Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Entertainment Benefits of IDNYC Card
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2016 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
The new IDNYC card is free, government-issued photo ID for New York City residents. "Immigration status does not matter." That is to say, people who are came to NYC from abroad, and currently don't have legal documentation to support that, can get this card. Which is great -- it gives everyone, including them, a way to start banking, get access to schools and have something to show to hospital receptionists. It also works as a library card, and has a bunch of other benefits. Also, the application's gender options are:
Friends of mine are getting their cards for the free memberships at the New York Botanical Garden, American Museum of Natural History, MoMA, Museum of the Moving Image, and dozens of other museums.
I was curious about the entertainment benefits, specifically, cheaper movie and theater tickets ("Movie Tickets as low as $8.00"). In order to get those benefits, you have to register at MemberDeals.com, a for-profit website run by Entertainment Benefits Group, Inc. And the site does not give you specifics about what you can expect if you register; you have to register in order to browse deals. The IDNYC site is pretty specific about the other benefits, and I'd like to know more before I register. So, in another installment of "I make phone calls to closemouthed organizations and then blog the results", I phoned up their customer service line.
Registered members can expect special offers emails about biweekly, and can always unsubscribe.
The customer service rep did not give any examples of specific amounts in current discounts EBG offers its members, e.g., "$50 for such-and-such a ski ticket." But she said that the EBG membership includes "countless" offers to various different things, including discounted hotel rates (not mentioned on their website). The sports teams they offer discounted tickets to see include the New York Yankees. And they have deals with several movie theater chains, including Regal, AMC, and United Artists (UA), to offer discounted movie tickets to their movies in general -- it's not just "special offer: see the new Zappa documentary for $6". (I assume that there are exceptions, e.g., you can't use the discounted tickets to see certain blockbusters on opening weekend; when I've gotten discounted movie passes in the past, that's how it's worked.)
I think my cell phone glitched and ended the call before I could probe further. I am kinda averse to deliberately signing up for a for-profit marketing-centric organization's services in the hopes of ill-defined rewards, so I poked around a bit more.
EBG owns a bunch of sites (why not? "Our Technology Delivers Fun Most Efficiently") so I decided to poke around those on the theory that they're probably giving all the members access to mostly the same experiences, just branded differently and segmented at slightly different price points. Like, their site NewYork.com (available to the public) has Les Misérables tickets for $83 and up, while Working Advantage (companies contract with EBG for member-only discounts) mentions Les Mis orchestra seats for $73 on their front page right now.
Some specific prices and offers: a video urging companies to sign up mentions The Lion King, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Kennedy Space Center as attractions for your employees, and promises prices "up to 50% off what the public is paying". The Tickets At Work blog promises 50% off select Yankees games, or 20% off a luxury suite at a Yankees game. The Broadway shows NewYork.com handles have a lot of overlap with what you'd get at TKTS at (to my eyeballs) vaguely similar prices, so the member-only prices would probably also be fairly good. And the Working Advantage home page mentions several specific attractions, rental car companies, etc. It also enumerates movie chains they cover:
(That's on the front page, under the "Movie Tickets" hover-to-display menu; not super accessible.)
So overall, I think most IDNYC cardholders who have a bit of disposable income, and who enjoy sports/theater/theme parks/etc. but would like to save a bit of money on those things, would find it useful enough to go ahead and register to get the discounts, despite the privacy/spam implications. Hope this helps others make the decision!