The Ultimate Movie Theater Discount Hacking Guide

Updated on 10/19/2016

There are a lot of different ways to save money in life, but it usually boils down to one of three different ways to reduce costs.  The first two involve either cutting out the expense completely or replacing it with an alternative.  These can be extremely effective, but come with the sometimes difficult decision of weighing how much you value the item/service/experience versus the money that must be spent to have it.  On the other hand, the third option is finding ways to have the exact same item/service/experience for less money out of your pocket.  While the first two are important for establishing a healthy level of spending, the third one removes the philosophical decisions on value versus cost and becomes a straightforward game of find the best deal.

One such cost cutting opportunity I’ve been thinking about lately is movies.  Becky and I are huge movie fans and watch a ton of them over the course of any given month.  For the most part, our cost is extremely small for the amount of hours of entertainment it provides because the majority of movies watched are via streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video.  On the other hand, we do enjoy the movie theater experience and end up going to a movie or so per month when there is a new one we really want to see.  The most effective way to reduce your movie viewing expenses, hands down, is to stick to streaming services or stop watching them completely.  If you’re like us though and end up visiting the theater on any kind of regular basis, there are a lot of opportunities to cut down on the cost of tickets.  Below, I’ve assembled a list of all the tips and tricks I know about to save money on movie tickets and they range from simply buying at a discount from the right places all the way to seeing brand new movies completely free, sometimes before they are even released to the public!  Let’s dive right in.


Earning the Southwest Companion Pass Beyond 5/24

Near the end of 2014, we strategically applied for credit cards with the specific goal of getting the Southwest Companion Pass for 2015 and 2016.  This companion pass let’s you get unlimited buy-one-get-one free on all Southwest flights with the same person, whether the first ticket is booked with points or cash, and lasts for up to 2 years depending on which month it is earned in.  Our strategy was for Becky to get both personal versions of the Southwest credit card, each of which came with a 50,000 point signup bonus.  After meeting the minimum spend of $2,000 on each card, we had 104k out of the 110k required to earn the companion pass and topped off the last 6k through regular spend.

Back then, Chase handed out credit cards like candy and didn’t really care how many other credit cards someone had gotten in the past 2 years.  These days, the majority of their credit cards fall under the “5/24 rule” which prevents someone who has opened 5 credit cards in the past 24 months (from any bank) from being approved.

If you happen to come in under Chase’s 5/24 rule, then our signup bonus based strategy above should still work perfectly fine.  Just make sure you’re getting 50k+ for each card as the public signup bonus seems to swing between 30k and 60k throughout the year.

If you’re like us and no longer qualify for new Southwest credit cards, then follow along down the rabbit hole as I investigate a bunch of other ways we might be able to earn a new Companion Pass and whether or not the value of the pass justifies the cost.


Addition By Subtraction: We Love Getting Rid of Stuff!

A little more than a year after we moved into our house, certain parts started to feel a little cluttered.  Considering that only two of us (plus a dog) were currently living in a 3 bedroom house, this was quite alarming!  Apparently, all of the stuff we owned was multiplying at an unsustainable rate that would have us upgrading our house within years if we didn’t get to the bottom of it.  The large number of households caught in an endless mortgage loop of upgrading houses almost started to make sense… almost.

Fortunately, we decided to attack the problem head on and eventually found out we had a lot more stuff than we actually needed.  After filtering through a few areas of our house one at a time, we found the overall process extremely rewarding.  First, it’s fun to get a good look at all of the stuff you own every so often, some of which you probably haven’t seen in a while.  Second, it’s nice to let some stuff go in order to free up space both physically and mentally.  Third, once you put all the stuff back that you’ve determined worthy, it’s like a whole new area of your house!

I’ll break down how we go about filtering through our possessions one area at a time and maybe inspire you to go through that closet you’re scared to open.  You know the one I’m talking about…


Off To FinCon 2016 in San Diego!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Becky and I will be attending FinCon this year in San Diego.  We fly down today and will be in and around the conference up until Sunday!


I’m looking forward to seeing people again that I’ve met in the past and hopefully meeting some awesome new people at the conference and various after-parties that are scheduled so far.  We’ll also be learning about various new financial startups, hearing from some interesting speakers, and hopefully picking up some motivation and inspiration along the way.  I’ll be sure to pass anything particularly interesting along either here or on Twitter.

If you’re attending this year, feel free to say hi if you find me!  Becky and I will probably be walking around together between the various panels and I’ll be in cargo shorts regardless of the weather.  Feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@Money_Metagame) or follow along from home if I remember to post updates.

Cheers everyone, here’s to an awesome FinCon!

Ebay Gift Card Arbitrage Update: It Lives, but Keeps Getting Tougher

Over the past month or so, ebay has changed numerous rules that make flipping gift cards on ebay a little harder, but the good news is that it isn’t dead yet.  First, ebay added back the limit on using ebay gift cards by restricting everyone to $2,000 per rolling 60 days.  There was a brief period while ebay gift cards were transitioned over from PayPal to ebay where you could go wild and use as much as possible, but it probably isn’t a big surprise that the old rule (although a little different) returned.  Next, the terms and conditions on many popular shopping portals began restricting cash back on the purchase of ANY kind of gift cards rather than the older restriction that only applied to ebay branded gift cards.  Finally, ebay dropped a bigger hammer down without any warning and restricted the use of ebay gift cards for purchasing any kind of gift card!  Luckily they have turned this rule off until October 13th to allow people to empty out their gift cards, so be sure to burn any you are still holding on to soon.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I recommend checking out my Intro Post on Gift Card Arbitrage and my other post specific to Ebay Gift Card Arbitrage.

Ebay definitely seems to be cracking down on gift card reselling, but I would guess that most of it has to do with fraud rather than simply trying to limit people like us.  Despite the negative changes, there is still some opportunity to be had, especially if your main goal is increasing credit card spend for little or no cost.  In fact, on my ebay gc arbitrage tool today, it’s possible to generate over $1,500 worth of spend for less than $10 without even counting the credit card points, miles, or cashback!

I’ll break down the impact of the new restrictions below and go into more detail on the $1,500 spend example I just mentioned.