Did a $12 fee Increase Really Make AMC’s Rewards Program More Rewarding?

by John Kiernan on March 29, 2011

AMC rewards programIf 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 CostMovieWatchers PerksStubs Perks
1$129.00One free small popcorn$10 discount-$12 annual fee=   -$2 savings (no perks, consumers actually spend more)
2$258.002 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.

Discussion

Cody Lee Urquhart
I've had Stubs ever since they switched over from MovieWatchers. I have saved a gross total of $140 since then. About to be $150 after I see one more movie. The first year was free so I've only paid $24. Meaning I have saved a net total of $126 over the course of 2 and a half years. Plenty worth it. I wasn't sure it would be at first, but I much prefer it to the old program.
September 27 at 02:38 am
Terry Rejniak
Also if you go to the movies a lot you have to get a Movie Pass Card. 30 bucks a month and you can go to 1 movie a day every day with no additional charge. There is 1 catch, you have to agree to a 1 year contract. I go to the show a lot being retired so I save quite a bit. If you go once a week average even and pay 10 bucks a movie you'll save quite a bit of money. 52 weeks x 10.00 = 520.00, 30.00 x 12 months = 360.00. So 160.00 in savings just going once a week. Using the Movie Pass Card with my AMC Stubs Card really saves me quite a bit of money. I love deals and free things, lol.
July 23 at 06:19 am
Terry Rejniak
07-22-2013, I just renewed my card today for $12.00, They are even running a special so you have to be crazy not to buy it even if you only go to a couple movies in the next year. They put the 12 bucks on the card and gave me 10 bucks credit so it actually was only 2 bucks! I think it's my 3rd year of having it and I love it! I was credited 40 bucks last year plus all my savings on pop and popcorn. That was just for myself, you'd save a fortune with a family. Get the card especially right now with the 10.00 credit promotion. It's a great deal.
July 23 at 06:00 am
Christopher Tamayo
I usually go to the movies with a lot of friends. So far I've gotten 20 bucks in rewards and half way to another 10. One movie, I buy two tickets, one for me and one for my wife. Then I just pass the card number to all my friends that are going and pretty much gets me almost to the 100 mark per movie xD.
May 31 at 19:54 pm
Troy Kleasner
For most people with kids, this card is a very good deal. The old system was better for me because I don't usually buy concessions, prefer discount movie times and I would get the same benefit as someone going in the evening and buying a lot of concessions. Whereas now, I might spend $18 for 3 people, parents with kids would spend at least $50 a visit. That adds up fast, especially if you are a frequent movie goer.
December 17 at 16:49 pm
Holly Kincade Taylor
Our family has already renewed our carx once. And in the 18 months we have earned 130.00 in rewards along with all the upgrades. We are a family of five and think this is the best program ever. It really does pay if ypu go frequently we go with family and friends who dont have a card and use ours. Then we get even more points.
May 30 at 17:49 pm
Laura Levinson Dizon
This program is worth it. I've been a member for a year and my $12 has gotten me $47 worth of Fandango fees waived and $110 in Stub Rewards. I definitely say that's worth my $12. I will say that I do go to the movies semi-regularly, maybe once or twice every couple of months, however, when I do go, I favor the Cinema Suites at the Dine-In AMC and I usually put everyone's tickets on my card and have them pay me back. This ramps up my rewards quicker.
May 3 at 18:06 pm
Dave Norman
