22 Ways to Save Money in NYC
For all of the things that New York City is known for (the amazing restaurants, great stores, Broadway shows, and more), it’s safe to say being affordable is not on that list. Whether you’re a hardened local or wide-eyed visitor, New York City can get very expensive, very fast. To help, we’ve rounded up the best inside scoops, hacks, and must-know details on living it up in the Big Apple—without breaking the bank.
- Think outside the hotel, and sublet an apartment via Airbnb, OneFineStay (that pretty apartment pictured? Rentable!), or Craigslist, instead.
- Keep tabs on the little-known Hotel Week NYC, when dozens of popular Manhattan properties offer deep discounts (starting at $100 per night) for two weeks in winter.
- Don’t be afraid to branch out to the other boroughs. Brooklyn offers loads of nightlife and dining options that will likely get you more for your money (in 1982, Zagat listed only about 25 Brooklyn restaurants; now they list more than 250). There’s also Queens, famous for its vibrant ethnic cuisine offerings.
- There are Chase ATMs located in every Duane Reade/Walgreens throughout the city (which are dotted all throughout the city, every couple of blocks). You’ll save a lot in small increments if you can avoid the bodega ATM fees.
- Walk wherever you can manage. You’ll see a lot more on foot than you would by taking the subway or a taxi. Also, "falling into" a restaurant or bar is so New York.
- Take the subway from the airport. If you’re arriving at JFK International Airport, you can take the subway into the city for $2.50 each. A cab ride will cost you $45, plus tolls.
- A genius subway hack to remember: Pre-set MetroCard purchases keep commuters stuck in an endless cycle of balances that always fall just short of that $2.50 subway fare. When you’re adding money to your card, instead of choosing from among the machine’s $9 (plus $.45 bonus), $19 (plus $.95 bonus) or $39 (plus $1.95 bonus) choices. Select the “Other Amounts” button and type in $9.55, $19.05 or $38.10.
- Download the HopStop mobile app, which offers detailed local transit directions. It will make navigating the NYC subway system a stress-free breeze.
- If you decide to drive into the city, print out coupons from Icon or Best Parking ahead of time that will allow you to park all day for a flat rate, rather than paying extremely inflated hourly fees.
- Free concerts are aplenty. Check this NYC Free Concerts list for the latest schedule.
- Most museums offer year-round weekly or monthly specials. Check if the museum on your itinerary is included. For example, the Museum of Modern Art is free every Friday between 4p.m. and 8p.m., and the MET and Natural History museums are actually “suggested donation,” meaning you don’t have to pay if you don’t want to. Bonus: Your MET ticket also grants you free access to the Cloisters, which is way uptown, but a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of NYC if you have the time.
- See free Shakespeare in the park during the summer months via The Public Theater.
- Trying to catch a Broadway show? Download the TodayTix app for discounts, check Broadway Box for reduced prices (often up to 50 percent off the biggest shows), or visit Broadway for Broke People for last-minute deals available at theater box offices. Many theaters sell leftover tickets for as little as $20 a few hours before showtime at their respective box offices.
- Try your luck and request tickets to attend a show taping (if you get chosen, tickets are free!). Some shows filmed in NYC: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Good Morning America, the Rachael Ray Show, The Late Night Show with David Letterman, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
- Catch a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. The shows feature local talent, and the NYC location in particular attracts celebrities now and again. Tickets are typically $5 per show.
- Every Wednesday, the Bronx Zoo has donation-based admissions.
- The Downtown Boathouse offers free public kayaking programs.
- Visit Central Park, where there are almost always street performers and musicians roaming around, and the High Line, a public park created from an old elevated rail line.
- From the third week of October through the first week of March, go ice-skating for free at the Rink at Bryant Park.
- Restaurant Week comes to New York twice a year (January/February and June/July). You’ll be able to dine at some of the city’s most exclusive, expensive restaurants for a fraction of the normal price.
- By-the-glass wine prices can start at $14 in the city. Explore BYOB options, and you’ll enjoy dinner without quite so much sticker shock at the end of the meal.
- Lots of restaurants offer happy hour deals on food, as well as drinks. For example, this list of 64 amazing oyster happy hours allows you to get the experience of luxury dining without the price tag.
Do you have any secrets for saving money in New York? Share in the comments below!