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Is the New York Pass Worth Buying?

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This post provides information to help you decide whether or not it would be worthwhile to purchase the New York Pass.

We include details about how it works, some of the best attractions included, 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 Pass is an all-inclusive tourist pass that allows you to pay one flat price for access to over 100 popular activities and attractions in NYC.

This is one of two all-inclusive passes in New York City, the other being the New York Sightseeing Pass.

Each service is similar, but they both offer some attractions and activities not provided by other tourist passes.

Although some travelers will be able to save 60% or more off general admission prices for the attractions they choose to visit, it will be necessary to enjoy at least 3-4 activities per day in order to get the best possible discount.

If you’d rather explore the city at a slower pace and visit just 1-2 attractions each day, you may want to consider another type of tourist pass. 

We’ll provide more details about this in our section covering whether or not the New York Pass is worth purchasing.


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The New York Pass charges per day rather than per activity, making it different from some of its competitors.

Here are the prices you can expect to pay:New York Pass Reviews

1-Day Pass: $134/Adults | $99/Children

2-Day Pass: $200/Adults | $149/Children

  • Price per Day: $100/Adults | $74.50/Children

3-Day Pass: $276/Adults | $201/Children

  • Price per Day: $92/Adults | $67/Children

4-Day Pass: $304/Adults | $227/Children

  • Price per Day: $76/Adults | $56.75/Children

5-Day Pass: $344/Adults | $247/Children

  • Price per Day: $68.80/Adults | $49.40/Children

7-Day Pass: $384/Adults | $262/Children

  • Price per Day: $54.86/Adults | $37.43/Children

10-Day Pass: $490/Adults | $299/Children

  • Price per Day: $49/Adults | $29.90/Children

As you can see, the pass becomes cheaper per day the longer the duration of the pass.

The prices listed above are the official prices as of April 2020. You may find that the New York Pass is running a discount on their site (then a link).


Listen to tour guides Lori and Katherine discuss these passes on an episode of our "NYC Travel Tips and Hacks" podcast.

 This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcasts on Apple, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 


HOW DOES IT WORK?

The New York Pass can be used in two ways: either by downloading the mobile pass with their app, or getting a physical pass which you can collect on arrival in New York or have delivered to your house.

After you activate the pass, you can take it to any included attraction and present it to the cashier in order to receive free admission.

Some activities (such as tours) will require reservations to be made ahead of time, but most of the services included can be enjoyed simply by walking up to the ticket counter and showing your pass.

In addition to this, you’ll also enjoy skip-the-line privileges at certain locations, which could save you a lot of valuable time!


How long is it valid?

As you may have gathered from the types of pass available, your pass will be valid for the number of days you purchase once it is activated.

Passes that are valid for multiple days must be used on consecutive calendar days, so if you purchase a 3-day pass and activate it on Monday, the final day it will be valid would be Wednesday.

That said, if you decide not to use the pass, after all, you can also return any unactivated pass at any time within 30 days of purchase for a full refund. 

You also have a full 24 months to activate this pass, which makes it a possible gift idea for friends and family.


Are there any limitations?

One limitation of the New York Pass is that you can’t use it to visit an attraction multiple times. Each pass is good for only one ticket to each location or activity included.

But the bigger limitation is time. How much you save is determined by how much you have time in a day to do.


TOP ATTRACTIONS

There are more than 100 different attractions and activities included with the New York Pass, and some of them are unquestionably more popular than others.

Here are some of the best services to choose from:


Exclusive Attractions and Tours

In addition to these options, there are also several activities that are exclusive to the New York Pass and aren’t offered by any other competitor.

One of the most notable examples is Big Bus Tours, which provides its 2-day hop-on hop-off bus tours to guests who present this pass.

Here are a few other interesting exclusives to consider:

  • Harlem Highlights Bike Tour
    • Normal Price: $63 per person
  • Harlem Jazz Series Performance
    • Normal Price: $22 per person
  • Hudson River Bike Rental
    • Normal Price: $54 per person
  • Hop-on Hop-off Water Taxi
    • Normal Price: $37 per person
  • Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park
    • Normal Price: $28.50 per person

If you’re interested in visiting Harlem, the New York Pass offers a lot of great services that aren’t included with any other tourist pass.

 


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IS THE NEW YORK PASS WORTH PURCHASING?

Depending on how you use this pass, it could be well worth the price. Here are some tips and things to consider.

