Cinema trip on a budget

Cinema trips can be expensive regardless of whether you are going solo or with the whole family. Ticket prices continue to rocket skywards and cinema snack costs refuse to show any sign of cooling. However, if you are a canny film fan, on your next visit to the big screen, there are a number of different ways to save a fistful of dollars.

However, if you are a canny film fan, on your next visit to the big screen, there are a number of different ways to save a fistful of dollars.

Cinema membership

Most cinemas offer annual membership schemes with free and discounted tickets, money off drinks and snacks and special members events. At Picturehouse cinemas membership includes a number of free tickets every month, discounts, priority booking and invitations to exclusive previews.

Cinemas including Odeon and Cineworld offer membership schemes where you pay a monthly direct debit and see as many films as you like throughout the year. Look out for restrictions on IMAX and central London screenings though. Cinema membership schemes are usually worth it if you visit the cinema at least three times a month.

Cinema loyalty cards

Just like in supermarkets, cinema loyalty cards rack up points when you spend, which you can use to pay for cinema tickets or snacks. With the Odeon’s Première Club scheme you earn 10 points for every full pound you spend in the cinema.

2-for-1 tickets

Check voucher sites and study the cinema tickets you’ve already bought for discount codes and 2-for-1 offers. If you make a qualifying purchase (including car, contents, pet and travel insurance) at Compare the Market <comparethemarket.com>, you can get access to 2-for-1 cinema tickets every Tuesday or Wednesday for a year through Meerkat Movies.

Film freebies

Sites including Free Movies UK help film fans gain access to free film screenings. If you’re a student (or someone in your family is) try the E4 Slackers Club, a scheme set up by TV channel E4 and Picturehouse to offer students a free film screening every month.

Indy cinema

For a more affordable cinema experience, avoiding the chains could save you money. Independent cinemas, and smaller scale screens in pubs and bars, usually have cheaper tickets for sale, or even show films for free; they might not have the latest blockbusters, but if you love film, you’ll appreciate the classics for less.

Look out for cheap days and cushy concessions

Most cinemas offer cheaper tickets on certain days of the week – usually Mondays or Tuesdays (you’ll need to check individual cinemas for info). Cinemas also offer concessions for students, mature people and under-12s, so make sure you carry relevant ID.

Avoid bells and whistles

Unless a film has been made especially for IMAX or 3D (read the reviews to find out), the ticket price is rarely worth it. Premier seating also pushes up the price of your tickets – but if you book in advance, and choose seats directly in front or behind the upgraded rows, you’ll get almost the same view.

Money-saving snacks

If you choose a cinema that lets you bring your own snacks, you could save a packet on popcorn and drinks. If you’ve stocked up at the supermarket, try not to arrive too early: hanging around the foyer when there’s pick n’ mix and fresh popcorn on display could throw your thrifty planning into disarray!