"can't beat the movie theater experience"? If you mean crying children, ringing cell phones and chatty neighbors, I can get that at home for free, and without the long lines.
April 24 at 22:40 pm
Dorota Haley Napiorkowska
Yeah this guy just seems angry. You cannot even count the number of promotions amc has for stubs members... and you make it seem like one size upgrades is a nothing... do your homework. the 12 dollars pays for card fees and that lovely website where you post your stubs etc. and like one of the people who said below, it is meant for those bigger groups/frequent visitors and even they complain that its 12 when they could've had 10, 20$ in rewards by now...
March 20 at 04:37 am
Tanika Freeman
I am an avid moviegoer who enjoys perks such as upgrades, free tickets, advance screenings, etc..however, I am not a fan of Stubs Rewards program. I've been a member for a full year, have had $90 in rewards, plenty of upgrades, but have lost $20 in rewards due to the rewards expiring. The movies are getting more expensive and I don't think that we should have to pay for the perks...we're spending enough on concessions and tickets that should result in earning those perks w/o incurring a membership fee. Yes, $12 is minimum, but keep in mind that is a movie ticket itself. If you end up losing $10 in rewards because you didn't use within 90 days....at least credit my membership as opposed to me losing out completely!
March 13 at 05:04 am
Pam Petell
It only pays for itself if they actually track that you paid for it! I renewed my Stubs card at the ticket counter in Ahwatukee a month or so ago and now they tell me that I never did. Nice! So basically they stole my money! And they won;t do anything about it because I didn't save my receipt. (Funny, I normally do, but it was on a ticket stub receipt and I threw it away thinking it was just the receipt to the movie). Glad AMC doesn't give a crap about customers that have been in their loyalty program for YEARS! Off to Harkins I go, AMC can suck it!
February 10 at 19:47 pm
James Graham III
um I work at amc and yes its expensive but there are a lot of mis conceptions in this article. in fact the discounts do go towards combos! and if you get 2 large drinks and a large popcorn every time yo came to the theatre the stubs card would pay for itself within six vistits. also there is no tax on tickets or concessions! tickets are ten or five dollars depending on what time you come to the movie theater. not to mention that I see plenty of people come in with 10,20, and one time even 50 dollars worth of rwards and get the whole nightoff free. if any of our guests would listen to us when we try to sell stubs, then you would no that we tell you flat out that stubs really only helps you if you visit the movies frequently or with large parties! I think you guys should look up the information for yourself or contact an actuall amc thearter instead of listening to this bs! if you have any real questions or would like to hear the truth about amc stubs, then look any of our supervisors up at AMC Rockford 16 at (815) 332-7720.
January 11 at 14:30 pm
Peggy A. Farrow
The Stubs card is being offered for an annual fee $6.00 now, for a limited time.
November 26 at 12:13 pm
Mel Mayfield
let's see... 90 days is a hassle? the receipt you get with any purchase let's you know when you have a reward available, if you know you wont likely be back for 3 months would it really be that hard to get a Gift card while you're *at* the theater? nnand for the person who said they had $20 expire? I call BS... after the 1st $10 earned you spent another $100 w/o using the credit all the while? that's not too much hassle, that's just you're own fault.
November 24 at 13:13 pm
Jay
Personally it paid for itself and I only had to buy the Stubs card. I got a load of free tickets to the Stubs screening of Warrior.

