 pandemic started to ease up. Well, hello, Bruce Springsteen, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey and the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Here are our tips for acquiring tickets during a presale, or buying tickets the day they drop, or if you’re looking for last-minute tickets.

Get in on the Presale

Buying concert tickets at face value — especially to high-profile stadium shows like Beyoncé or lesser mortals who aren’t Beyoncé — is no easy feat.

The presale period might be the best time to snag cheap tickets before the sale is opened to the general public.

Here are a few ways to get in on that presale action.

Become a (Super) Fan

Joining an artist’s fan club can get you early access to their ticket sales.

You can join a fan club (check the artist’s website for details), sign up for email lists or follow the social media accounts of your favorite artists to receive early-access presale codes.

Some musicians also have street teams of volunteers. In exchange for spreading the word about your favorite band by putting up posters and posting about them on social media, you may be able to score discount tickets or at least a presale code.

Whip Out Your Credit Card

While you always want to be cautious signing up for (and using) a credit card, that small but mighty piece of plastic can sometimes be your ticket to the presale realm.

Ticketmaster, the main site for concert ticket sales, often offers exclusive presale opportunities to Chase, Citibank and American Express cardholders.

A growing number of credit card companies also let you redeem your cash back points for live event tickets.

Capital One Entertainment, for example, allows cardholders to purchase or redeem rewards for tickets to hundreds of thousands of events worldwide, including sporting events and live music.

Whether you carry one of Capital One’s travel cards or a simple cash back card, you can get access to presale events along with curated “exclusive” packages that can include things like meet-and-greets not available to the general public.

Search Online for Presale Codes

As a last-ditch effort to get your hands on a presale access code, you can simply take to the internet with a Google or Twitter search. “Artist’s name” + “presale” will generally get you where you want to be.

Buy Tickets the Day They Drop

To purchase concert tickets to your dream show during the general sale period, you need to be quick — and come prepared.

Create an Account

Before the day tickets go on sale, create a user account on whichever website you’ll be using to purchase your concert tickets.

Nothing slows you down more in those frantic moments between loading your cart and checking out than having to create an account and fill out all of your information.

Make a Plan

Set yourself up for success by making a plan. Look at a map of the venue to see how the different sections are labeled and decide which area you’d like to be in.

That way, on the day of the sale, you won’t end up panic-picking seats you’re not totally thrilled about.

Watch the Clock

Don’t just set an alarm for the exact moment the tickets are supposed to drop. Some sales roll out in phases, and the first bunch may drop a few minutes before the designated time (although there’s no telling when).

Either way, you’ll want time to log into your account and get ready, so make sure you set a reminder for 15 minutes before the actual on-sale time.

Speed Counts

Get online using the fastest Wi-Fi or wired internet connection you can. A slow internet connection could seriously impede your chances when you’re competing against thousands of other fans (and machines).

Grab Your Ticket on the Go

Most ticket sale sites have a mobile site or phone app, so you don’t have to miss a sale just because you can’t be tied to your home computer.

Depending on the speed of your device, it might even make sense to buy concert tickets on your phone instead of your computer if your mobile device gets the job done faster.

Up Your Chances

If you plan on going to the show with a friend, have that person try to buy tickets at the same time on a different device.

This will up your odds of getting concert tickets on the first try.

If you both (magically) end up buying two tickets, you can sell the extras through a verified resale site. (Just remember to be a good groupie and resist the urge to rip off other fans by jacking up the price.)

Strength in (Smaller) Numbers

If you’re going with a big group, you might have to split up.

Buying a large chunk of tickets is difficult, since even one already-bought seat could make the site cancel your entire order. Decide ahead of time who will sit with whom and plan on buying tickets in pairs instead.

If you’re really on a budget, you can also save money by sitting solo.

Blocks of seats are more popular (and more expensive) than single seats, so venues and ticket brokers often sell isolated single seats at a discounted rate.

Look for Last-Minute Tickets

In the same way that waves of tickets may be released a bit early, some tickets may be held until hours, days or weeks later. Check back once in a while to see whether there are any more tickets available.

When resellers fail to sell all their extra tickets, they offer cheap prices at the last minute so they can recoup some of their initial costs.

The day before or the day of an event is the best time to find cheap concert tickets if you missed the presale window.

It might be tough to wait until the very last minute to secure your tickets, especially if you’re traveling to the show and need to arrange accommodations.

But if you live near the venue and can keep your calendar clear that night, waiting until the last minute can be a great opportunity to get cheap tickets.

Just make sure to buy tickets from verified third-party sites like StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats.

You’ll still pay fees, but they’re generally cheaper than Ticketmaster’s bevy of charges.

You can also try aggregator sites, such as Ticketwood, which scan the web for the best deals from several resale sites at once.

Other Ways to Get Cheap Concert Tickets

Even if you didn’t beat the bots, there are other ways to get cheap concert tickets — if you’re willing to get creative.

Go for the Cheap Seats in Cheap Cities

Be willing to compromise for nosebleeds if seeing Taylor Swift live is really super important to you. You’ll always pay more for seats close to the stage.

And remember: Some tour dates and venues are cheaper than others. If you live within driving distance of two major cities, check ticket prices for both sites. You might find tickets are cheaper in Louisville, Kentucky, for example, than in Nashville.

Try the Box Office

You can always shave a little off the ticket price by going directly to the venue’s box office. Most theaters and arenas have a box office where you can buy concert tickets directly, avoiding ticket seller service fees. Box office hours are limited so make sure to check what hours they’re open before you visit.

Work the Event

Contact the venue to see if event staff or security get free tickets or discounts. You won’t get to hang out and relax like a standard concertgoer, but you could save a ton of money on tickets or get access to a sold-out show.

Win a Ticket

Sometimes bands, music venues and radio stations offer free concert tickets. You may need to be caller number X to get a pair of free tickets on the radio. Follow your local radio stations or favorite bands on social media so you can learn about giveaways and contests.

Try Groupon

Groupon offers great deals on lots of local events and activities — including sports tickets and concerts.

You can score discounted tickets on Groupon, especially for shows less than two months away.

Mike Brassfield and Rachel Christian are senior writers for The Penny Hoarder. Email content writer Grace Schweizer contributed to this article.