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How to Earn and Use Points For Broadway Show Tickets

by on May 5, 2014

in amtrak, Delta, Maximize Monday, Starwood, United, US Airways

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Going to the theatre can cost an arm and a leg, but if you’re going to shell out you might as well maximize the miles and points that you earn. If you’re flexible, saving money by purchasing tickets on the day of the show via NYC’ TKTS booths (or by joining TDF, the parent company for TKTS) can save you way more than the value of miles and points earned through Audience Rewards, but if you really want to plan ahead and see a show then hoping for the tickets to be discounted is a risky proposition. You can go to a discount page such as BroadwayBox, but it’s not always going to be your best or easiest option.

I recently treated my niece, nephew, my sister-in-law and mom to a matinee of the new Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella in New York City, and earned Starwood Starpoints by buying my tickets with my Starwood American Express card through Audience Rewards. 

This experience was a real win-win for me, because not only was I able to earn 5,730 Starpoints for making the purchase, but I was also able to be a real rock star uncle!

I recently used points to book a special performance of "Cinderella" on Broadway for myself and some of my family - and we met the stars, Fran Drescher and Carly Rae Jepsen!

I recently earned Starpoints on my purchase of tickets to a special performance of “Cinderella” on Broadway for myself and some of my family – we got to meet the stars, Fran Drescher and Carly Rae Jepsen, and hold the glass slipper!

The Audience Rewards portal bills itself as The Official Rewards Program of Broadway. Owned by a group of some of the largest theater venue owners, presenters and performing arts centers in the US, Audience Rewards partners with three airlines – Delta, United and US Airways – as well as Starwood and Amtrak (and Best Buy and Points.com, too) to allow their loyalty-program members to exchange miles and points for program awards called ShowPoints, which can then be used to book theater tickets at Broadway-level venues in several cities around the country.

Note that ShowPoints don’t offer the best deals, however; the highest values are generally found in using a combination of points/miles and cash. 

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Note that Audience Rewards doesn’t offer any refunds, cancellations or exchanges, so all award redemptions are final and have to be booked using the redeeming member’s account info. Tickets can only be picked up at the show’s box office on the day of the performance, using proper ID like a driver’s license.

Typical seating chart for a Broadway theatre

Seating chart for New York’s Broadway Theatre, presently hosting Cinderella – the seat-section divisions are typical for large stage venues

On Audience Rewards, Broadway show tickets are separated into two tiers:

Anytime Unrestricted - flexible in terms of dates, days of the week, and seating
Special Limited Time - low-cost awards for specific dates only, with a limited number of available seats at each performance

Audience Rewards has several travel partners - Starwood, Delta, United, US Airways and Amtrak

Audience Rewards has several travel partners – Starwood, Delta, United, US Airways and Amtrak

Audience Rewards travel partners

Each of Audience Rewards’ travel partners – Starwood SPG, Delta, United, US Airways and Amtrak – requires you to enter your loyalty account number info and create an Audience Rewards account. Each partner offers tickets at different dollar amounts and redemption/earning rates of points and miles, as well as the option of customizing the number of points/miles and amount of cash you’d like to use. Each partner also offers special bonus earnings of miles and points on premium tickets, some at several times the usual earning rates.

Cinderella is the sample show used to illustrate differences between Audience Rewards' travel partners

Cinderella is the sample show used to illustrate differences between Audience Rewards’ travel partners

To illustrate the differences between each Audience Rewards travel partner, I’ve used Cinderella as the sample show. Each price, redemption or earnings amount shown is per ticket.

Starwood SPG's earnings via Audience Rewards

Starwood SPG’s awards and earnings via Audience Rewards

Starwood SPG

If paying with cash:
Cost of Cinderella tickets: $121-133 
Starpoints earned: 100

Redeeming for Anytime Unrestricted tickets:
Starpoints required: 11,000-16,700
Cents per point:  between 1 and .8 cents
Starpoints + Cash: starting at 500 + $105-162

Redeeming for Special Limited Time tickets:
Points required: 4,200
Cents per point: 3 cents
Starpoints + Cash: starting at 500 + $37

Special SPG offer of 1,000 Starpoints per ticket on a purchase of 4 or more tickets

Special SPG offer of 1,000 Starpoints per ticket on a purchase of 4 or more tickets

I used Audience Rewards’ Starwood SPG portal to book 5 Orchestra-section tickets for a 2 pm matinee, taking advantage of a special offer that allowed me to purchase 4 or more tickets and earn 1,000 Starpoints on each ticket.

