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Where to Buy Last Minute Sports or Concert Tickets

Written by Nickel - 5 Comments

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Our kids are huge football fans, so we’ve occasionally picked up tickets to attend a local NFL game. Since these events are typically sold out, we have to rely on “non-traditional” sources for our tickets.

Sure, we could go down to the stadium and try to buy tickets on the street, but that introduces a bit of the unknown. We’d hate to get all the way down there and be unable to find affordable tickets.

Buying tickets on Craigslist

One possibility is to check out Craigslist. Tons of people post tickets for sale on Craigslist, and we’ve actually had some success going this route. You start by perusing the ticket listings, then negotiate your deal by e-mail or phone before finishing the transaction at a pre-arranged time and location.

Of course, there are some potential downsides to Craigslist. For starters, you don’t really know who you’re dealing with, so you’ll want to be sure that you meet in a very public locations. If not, you could be putting yourself in danger.

Another limitation is that these deals sometimes fall through. You negotiate a great price and head off to pick up the tickets only to get stood up. Perhaps they get a better offer after they finished talking to you, or maybe they just flaked out. Either way, you’re out of luck.

Buying tickets through an online marketplace

Over the past year or so, I’ve become a big fan of online ticket exchanges. Until recently, my favorite site for this was StubHub, which is an online marketplace for ticket buyers and sellers.

While StubHub isn’t the only game in town, it’s the one that I’ve used – and liked – the most. The problem with depending on just one site, however, is that there might be tickets listed elsewhere that you don’t have access to. Thus, you’ll have to check multiple sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

With that in mind, I asked around on Twitter for recommendations as to the best place to buy tickets online. Of the responses that I received, I found one real gem: SeatGeek.

According to their website:

“We scour all the web’s major ticket sites to bring you the best deals, and tell you the best time to buy.”

They aggregate tickets offerings from StubHub, Ticket Empire, NFL Ticket Exchange, eBay, TicketsNow, and others, and present the results in a handy map of the stadium.

Available tickets are indicated by dots in the proper section/row. The size and color of the dot indicate whether or not the tickets are a good deal, primarily based on price vs. face value.

Simply hover over the dots for details, and click through to buy them from whichever site is offering them. You can streamline the process further by filtering based on the required number of tickets as well as your desired price range.

Our SeatGeek experience

We recently used SeatGeek to score six upper deck sideline seats to an NFL game for half of face value. Once I found the seats and clicked through, I was taken to StubHub where I paid a 10% service charge on the tickets. Sellers give up 15% of the purchase price, so StubHub collects 25% for making the transaction happen.

If you buy in advance, you can have them mail (or in some cases, e-mail) the tickets to you. Since I bought the tickets at 11PM the night before the game, I paid a $15 convenience fee to pick up the tickets at their “Last Minute Service Center” near the stadium the next morning.

Even with the fees, we got a great deal, and had a blast at the game. I should also note that SeatGeek has a price forecasting feature that supposedly tells you whether or not now is a good time to buy. Since we were buying at the last minute, I never even looked at this feature, though it could be handy if you’re looking to buy further in advance.

If you have any tips for scoring good tickets at a great price, please share you thoughts in the comments.

Note: While I’ve said some fairly positive things about both SeatGeek and StubHub above, this is not a paid review. It’s just a personal account of my experiences.

Published on October 18th, 2010 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. While it is unlikely to work with NFL Tickets, going the day of the event (early in the day) has worked for me in the past for concert tickets.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 18th 2010 @ 12:08 pm
  2. Buying sports tickets from Craiglist can be very risky. There are so many people that sell counterfeit tickets on that site. When you buy those tickets, you’re out of luck because you won’t likely be able to find them to get your money back.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 18th 2010 @ 12:29 pm
  3. Just a little aside to this story about Craigslist, 50 tickets to the Patriots game this weekend valued at $300 ea. were confiscated at the gate because they were fake.

    Comment by Anonymous — Oct 18th 2010 @ 3:17 pm
  4. Yeah, that’s another important point… Counterfeit tickets are becoming more common. If you buy on the street or through Craigslist, you have no recourse if the tickets turn out to be fake.

    Comment by Nickel — Oct 18th 2010 @ 3:23 pm
  5. Have you guys ever tried, they have really gud inventory of tickets – so can get last minute tickets at pretty reasonable prices.

    Comment by Anonymous — Nov 8th 2013 @ 1:49 pm

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