Choose High-Cost Attractions/Activities that Have Short Durations

The name of the game for all-inclusive passes is finding high-priced attractions/activities that don't take very long to enjoy - and are relatively near each other.

For example, attractions such as the Top of the Rock or Madame Tussauds are within walking distance from each other, will take you 1-2 hours each to enjoy and cost $37-$41 for tickets.

As with just about every type of pass, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ticket is a bad choice. It takes 3-5 hours to visit and costs only $19.25 per adult. 

In fact, the tourist passes hope that you will choose things like the Statue of Liberty as this makes things more profitable for them.

Consider Free Tours by Foot

Before you choose any of the walking or food tours included in this (or any) pass, check out our pay-what-you-wish walking tours.

We offer roughly a dozen each day throughout NYC. You can pay whatever you like and maybe get a shorter pass.

Some versions of the New York Pass actually cost less than the all-inclusive New York Sightseeing Pass alternatives – specifically the 1-day, 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, and 7-day passes.

The best deal available is the 10-day pass at an average price of just $49 per day. The 7-day pass is also quite good, running just $5-$6 more each day.

At the lowest possible daily price of $49 per day, most people will need to use this pass for at least 2-3 attractions per day in order to get a decent discount. 

Of course, a majority of travelers won’t need a 10-day pass, but even if you just get a 5-day pass at $68.80 per day, you should be able to save a lot of money by choosing at least 3-4 activities daily.

 

Here’s a sample itinerary to show you what we mean and how much money you can save if you use the pass for 4 attractions each day:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

  • Empire State Building | $42
  • Madame Tussauds | $37
  • Hamilton Broadway Tour | $40
  • National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey | $39.50

Day Four

Day Five

Total Value: $724.50

Total Price: $344

Total Savings: $380.50 (53% off)

One of the nicer things about the New York Pass is that you can mix some lower priced items with more expensive activities and still save a lot of money.

You can actually see this in our example, as we include a few attractions that are as low as $10 and still manage to save over 50%off just with 4 activities each day.

Even if you only used the pass for 3 attractions per day, if you pick services that are typically $30-$40 each, you should still be able to save at least 40% off general admission prices.

Alternatively, if you manage to fit even more tours or attractions into your daily itinerary, you could even save up to 60% off or more!

Unfortunately, the more activities you plan to enjoy, the less time you’ll have for them, so if you want to take your time and explore the city at your own pace, you may want to consider another type of New York tourist pass.

Here are a few more questions you may want to ask yourself before purchasing the New York Pass:


How long will you be in NYC?

If you’ve only got a short amount of time to spend in the city and you plan to spend it visiting as many attractions as possible, this might be an excellent tourist pass for your needs.

However, if you’re going to be in New York City for more than a week, you may find that a pick-your-own-attractions pass is a better option.


What do you want to do?

Travelers who only plan to visit a few attractions may want to consider another option because the New York Pass is really geared towards people who are interested in multiple activities per day.

If you know exactly what you want to do and you’re trying to save money on just those few things, a pick-your-own-attractions or build-your-own-pass option might work better for you.

 


How much do tickets cost?

As we mentioned, if you plan out your day effectively, this isn’t as much of an issue with the New York Pass as it is with other passes. 

Even so, it’s worth noting that you’ll save a lot more money with this pass if you use it for as many expensive activities as possible while it’s active.

If most of the attractions you plan to visit are already affordable, you may want to consider a build-your-own-pass instead.


How are you going to get around?

There are a variety of ways to travel around New York City, including public transportation, taxis, Ubers, or even just walking. 

However, in such a bustling city, you need to be prepared for long travel times – even just from one side of Manhattan to the next!

As such, getting around could take up at least an hour or two out of each day, limiting how much you can use your pass for on a daily basis.

We recommend choosing attractions and activities that are very close to each other while you’re using the New York Pass. 

For instance, if you’re planning to visit 30 Rock, you might want to take the Rockefeller Center Tour, visit Top of the Rock, and take the Radio City Music Hall tour while you’re there because all three attractions are very close to one another.

Similarly, there are a lot of attractions included with this pass located in Times Square, so if you’re planning to visit even one of them, you might want to squeeze them all into your itinerary while you’re in the area.

It’s worth noting that the app for the New York Pass includes a map you can use to pinpoint even more attractions and activities that are nearby. 

You can also find a map on their site as well!

However, if you’d rather take your time and explore the city at your leisure, you won’t have to worry as much about travel times from one location to the next, so another type of New York tourist pass might suit you better.

 


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: October 3rd, 2021
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