Seats and costs for Cinderella via the special SPG offer

Seats/costs for Cinderella via the special SPG offer – I chose Orchestra Side Rows R-V for $137 apiece

By clicking “Buy Now,” I was taken to the site for Telecharge.com, asked to select a date and time (I picked Saturday, May 10 at 2pm to simulate the now-past April date and time of the show I attended), then shown a series of seats and prices. Seats in the row and section where I sat (Orchestra Side Row R) displayed at $137 apiece.

When available orange seats are selected on Telecharge.com. they display as green

When available orange seats are selected on Telecharge.com, they display as green

Clicking the hyperlinked “$137.00″ took me to a page where I was able to select available seats. Once chosen, available orange seats display as green.

Notice about service and handling fees on my order

Service and handling fees apply to each order

I saw a notice in the upper right hand corner that I’d be charged an $8.50 service fee per ticket and an as-yet unspecified handling fee.

Each $137 ticket is charged an $8.50 service fee, for a total of $145.50 per ticket

Once each $137 ticket is charged the $8.50 service fee, the total becomes $145.50 per ticket

At the bottom of this page, my seat selections displayed beside a total price of $145.50, reflecting an $8.50 service fee charged per ticket.

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Different choices for methods of ticket pickup or delivery

Continuing on, I was taken to a page that allows me to choose my method of delivery. I chose to pick mine up at the theatre for free.

Total cost of my special-offer order for 5 Cinderella tickets = $730.25

Cost of my special-offer order for 5 tickets = $730.25

My total order for 5 tickets, including the service fees and a handling fee of $2.75, came to $730.25.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs, my Starpoints earnings and the value of this transaction:

Total cost of 5 Cinderella tickets + fees: $730.25
Starpoints earned per ticket: 1,000
Total Starpoints earned: 5,000
Value: I conservatively value Starpoints at about 2 cents a piece (even though I usually redeem for 2.5 cents and up), so the 5,000 point bonus is worth about $100.

Using Audience Rewards’ Starwood portal, I charged this total on my Starwood American Express card, which earns 1 Starpoint for every dollar in non-Starwood property purchases and sadly Audience Rewards is not coded as a Starwood expense. My total Starpoints earning on this purchase breaks down as:

Starpoints earned via Audience Rewards: 5,000
Starpoints earned via the SPG Amex purchase: 730
Total Starpoints earned: 5,730

Starpoints redemptions for Starwood properties, Categories 1-4

Starpoints (and Cash + Points) redemptions for Starwood properties, Categories 1-4

Those Starpoints are valuable at Starwood properties in Categories 1 through 4, especially when combined with cash; as I’ve said before, Starpoints Cash & Points awards give you great bang for your buck, with a cash value that includes most taxes and fees. For instance, I could use 5,000 of those Starpoints + $75 in cash to get a one-night stay in a Category 4 Starwood property. If I chose a Deluxe Room at the Category 4 Westin Resort & Spa in Los Cabos, Mexico, which is u sually $196 a night, using Cash + Points for the room would give me a value of 3.6 cents a point.

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For each dollar spent within Audience Rewards, you earn 2 ShowPoints

In addition to earning loyalty points with different partners such as Starwood, you also earn 2 Audience Rewards ShowPoints for each dollar spent within the Audience Rewards portal. This means that my Cinderella tickets purchase of $730. 25 earned me a total of 1,460 ShowPoints.

