If you enjoy going to the movies, as I do, you may be aware that AMC Theatres is restructuring its rewards program. While the replacement of the MovieWatchers program with the new AMC Stubs system is being billed as an improvement made in response to customer feedback, the jury is still out as far as I’m concerned. Why? Well, I’m not thrilled that I now have to pay $12 a year to belong to a movie theater rewards program. Movies, at 10-plus dollars a pop, are expensive enough as it is; what am I getting for my extra $12?
Why don’t we compare and find out?
The AMS Stubs program gives you:
- a $10 reward credit (redeemable for movie tickets, concessions or gift cards) for every $100 you spend on tickets and concessions in participating AMC. This credit expires after 90 days.
- free one-size upgrades on popcorn and fountain drinks (not applicable to combos)
The AMC Movie Watcher program gave you two points for every ticket you purchased with the following rewards:
- 10 points: free small popcorn; 20 points: free small drink; 30 points: free ticket or free large popcorn and large drink; 40 points: free small popcorn; 50 points: free small drink; 60 points: free ticket or free large popcorn and large drink; 70 points: free small popcorn; 80 points: free small soda; 90 points: free ticket or free large popcorn and large drink; 100 points: free night at the movies. The coupons you received for these free goods would expire after 30 days.
- a free small popcorn every Wednesday
Still, you can’t get a true sense of each program’s benefit unless you put the rewards into real dollar terms. So, we’ll do that for two different scenarios: going to the movies once a month as well twice a month. For the purpose of comparison, we’re going to assume that this person buys only movie tickets, not concessions. An adult ticket at AMC theatres costs $10.75, meaning that a year’s worth of tickets would run you about $129.00. This excludes tax, but that’s fine because tax isn’t included toward rewards totals anyway.
|Number of Tickets/Mo.||Annual Cost||MovieWatchers Perks||Stubs Perks|
|1||$129.00||One free small popcorn||$10 discount-$12 annual fee= -$2 savings (no perks, consumers actually spend more)|
|2||$258.00||2 small popcorns, 1 small drink, 1 free movie||$20 discount-$12 annual fee= $8 savings|
Unless you go to the movies a heck of a lot or spend a great deal on concessions, there really is no financial incentive to belong to the Stubs program. Since you don’t earn rewards incrementally and only get $10 each time you spend $100, you don’t get any more than $10 when you spend between $100 and $199. And because these rewards expire within 90 days of earning them, you must remember to redeem them before they disappear, which is a hassle.
Still, people are going to inevitably pay this fee, and if they watch a lot of movies and typically spend a lot on concessions, it might be worth it. If you do decide to sign up for the AMC Stubs program, you might want to redeem your rewards for an AMC Theatres gift card instead of directly for a ticket. That way you can hang onto your discount and use it at your leisure.
However, there are also alternatives to the AMC rewards program that provide greater savings on tickets. AMC offers bundles of 50 tickets as part of their Gold and Silver Plans. If you opt for the Gold, you get 50 tickets at $7.50 per ticket, which can be used at any time and with no expiration date. The Silver gives you 50 tickets at $6.00 per ticket, which can be used to see any movie that has been in theatres for more than two weeks. Either of these bundles could be a pretty good deal if you go in on it with a few people and you’re uninterested in refreshments.
Alternatively, you can just wait until a movie comes out On Demand, on Netflix or at Redbox. Ultimately, while you can beat movie theater prices, many people feel that you just can’t beat the movie theater experience. So by all means go, but maybe explore your options a bit more before resigning yourself to either full price tickets all the time or the new Stubs program.