Buying event tickets safely online

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you can, it’s always best to buy a ticket to an event from the event’s official seller or from the venue. That way you know it’s genuine and at the original price.

Check the event or venue websites and those of the artists to find out who the official ticket sellers are.

When you’ve found the name of the ticket sellers, check that they’re a member of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).

Check the terms and conditions on the ticket website you use to see what happens if something goes wrong. For example some companies will refund your money if the tickets don’t arrive on time or the event is cancelled.

Don’t buy tickets from a website if:

  • it’s offering tickets which aren’t officially on sale yet

  • it could be hard to contact the company selling them - for example if they only have a PO Box address and mobile number

  • you can’t see ‘https’ at the beginning of the web address when you’re on the site - your payment might not be safe

What you should look out for

There are lots of things to think about when you buy an event ticket, even from an official seller. Think about whether:

  • you can sign up for any pre-sale or preferential access tickets, for example, through a fan club, mobile phone or credit card company

  • there are any additional costs, for example booking, handling or transaction fees, or delivery charges

  • you’ll have to show proof of identity to get into the event

  • the event or artist says you can’t resell your ticket if you can’t go - check their websites

Buying from a fan-to-fan website

If you can’t get a ticket from an official seller, try a ‘fan-to-fan’ website like Scarlet Mist or Twickets. Some artists and events recommend or link to these sites to resell tickets for their events.

Tickets should be at the original price of the ticket (known as ‘face value’) or less.

If you buy from Twickets, you’ll have to pay a 10% fee, but you’ll get a refund if the tickets aren’t as the seller described them. The seller can include up to 15% to cover original booking fees. There might be a delivery fee, depending on how you choose to receive your ticket.

Scarlet Mist allows buyers and sellers to obtain each other’s details and arrange how to exchange tickets and pay for them. They say sellers shouldn’t ask for more than the ticket’s face value - but they won’t refund you if, for example, the tickets are fake. You should read their advice about the safest way to pay.

Buying from reselling sites

Reselling (or secondary ticketing) sites like Stubhub and Viagogo resell tickets bought from official sellers and others, including private sellers. Some events - like major sporting events and some music concerts - have their own rules about reselling tickets or procedures for doing so.

You might also find that searching for an event, festival or artist will often show such sites before the official ones, so if you want official sellers, find the artist or event site to check who the official sellers are.

You should make sure the reselling site you use tells you:

  • what kind of tickets you’re buying - for example your seat number or if the tickets are for a standing area or has a restricted view

  • the original, or face value, price of the tickets

  • the total price you’ll have to pay - including any buyer fee (usually around 10% of the face value)

  • if the seller is connected to the website you’re buying from or the organiser of the event - for example if they work for them

  • if the seller is a business, they must give their name and business address - you might need to hover over or click on ‘seller’ to get that information and take a screenshot of that information in case you need it later

  • any restrictions on who can use the tickets - for example if they can’t be used by under-18s, the venue might ask for proof of identity, the artist or event might cancel resold tickets

Make a note of any unique reference numbers for your tickets that are given on the reselling site. If you can’t tell where you'll be sitting or standing you can use them to check with the original seller.

You should report a ticket seller to Trading Standards if they cause you problems because they:

  • give you wrong or misleading information - like selling you a ticket for a seat but sending you a ticket for a standing area

  • use unfair terms - like putting a restriction on reselling tickets in very small print

  • engage in unfair activities - like putting pressure on you to buy by saying there are only a few tickets left

  • didn’t give you the unique reference numbers for your tickets when they could have helped you find out where you were sitting or standing

When using a resold ticket you need to be aware that:

  • you might be refused entry if you’re not the person named on the ticket

  • certain football match tickets cannot be resold unless the match organiser has authorised it

  • you might have an invalid ticket and be refused entry if the event organiser decided to cancel resold tickets - the event or artist website might say if they’re going to do this

  • you might be buying a fake ticket

  • any rights you might have to a refund or exchange might be affected if the event is postponed or cancelled

  • the ticket might have been resold several times and you’re unlikely to know who you’re buying from or if they’re a private seller

  • some of the official sellers have trading partnerships with some of the reselling sites so it might be cheaper to check if the official seller has any tickets left

Buying from a private seller

If you buy tickets from someone through an auction site or social media website, it usually means you’ll have bought them from a private seller and will have little protection if you don’t get what you expect - for example the tickets don’t arrive.

If you buy from these sites, it’s best to meet the seller face to face before you pay them - meet them in a public place and take someone with you. Don’t be tempted to buy from someone selling tickets in the street near the venue - the tickets might be fake.

Paying for tickets

You should pay for tickets online with a credit or debit card. If you use a card and there’s a problem, for example the tickets are fake, your bank will usually help you get your money back. Read more about getting a refund for event tickets and how to get your money back if you paid by card.

Be very careful if a reselling site asks you to pay by bank transfer - this might be a scam.

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Page last reviewed on 26 January 2018