Is the New York CityPASS Worth it?

This post will help you decide whether or not the New York CityPASS is worth picking up, with tips on how it works, included attractions, and more.

 

 

 

Disclosure: We think you should consider our free tours, but we have also provided other options. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text. 

Overview

The New York CityPASS is a great way to save money on some of the most popular attractions in the city, and depending on which services you choose, you can save up to 42% off tickets.

With a total of 6 activities included and 9 days to use the pass, you can take your time and enjoy each of the locations and/or tours provided.

That said, there are other tourist passes you can use that might save you even more money, and you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the leisurely pace made possible by a longer period of validity to get a better discount.

We’ll cover some of the alternatives via comparisons in our section about whether or not the CityPASS is worth purchasing.

 


How Much Does it Cost?

While some tourist attraction discount passes charge per day or activity, this one provides a flat price for a set of mostly pre-selected attractions.

Here are the prices you can expect to pay:

  • $136/Adults
  • $112/Children

Purchase City Pass | Save more than 40% at 6 attractions

There are a total of 6 attractions included with this pass, and most of them are about $20-$40 per ticket without this service.

If you’re looking for additional analysis on price comparisons, feel free to read the section about whether or not this pass is worth picking up.

 


Attractions Included

Each New York CityPASS is valid for 6 different attractions or activities, but there are actually a total of 9 available through the pass.

The first 3 tickets are included with every CityPASS no matter what:

You can choose between the following 6 options for your last 3 tickets:

OR

OR

OR

As you can probably see, there are some attractions you can choose from that aren’t as valuable as others.

If you want to save as much money as possible with the New York CityPASS, it will be important to pick the activities that are most expensive.

Check our section on whether or not the pass is worth purchasing for more advice on how to use it most effectively.

 


How Does It Work?

There are two ways to purchase the New York CityPASS: Either physically or digitally.

Digital tickets are delivered via email, and you can pull them up on your phone at any included attraction to use for admission.

Alternatively, the physical option is available either as a ticket booklet you can have shipped to your door or digital tickets which can be printed out and brought to each attraction.

You can also purchase this tourist attraction pass directly at the attractions included on the pass.

Instead of receiving tickets for just that location, you’ll receive a CityPASS ticket booklet with all your tickets.

While you can choose 1 of 2 activities for the last 3 services included with this pass, there are at least 3 attractions that are tied to this pass which you can’t exchange for anything else.

In total, the New York CityPASS will be valid for only 6 activities, so it will be important to consider if these are things you are actually interested in doing while visiting NYC.

How long is it valid?

One of the best things about the New York CityPASS is that it is valid for a total of 9 consecutive days, which means you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy each included activity.

You’ll have 1 full year to activate the pass, so you can feel comfortable purchasing it ahead of time – and potentially even wait for the best flight prices before heading to NYC!

This also makes the CityPASS an excellent option for a gift, as the person receiving the pass will have plenty of time to use it.

Are there any limitations?

As with most tourist discount passes, this service is only valid for one-time admission to each attraction or one ticket for each activity included.

In other words, you can’t use it to visit the same location twice.

If you choose to use the ticket booklets, you cannot remove the perforated tickets as doing so will make them invalid.

These tickets can only be removed from the ticket taker at each attraction.

 

 


Is The New York CityPASS Worth It?

Depending on how you use this discount pass, you could save up to 32% on tickets for each of the attractions included, so it’s definitely worth picking up if you are interested in all of the activities.

Prices for this pass are comparable to both the 1-day New York Pass and the 1-day All-Inclusive New York Sightseeing Pass, and they’re actually cheaper than the 6 attraction New York Sightseeing Flex Pass.

The rather open-ended validity of this pass (9 days) makes it an excellent choice for anyone who would rather take things as they come.

However, if there are several attractions included with the New York CityPASS that you don’t intend to visit, you probably won’t save much money with this service.

You really have to use the pass for everything it offers in order to get any kind of discount, so if you’re not interested in even just one of the activities, you may want to consider another option.

With that being said, the price may not be the only factor to consider.

For example, although tickets for the Statue of Liberty aren’t as expensive as a Circle Line Cruise, the boat tour will only take you close to Lady Liberty while the ferry will take you right to the landmark.

However, the Statue of Liberty ferry ticket included in the CityPass is the lowest price ticket available, which means you won’t be able to enter the statue or see the view from the crown.

