Movie Theater Loyalty Programs
I’ve taken a long break from movie theaters during the pandemic. While I’ve returned, it’s not as often as pre-pandemic – I see a movie every few months or so at my local dine-in theater chain. My local chain doesn’t have a loyalty program, but the major chains offer excellent programs. Importantly, they offer reliable, long term methods for rewarding and discounting your movie theater experiences, unlike MoviePass, Sinemia, etc. (Those were quite a ride a few years ago.) I’m pleased with the practicality of the big chains’ programs. Your larger challenge at the movie theater will be seeing something unrelated to a comic book. Anyway, as the summer movie season has just started, let’s take a look at the major movie theater loyalty programs.
AMC’s loyalty program, Stubs, is one of the busier ones out there. Three levels exist, one free and others paid, and prices vary at the highest level. Let’s start out with the simplest, free option.
Stubs members at the Insider level earn 20 points per dollar. Members earn a $5 reward with 5k points. That’s $250 of spend for a $5 reward. AMC waives the online ticketing fee when an Insider purchases a minimum of four tickets. Insiders have access to Tuesday discount promotions, free large popcorn refills, free wifi, and a large popcorn birthday gift.
Stubs members can reach the Premiere level by simply paying $15 annually. AMC is currently offering Premiere for $7.50 for a limited time. Premiere members earn 100 points per dollar. That’s $50 of spend for a $5 reward. In addition to the Insider benefits, Premiere members obtain free size upgrades on popcorn and drinks, priority lane access at the box office and concession stands, and waived online ticketing fees. A Premiere member’s birthday gift is a free large popcorn and large fountain drink.
The top tier A-List level gets a bit more complicated. Membership costs vary by location; it starts at $19.95 monthly in my area and can cost up to $23.95 monthly if I want to use the benefits out of state. Like Premiere, A-List members earn 100 points per dollar, ending up with a $5 reward with every $50 spent. In addition to the Insider and Premiere benefits, A-List unlocks one primary benefit. A-List membership comes with access to up to three movies weekly, including Dolby Cinema, IMAX, and 3D movies.
The Crown Club from Regal Theatres is a bit more straightforward. Membership in the Crown Club is free, and you can access higher levels of the program based on your number of visits each year.
At the base Crown Club level, members earn 100 credits per dollar spent on tickets and concessions. Theater rewards start at 6k credits for a small popcorn. Other rewards are 7k credits for a small fountain drink and 18k credits for a 2D movie ticket. More accessible rewards are 1.5k or 2k credits for a fountain drink or popcorn upsize. These redemption rates are via app; rates are slightly higher when a member redeems at the box office.
Crown Club members can reach higher levels based on their number of visits. Members progressively obtain Emerald, Ruby, and Diamond status with six, ten, and 20 annual visits, respectively. In addition to normal 100x credit earning, members respectively earn an additional 250, 500, and 1k credits on every visit. Redemptions are the same as at the base Crown Club level.
Regal also offers a movie subscription pass called Regal Unlimited. You can only sign up for Unlimited via Regal’s app. Unlimited membership is truly that – there’s no maximum like AMC. Unlimited members can watch as many 2D movies as they want. Monthly plans start at $18 and go up to $23 for access to all theaters. Unlimited members receive 10% off all food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases and a large popcorn and drink birthday gift. Interestingly, Unlimited members still earn Crown Club credits for all subscription, ticket upgrades, companion tickets, and food/non-alcoholic beverage spend.
Cinemark’s Movie Rewards program has three membership levels – Movie Fan, Movie Club, and Movie Club Platinum. Movie Fan, the free membership, earns one point per dollar spent. Points are redeemable for a free movie ticket at 280 points, and there are a few other options for smaller rewards, such as: $3 off concessions (75 points), XD ticket upgrade (75 points), and free Movie Club membership for one month (175 points).
Paying $9.99 monthly unlocks the Movie Club level. In addition to the Fan benefits, Club members are entitled to one ticket per month, 20% off concessions, waived online fees, special member pricing for additional tickets, and rollover of unused tickets.
Members earn Movie Club Platinum status by seeing at least 25 movies or buying 60 tickets annually. It seems that development of the Platinum level is incomplete, or worst case, substantially underwhelming. Platinum members obtain two one-time bonus credits (good for free tickets) by reaching Platinum, 25% off concessions, and access to “even more tickets” with member pricing (whatever that is). Cinemark’s website doesn’t elaborate.
Don’t Forget To Stack
As always, ensure to stack methods to maximize your return on these programs. Here are just a few options:
- Make your purchases with discounted gift cards for the theaters.
- Link partner rewards programs, like Disney Movie Insiders, with movie theater loyalty programs. Regal is just one option here.
- Pay your dine-in theater with a credit card highly earning in the dining category. This is particularly useful for theaters who don’t offer discounted gift cards or a loyalty program. More theaters may qualify as dining with your card than you may think. I’ve also used this same method with my Chase Sapphire Reserve to simultaneously earn 3x Ultimate Rewards and wipe out charges via Pay Yourself Back.
- Leverage promos throughout the week to minimize ticket costs and/or obtain concession discounts. I’ve found Regal especially useful here.
The movie theater loyalty programs of these three major chains just scrape the surface. Ensure to take a look at smaller, regional programs to determine how you can benefit even more.
Again, I don’t patronize any of these chains enough to be considered loyal. But based on my infrequent experiences, Regal provides the best combination of program simplicity and benefits. Their elite levels enable a member to accrue substantial points useful for a variety of rewards. In my view, one doesn’t need to bother with the paid Unlimited membership to do well in their program, especially when taking into account their discount days.
AMC’s program is a bit more complicated, and the room for breakage here is huge. I’m afraid members may set and forget their membership level, especially A-List, and end up on the losing end. However, taking advantage of the Premiere level for one year at $7.50 may be a no-brainer for those who regularly attend movies and have a convenient AMC location.
Cinemark’s program is very simple, bordering on incomplete. Still, if that’s your only choice based on your location, it makes perfect sense to join the free Movie Fan level.
What’s your favorite movie theater loyalty program from a major or regional chain?
Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.