Is The New York Pass Worth It?

Wednesday, 29 November 2017
When I visited New York for the first time last summer I didn't know if I'd ever return to the city and wanted to try and see as much as possible. I was recommended the New York Pass by a few people and decided to purchase the 3 day pass for my trip. It definitely wasn't a cheap decision but I was able to get the pass on sale for $203 so I decided to go for it. The pass can get you entry into over 90 attractions around NYC and also allows you to skip queues in some locations (also queue skip options will still have queues because hello, New York). I was able to gain back the monetary value of my pass but I've often wondered if it was actually worth it for other reasons so I decided to put this post together for anyone who may be considering purchasing one. Before we get down to the numbers I just want to discuss what I thought the pros and cons were of the pass.

  • The pass enabled me to skip the queues at several locations which was really handy as New York crowds are unlike any other city I've been to (except maybe New York).
  • The free guidebook and map of New York was really handy for when I wasn't able to use Google Maps.
  • The pass overall saved me money. 
  • I was able to buy my pass on sale and have noticed that they often have sales, so if you're planning your trip in advance it's unlikely that you'd have to pay the full retail price.
  • Multiple bus tours are included in the pass. I didn't do these but they are pretty pricey so if you want to do one it almost guarantees you'll make the money back.
  • I did some activities I wouldn't have initially thought of because of the pass. 

  • I felt under pressure to go to as many things as possible to gain back the value of my pass and I think I might have burned myself out a little.
  • If I hadn't bought my pass on sale it would have only have saved me $9.50.
  • To a certain extent I prioritised attractions that were expensive over those that were cheaper/free.
  • The pass is based off of calendar days and not hours. I activated my card at 2pm on Friday and it expired at midnight on Sunday. Some city cards (like Berlin's for example) and based on hours so the pass would have run out on Monday at 2pm. I'd say it's not worth it if one of your days is a half day. 
So what did I actually use my pass for and how much did those things cost?

American Museum of Natural History $22.00
9/11 Memorial Museum $24.00
Empire State Building $34.00
Top of the Rock  $34.00
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise $41.00
Intrepid, Sea, Air & Space Museum $33.00
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Immigration Museum $18.00
Blazing Saddles Bike Rental $44.00
Museum of Sex $18.50

Total cost of attractions visited: $268.50
Cost of the pass: $203.00*
Savings gained by the pass: $65.50

All in all I did save money by getting the New York Pass but not a huge amount. My trip to New York was pretty hectic as I did so much in a small amount of time. I'm glad that I did it but I don't think that I would want to do so much in that kind of timeframe again. I've since moved to the states and live about 45 minutes from the city. I've much preferred the day trips I've taken into the city where I can do things as a slower place. Although I do understand that a trip to NYC is a once in a lifetime kind of thing for a lot of people and they may want to try and do it all in one go. 

That being said these are the main things I'd say you should consider before you buy a pass:

  • What attractions would you definitely go and do, even if you didn't have the pass, and what does their monetary value add up to?
  • What pace do you want to step for your days? Bearing in mind that New York is a very tiring city to be in and that it may take a while to travel between attractions. 
  • Can you buy the pass on sale? And are you prepared to pick the pass up in person somewhere in NYC to save yourself the postage cost?
Personally, I'm glad that I bought my pass because it saved me over $50. There are a few extra things I could have done to get more value from it like one of their bus tours. But I do think that using the pass made me have a very fast paced trip that was tiring so that's something to consider. 

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*I bought my pass when it was on sale. As of October 2017 the retail cost of a 3 day adult pass is $259.

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