The Tip Jar: A simple way to avoid surprise fees when buying concert tickets

Going straight to the box office can save you big bucks.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

When it comes to buying tickets to concerts or live sporting events, I'm caught in two minds about making my purchase online.

I'm a big fan of the convenience, knowing I've secured my ticket from the comfort of my couch. But at the same time I can't understate how much I hate paying surprise "service fees" when I reach the checkout.

These fees can sometimes tack on more than 50 percent to the cost of a ticket, so I've decided to find out if making a little bit more effort – by going to the venue's physical box office to buy tickets – is a worthwhile money saver.

I realize this isn't a realistic proposition for some of you, particularly those living outside the metro area who want to attend a Twin Cities show, but for those within a half hour, or even an hour, of downtown venues, this guide will show whether it's worth making the trip.

I've looked at the online costs of attending shows/games at 10 venues, and then called the box offices to see how much it would cost if I just turned up in person.

Target Center

Event: WWE TLC, Oct. 22 – Sec. 235, Row N, seats 1-2.

Tickets online: $123.94 total ($100 for two tickets including tax, plus a $2 facility fee per ticket and a $19.34 convenience fee).

Tickets from box office: $104 (still pay facility fees).

Saving: $19.94.

Xcel Energy Center

Event: Kendrick Lemar, Aug. 19 – Sec. C 04, Row 2.

Tickets online: $220.36 total ($170 for two tickets, plus $34.70 service fees, a $3 facility fee per ticket, $7 order processing fees, $2.66 tax).

Tickets from box office: $178.66 (still pay facility fees).

Saving: $41.70.

Target Field

Event: Twins vs. Cleveland Indians, Aug. 15 – Sec. 229, Row 2, seats 18-19.

Tickets online: $61.50 ($50 for two tickets including tax, plus $7.50 convenience fee and $4 order fee).

Tickets from box office: $50 (including tax).

Saving: $11.50.

State Theater

Event:Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Aug. 4 – Balcony 5, Row S.

Tickets Online: $118.26 ($79 for two tickets, plus $28.80 service fees and $8.20 processing fee, $2.26 tax).

Tickets from box office: $81.26 (no fees, only taxes).

Saving: $37.

First Avenue

Event: Midnight Oil, Aug. 29.

Tickets online: $126.24 ($100 for two tickets, plus $23.70 fee, $2.54 sales tax).

Tickets from box office: $107.54 (two tickets, plus $5 in ticket fees and sales tax).

Saving: $18.70

Palace Theatre

Event: The War on Drugs, Oct. 18 – Floor.

Tickets online: $77.64 ($62 for two tickets, plus $14.26 ticket fees, $1.38 sales tax).

Tickets from box office: $68.38 (two tickets, plus $5 in ticket fees and sales tax).

Saving: $9.26.

US Bank Stadium

Event: Coldplay, Aug. 12 – Sec. 311, Row 23.

Tickets online: $85.46 ($55 for two tickets, plus $19.40 service fees, $2 facility charges for each ticket, $5.54 order processing fee, $1.52 tax). 

Tickets from box office: $60.52 (still pay facility charges and tax).

Saving: $24.94

Roy Wilkins Auditorium

Event:Alt J, Sec 214 – Row U.

Tickets online: $114.32 total ($74 for two tickets, plus $26.30 service fees, $2.50 facility charges per ticket, $7 order processing fee, $2.02 tax).

Tickets from box office: $81.02 (still pay facility charges and tax).

Saving: $33.30.

Ordway Center

Event: The Ohio Players, Aug. 11 – Tier 1, Sec. 3, Seats 3-4.

Tickets online: $94(for two tickets, includes taxes, $5 facility fees for each ticket and $6 service charges).

Tickets from box office: $88 (still pay facility fees).

Saving: $6.

Treasure Island Resort and Casino

Event: Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows, Sep. 16 – lawn seats.

Tickets online: $72.44 total ($50 for two tickets, plus $4 facility charges per ticket, $13.50 service fees, $0.94 taxes).

Tickets from box office: $62 total (including fees and tax).

Saving: $10.44.

Verdict

The results above show that if you can make it in person to venue box offices, it will save you money.

Some venues, typically the smaller ones like the Ordway Center, Palace Theatre and First Avenue, include some of their fees in the initial ticket price, so the extra fees added on when you reach the online checkout aren't as severe.

The difference in price at the box office versus online at these venues, as well as at Target Field and Treasure Island, is smaller, and you could make the case that it's worth paying extra online for the convenience alone.

But in other cases the difference was dozens of dollars, and while box offices aren't open 24/7 and require a time-consuming journey, if it means the difference of more than $40 for a single event, it could be well worth the trip.

Next Up

dnr trout stocking helicopter

DNR uses a helicopter to more efficiently stock lakes with trout

In the past, the DNR used airplanes to stock remote lakes with fish, but the survival rate of the fish was only 85%.

steve simon zoom call

Secretary of State explains plans for segregated absentee ballots

Election officials are reminding voters that it's too late to mail in your absentee ballots.

Halloween, trick-or-treating

Osterholm on safe trick-or-treating: 'I would say go ahead with it'

The infectious disease expert's opinion doesn't align with the CDC's guidance.

drop and go ballot plymouth

It's too late to mail your ballot, but you can still vote. Here's how.

Voters can drop off their absentee ballot, vote early in-person or head to the polls on Election Day.

2019-12-11 f1rst Wrestling Hanukka Havok-Darin Kamnetz-154

Dusting itself off after virus blow, F1rst Wrestling returns to the ring this Sunday

Minnesota's premier independent wrestling company was on top of the world before the virus hit.

1024px-McD-McRib

McDonald's is bringing the McRib back in December

It hasn't appeared on menus for eight years.

Apple Valley High School

2 more Twin Cities districts moving to distance learning for grades 6-12

The decision was announced as infection rates in Dakota County rise.

covid-19 testing site sign

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 2

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

minnesota zoo

Minnesota Zoo launches activities to get people embracing nature

The zoo is hosting a pumpkin scavenger hunt and a "Do the Zoo, Not Zoom Day."

Related

The Tip Jar: The best ways to save money at the Minnesota State Fair

Cheap tickets, discounts and food bargains to know before you go.

The Tip Jar: The best ways to save money at the Minnesota State Fair

Cheap tickets, discounts and food bargains to know before you go.

The Tip Jar: How to save some money on your internet service

I did it to save money. And now I want to help you save money as well.

The Tip Jar: A beginner's guide to setting up and saving into an IRA

Want to get an IRA for retirement but the prospect is too daunting? Check out this guide.

The Tip Jar: Ways to make extra cash with very little effort

Marketers will pay you to take surveys, watch TV, or go to a bar.

The Tip Jar: Dining out? Here's when and how much you should tip

Tipping can be a minefield – let us help you satisfy social conventions.

The Tip Jar: 4 things millennials should be doing with their money

Just got a job and have no idea how to manage your money? These tips can set you up for the future.

The Tip Jar: Is there a best time to book plane tickets?

There are a lot of variation, but studies suggest there is a "prime booking window."