And they have side promotions I've taken advantage of like buy 1 Lion King 3D Ticket and get $5 in rewards.

Plus the Fandango fees are a little pricier in NYC. Win-Win.
October 16 at 12:14 pm
Anonymous
I also would like to add that you get free upgrades on popcorn and drinks= $1 savings on each popcorn $0.50 savings on each drink. That adds up as well.
October 11 at 18:26 pm
amc
If you don't think that in 3 months you're going to return to AMC put your rewards on a giftcard like a sane person it never expires and then you'll eventually be able to rake in those 10$ to your AMC card as well. Whoever wrote this column is just upset with the change and hasn't actually took the time to figure out the benefits. If you don't get it oh well. if you do get it. Happy SAVINGS!
September 28 at 18:16 pm
amc
If you want to use it for the entire box office line and rake in your money that way. That's your prerogative. ALSO it does work on Combos as a matter of fact a #1 which is a large drink and a large popcorn cost you 13$ without it. With it it cost you $11.50. Sounds like a bargain to me. Also you start off with your ticket prices added to your card PLUS the $12 that you spent on it.
September 28 at 18:14 pm
amc
While AMC stubs appears to be a hassle to all you you ladies and gents. Is it really going to kill you to try it out for a year? If you were SOOO pro movie watcher the way that you say that you were then the stubs program will actually work for you and benefit you the most. Yes you got a free popcorn every wednesday if you went on wednesdays. Yes you got 2 points for your tickets. BUT YOU ONLY GOT 4 POINTS MAXIMUM A DAY. AMC Stubs works with EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR YOU SPEND. continued-
September 28 at 18:11 pm
Anonymous
Also, I found it humorous that a NINETY day coupon window is considered a hassle. I'm an unmarried person in their 20s, so maybe I just have more free time than most people. But people were really complaining that they can't get back to the movies in a three-month period? It's not like they don't print expiration dates and fine print on their certificates. Sounds more like a problem of time-management on the customer's part.
September 27 at 15:42 pm
Anonymous
There are people who just go to movies and don't buy concessions, but I think the majority of people buy at least something from the stands. AMC MovieWatchers capped how many points you could get in a day. Let's say you can get 2 tickets worth of points in a visit but you need 3 tickets. That means you lost out on 1 ticket's worth of points. You also didn't get points for concession purchases. With Stubs you get points for every $ spent, ticket or concession plus "free" upgrade on drinks/popcorn
September 27 at 15:36 pm
Odysseas
AMC employees are so funny. If your program was good it would not require so much defending and explanation. Stop being defensive and drop the $12 annual fee!!
September 23 at 20:37 pm
cheap
If you need the fee dropped that signifies that you need to save money so you might as well get an AMC stubs card and REALLY save. Or go on down to cinemark and eat all their food that is leftover in trash bags from the night before and you can eat stale popcorn. Have a good day.
September 28 at 18:18 pm
AMC
The card is amazing for families. 4 people(2 Parents 2 kids) which is 40 dollars, you go 12x a year and you purchase 1 medium popcorn, 2 medium sodas and a candy.. You'll save 24 dollars throughout the year for the 2 sodas and 1 popcorn. You'll spend a total of 220 dollars. + 4 tickets throughout the year for 480 dollars. So, 480$ + 220$ + 12$(Stub signup) That's 714$. You'll get back 70$ for just getting what you'll get without the card. And you'll save 24$. You'd be crazy to NOT get card.
September 18 at 17:55 pm
AMC
If you go to the movies just 1 time a month and order a Medium Popcorn and Medium Soda each time, you'll save 1.50. And say you go with 1 person. That's 20$ + 10$(Concession). 12 times(1 year) the rate would be 240$(tickets) and you'll save 18$ from Concession. Then you add the 240$(tickets) + 12$(Stubs signup) + 120$(12 concession purchases) which = 372$. That's almost gaining 40$ back from just every 100 dollars you get 10 dollars. + the 18 you saved from concession.
September 18 at 17:51 pm
AMC employee
The 12 dollars does go toward the 100 dollars.
If you are tired of hearing the AMC speech, you only have three options
1.JUST Listen to the whole thing
2. Go somewhere else
3. OR Finally! Buy! One! IF you think you heard it too many times... well you could have already earned a reward.
AMC managers hold our jobs over our heads to make us tell every guest about the benefits. So, Do you have an AMC Stubs card? No. Well, you get $10 back for every hundred you spend.............
September 12 at 16:24 pm
AMC employee
Also, Moviewatchers only allowed you a total of 2 points per ticket, with a total of 4 a day you could earn, Maximum. Also, earning nothing with concession items or if you purchase more than 2 tickets. AMC Stubs does not cap on how much you put towards your rewards. Also, taxes are always included in the price at the window. You will noticed when make a purchase it is exact because they do not use pennies, nickels, or dimes. With moviewatchers, they limited how to use your rewards.
September 12 at 16:20 pm
AMC employee
For those people who say they have been members of the movie watchers program, AMC offered free and half price membership by giving your name or your card over. Many people have free memberships and don't even know it because when you signed up you never updated your information. Also, AMC employees know the prices are expensive but giving us a hard time will not do anything to lower your ticket price. Go online, look up other theaters close by and don't act like we are making you pay the price!
September 12 at 02:25 am
Bill
Watch out for the 90 day expiration period for all rewards even though you pay $12 for a 1-year membership to permit you to spend money in their theatres. I assumed that the 90 day expiration would be invoked 90 days after non-participation in the program but this is NOT the case. AMC routinely removes all rewards not used specifically in 90 days without notification. There is no transaction history provided by AMC when they seize the rewards. Save your money.
August 30 at 21:55 pm
lilreader
I loved the MovieWatcher Card when there were 2 AMC theatres in St Petersburg, FL. Since the non-AMC movie theatres in Seminole and Pinellas Park are closer than the AMC in Largo and there is no AMC in Bullhead City,AZ or Laughlin, NV, the area where I am moving to, this would be a big waste of money.
August 25 at 21:50 pm
Prime
The AMC Stubs program is targeted at the people who spend a lot at the concessions stand and attend at full price. If you take a date on Friday night and order two large combos and some twizzlers, you're going to be plunking down about $60. Stubs will pay for itself in 2 visits. If you go to matinees and don't buy from the concessions stand, don't buy the card, it'll never pay off.
August 22 at 11:47 am
ultrarare
You forgot to include the savings from free upgrades. Having worked at amc for 3 years (I quit because they suck), people tend to buy a crap-load of food, regardless of the stubs card.

