What to know about buying a ticket to a US sports event (Updated for 2019)

So far, the majority of Sports Where I Am users have been Australians travelling to the USA. With that in mind, here are some questions commonly asked by our Aussie users about buying tickets to games in the USA.

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

Here are some of the things you should know before buying a ticket to a game in the United States. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, contact us on Facebook Messenger.

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The difference between eTickets, Mobile Tickets, International Express Delivery, etc.

What are eTickets

There are many types of ticket formats that can appear in your list of options for each game. Here are the main formats that you can expect:

eTickets are PDF versions of your tickets that we’ll email you to print off before you attend your event. Sometimes, these will be available immediately after you purchase your tickets, but in other cases it’ll be delayed until closer to your event date. It depends on a whole variety of factors. For example, some venues have specific rules that delay the official release of tickets until 48 hours before the game starts. Either way, we’ll be in contact with you up until you’ve received your tickets to make sure you’re all set for your gameday experience.

Mobile tickets require you to display your tickets (usually in the form of a QR code) on a smart device to enter the arena. These are becoming more popular with venues and teams across the USA, as they provide convenience and some added security benefits. If you select Mobile tickets when ordering through SWIAM, we’ll email you instructions for how to access your tickets from a team’s chosen mobile ticket provider (for example, Ticketmaster or Flash Seats) to scan on entry.

In the vast majority of cases, you’ll be getting either an eTicket or a Mobile ticket if you purchase through SWIAM. Instant Download, as you might have guessed, is pretty much the same as an eTicket or a Mobile Ticket but you’ll be delivered it right away (or within one business day at most).

International Express Delivery will appear as the delivery method on your booking when the original ticket holder only has physical copies of a ticket (rather than eTickets or Mobile tickets). If you place an ‘International Express Delivery’ order, we’ll get to work on organising the most appropriate delivery method for you straight away. For example, if the ticket is able to be converted to eTicket or Mobile ticket, we might arrange to have that done on your behalf. Alternatively, we will contact you about your travel plans to have the tickets delivered to your hotel or to a suitable collection point during your trip. For travellers, we’ve found these options to be the most convenient – so it’s actually pretty rare for us to have tickets shipped out to Australia. It all depends on the timing of your trip, the event, and the fulfilment schedule of the tickets.

You might not receive your ticket until 24-48 hours before your event – but don’t panic

We mentioned above that the specific time that your tickets are delivered to you depends on many factors, including the ticket type, team, venue1 or the amount of hype surrounding the particular event. In some cases, it can be up to 24 or 48 hours before the start of your game before you actually have your tickets in hand.

Don’t panic – this is no cause for concern2. You can always contact us via email or Facebook Messenger for updates on the status of your order. If it helps to put your mind at ease, we’ve been helping travellers get to sports events around the world since 2012 and we’ve never had someone not get to their game.

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

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

This is nothing to worry about, either. The name appearing on your ticket is likely the name of the original holder of the ticket, which in most cases is someone who holds a season ticket for the team you’re going to see. 

Similarly, the price displayed on the ticket can represent the proportional value of one game within a season-ticket holder package, or the original price that the ticket holder was able to purchase their ticket for. It does not represent the price that we purchased the ticket for – our fee is included in the Booking Fee only (see below).

The secondary ticket market has been embraced in the USA and is increasingly becoming the ticket market of choice around the world. We choose to only work with trustworthy ticket suppliers, and we therefore have a 100% guarantee on all of our USA tickets sold on Sports Where I Am. You can read more about secondary ticketing in the FAQ page of our website.

Comparing prices across ticketing websites (including ‘Booking fees’ and international transaction costs)

We encourage you to compare prices at different ticketing websites in the lead-up to your trip. It is important, though, to make sure you’re comparing the final price of the transaction, rather than just the price that appears on the seating map.

On this measure – the final price paid in the transaction – our prices are competitive. There are some sites who advertise that they “don’t charge fees” on their tickets, although this can often result in higher initial ticket prices. On the other hand, most ticketing websites will advertise the lowest priced tickets on the seating map, but then have a significant booking/processing or delivery fees added by the time you get two or three clicks into the Checkout process.

For Australian travellers heading to the USA, there are also other costs associated with purchasing tickets from an overseas company. For starters, your bank will give you a worse currency conversion rate than X-E currency converter or Google shows you – usually by about 4 cents per dollar converted. Secondly, you’ll also be charged an International Transaction Fee for buying from an overseas company. Most Australian Banks charge 3% of the order for an international transaction. Of course, if you book through Sports Where I Am, you’ll avoid both of these added costs.

To keep things simple, we have a flat 15% Booking Fee across all of our tickets that we display as soon as you have added the tickets to your Shopping Cart. You will not any receive extra charges later for things like delivery, currency exchange, credit card fees, or foreign transaction fees – the price you see in the Shopping Cart is the price you’ll see on your bank statement.

With these things considered, our experience is that the prices our customers end up paying are the same or better than anywhere else. 

Like anything, we definitely recommend that you shop around – just make sure you’re comparing the right figures.

Check the security/admissions policy and SWIAM fan tips of the venue before your game

Unfortunately, a number of Australians have had unwelcome surprises in regard to what they can and cannot bring into a sports venue in the USA. For example, some will only allow you to bring bags, cameras and merchandise that is below a certain size limit. Others may require any bags you bring to be clear, so the items inside can be inspected by security.

It is difficult to condense this into one catch-all tip, so our advice for this is to:

  • Check the Sports Where I Am Fan Tips page for the venue you’re attending, and
  • Search Google to find the venue’s official Admissions policy page, like this:
Just search “[venue name] policies”

You might save yourself the hassle of having to buy a clear bag branded with the opposition team’s logo, like Sarah experienced:

On the other hand, you might find out that you can bring more than you thought you could, for example, Mario’s tip for bringing food into Dodger Stadium:

Either way, you should check both the Sports Where I Am Fan Tips page for the venue you’re attending as well as the admission policies listed on their official website.

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

Our US tickets are backed by a 100% guarantee, and we have a number of different customer service avenues for you if you have any questions – whether you’re planning for a trip in the future or currently in the middle of one. Contact us via Facebook Messenger or by email and one of our customer service team will respond to you ASAP.

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 assisted 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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  1. Madison Square Garden tickets, for example, are typically delivered much later than those for other venues.
  2. In fairness, none of our users have really ‘panicked’.