The truth is, there is never one good answer. There is, however, just a few guidelines to follow so you can find the best cheap tickets with minimal effort and perhaps more importantly, for the lowest price.
Should I buy tickets from Ticketmaster or from a broker?
With the ever-rising cost of tickets these days you may be wondering why anyone would use the services of a ticket broker instead of purchasing their tickets directly from Ticketmaster, Tickets.com or the official box office. After all, ticket brokers sometimes charge much more than the 'face value' for a ticket. The truth is, sometimes purchasing your tickets from a box office instead of a ticket broker is your best option, but in reality, that is not true most often.
Purchasing tickets from a ticket outlet
Purchasing tickets from a source such as Ticketmaster or Tickets.com can be a crapshoot. If you wish to purchase your tickets from an authorized outlet Ticketmaster recommends that you "arrive at Ticket Centers no more than one hour in advance of the event on sale time" after which you will be entered into a "Random Number Distribution (RND) procedure… to determine line order at Ticket Centers if two or more customers are present to purchase tickets at the time the event goes on-sale." This procedure is generally referred to as a lottery, most likely because the results can be very similar. If you arrive at the ticket outlet after the random drawing you will be directed to the back of the line.
After the "lottery" is held the ticket sales representative will process ticket orders in the order determined. Each customer will tell the ticket agent what price range of seats he or she would like (the day tickets go on sale you may only select tickets by price, you will not have the option to choose any particular seating area), view a copy of the venue seating chart, and then the tickets will be printed and paid for. This process is being repeated at hundreds, if not thousands, of ticket locations throughout your area as well as on the internet and via phone while you are waiting for the customers ahead of to have their ticket order processed, diminishing the "pool" of available seats when it is finally your turn to order tickets.
Purchasing tickets from an Online ticket outlet (such as Ticketmaster.com)
You can avoid the "lottery" situation by purchasing your tickets from the box office online, but your results could be similar. Many online box office employ an image recognition system that displays a distorted image of a word you must type in to verify that you are a human and not a machine to in an attempt to prevent automated programs from purchasing tickets, but sometimes these systems can backfire on you presenting you with an image that is unreadable, thereby pushing you further back "in line."
Once you have selected tickets for purchase you will notice that there are often several additional fees you must pay including: "Facility Charge," "Convenience Charge," "Order Processing Fee," "Taxes", "Delivery Price." These fees vary and are all charged in addition to the "face value" of the ticket, but can often greatly increase the overall price per ticket.
There are so many variables to consider, but most often - when you are able to log onto Ticketmaster or the box office's online-outlet at the time your event goes on sale to the public, you should definitely try to see if you can "pull" good tickets. After all, it never hurts to try your luck (if you have the time and resources), perhaps you can get great seats on your own.
For more information about purchasing tickets from Ticketmaster, including tips and secrets when buying on Ticketmaster.com, visit our Ticketmaster Information section.
Purchasing tickets from a ticket broker
Purchasing tickets from a ticket broker can also be a harrowing experience, especially if you have never used the services of a ticket broker before. First off, be forewarned that prices from a ticket broker are almost always above face value, and even above the total cost after adding in all of the miscellaneous fees. The reason for this is that box offices such as Ticketmaster or Tickets.com do not grant any special privileges to ticket brokers. Brokers do not receive discounts on tickets nor are any seats reserved for sale to ticket brokers. Because they do not receive any special treatment ticket brokers often have to work very hard to obtain good seats which in turn drives up the cost of their tickets.
In addition to purchasing tickets from the box office ticket brokers often buy tickets from people just like you who own really great season tickets or managed to purchase really great seats or maybe won them in a contest. In many cases brokers have many years worth of contacts with such people as well as within their own industry. In these cases the seller is generally looking to make a profit and sells the tickets to the broker at an inflated price. All of these factors, as well as market conditions affect the resale price of a ticket.
The good news is that when purchasing tickets from a ticket broker you generally have many more seating options to choose from allowing you to pick the exact seat location or budget that fits you. Additionally, a ticket broker will have tickets available for events that are sold out or don't even go on sale to the public, such as the Grammy Awards and the SuperBowl.
What should I do?
If you choose to go through an experienced, reputable ticket broker you will pay a few dollars more, but chances are that you will have a better overall purchase experience and end up with the seats that are just right for you. Many people feel that avoiding the box office hassle, as well as the memory of sitting in great seats is worth that extra cost.
You may be surprised to learn that for many events that are popular but not in extremely high-demand, you can purchase tickets from resellers or brokers for just a small mark-up over what you might pay from the box office or Ticketmaster. In this very common situation, you might pay a very small premium for their services, but get seats a hundred times better than what you may be able to get on your own. If you're going to go anyway, why not pay a little more (or sometimes less!) and get far better seats without the hassle. That, my friends, is why ticket brokers are such a valuable resource.
Learn more about increasing your chances of "pulling" good tickets from Ticketmaster.
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