If you bring 2 people and but a big screen, that is already 36.26 till your next reward. You saved 2 bucks right there.

I've seen people save 7 dollars on a 80$ purchase, and get 10 dollars back on their firsts visit. If you plan on going to the movies at least twice a year, and get food, pick up a stubs card.
August 20 at 18:27 pm
AMC_employee
If you don't enjoy the new rewards program, then fine. But don't encourage others to simply not try it. The program is definitely great for the big families and the casual movie goer.

I've been working for AMC for about 2 months, and I've already had over 400 people sign up for the program.

Not only that, but when people use their Stubs card and save a bunch of money on their concession, they tell me all the time that it was great, because they were saving a lot of money.
August 12 at 11:43 am
Anonymous
If you all complain you should have your facts straight first the card is worth it i save so much in just one trip get over the 12 bucks its not that much money people
August 9 at 13:30 pm
miss moviewatch
Correction to statement made. I have been a member since Movie Watcher began when you used to be able to receive two points for EVERY ticket purchased in your party (instead of the maximum FOUR points per visit which came later). Again, Stubs sucks.
August 6 at 22:31 pm
miss moviewatch
I really HATE that AMC no longer has Movie Watcher. I have been a member since it first began when you used to be able to receive points for every ticket purchased (instead of the maximum two points which came later). It was heartening to lose all the points I had accumulated and felt there should've been some sort of accommdations made to transfer our points over to Stubs to say "thank you" for being a LOYAL CUSTOMER all those years. Stubs sucks.
August 6 at 22:26 pm
fmr movie watch
In your analysis of the programs you fail to mention that the night at the movies for the old movie watcher program included the movie price plus popcorn and drink. that alone made it more valuable that the stubbs program. The small popcorn and small drink could be upgraded for a dollar so for $4.00 the small became large drink and large popcorn. No value in stubbs. money sucker
August 3 at 08:10 am
fmr movie watch
I am a long time movie watcher card member and loved receiving the benefits of the card. for the $300 I have spent at the movies this year I would have received multiple free popcorns, free drinks and a night at the movies. This is not a rewards program it is a program to get you to spend more money. thats it. not worth a penny. AMC gave me one year free. I will not pay. I will keep the 12.00 in my pocket.
August 3 at 08:05 am
moviewatcherfan
Yes, the comments are very much pro stubbs and written by amc employees, why am i not surprised.
July 31 at 15:09 pm
MovieGoer
This program is a joke. I didn't realize that the rewards that you accrue expired, and when I contacted them to ask that they replace what had expired, almost $20, they said a flat NO. Any other example of a stingy American company that doesn't really care about people. Avoid AMC theatres at all cost, and choose REGAL, EDWARDS, or Art house instead.
July 25 at 18:59 pm
fmr emp
fyi... Regal, Edwards and United Artists are the same company.
August 12 at 00:30 am
MovieFan
The $12.00 fee you pay automatically is credited to your account so you start off with a $12.00 credit and a credit for the ticket/tickets you purchase when you get the card. I have already earned $40.00 on mine and was able to use it on a weekend when I did not have extra cash to go to the movies. I am happy with it!
July 22 at 13:53 pm
JZ123
I guess it just depends on what you're looking for and how often you go to the movies...
July 10 at 02:04 am
FormerMovieWatc
I was hesitant at first about the new program, but when AMC decided to give loyal MovieWatchers the first year free, I figured it couldn't hurt and so far I've used free upgrades and now have $20 in rewards at no additional cost, so as soon as I use these, I'm already ahead on next year. This seems to be a decent deal for those with large families who go about 1-2 times a month.
July 9 at 10:19 am
Andrew
This is the first I ever heard of any MovieWatcher being given the first year free. I was given a 50% discount for the first year ($6).
August 27 at 09:54 am
MovieLover
Well I for one LOVE the new rewards program. I hated that you could only get 4 points maximum on the old rewards program. We go to the movies A LOT. I mean, like 3-4 times a month and we buy concessions. So we LOVE that we get money back because with our family size we spend about $30-$60 each time we go to the movies. Plus, I let other people use it. Like when my parents go to the movies, I let them use my AMC Stubs rewards and I get even more savings. So we're HUGE fans :-)
