Bryson Meunier is the SEO Director at Vivid Seats, a columnist at Marketing Land, and a ticket insider who loves live events.
It happens to many people — even die-hard fans. You find out after the on-sale date that your favorite artist is touring, or you want to see your favorite team play at the last minute and the event is sold out. What do you do? Don’t throw your hands up in the air just yet. You may be able to score great seats on the secondary ticket market, even if the event is sold out.
Before you go looking for tickets, follow these tips for the safest and best deals for where to get tickets to sold out shows:
- Do your research. There are hundreds of secondary ticket sites to choose from, but before you hand over your credit card information, make sure to check up on the background of the company. While not all reviews will always be accurate or necessarily reflect every customer’s experience, it will at least provide you with a general idea of what you can expect from the site. One of the best resources to check out is the Better Business Bureau, which in addition to posting reviews online, also hands out letter grades to accredited businesses.
- Get a guarantee. Not all ticket resale sites are created equal when it comes to customer service. Be sure to get a 100 percent buyer guarantee so that you’re covered in the event of fraud.
- Protect your privacy. Every child knows not to talk to strangers, but if you’re trying to avoid ticket marketplaces like StubHub and Vivid Seats, you may not have a choice. Meet sellers in a public place when picking up the tickets, and look for seller feedback if available.
- Go solo. If you’re looking for single tickets, you may have a better chance of not only getting great seats, but of getting a really good deal on them. For business travelers looking for a deal on a night out, this may be a viable option.
- Buy sooner than later. Many people think that buying the day before or day of the event results in cheaper tickets, but data has shown that the sweet spot for popular events like Coachella is actually a month after the on-sale date. But if you really want to attend the event, you run the risk of less selection if you wait too long.
These eight sites are some of the best for buying tickets to sold-out shows. (Disclosure: I am an employee of Vivid Seats, as well as a fan and attendee of live events who has used many of these sites personally.)
Cash or Trade
Sites like Cash or Trade allow buyers to deal directly with sellers, and sellers at CoT sell tickets at face value (i.e. the selling price of the ticket) or below. Buyer feedback for the site is generally good, and it’s easy to find reputable sellers with reviews and verification. Not every seller has reviews, though, and inventory for really popular sold-out shows is typically limited compared to other sites.
People sell everything on Craigslist, including tickets. And Craigslist has a large selection of tickets from both fans and brokers. If you find a great seller, you may be able to get some great deals. Unfortunately, scams are also common on Craigslist, and it’s difficult to know the reputation of the person you’re buying from beforehand.
eBay and StubHub
StubHub is probably the most well-known of all ticket resale sites because of its large advertising budget and association with its parent company, eBay, which bought it in 2007. StubHub is in many ways a better option than sites like Craigslist, as it offers a FanProtect guarantee, which backs every order and ensures the ticket will be valid for entry.
They also offer some unique services like their last minute service centers where fans in big cities can pick up tickets locally, and innovative mobile apps that increase convenience on the go. While many people have a great experience with StubHub, the prices can be higher than other sites that don’t have the brand recognition, and there are many reviews online complaining about customer service.
eBay, StubHub’s parent company, is an auction site that sells more than just tickets, but it has many tickets to sold-out shows from fans and brokers. It typically doesn’t have the selection that StubHub does, but the site is easy to use with a money back guarantee, and it’s easy to spot trustworthy sellers thanks to clear and prominent feedback on the site.
You can search for tickets on eBay and StubHub simultaneously here.
Ticketmaster Ticket Exchange
Ticketmaster is a true giant in the ticket industry, but most of its tickets are first-run tickets. Ticketmaster does, however, have multiple ticket resale options, including Ticket Exchange, Tickets Now and TM+. All Ticketmaster resale sites verify the tickets and reissue them in the name of the new owner, so if you’re concerned about fraud, these sites might be a good option for you; but be advised that you still may have to pay a fee above the original face value price of the tickets.
Self-described as “The Web’s Largest Ticket Search Engine,” SeatGeek offers customers a bit of a different ticket-buying experience. Instead of simply serving as a resale ticket marketplace, SeatGeek pulls in inventory from various secondary ticket sites, acting as a referral service to the respective marketplace featured on the site.
While SeatGeek can be great for those looking to easily compare prices, it does not necessarily reflect the entire inventory available for a given event, which may result in missed deals and selection. Also keep in mind that you will be sent off to buy through the company listing the tickets and will be subject to its terms, policies and customer service.
Despite being launched by StubHub co-founder Eric Baker, viagogo has its home base in Switzerland, making it one of the few resale sites to be headquartered overseas. Accordingly, the site tends to showcase more international events than is typically seen on other sites, but you can still also seek out something specific using the site’s search function.
Purchases come with the viagogo guarantee and secure delivery via UPS, though most customer reviews remain mixed. During checkout, make sure to take note of what viagogo calls a “booking fee,” which does not include handling or value-added tax (VAT) charges that may still be tacked on to the order total later.
Since its establishment in 2001, Vivid Seats has become one of the ticket industry’s fastest-growing resale sites. The full-service marketplace boasts an in-house customer service staff available seven days a week and accessible over extended business hours by both phone and live chat.
The selection at Vivid Seats rivals that of StubHub and other notable competitors and with a 100 percent buyer guarantee backing all confirmed orders; it offers customers full protection on purchases. Though priced to be competitive, be aware of Vivid Seats’ service and shipping fees added in to the total price during checkout.
This guest post is an update to our previous post on where to buy sold-out tickets.