How to get free and cheap cinema tickets

After cheap cinema tickets for yourself or the family? We reveal the widely-available schemes that'll help you bag huge discounts on trips to the movies.

Get two tickets for the price of one

Meerkat Movies lets you buy two cinema tickets for the price of one at several cinema chains, including OdeonCineworld and Vue.

There’s a catch, of course.

To qualify, you’ll have to:

  • Purchase an insurance policy (car, van, motorcycle, contents/buildings, pet, life, business, landlord or travel insurance) or;
  • Switch your utility, broadband, home telephone or digital TV provider or;
  • Take out a loan, credit card, mobile phone contract or SIM-only contract through comparethemarket.com.

You'll then receive a weekly code, which allows you to purchase two cinema tickets for the price of one on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a whole year. 

You can buy tickets in advance at the cinema or online.

Just enter your voucher code in the 'Your Order' step of booking to apply the discount or present the code at the box office,

You’ll also get access to Meerkat Meals (via the app), which is a two-for-one offer on starters, mains and desserts at thousands of restaurants every Sunday to Thursday for a year.

Bag a family deal

Vue offers a family ticket for up to four people, where each person pays a child’s price for a ticket on U, PG and 12A films.

You just need to ensure your group contains at least two children aged 12 or under.

Some Vue cinemas offer cheaper tickets that are generally under £7 for an adult regardless of when you go (with the possible exception of bank holidays).

Not everyone will get lucky with cheaper tickets, so you should check the prices at your local Vue cinema.

Odeon’s family ticket allows you to get tickets for the whole family, but the adults pay child prices.

Two children and two adults are eligible for the offer, as well as one adult and three children. As with most of these offers, you’ll probably have to pay extra for 3D films.

Cheap: kids and teen tickets

Most major cinemas offer discounts for children at specific times. 

Empire runs Junior screenings on Saturday and Sundays at ‘pocket money prices’ for both adults and children.

Vue has tickets for both kids and accompanying adults from £2.49 on selected Saturday and Sunday mornings and throughout the school holidays.

Head to the Mini Mornings offer page for further details. 

Movies for Juniors is available at Cineworld where you can watch a film with your kids from £2.50 each. 

Premium Movies for Juniors is priced from £5.50 a ticket but offers access to previously unreleased, new films.

Odeon Kids allows you and your children to watch a kids film from £2.50 each on weekend and school holiday mornings.

Other tickets under Odeon Kids such as teens, seniors and students are the same price as adult and child admission.

Cheap and free cinema tickets (Image: Shutterstock)

Go off-peak on weekdays

If you can, going to the cinema during off-peak times (weekdays before 5pm) will slash the cost of your ticket price.

Predictably, cinema tickets for evenings, weekends and bank holidays cost the most.

But there are some cinemas that offer discounted tickets during peak times between Monday and Friday. 

Empire Cinemas offer cheap tickets (from £4.25 each) on a Tuesday at most of its cinemas, as part of its 'Sav£rday Tuesday' deal. 

The offer excludes bank holidays, Impact, IMAX, D-Box screens, Luxury and VIP seating, Empire Extra performances, 3D films and special presentations. 

You can’t take advantage of this offer on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve ­– both of which land on a Tuesday this year.

Vue has Super Mondays at most of its cinemas, which offers discounted tickets on Mondays – but you need to sign up for this offer. Bank holidays are not included in this deal.

Discount tickets and membership schemes

Cineworld offers an Unlimited card which gets you access to as many movies as you like from £18.40 a month.

This is a great deal if you watch several films each month and are near a Cineworld.

Odeon has Odeon Limitless, which offers cinema-goers the chance to see any film they want, as often as they want, in almost all of its cinemas across the UK and Ireland for a monthly fee of £17.99.

A higher monthly fee of £19.99 is charged for central London cinemas.

Until 6 May 2019, the Odeon Premiere Club allowed you to earn 10 points for every £1 you spent in the cinema or online.

Members will no longer be allowed to earn these points from 6 May.

But they can use any accumulated points up until their expiry 12 months after they were purchased or earned. These points can be spent on tickets, food and drink.

Another option for film fanatics is Picturehouse, which offers two tiers of membership – ‘member’ and ‘member plus.’

If you join as a ‘member,’ you get four free tickets, £2 off admission at most Picturehouse cinemas, 10% off food and drink, priority booking and a host of other discounts from its national partners.

Individual membership costs between £25 and £90 for a year, depending on which cinemas you plan to visit and whether you’re paying a student, senior or adult price.

‘Member Plus’ offers more benefits, including (but not limited to) eight free cinema tickets and the ability to bring up to three guests to any performance at a discounted price.

While this membership is more generous, it can cost up to £170 for a year.

Showcase has the Insider Club, which is free to join and offers discounted admission on Sundays after 7pm and all day on Mondays and Tuesdays only.

You'll also get the chance to enter exclusive competitions and you can enjoy 25% off food at Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito restaurants.

Vue regularly has offers – check out its latest offers page for more information.

Outside of cinema-specific schemes, you can also use Tastecard+ to get up to 40% off tickets at Odeon, Vue, Showcase, Empire and Picturehouse.

You can also get up to 40% off tickets if you’re a member of Gourmet Society.

Senior tickets

Most cinemas offer discounted tickets for seniors.

A couple of chains also run senior screenings and throw in a free hot drink and biscuit for you to enjoy while you watch the film.

Vue has Seniors Screenings, Empire offers Empire Seniors and Odeon has Silver Cinema.

These screenings tend to happen regularly on Wednesday mornings, but it’s best to check with your local cinema as some may do them on different days – or not at all.

The ticket generally comes with a free cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit and can cost as little as £3.

Student tickets

If you’re a student, you’ll be able to get hold of discounted tickets at most cinemas, but make sure you have your ID to hand.

Free preview screenings

Free tickets are often given away to promote new films.

But only selected titles are previewed, so you’ll need to sign up to specific sites to get hold of screening codes as they are released.

The Free Movies UK forum is worth registering for, as members tend to share details of the latest free screenings.

Students can also get hold of tickets to free screenings at Picturehouse cinemas by joining the E4 Slackers Club via Facebook or by buying a Picturehouse cinema membership.

Use Nectar or Clubcard points

You can use Nectar points to save money on cinema tickets at Vue. With 500 points you can get a £2.50 discount on the cost of your tickets.

Tesco Clubcard holders can boost the value of their vouchers to save at certain cinemas. You can turn 50p worth of Clubcard vouchers into £1.50 to spend at Cineworld.

Alternatively, Tesco Clubcard holders can turn £10 of vouchers into £30 to spend on an Unlimited Pass.

How to get cheap and free cinema tickets

Money off passes for carers

If you are receiving Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independence Payment or are registered blind, you can apply for a CEA card.

This card allows a carer (parent, family member, worker etc.) to enter the cinema for free when you buy a full price ticket.

Local deals

Keep an eye out for local deals and offers at independent cinemas. 

Use a cashback website

Cashback websites like TopCashback and Quidco often have amazing deals at cinemas.

Voucher codes

Watch out for voucher code offers on sites like VoucherCodes.co.uk and MyVoucherCodes.

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