June 29 at 10:02 am
AMC employee
And there are a lot more benefits on that too. Things like on your B-day we send you a coupon for a free large soda, as well as no online ticketing fees and the AMC stubs account actually comes with two cards that anyone can use. People are only looking at the two benefits when there is more then just those benefits. I have only been working there for 2 months and 345 people decided that it was a good idea from me.
June 13 at 05:10 am
AMC employee
Yeah, I also work at AMC and the stubs card DOES work on combos. We even now have a button for it. Whoever said it doesn't was wrong. The card is great for families and even people who go to the movies just a few times a year. (If your only going once or twice don't get it... otherwise it will save you money)
June 13 at 05:08 am
AMCemployee
Lastly, I've never heard that you can't use your upgrades on combos. At my theater, the combos don't save you money, so ordering a combos items seperately will cost you the same as the combo. If you are not getting free upgrades with your combos, you should ask to speak with a manager as this is an easily solved matter.
May 26 at 05:16 am
AMCemployee
I hope this helps clear things up some. Being an employee, I hear hundreds of movie watchers members try to decide if the new program is worth it or now. I don't blame any of them. I was a member too before I started working for the theater. Since my family and I always buy popcorn when we go to the movies, we see the benefits. If you ever go to the concession stand, you should join. I showed above that the program pays for itself with just the purchase of a small popcorn.
May 26 at 05:07 am
AMCemployee
The AMC Stubs card is designed to encourage purchases at the concession stand. With theaters making almost no money from ticket sales, snacks might as well be the only source of income. If you add a small popcorn ($6) to your visit, upgrade to a meduim (free) your annual becomes $201 (1 visit) and $402 (2 visits). Stubs perks become ($20-$12 = $8, plus you saved $12 from upgrades) and ($40-$12 = $28, plus you saved $12 from upgrades) respectively. You can see how this changes things dramatically
May 26 at 04:56 am
KE YEE
I was so surprised about the $12 Fee. We did sign up, but then aftwards -- after reading the "deals" thought to ourselves WHY?
You get the upgrades on a pop-corn or a soda, but not a combo? Come on! Really??
May 23 at 18:32 pm
Frankie
unless you order the drink and popcorn seperatly(:
October 28 at 14:21 pm
anonymous
I have been a movie watcher member for yrs. I think this new program is relly cheating people....No way will I join....
May 13 at 17:17 pm
anonymous
with the economy the way it is, i think this is a rip-off!!! i will not be joining!!!
May 13 at 17:14 pm
Anonymous
It cost enough to go see a movie. If you are trying to encourage people to come to AMC Theartres,you should not have a fee for a rewards program!!!!!!!
April 16 at 21:47 pm
anonymous
I've had a movie watcher card for as long as they've been around ...after looking at this closely, I'm choosing not to sign up for the new program...I don't think it's worth it any more!!!!
May 13 at 17:11 pm
Stephanie
I got my AMC Rewards card back in high school when we used to go to the movies all the time. Now I go maybe twice a year, and not always to AMC. The benefits were never that great, and this new program seems even worse. Not worth it unless you REALLY love the movies. I'm sticking to Netflix :P
April 12 at 01:16 am
Ryan
Thanks for putting together this article. How often do you have to pay a fee to join a rewards program these days? AMC appears to be a bit out-of-touch with this decision to "improve" the program. It's clearly not about rewarding the customer.
April 1 at 19:11 pm
Anonymous
Thank you for breaking it down like you have. This was a very helpful article. I was bummed when i went to AMC yesterday and the woman said she couldn't slide my movie watcher card. She just said they were going to a new program. I've had my AMC Movie Reward card since the late 80's. I guess I can put it away with my other keepsakes.
March 31 at 08:53 am
Not listening
If you went to the theatre when you said and you presented your Moviewatcher card AND you've had it since the 80's you would have been eligible for a free year to test out AMC stubs and see how you like it. :\
September 28 at 18:05 pm

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