Smart Buying

How to Save Money on Concerts, Sports and More

Here are seven ways to see performances and events for free or at discounted prices.

Now that summer is practically here and the weather is nice, you might be weighing your entertainment options. At this time of year, there are plenty of concerts, sports and other events you can attend. But if you don't want to blow your budget, you need to see performances at a discount -- or even for free. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do this. Here are seven you should try.

Listen to music for free. Some performing arts centers hold occasional concerts at no charge to the public. For example, the Kennedy Center in Washington hosts a free concert every evening. Even if you can't make it to D.C., many of the concerts are viewable online. And communities across the country have free lunchtime and evening concerts in the park during summer months. Check the Web site of your local government or downtown development district for details.

Volunteer as an usher. A great way to see performances for free is to volunteer as an usher at a local theater. Call the theater manager to find out how to sign up. Some sports stadiums also employ volunteer ushers.

Check out campus offerings. Colleges and universities are a good source of free and low-cost performances -- from plays and dance recitals to lectures and concerts. If there is a university in your city, check the events calendar on its Web site to find out what it has to offer.

Visit the library. Public libraries often have free concerts, puppet shows and other programs. Many events are geared toward kids. Check your local library's Web site for information.

Take advantage of credit card perks. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch credit or debit cardholders can gain free admission to more than 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month. American Express cardholders enrolled in the Membership Rewards program can use rewards points to purchase Ticketmaster tickets. Check with your credit card to see if it offers any entertainment benefits.

Get deals on unsold tickets. A few Web sites offer free or discounted tickets to events that don't sell out because the event sponsors don't want empty seats. At ScoreBig you can get discounted tickets to concerts, performances and sporting events by bidding on unsold tickets. Savings range from 10% to 60% below the box-office price. You can join Fillaseat for $89.95 a year to get free tickets to performances (up to two tickets per performance) that don't sell out in 18 major cities.

Join AAA. Members of this auto club can get discounts on tickets for the theater, concerts, performances and sporting events. For example, AAA members can get a 20% discount on Cirque de Soleil shows in Las Vegas, 5% off tickets purchased through TicketsNow and 40% off tickets purchased through ScoreBig.

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