Almost all travelers to the Big Apple have the same list of must-dos:
- Go to the top of the Empire State Building
- Visit the Statue of Liberty
- See a Broadway show
These are also on all but the most jaded New Yorkers’ list of things to do at least once in their lives. But it’s not uncommon for out-of-towners and natives alike to experience sticker shock when they purchase tickets to a show. Fortunately, knowing how to get cheap Broadway tickets can save you a few bucks to put toward that souvenir Statue of Liberty crown.
The AAA Discounts & Rewards® program has helped millions of members save money on entertainment tickets. Read on to learn the best strategies to help you score tickets to the hottest show in town without blowing your budget.
1. Buy Your Tickets Early
As soon as you book your trip to New York City, start looking for tickets to the show you want to see. The earlier you purchase your tickets, the more likely the box office will have cheaper tickets available. Some shows, like the incredibly popular “Hamilton,” are sold out far in advance, but others don’t sell out until closer to the date, if at all.
2. Use Your AAA Membership
AAA Tickets can help you snag cheap tickets to even the most in-demand shows. Your AAA membership unlocks access to tickets that are up to 30 percent off box office prices. When you’re buying tickets for the whole family, those savings can add up fast.
3. Enter a Ticket Lottery
If your plans are flexible and you’re willing to risk not seeing your favorite show, consider entering a ticket lottery. Most Broadway shows hold a lottery for significantly cheaper tickets — for example, the “Hamilton” lottery offers 40 tickets for $10 each, compared to $150+ regularly priced tickets.
Reach out to the box office for specific details for the show you want to see. Some box offices offer daily lotteries, while others offer weekly ones.
4. Buy Tickets During Broadway Week
NYC Broadway Week occurs twice a year, and don’t let the name fool you — it actually runs for almost a month. Since 2011, they’ve been offering 2-for-1 deals to celebrate live theater. Not all shows participate in the celebration, so check out the official NYC Broadway Week website for information about when the next Broadway Week is and what shows are participating.
5. Play Broadway Roulette
Feeling lucky? Just want to see a show, any show? Let fate decide what show you’ll see! For a flat fee, select a date and the number of tickets you need. Answer a few questions about the type of show you’d like to see, where you’d like to sit and any shows you don’t want to see. Then the day of the show, the company will email you tickets to the show they picked for you.
The best part about Broadway Roulette is that all Broadway box offices participate, so you may even be able to see the latest Tony Award winner with a waitlist for tickets.
6. Go With a Group
While you’ll spend more overall, if you go with a large group, you can save 10 to 15 percent per ticket. Most box offices require a minimum of 15-20 people for group rates. You’ll also need to plan in advance for this type of ticket purchase; if you wait until the last minute, you won’t be able to get seats together.
7. Purchase NYC Tourist Attraction Discount Passes
Some NYC tourist attraction discount passes, like the New York Pass, can be used to get you discounted tickets to local attractions, including a Broadway show. Just make sure you do your research first — otherwise, you risk getting a discount pass for a theater that doesn’t have the show you want to see.
8. Check Your Credit Card
If you’re an avid theater-goer, consider getting a credit card that offers ticket deals, like American Express. Oftentimes these rewards cards provide access to presales and discounted ticket deals.
9. Go to a Wednesday Matinee
Since the average person works on Wednesday afternoons, the Wednesday matinee is the least attended show of the week. To get an audience in the seats, box offices will often sell tickets to the Wednesday matinee for a lower price than typical evenings.
10. Become a Theater Member
Many major Broadway theater companies sell membership packages that give members access to discounts and advance ticket sales. You’ll have to pay a fee upfront, but you’ll be able to purchase discounted tickets. If you want to see multiple shows or need to purchase a lot of tickets, becoming a member is a great strategy to get cheap Broadway tickets.
To ensure the membership is worth it, total up how much you’ll save on tickets. If that’s more than the membership fee, go for it!
11. Rush the Theater
Rushing the theater is a classic tactic to score some cheap seats. Even if the show is officially listed as sold out, the box office holds a handful of tickets back to sell on show day starting at $20.
You’ll want to be in line at the box office before it opens — or well before it opens for popular shows. Some shows have started offering their rush tickets via the mobile app TodayTix if standing in line doesn’t fit in your itinerary for the day.
12. Look for Last-Minute Resales
A few hours before the curtain rises, resale vendors dramatically drop prices. In their minds, a ticket sold is better than a ticket that goes unsold, so they’ll scramble to get someone to purchase them. If you don’t mind waiting until the last minute, this strategy can save you some cash.
The biggest price drops happen about an hour before the show starts, so do your last-minute buying in Times Square so you can sprint to your theater. This strategy works best if you’re looking for cheap Broadway tickets at the last minute.
13. Join TDF
The Theatre Development Fund (TDF) believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to see a Broadway show, and they know ticket prices can be prohibitive. For a $40 membership fee, students, teachers, retirees, government officials, freelancers and more can get access to $11-$57 discounted tickets. Check their website for more information about what groups are eligible to join.
14. Sign Up for an 18-40 Discount Group
The average Broadway audience is 40.6 years old, so several nonprofit theater organizations are trying to get millennials and Gen Zers into theaters with discount groups specifically for people ages 18-40. Look for programs like Hiptix from the Roundabout Theatre Company, LincTix from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons for special deals if you fall in the right age bracket.
15. Buy Partial View or Standing Room Only (SRO) Tickets
The most popular seats with the best views are in the center orchestra, but they’re also the most expensive. If you’re willing to sacrifice a clear view of the stage, partial view tickets are significantly cheaper. In most cases, these seats are off to the side, and you’ll only lose a small view of the stage that impacts a scene or two. Be careful before you buy these tickets, though — in some theaters, you may be sitting behind a pillar or something else that significantly impacts your view.
If you don’t mind standing for a few hours, purchase standing room only (SRO) tickets. These tickets are usually some of the cheapest, and it's possible that if there are empty seats because someone doesn’t show up, the usher will seat you. You’ll also have a great view since SRO is directly behind the last row of the orchestra section.
Not all theaters offer partial view or SRO tickets, so call the box office ahead of time.
16. Buy From the TDF TKTS Booth
The classic New Yorker strategy for getting cheap tickets is standing in line at one of the TDF TKTS booths. The original booth is in Duffy Square at 47th Street and Broadway (look for the red steps), and the other is at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium.
The booths sell same-day tickets for up to 50 percent off starting at 3 p.m. for evening performances and 11 a.m. for matinees on Wednesdays, Thursdays and weekends. However, they often don’t sell tickets to the bigger Broadway shows, and you’ll have to stand in line for a while, so the earlier you get there, the better.
17. Buy Directly From the Box Office
If you’ve tried to buy a ticket through an online ticket broker, you are likely familiar with the exorbitant fees you can pay per ticket. Instead, go to the box office and purchase the tickets in person. As an added bonus, you may get better seats than you would by purchasing online if someone has returned their tickets.
18. Go During the Off-Season
During the summer and the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, tourists flock to Broadway. If you have the luxury of going whenever you want, opt to see your favorite Broadway show during the off-season. Tickets tend to be cheaper when tourist demand is lower.
Join AAA To Get Discounted Entertainment Tickets Today
Tickets to attractions like Disney World and Universal Studios or sporting events or entertainment shows don’t have to blow your budget. Become a AAA member today for access to exclusive discounts on everything from rental cars to the movies.