Personal Finance

What to do if you have tickets to a live event that’s canceled due to Covid-19

Key Points
  • A surge in Covid-19 cases is prompting some shows and sporting events to cancel or postpone events.
  • This can put ticket holders in a bind, as policies to address these unforeseen events can vary.
  • If this happened to you, "don't be afraid to suggest a resolution," one consumer expert says.
People wait in long lines to see the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular on Dec, 14, 2021 in New York City. The show announced on Dec. 17 that it is canceling the rest of this season's performances due to rising Covid-19 cases.
Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

A new surge in Covid-19 infections has led some major event organizers to cancel shows or sporting events.

For many, the moves are flashbacks to the aftermath of the initial onset of the pandemic in 2020. This time around, the answers as to what happens next for ticket purchasers may still be unclear.

"It's just so dynamic and it definitely depends on the policy of the individual venue or ticket seller," said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at and

A dramatic uptick in Covid-19 cases in New York City prompted "The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes" to shut its doors for the rest of the season, in a decision announced on Dec. 17.

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That same week, attendees of a performance of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" on Broadway were already in their seats when a performance was canceled due to positive Covid-19 tests for cast members.

Elsewhere, the National Football League announced it will postpone several games as more than 100 players reportedly tested positive last week.

As with all things Covid-related, cancellations force many consumers into navigating uncertain territory.

In the best-case scenario, a full refund is available, Rossman said. However, it can be trickier if the event is rescheduled and the ticket holder has a scheduling conflict, he said.

NFL forced to make scheduling changes due to rising Covid cases among some teams
NFL forced to make scheduling changes due to rising Covid cases among some teams

"The best practice, in general, is to start wherever you bought the tickets," Rossman said.

Some organizations outline specific policies on their websites for how to proceed.

Tickets for the canceled Christmas Spectacular shows in New York will be fully refunded.

Other sellers may take a case-by-case policy. Ticketmaster, for example, states that if an event is canceled, ticket purchasers are entitled to a full refund unless the event organizer is offering a credit or has rescheduled the event.

Ticket resale website StubHub provides a 120% credit of the amount a purchaser paid, though cash refunds are available if that is specifically requested.

If you run into trouble, you may want to try pleading your case directly to the venue or the team producing the event, Rossman said.

As event producers adapt to changing conditions, the best approach may be to ask for what you want up front, whether it be a full refund or tickets for another date, Rossman suggested.

"Don't be afraid to suggest a resolution," he said.

Unfortunately, disputing the transactions paid on credit cards has not always proven successful for consumers, if it comes to that. A survey conducted by Bankrate in the summer of 2020 found that more than half — or 54% — of consumers who paid to attend events that were canceled ended up losing money.

If you're still determined to purchase tickets to an upcoming show or sports game, be sure to read up as best you can on the cancellation policy ahead of time, Rossman said.

The Live Nation and Ticketmaster monopoly
The Live Nation and Ticketmaster monopoly