NEW YORK -- It's not even spring yet, but tickets for big summer concerts are going fast.
Pop stars Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have already sold out most of their summer tour dates. That means that fans who haven't snapped up tickets will have to pay higher prices.
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The best way to score a ticket at its face value is to buy them when they are first released, which for most venues will be on Ticketmaster.com. If those tickets are sold out, you'll have to buy them from resellers, commonly called the "secondary market." Websites such as StubHub.com and eBay.com let ticket holders sell unwanted tickets.
But buying from the secondary market often means paying more. For example, face value for the cheapest tickets for the sold-out Aug. 10 Taylor Swift show at Soldier Field in Chicago was $53.90. On StubHub, the lowest ticket for that concert is nearly double the price at $97.
There are some ways to save a few dollars, even if the show you want is sold out:
Get first dibs
If the concert you want to see still hasn't begun to sell tickets yet, check if there's a presale happening. Artists will promote a date when tickets go on sale, but most artists begin selling tickets a couple of days before the official date. The presales are usually for people who use certain credit cards. The credit card type depends on the artist. Sometimes the presale will let American Express card holders buy tickets early, other times it will be Citi credit cards or MasterCard. Check to see if your credit card company offers presales.
Another way to get access to presales is to join the artist's fan club, but that will cost you. Justin Bieber's fan club, for example, charges $81 a year. But if that gets you cheaper tickets than are sold on secondary markets, the fan club price could be worth it.
Wait it out
If you miss out on buying tickets when they're first released, be patient and wait to buy tickets from the secondary market until it's closer to the concert date. About 48 hours before the concert, sellers start cutting prices to get rid of the tickets, says Alison Salcedo, a spokesperson at StubHub.com. Tickets can be emailed to you, or you can pick them up from the venue right before the show. The big risk is that tickets won't be available and you'll miss the show.
Try lesser-known venues
Consider hopping on a train or driving further out of town to save some money. Tickets at marquee venues are generally higher than other venues in the area, says Will Flaherty, director of communications at SeatGeek.com, a website that finds event tickets for sale on the secondary market. In New York for example, tickets at Madison Square Garden can be slightly higher than tickets for the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., which is just a 15-minute train ride away. Some acts will play multiple arenas in the same area.
More artists are selling tickets behind the stage to make as much money as possible in each venue, says Villanova University economist David Fiorenza, who also advises musicians on their tours. Those tickets are often much cheaper than others because it's harder to see the singer or band.
Fiorenza says that he took his daughter to a Lady Gaga concert two years ago and bought tickets behind the stage. They still were able see the singer and hear the music. "There were video screens in back of the stage," says Fiorenza. He says he was able to save about $100 on the tickets.
Where to buy them
If the event you want to go to is sold out, your best bet is to buy tickets from StubHub.com or eBay.com. Both websites have buyer protections that refund your money if the tickets turn out to be fake. The websites also allow you to buy electronic tickets. (Both Stubhub.com and eBay.com are owned by eBay Inc.)
Another option is SeatGeek.com. The website searches for the cheapest tickets on the secondary market from sites including StubHub and eBay. SeatGeek says all the sites it links to offer buyer protections.
Beware of sellers on Craigslist (not to mention random scalpers on the street). You'll lose your money if the tickets turn out to be fake.
Check the box office
Get off the computer and call the venue. Fiorenza says that more tickets are often released days before the concert, so call the venue where the concert is taking place to see if they have more tickets.
It's also possible that artists will add another show. Flaherty recommends following venues and the artists on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to catch any announcements.