What to know before buying a ticket to a US sports event

Last year was our busiest year yet at Sports Where I Am, with more people signing up and buying tickets through the mobile app and website than ever before. It was awesome. With this post, we’re hoping to answer some of the most common questions that have come up from our Australian users about the process of buying tickets to games in the USA.

Of course we want you to be buying your tickets through us – but we hope these points apply to just about any ticket provider.

Here are the things you should know before buying a ticket to a game in the United States.

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The difference between eTickets, Instant Download, Will-Call, etc

What are eTicketsThere are many different ticket types that could appear on your list of options for purchases. Here are some of the main ones we’ve encountered so far:

eTickets are tickets that can be downloaded and printed before you attend the event. The only reason these aren’t called ‘Instant Download’ is because sometimes the ticket isn’t available to download right away – this can happen for a variety of reasons, for instance, if the event is still a long time away from happening. Some venues also have specific rules that delay the official release of tickets – sometimes until as close as 3 days before the start of the event.

Instant Download, as you might have guessed, is pretty much the same as an eTicket but you have access to it right away (or within one business day at most).

(In the vast majority of cases, you’ll be getting either an eTicket or an Instant Download ticket if you purchase through SWIAM.)

Will-Call option tickets are when the physical tickets need to be picked up in the lead-up to the event. This can be from the private seller or from the box office of the actual venue.

There are also sometimes physical copies of tickets that need to be delivered to an address before the event. Some people prefer to have this option despite the international shipping fees involved, and some major events actually have physical tickets as a requirement (like the Superbowl, for instance). Depending on the time frame, you can sometimes organise with your hotel to have the tickets delivered there for you to collect.

It’s less common right now, but in the near future more venues will have mobile tickets available, where you don’t need to print your ticket, you can just scan the barcode directly from your smartphone/device. This will be fantastic (particularly for our mobile App users!) and we look forward to it becoming a more prevalent option in the future.

Money will appear to have been taken out of your account before you receive your ticket – but don’t panic

The heart rate of some of our customers increased significantly when they saw money appear to be taken out of their account before they’d received their tickets. This is called ‘pre-authorisation’. Technically, the money isn’t being taken out of your account, but just ‘held’ until the transaction is carried out.

This is just to ensure that everyone who says they are going to buy a ticket actually has the funds available in their account to do so.

Our US-based tickets come from the secondary ticket market (which is explained in our FAQ). Prices in the secondary ticket market change based on supply and demand – hence the need for pre-authorisation. As a hypothetical example, if someone claimed they were going to buy thousands of tickets, prices of the remaining available tickets would increase (as there would then be less available). If that person then wasn’t actually able to pay for all of their tickets, there would suddenly be thousands more tickets available, and the people who paid a higher rate for their tickets would have been ripped off.

That’s a complicated paragraph, and it can become even more complicated if you add the aforementioned credit card issue into the mix. Again, it is best if you contact us or your credit card provider if you have any concerns.

Your name probably won’t be on the ticket (and that’s fine)

As our tickets in the USA come from the secondary ticket market, you’re likely to see a name on the ticket that you buy that isn’t yours. Similarly, the price might be different to what you paid – it could be either higher or lower, based on demand for that game.

This is nothing to worry about. The secondary ticket market has been embraced in the USA and is increasingly becoming the ticket market of choice around the world.

About ‘Booking fees’ or ‘Processing fees’

We encourage you to compare prices at different ticketing websites in the lead-up to your trip. That’s how we got started in this game in the first place!

There are some ticket vendor sites who advertise that they “don’t charge processing fees” on their tickets, although this can generally result in higher initial ticket prices. On the other hand, some ticketing websites will advertise the lowest priced tickets, but then have a significant booking or processing fee added by the time you get to checkout.

To keep things simple, we have a flat 15% Booking Fee across our USA tickets. Our experience is that the prices our customers end up paying are about the same or better than what our competitors charge overall. Sometimes our prices are slightly better, other times slightly worse, but the booking/processing fees usually aren’t the determining factor.

Like anything, it is good to shop around – but don’t get too carried away with any advertisements for ‘no booking or processing fees’. The best way to make a clear comparison is to add your tickets to your cart, go to checkout and convert the final price to your own currency to see what you’re actually paying. We recently updated SWIAM to make this part easier.

You should use the customer service options you have available with us

We have a 100% guarantee on all of our US tickets sold and a number of different customer service avenues for you if you have any questions – whether you’re planning for or midway through your trip.

There is a lot of information in this post and a lot more information on our FAQ page, but the best thing you can do if you have any questions is contact us to help you through it. We’ve helped a number of sports fans through their trip planning so far and it is without a doubt the most satisfying work for us: so let us know if we can help.

Happy trip planning!

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