Just as e-commerce is thriving today, the world of online ticketing is booming, too. But should you begin your search on StubHub? Or Gametime? Or the old standby, Ticketmaster? There are hundreds of online ticketing platforms, and each varies in terms of the reliability of the seller, ticket prices and fees, and the quality of the user experience. To help you choose the platform that best suits your needs and budget, we’ve compiled a quick comparison of the top four ticketing websites and apps.
Before we dig in, though, it’s important to understand the difference between the primary and secondary ticket markets. The primary market is the first time a ticket is being sold, with the price set at face value by the event provider. This includes buying your tickets directly from a concert venue, a sports team, or a primary market ticketing platform like Ticketmaster.
The secondary market—also known as the resale market—refers to tickets that have been purchased directly from the event provider or a platform on the primary market, but are now being resold. The secondary market is made up of professional brokers and resellers, as well as peer-to-peer individual sellers (such as fans who can no longer attend the event), and can often be a great way to find low-priced deals on tickets.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the pros and cons of the top online ticketing platforms:
Ticketing website StubHub is one of the most widely recognized online ticketing platforms. This secondary marketplace offers a huge selection of tickets from both brokers and individual users. It also boasts super fast shipping, and their friendly customer service team is always available to help.
StubHub acts as a middleman between ticket vendors and customers, giving sellers a platform to showcase their offers, while displaying a broad variety of options to customers. There’s a downside to this, though; as with its parent company eBay, some buyers question the trustworthiness of the sellers, or, at the very least, prefer to know who they’re buying from. Furthermore, shipping costs tend to be high, and their 10% buying fee can add up.
The verdict: Despite the anonymity of brokers and other users, StubHub does have credibility as a well-established brand with excellent customer service. It may not be the cheapest choice, but it does tend to be a reliable platform, with the widest variety of ticket options.
Mobile ticketing platform Gametime is geared toward quick, last-minute purchases. The app automatically surfaces the best available deals, so users don’t have to sort through hundreds of options themselves. And as a mobile app, buying tickets on-the-go is super convenient: tickets are sent directly to the customer’s phone—no printed copies needed—and can be shared easily with friends via email or SMS.
Gametime offers competitive last-minute prices by sourcing tickets from individual sellers as well as professional brokers, and all ticket purchases are backed by a robust guarantee.
The verdict: When it comes to overall convenience and peace of mind, Gametime is your best bet. Sorting through a long list of options or dealing with the hassles of printed tickets can put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable event. Feeling spontaneous? Gametime seamlessly facilitates the last-minute experience, without all the fuss of planning ahead.
As a primary market broker, Ticketmaster has access to tickets directly from venues and teams, and sells tickets at face value. The platform allows users to receive tickets by email, mail, or pick-up at will call or a participating store, and it also offers a three-day return policy for many events.
A disadvantage to the platform, however, is that tickets can sell out quickly, sometimes even within minutes for popular events. This tends to mean you’ll need to buy in advance and stay on your toes about upcoming events—which, at the end of the day, isn’t that different from buying directly from the venue itself.
The verdict: Ticketmaster has the benefit of fair and honest pricing. Because tickets are sold only at face value—no higher, no lower—you also won’t have to sort through a long list of various deals. Options for casual browsing and spontaneity, however, are limited; tickets for specific events can sell out quickly, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Vivid Seats
Uniquely, ticketing website Vivid Seats provides users with a value score—a calculation that helps customers determine whether to pull the trigger on buying a ticket. The value score provides useful insight about whether a particular ticket, given the seat’s position within the venue, is really worth its current price.
Vivid Seats’ prices tend to be middle-of-the-road, including service and delivery fees for the buyer, and a 10% fee for the seller. Finally, Vivid Seats doesn’t have a ticket pickup center, making email and delivery the primary alternatives.
The verdict: While Vivid Seats isn’t the most competitive in terms of price, its strength comes in displaying a ticket’s value score to the buyer. This is an important advantage which, for some users, may give Vivid Seats a leg up on more transparent and straightforward search capabilities than other sites.
Are you a spontaneous last-minute shopper? Is simplicity and ease of use your #1 priority? Do you prefer lots of search options and filters? Online ticketing isn’t one-size-fits-all, and choosing the best platform for you depends on your unique preferences and needs. Each of these platforms comes with their own pros and cons, so choose the one that best fits your style, or switch between each to find the best deal. Above all, our recommendation is to stay away from platforms that display high service fees and provide a poor user experience, and to opt for a seller who offers quick, reliable customer support. For most event-goers, purchasing from a ticket marketplace that offers last-minute deals, simple functionality, and clear communication is the best choice.