Are tickets cheaper when you buy them last-minute?

  • Posted on: 05 Jul 2024
    Are tickets cheaper when you buy them last-minute?

  • A particular question that may interest many people is whether tickets are cheaper if one buys them closer to the date of the event.

    Making a booking of the trips and even the tickets at the last minute seems to be fun and you just do it without any planning. Nonetheless, is it really financially wise to do so, or do most people who procrastinate end up being forced to spend more money on last-minute purchases? As to the question regarding what discounts can be applied to a ticket, this depends on the type of ticket and a number of other factors. Let's break it down.

    Airline Tickets

    Typically, the prices for airline tickets increase over time, which means that the earlier you can book a flight, the cheaper it will be. There is competition in the setting of airfare, where airlines employ stochastic models to predict demand. The cost of a ticket on a specific flight will rise as the flight is fully booked or the demand for its services escalates. Purchasing too far in advance also means that the cost can be higher when demand later shrinks and suppliers offer better prices. However, you are putting yourself in a dangerous position when you wait for the exam date to be closer. Although there can be some unexpected offers for a cheap ticket, in most cases, last-minute airline tickets are expensive.

    However, if your dates are more open ended, there might be some opportunity to save on some routes and fly on certain days and/or at certain times of the day. Overnight stays have also been known to reduce the charges on some flights on international routes. This way, you will be more likely to book a flight on an airline that has just dropped the price of a particular route and you will also use airline alerts to help you take advantage of last minute fare sales. However, relying on low-priced tickets sold a day before the flight can be very unpredictable.

    Concert and Event Tickets

    Entertainment tickets such as concerts, sports events, theater shows, and other general ticketed events also exhibit the same trends as airfare fares. Admission rates are usually cheaper during the first days of a show or a game as it are made available to the public. It is important to note that as the event date draws near and the inventory of items comes down, there is often a tendency to increase the price.

    However, conversely for low popularity events, it may occur that the number of interested people will be much less than 1000. In a bid to avoid being paid for empty seats, some of the organizers will often lower their charges as the time nears when the game is in progress or the curtain falls. In some cases, third-party resellers may also lower the price toward the end of the product’s lifecycle when they still have units in stock. In most cases, unless the occasion is sold out, one can easily buy tickets directly from the ticket booth as the show starts. However, you will typically incur higher fees than the customers who bought the bond at its initial price. However, if you do not mind getting some offers that are quite good but not the very best ones, then it is feasible to get them at the last minute, but it is not advisable to do that all the time.


    It is worth noting that hotel occupancy and season play a significant influence on the rates that they set. If a hotel has vacancies one week before a stay, they can be willing to sell the room at a very cheap price rather than have an idle room all through the set period. Sometimes, you can get rate cuts of more than 50 percent or even more if you delay your booking to the last minute.

    But this strategy proves to be effective only in certain locations and dates, or sometimes, it is not effective at all. In the areas most visited and at the time when tourism is most active, you will hardly be able to score last-minute accommodation or a good price. However, if one is going to a relatively quiet area at a time when business is slow, trying to find out by contacting the hotels a few days before arrival could turn up some fantastic prices. One should be open to changes in the arrangements about the hotel rather than being determined on which hotel should be used.

    Rental Cars

    Just like hotels, rental car companies would prefer to get rid of excess cars and sell them at a loss rather than leave them in a parking lot. As the pick-up dates are near, start to look at daily rental specials and coupons that could provide significant discounts from the regular rates. This may, however, be limited by the availability of dates, the choice of vehicle in any given location,, or the popularity of the date. If you have specific requirements, such as renting a specific type of vehicle like an SUV or minivan, it may be more advantageous to book your ride farther in advance to ensure that you can get the type of car you want before this becomes a rarity.


    Although cruise cabins that are booked at the final moment might cost as little as 75% of the original price, the issues here are a lot more constrained in terms of the date of sailing, cruise line choice, type of cabin, and cruise destination. Cruise lines use their revenue management model formula to determine the pricing strategies that they are going to apply on their ships in the fleet for the expected occupancy level. There are also ‘last minute’ rates for those who need a place, but the best and cheapest vacations are going to be booked months, if not years, in advance.

    Therefore, the following are the aspects to consider when making last-minute bookings:

    Here are some key factors to keep in mind when considering a last-minute booking: Here are some key factors to keep in mind when considering a last-minute booking:

    Be open-minded. Since one has to grab any deal depending on its availability, he or she cannot be very selective or rigid with dates or times when the travel has to commence. This implies that its openness enhances the likelihood of noticing a sale.

    Always check two or three different sources - You may not always be able to find the availability or the special deals, so you should have a backup ready in case your last check comes up empty.

    Check for last-minute deals. Travel sites alert you when fares, prices of tickets, or hotel rates drop.

    Read newspapers, magazines, and online blogs. Most newspapers, magazines, and blogs carry travel sections that often showcase airlines’ and travel providers’ limited-time offers.

    Use coupons/promos: There are normally aggressive discounts on accommodation on sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon, among others, for those who book at the last minute.

    Watch out for fees. Some offer a lot of attractive prices at the last minute and then hit you with hidden fees that will take away any possible savings. Consider those costs before going ahead with the booking.

    The Bottom Line

    Dependence on last-minute deals as your only strategy is mostly provocative and can often turn out to be very negative. As with most travel-related services, prices tend to rise slightly with each passing day that is closer to the intended date of travel. However, if there is a little bit of wiggle room and a lot of luck, there is always the possibility of finding true last-minute wholesale discounts across most major booking types. The best opportunity is, therefore, to track sale announcements and prices offered in the period leading up to your dates. It is also important not to bet on the slim chance that you will come across a fantastic deal at the last moment, since this is a sure way of losing out!