Why Online Concert Tickets?
The top performers in our review are Ticketmaster, the Gold Award winner; Vivid Seats, the Silver Award winner; and StubHub, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a site to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 services.
Concerts are one of the best chances to get close to a fabulous artist, comedian or band. But the cost, long lines and the need to be quick when tickets go on sale, especially for a hot celebrity, make the process of getting your tickets less than enjoyable.
Online concert ticket services eliminate the need to wait in long lines, camp out in extreme weather conditions or take time off from work in order to score the best seats in the house. Instead, you can log in from the comfort of your own home, or even from your mobile device, and purchase tickets with very little hassle. They also offer a platform that makes it easy to look up and compare prices between services and choose the one with the best ticket prices.
We've reviewed several ticket sites and have found the 10 best places to buy concert tickets. Here is the run down on what we found, along with information about the services in general and a list of features we found helpful when you're buying online tickets. In addition to this, we also have some articles on buying tickets online.
How Online Concert Ticket Sites Work
Ticket brokers contract with artists in order to sell tickets to their concerts. Some services are given a limited number of tickets to sell and in specific sections of the venue, so if one service doesn't have tickets available it is very likely another one may. This is especially true for international events. While each of the services we reviewed has international concert ticket services available, only a handful will have tickets for a specific event at a time.
Pricing is an important factor many concertgoers consider when choosing where to purchase their tickets. Ticket sites set their own ticket prices depending on the venue, the location, contracts signed with the artist and their own overhead costs. Depending on the event, ticket prices can be over $100 and well over $1000 for a VIP experience.
Online ticket services make it convenient to compare ticket prices from several online ticket sites using your web browser, particularly compared to the old-fashioned way of calling into each service once tickets go on sale, or the hassle of going to a physical location, or several, in order to find the best deal. Most online services let you view ticket prices before they go on sale so you have an idea of which online ticket site has the best deal before the first rush to buy.
The best concert ticket sites provide a medium for you to resell your tickets online if you decide you can no longer attend the event. This is important since the majority of services don't allow returns, refunds or exchanges once the tickets have been purchased.
Also, keep in mind that many of these online ticket websites also provide tickets for other events such as sport games. Check out our best sports ticket sites review to see how these vendors compare on both fronts.
How We Evaluated the Best Ticket Websites
We evaluated online concert ticket websites by looking for the best deal on a popular, local concert. By comparing each service based on the same event, we got an idea of the cost differences between the services and learned about the service fees and shipping cost structures. Additionally, we followed the steps for each service through the ticket selection and ordering process for our test event so we could evaluate other services and options, such as interactive seating charts, rewards programs and the offering of parking passes.
Concert Ticket Pricing
For each service we evaluated, we checked out the pricing for a local Rhianna concert and used the lowest single-ticket price to compare online ticket buying prices. While this price is used on our comparison and can give you an idea of how costs might compare across companies in general, prices for your event will vary based on the artist, venue and the contracts of the ticket sites in your area.
A handful of services, including StubHub and Tickets Now, list substantially lower prices if you buy more than one ticket in a single purchase. In our experience, the single-ticket price was nearly double the price two tickets.
Fees & Costs Beyond the Ticket Price
In addition to the base ticket price, each of the ticket sites charged a service fee. Some of these broke down the fees to include a process fee, a transaction fee and a venue fee, while others rolled them all into one fee. In our testing, service fees fluctuated with the ticket price. The more expensive the tickets we selected, the higher the service fees assessed.
Shipping cost also differed in that some included it as part of the service fee while others added it on separately. Be aware that several concert ticket services charge shipping fees even for eTickets that are sent to you via email and printed from your own printer.
Service Features Can Sweeten the Deal
Each of the services we researched will email you an eTicket, if you choose, that you can print out when you are ready to use it. This has become the most common form of ticket delivery because it's convenient and secure. It also means you won't worry about losing your concert ticket since you are free to save and reprint the file if needed.
Paperless tickets are becoming more trendy. Not all services offer this option, but GoTickets is one that does. Paperless tickets are either texted or emailed to you with a specific code, usually a QR or barcode, that is scanned once you arrive at the venue. Since it can be scanned from your smartphone or tablet, you don't need to have a physical ticket in hand. Another option that is gaining traction is the use of Flash Seats. Flash Seats lets you bring the credit card used to purchase the tickets online and your photo ID as proof of purchase. These items are validated at the venue and you are then allowed in to the concert.
