How I Saved 90%+ on NBA Tickets Last Night – A Great Travel Hack for Seeing Amazing Events!

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Save Tickets Last Minute
I scored these seats for $6 + fees ($18.75 total for 2 tickets) last night. The same tickets sell for $261 all-in.

Save Tickets Last Minute

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to attend sporting events. Admittedly I don’t do it as often as I would like, but it remains a very fun way to get a peak into local culture while also checking out some of the cool stadiums/arenas we have around the world. And if you have some flexibility it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

As you probably know million dollar contracts, fancy new arenas, inflation and a number of other factors have caused ticket prices to jump significantly these past few years. Add in often insane ticket fees plus everything you have to consider in the world of Covid and attending a live event often isn’t as fun as it could be. But if you’re like me and like to save money, then there are some fun ways to score tickets, enjoy the events and not pay a lot.

Finding Amazing Last Minute Ticket Deals

One of the best ways to save money on sporting tickets is to wait until the last minute. To be clear, this won’t always work, but if you have flexibility and want to do something last minute then this can really pay off. For example, last night I was able to score $117 lower tier tickets for the Portland Trail Blazers for $6. Or more specifically a pair of tickets that would have cost $261 including all fees cost me $16.95.

Ticket reselling has become big business and you can use that to your advantage. Tons of people own season tickets they almost never use and even outside of sporting events brokers gobble up mass amounts of tickets. When demand doesn’t match what they expect, prices fall. And to be honest, in the current world demand is often not matching what was expected. This creates opportunities.

Here are some other tips for saving on last minute tickets:

  • Check sites like AXS, Ticketmaster, Vivid Seats in the days leading up to the event to get a baseline
  • Continue checking back as the event approaches. Note how many tickets are available. This should give you an indication of how strong or soft demand is
  • If a venue has “instant delivery” tickets you can purchase even after you are at the venue
  • Make sure to set your filters and then refresh often. You’ll find that resellers often dump their prices for low demand events up until and even after the start time
  • Most ticket sites will sell tickets for an hour after a sporting event starts and varying times after other events

I used these tips to score those $6+ fees Blazers tickets. I watched prices, kept refreshing on the way to the arena, bought the tickets a couple of minutes after the published start time and received the tickets instantly via Ticketmaster. They loaded automatically to my Apple Wallet and I was in.

Save Tickets Last Minute
Last minute Trail Blazer tickets were a great way to see Moda Center.

Become the Broker – Save Via Reselling

A few years ago I wrote about how I bought season tickets to our local theater which included Hamilton and some other shows. My seats were pretty bad, but given Hamilton hype the nosebleed balcony tickets sold early for almost $500 each. Those Hamilton tickets more than paid for all of my other season tickets and gave me a nice profit. Keep in mind I always follow venue rules for limits, etc.

As the shows approached it was clear demand wasn’t as strong as predicted and prices began to tank. I used some of my profit to buy my son and I box seats right above the stage for $94 each. So I sold my balcony tickets months in advance for nearly $500 and bought MUCH better seats last minute for $94. A win for sure.

I did a similar thing last year with Vegas Golden Knights playoff tickets. I was able to secure some tickets for their games and sold them for a modest profit. Then as the game approached I was able to buy the dip and get tickets a few rows behind the goalie and glass while still making a profit on the game. A win for sure!

Save Tickets Last Minute
These seats for Hamilton were far better than the nosebleed balcony seats I sold at 5X the cost.

Drawbacks of These Strategies

There are of course some big drawbacks of these strategies. Let’s start with reselling tickets. This practice has always come with a ton of risk, but these days it is even worse. For example, this year has been pretty rough for ticket reselling. I’ve lost some money on the few concerts I decided to buy and I just am not as excited about selling tickets anymore. Of course that low demand can lead to some great deals on the buying side and the market will continue to change as the world slowly gets back to normal.

The other major drawback of waiting is that you may not find tickets at the price you desire. You may also not get the location or seats you want. Some people want to know their tickets are locked in and that is 100% understandable. But if you aren’t like that and are looking for something to do on your next vacation to whatever city, don’t forget to pop open a ticket app to see if a low demand event could be your next ticket to fun at an amazing savings!

Save Tickets Last Minute – Bottom Line

As the world continues to open up and people return more and more to live events, ticket prices will fluctuate. In some cases I expect there to be tons of opportunities like the one I experienced with the Blazers. I have seen similar things happen across many cities and events, but you have to be flexible. That’s when the fun happens.

What strategies have you used to save big money on tickets to sports, concerts & more? Let me know in the comments!

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Signing up for a team’s email lists lets you know about flash sales, early releases etc. Last weekend the San Francisco Giants had a Visa Flash sale for April and May games (except opening day) with many tickets as low as $5 even weekend games. Of course there was still the usual 18% + $3.50 fees but you at least got legit seats from the venue. Even some Club level seats were 30% off.

  2. This can work for concert tickets also. However there are some events where you look inside stubhub and I get the feeling the house is holding most or many of the tickets and they wont cut the price. There is always somebody who has to cancel last min or is sick etc. You will save money he majority of times. I would prefer Stubhub only since there are so many scammers. The other way that has worked for me especially if I am alone is a ground of people who is selling one ticket and you can walk in with them. You can tell they are not ticket scalpers and you will sit in their row.

  3. The biggest issue with doing the scalping like you did is the huge take that these marketplaces have. Stubhub charges a 10% surcharge to the buyer and only pays out 85% to the seller, so that works out to about a 23% fee for selling, way higher than ever the 14% or so fee with eBay (10% eBay tax and 4% PayPal fee). On the other hand, the marketplaces have clearly made it safer since phony tickets are in the past with the guarantees and e-ticketing.


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