These ShowPoints can be redeemed for:

Tickets (either as an outright redemption or a combo of ShowPoints + Cash)
Seat upgrades
Show merchandise
Add-ons like pre- or post-theatre dining and parking

It bears mentioning that if I wanted to redeem for tickets, my ShowPoints wouldn’t take me very far yet; Mezzanine seats generally start at about 2,000 ShowPoints per ticket. Instead, I’ll be sitting on my little stash of ShowPoints for now.

Delta's mileage earnings via Audience Rewards

Delta’s mileage awards and earnings via Audience Rewards

Delta

If you’re a Medallion member and choose to purchase your tickets through Delta’s portal on Audience Rewards, know that using your GoldPlatinum or Reserve Delta-branded American Express cards will earn you 1 Delta SkyMile for each dollar you spend. Here are the various payment options and values available through this portal:

If paying with cash:
Cost of Cinderella tickets: $121-133
SkyMiles earned: 100

Anytime Unrestricted tickets:
SkyMiles required: 18,300-27,700
Cents per mile: between .6 and .4 cents
SkyMiles + Cash: 500 + $107-164

Special Limited Time tickets:
SkyMiles required: 7,000
Cents per mile: 2 cents
SkyMiles + Cash: 500 + $39

Present bonus offers from Delta’s Audience Rewards portal include:

Cinderella: Earn 4,000 MileagePlus miles on a set of 4 tickets purchased at $127 apiece for all Tuesday-Thursday performances between now and July 6, 2014

Chicago: Earn 1,900 SkyMiles for each $132 ticket to a Saturday or Sunday performances (1,000 SkyMiles per ticket for all other performances) through June 6, 2014

Pippin: Earn 6,400 SkyMiles on a set of 4 tickets priced at $138 and up (700 SkyMiles per ticket when purchasing 3 tickets or less) for Tuesday – Thursday evening performances through July 2, 2014

United redemption awards on Audience Rewards

United redemption awards via Audience Rewards

United

If you’re part of the MileagePlus program and choose Audience Rewards’ United portal for your ticket purchase, know that using a United MileagePlus Explorer Card will earn you 1 MileagePlus mile for every dollar you spend. Here are the various payment options for the United portal:

If paying with cash:
Cost of Cinderella tickets: $121
MileagePlus miles earned: 100

Anytime Unrestricted tickets:
MileagePlus miles required: 21,000 to 31,000
Value: between .6 and .3 cents per mile

Special Limited Time tickets:
MileagePlus miles required:  7,000
Value: 1.7 cents per mile

Present bonus offers from United’s Audience Rewards portal  include:

Cinderella: Earn 4,000 MileagePlus miles on a set of 4 tickets purchased at $127 apiece for all Tuesday-Thursday performances between now and July 6, 2014

Act One: Earn 1,300 MileagePlus miles per each ticket priced $127 and up, for all performances through June 15, 2014

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: Earn 1,000 MileagePlus miles on every ticket priced $130 and up for performances between now and September  7, 2014

US Airways' show tickets pricing and mileage earnings

US Airways’ show tickets pricing and mileage earnings

US Airways

US Airways doesn’t allow you to redeem Dividend Miles for Broadway show tickets via Audience Rewards, so your only choice is to purchase tickets with cash and earn Dividend Miles, at the following rate:

Cost of Cinderella tickets: $121
Dividend Miles earned: 100

Present bonus offers from US Airways’ Audience Rewards portal  include:

Cinderella: Earn 4,000 MileagePlus miles on a set of 4 tickets purchased at $127 apiece for all Tuesday-Thursday performances between now and July 6, 2014

Motown on Broadway: Earn 1,900 MileagePlus miles per ticket priced at $147 and up for Tuesday – Thursday performances through May 22, 2014

The Cripple of Inishmaan: Earn 700 MileagePlus miles per ticket priced at $132 and up for performances through June 8, 2014

Amtrak only offers bonus

Amtrak offers specific bonus awards and the opportunity to (as pictured here) redeem a combo of ShowPoints and cash

Amtrak

Amtrak offers the opportunity to transfer your Amtrak Guest Rewards into ShowPoints to spend them (sometimes with cash) on participating shows, and to also earn 100 Amtrak Guest Rewards on each full-price ticket purchased through Audience Rewards. Amtrak’s present points and points-and-cash offers for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella are:

2,500 ShowPoints + $60 per ticket for Silver Seats ($121 – mid-mezzanine, rear mezzanine or balcony) through September 7, 2014
Value: 2.4 cents per point

5,000 ShowPoints + $60 for Gold Seats ($137 – orchestra and front mezzanine) through September 7, 2014
Value: 1.5 cents per point

10,000 ShowPoints per Gold Seat ($137) through June 29, 2014
Value: 1.4 cents per point

Present bonus offers from Amtrak’s Audience Rewards portal include:

Cinderella: Earn 4,000 Guest Rewards on a purchase 4 or more tickets at $127 or up (single tickets earn 400 Guest Rewards apiece) for Tuesday – Thursday performances through July 6, 2014

The Lion King, Aladdin, Newsies and Of Mice and Men: Earn 200 Guest Rewards (double the usual amount) on each full-price ticket for all performances through May 17, 2014

Amtrak's special offers include opportunities to earn double Guest Rewards

Amtrak’s special offers include opportunities to earn double Guest Rewards

Other Ways to Book Broadways Shows with Miles and Points

Personally, I only redeem my points and miles for travel, but several loyalty programs do offer auction and experience portals that allow you to redeem your points and miles for all sorts of entertainment – including Broadway-caliber shows. These include:

SPG Moments will allow you to redeem 10,000 Starpoints for premium-seat tickets to Jersey Boys for several dates in May 2014

Jersey Boys tickets for two with a redemption of 10,000 Starpoints via SPG Moments

SPG Moments

Jersey Boys at Paris Las Vegas: 10,000 Starpoints
Two premium-seat tickets for Sunday, May 18 at 7pm

Cinderella package via the Delta SkyMiles Online Auction

Cinderella package via the Delta SkyMiles Online Auction

Delta SkyMiles Online Auction

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre: Starting bid 25,000 SkyMiles
Package includes:
2 Orchestra seats on Friday, May 30, 2014 at 8pm
Behind the scenes tour access for 2 backstage after the show
Post-show meet & greet for two (2) with one of the principal actors including autographs and photos
1 poster which the principal actor will autograph
Cinderella CD

Mamma Mia! package via Mileage Plus

Mamma Mia! package via United’s MileagePlus Auction

MileagePlus Auction

Dancing Queen Experience with Mamma Mia!: Starting bid 10,000 MileagePlus miles
This package includes:
2 Orchestra tickets to the show (dates are mutually agreeable and based on availability)
Choreography lesson with dance captains before the performance
Private meet & greet with select cast members
2 official Mamma Mia! gift bags including soundtrack & souvenir Playbill

Nice Work If You Can Get It package via AAdvantage Auction (NOW CLOSED)

Nice Work If You Can Get It package via AAdvantage Auction (NOW CLOSED)

American AAdvantage Auction

At the time of writing, I see no new or upcoming auctions on this site. However, there have been past auctions for Broadways shows, such as this one – which is now closed:

VIP Broadway Package – Nice Work If You Can Get It: Starting bid 40,000 AAdvantage Miles, winning bid 401,000 AAdvantage Miles
Package included:
2 nights’ accommodation at the Kimberly Hotel
Pre-theater dinner for 2 at Tony’s DiNapoli
2 Premium Orchestra seats (valid for any non-holiday weekend in October or November 2013, Saturday evening only)
Basket of show souvenirs, including cast-autographed souvenir book
Backstage tour
Meet & greet plus photo opportunity with show stars Matthew Broderick and Kelli O’Hara

Few of these are good deals (the Dancing Queen Experience, for example, was already up to 42,000 MileagePlus miles at the time of writing, and those 401,000 AAdvantage Miles could take you around the world several times), so be sure it makes sense for you to redeem your points/miles for a special experience or instead redeem them for a valuable hotel room or award ticket. Most of these sites are updated often with new auctions, so if you don’t see something you like now, keep checking back. The show will go on!

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