A few services, including TicketsNow, give you the option to upgrade your seats, exchanging your tickets for different seats at the same performance. The cost is generally the difference between your original ticket and the new ticket price, but it is dependent on the venue, artist and event.
Ticket Liquidator, along with a few others, sometimes sell parking passes in addition to the concert tickets, but such additions vary depending on the venue and the event. Most services include parking passes as part of a VIP package, which also typically includes stage-side seating, pre-show festivities, exclusive souvenirs and meet-and-greats with the artists.
Some sites offer rewards programs, as well. These programs allow you to earn points that you can redeem for future concert tickets. Some also let you sign up for price alerts, so you can wait to see if prices will drop for your favorite artist before you purchase a ticket. With both of these features, you are required to provide personal information, including name and email address. This potentially opens you up to receive promotional emails, which may feel like spam depending on the service and the number of email notices it chooses to send out.
Ordering Conveniences: Interactive Tools and Apps Smooth the Process
The best ticket sites have pages chock-full of convenient tools to help you quickly get the best seats and ticket prices as soon as they go on sale. All of the services we reviewed allow you to search for tickets by venue, artist and location. Each also provides a toll-free number for ordering by telephone, which can be useful if the website isn't accessible or if you feel more comfortable working with a live representative.
Our top ticket websites have a mobile app available for your phone or mobile device. While you can access most sites through a mobile internet browser, a dedicated app goes beyond simply accessing the site. Mobile apps are designed to give you the best tools for buying concert tickets and allowing you to bypass the extra steps of accessing the website directly, including the longer load times of images, content and popup ads.
Some of the most helpful tools we found were the interactive seating charts. These give you a visual of where in the venue the stage is and which sections have seating. By clicking on the desired section, you can see how many seats are available for purchase, which rows those seats are in and the pricing of the seats. From here, you can click through to purchase your tickets, so you don't have to remember seating details to enter later in the purchasing process. TicketsNow and Tickets To Go are the only services we reviewed that didn't have this feature available, though both have charts that show the seating arrangement of the venue without the click through tools.
Security: Look for Third-Party Verifications
All of the online concert ticket websites we reviewed use the industry-standard SSL encryptions and have been verified as secure by a third party such as Norton, McAfee or VeriSgn. These approvals are posted on each service's pages. The National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB), an organization that sets industry security standards for ticket websites, has accredited a handful of services. Vivid Seats, TicketCity and Razorgator are all listed on the NATB website as current, recognized members. Being accredited by NATB is one way you can know that the service you are purchasing concert tickets through is a broker that will provide you with a valid ticket rather than a fake one.
Help & Support: Few Services Allow for Refunds
The biggest difference we found in support was in the return policy and the availability of live chat. Half of the services we compared have live chat available if you have a question about a specific event, the service's policies or in navigating the website. You generally cannot purchase tickets through an online chat, so agents will direct you to the website or provide a telephone number to call for phone orders.
The industry standard is no refunds or returns except in the event that the concert is canceled. Of the services we reviewed, all except one adhere to this standard. Our best online ticket website, Ticketmaster, will allow you to return your tickets for a full refund, regardless of the reasons, within three days of purchase. This is one reason Ticketmaster earns our top pick.
Top Ten Reviews seeks to evaluate services in tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of the typical consumers. We obtained the information here from the services' websites and support personnel. The companies had prior knowledge of or influence over our test methodology, and the results of our evaluation were not provided to them in advance of publication.
Our Verdict and Recommendations
Online concert ticket services allow you to securely order tickets, and they're all easy to use, especially when they offer an interactive seating chart or a convenient mobile app. We found that Ticketmaster, Vivid Seats and StubHub surpass minimum expectations in providing additional security features, more services features and, in the case of our top choice, a return policy that goes far beyond the industry standard.
These services are more convenient than purchasing a ticket at the event and often provide add-ons such as parking passes. Additionally, if you regularly attend concerts, you can join rewards programs or receive price alerts to help you find even better ticket deals.