On my second visit to New York City, I made sure I had at least a week to explore my favourite city in the world. Never one to leave it up to fate, I started making a list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do. It was a long list. Narrowing it down was pretty tough.
While doing my research I had come across The New York Pass. Essentially, it functions like a passport of sorts. It’s roughly the size of a credit card. One that gives you free entry to multiple attractions as well as discounts on sightseeing tours, theaters, restaurants, and department stores.
The New York Pass is really easy to use. Here’s all you need to do.
Step 1: Choose between a 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 day pass. The card is valid on consecutive days only. So to fully benefit from it, you will have to plan your days according to the attractions available with The New York Pass.
Step 2: Once you get your smart card, activate it by going to an attraction covered by the pass and show the attendant there your card. They will swipe the card through a special machine and you will be allowed entry.
Now that your New York Pass is activated, the card is valid for the number of days that you’ve purchased. Note that the card follows the calendar day, not a 24 hour period. You should activate the pass in the morning with a full day ahead to maximize the value and number of days credited to the card.
For example, if you activate the card on Monday morning at 10am and you’ve bought a 5 day pass, your card will expire automatically on Friday at midnight.
You can only visit each attraction once so as much as you want to make your money’s worth with the New York Pass, take your time at each attraction.
Some popular attractions will have long queues and the New York Pass also has a Fast Track Entry feature that allows the pass holder to skip the lines and get in quicker.
Although the New York Pass seemed like a no-brainer, it was one of the things we were deliberating about as a group. We weren’t sure if it would really save us money.
So we did some mental sums of our own to determine if we should buy the pass or not.
You can see the full list of attractions covered with the pass here. But here is the list of places we wanted to visit and things we wanted to see and do as well as how much it would normally cost us. Those in bold are the ones we actually managed to do. And the one with a * were places we visited although we didn’t plan for it but ending up doing. And those with a $ are the attractions I felt were worth my while.
9/11 Tribute Center – Original price: $15
$ Central Park Bike Tour – Original price: $45 to $49
Empire State Building – Original price: $32
Food On Foot Tours – Original price: $49
Grand Central Terminal Terminal Audio Tour – Original price: $9
Luna Park @ Coney Island – Original price: $35 (for 4 hrs)
$ Madame Tussauds New York – Original price: $37
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – Original price: $25
NBC Studio Tour – Original price: $24
* New York Water Taxi – Original price: $31
*$ Rock Of Ages Musical – Save over $40 using promo code
$ Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – Original price: $25
$ Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum – Original price: $18
$ The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Original price: $25
* The Paley Center for Media – Original price: $10
$ Top Of The Rock – Original price: $29
Wall Street Walks – Original price: $25
$ Woodbury Common Premium Outlets – Free Vip Coupon Booklet & $5 off Bus ticket
So the approximate amount we would have spent on these attractions was $232 per person. 3 of us bought the 5 day pass for $559.60 which works out to about $186.53 per person. Plus we got a $40 discount off Rock Of Ages musical and $5 off the Woodbury bus ticket. That means we saved about $90 per person. Not bad, not bad at all.
I suppose if we had more days in New York City, even if we bought the pass at today’s price of $195.50, we would have still saved quite a substantial amount of money.
The New York Pass – Is it worthwhile for YOU?
1) Do your research. What are the places and things you want to see or do when you’re in New York City. List them down and note down if there is an admission fee or if it’s free.
2) Go to the official website of The New York Pass and find out what attractions are available.
3) Note down the attractions that you’d like to visit and do a quick evaluation to see if it’s worth it to buy. The website makes it even easier by listing the original price of an adult ticket and child ticket of each attraction.
4) Take note of the special offers and discounts offer. If they are something you’d want to make use of, add it into your calculations.
5) Approximate the ability to maximize the use of the New York Pass by doing up a tentative itinerary. Then determine if the pass is worthwhile for you. If you’re not a fan of squeezing 2 to 3 attractions in a day, then the answer might be no.
6) When are you going to New York City? If you’re going during the peak season from summer until early fall, the queue to popular attractions might be really bad. In times like this, the New York Pass Fast Track feature will be an added bonus.
It helps that The New York Pass also offers an iPhone and Android app that highlights the most popular attractions, their opening hours, and a map to show you where it’s located. And you can download it even if you didn’t purchase the Pass.
Where to buy The New York Pass?
* Buy from the official site by April 6 and save 15% Off 3, 5, 7 and 10 Day New York Passes with their Easter Sale. The Pass is valid for a year from the date of purchase, so even if you haven’t fixed your dates yet, you can still benefit from this sale if New York City is definitely on your itinerary.
The London Pass
When I went to the UK with Chewy, we both bought the London Pass. It works the same way as The New York Pass. Look out for my post on whether The London Pass was as worth it for me as The New York Pass was.
What do you think?
Are you a New York Pass user as well? Was the pass worth it for you? What was the best part about using the New York Pass for you?
- Is the New York Pass 2015 worth it? We review prices and value here (priceoftravel.com)
- The difference between the New York CityPASS and the New York Pass (newyorkcity.uk)
- New York Pass Comparison Gives Tourists The Most For Their Money (huffingtonpost.com)
- Pass Comparison (passcomparison.com)
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This is incredibly useful.
Thanks Shuping. Glad you found it useful. Share the love please. =P
Lots of good tips for first-timers! I don’t really like hitting all the tourist attractions, so I don’t buy city passes, because then I feel pressured to hit as many as possible to get my money’s worth. After traveling a fair bit, I discovered that I much prefer planning my own walks through the city and hitting one or two spots, like maybe a musical and the Met in NYC, and London is just amazing to explore on foot so I didn’t feel the need to do any expensive bits 😉
But for all who enjoy packing as much as possible into a few days, a city pass can certainly come in handy!
Thanks Elisa. True, the Pass is not for everyone. But, for those visiting a city for the first time and wants to hit all the main attractions, it can be quite a good deal to get the New York Pass. Look out for my assessment on the London Pass. =P
This is such a useful post. Last year, when we were in NYC, we did purchase the pass and must say, it was really worth all the money. Lots of attractions, faster queues, and lot of saving of time and money.