This is also a flex ticket, which means you can use it anytime, but you have to wait in the non-reserved ticket line.

During the busy summer months, this could mean over 2 hours of waiting in line.

Each of the attractions available with this pass is also included with other tourist discount passes, so if you’re looking for a different way to save money on these activities, there are other options to consider.

Another thing to consider is the fact that some of these attractions are free or very affordable depending on when and how you visit.

  • The 9/11 Museum is free on Tuesdays from 5 pm – 8 pm
  • The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum offers free admission on select Friday evenings from the Spring to Fall.
  • The Guggenheim Museum allows you to pay-what-you-wish for admission every Saturday from 5 pm – 8 pm.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers free admission to children and teenagers under the age of 18.

If you manage to take advantage of these discounts and free days, you could save more money on everything else by choosing another type of New York tourist pass.

With that said, let’s compare the New York CityPASS to some of their competitors to show you what we mean.

NYC city pass comparison chart


Compared to a Build Your Own Pass

This is arguably one of the most interesting alternatives if you’re interested in taking advantage of the free days and other discounts available at attractions like the 9/11 Museum, Guggenheim Museum and others.

The Build Your Own Pass allows you to save 10% off 2 attractions, 15% off 3 attractions, and 20% off 4 or more.

In addition to that factor, each of the activities included with the New York CityPASS is also available through this service.

To give you a sense of how this could save you money, let’s assume you were able to visit the 9/11 Museum and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum for free and paid $5 to visit the Guggenheim Museum.

If you were to add the following activities to the Build Your Own Pass, the savings could actually be more impressive than you might think:

The total price of all 8 attractions would be $134.80, which is actually less than the cost of the New York CityPASS alone.

Also worth noting is that while the CityPASS is only valid for 6 services, you could actually pay less and enjoy 8 activities when using the Build Your Own Pass instead.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the Build Your Own Pass is actually valid for a total of 30 days, so you actually have even more time to use it than you would have to use a New York CityPASS.

 


Compared to All-Inclusive Passes

Both the New York Pass and the All-Inclusive New York Sightseeing Pass provide access to literally hundreds of activities for one flat price per day.

Depending on how you use these passes, you could save at least 50% off tickets for each of the attractions you visit.

However, in order to save that much, you’ll have to use your pass for at least 3-4 activities per day.

If you’re interested in the New York CityPASS because it allows you to take as much time as you want to explore the city and visit each attraction, an all-inclusive pass might not be a good alternative.

All-inclusive passes are available from 1-10 days at a time, but the closest price comparison you can make is with their 1-day options, which are between $134-$139 each.

Although each all-inclusive pass does include most (if not all) of the attractions you can enjoy using the New York CityPASS, you’d have to visit all of them in one day to even compare the value of each service.


Compared to Pick Your Attraction Passes

These tourist discount passes are potentially the most similar to the New York CityPASS, as they allow you to pick which attractions you want to visit and give you a lot of time (30 days) to enjoy each activity.

That said, the most similar price point for each pass is the 4 attraction pass at between $124-$136 – so this option isn’t necessarily as affordable, but you could still save more money.

Since a pick your attraction pass will allow you to choose which activities you want to enjoy, you can load it up with tickets that are usually much more expensive than even the services provided by the CityPASS.

For example, a hop-on hop-off bus tour is included with each of these discount passes, and that’s a value of between $55-$59.

At a price of $31-$34 per choice with the 4 attraction pass, you’d be saving up to 47% off general admission prices for just that activity alone.

In addition to the bus tours, these passes also have hundreds of popular attractions to choose from which range from as little as $10-$40 on average, with some actually providing more than $60 in value.

Each of the activities included with the New York CityPASS is also available with the pick your attractions passes.

Depending on how you use a pick your attraction pass, you could save more than 50% on all the activities you choose.

If you were to use one of these passes for the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Statue of Liberty and the American Museum of Natural History, you could take advantage of the free days at the 9/11 Museum and Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to enjoy 6 of the attractions included with the New York CityPASS for as little as $124.

Alternatively, you could also find even more activities of interest on the pick your attractions passes and choose to purchase a pass with up to 12 choices for as little as $22 per ticket.


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About the author

Born and raised just across the Hudson River in NJ, Stephen became a licensed NYC tour guide in 2010 and has led and organized thousands of tours since then.

He has researched and written dozens of articles with insider NYC tips, and created a podcast, titled "NYC Travel Tips & Hacks".