Welcome to Ticket Minute! Ticket Minute is our new series where we share our thoughts and answers to many of the frequent questions we receive. Our goal is to share our industry insights on ticket management, pricing, utilization, trends and much more.

The questions we receive range from reselling tickets you can’t use for the maximum price to hidden fees, tiered pricing and how to interpret website icons on sites such as Ticketmaster.com. 

Today we’re going to talk about hidden ticket fees.

Yes, that unpleasant surprise you often experience when you think you’ve scored some decent event seats for a reasonably fair price, only to find out once you try to check out, the tickets suddenly cost 15, 20 or even 30% higher. Fees such as service, convenience, facilities, delivery, processing and others are now tacked on to the face value price.

So, what gives? Online ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster and AXS must pay the event venue and the promoter for the rights to manage an event’s tickets. Ticket sellers pass on those costs to consumers — and pocket a portion to increase profits and cover their overhead (website/ticketing hardware and software, staff, advertising, etc.). Reseller sites such as StubHub also charge similar overhead fees. 

You can avoid being surprised by hidden fees by changing how you search for seats on the primary seller and reseller sites — here’s how:

Once you’ve navigated to the page listing the event’s available tickets, find the filter options on the site, which are typically displayed above the list of seats or in a sidebar on the page. For example, SeatGeek displays its filters along the top of the list of available tickets. Look for “Include Fees” from the filter options. Now when you click on an available seat in the seating chart diagram, the price displayed includes the base price plus all fees. 

Other major resellers will include a filter option to include all fees in the displayed price, and most will break down the fees by type. Some sites will remember your filter selection when you navigate to another event or date, but others will force you to reselect the filter each time you click into something new.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if it’s possible to avoid paying extra fees. 

For online ticket purchases, the answer is basically no. Even sites that advertise they are “fee free” simply build the fees into the final ticket price. However, if you can purchase tickets in person at the venue’s box office, you might avoid a few extra expenses.

So why don’t ticket seller sites always show the final price? In a nutshell, they make more money hiding the fees until the end of the buying process. Studies have revealed that once consumers have made an emotional decision to make a purchase, they are more likely to follow through, even when presented with unexpected fees.