New York City is a dream destination for many people. Unfortunately, it also happens to be one of the most expensive cities in the world. A trip to the Big Apple can cost you a small fortune. The following budget guide shares some tips to help you save money in NYC.


NYC Budget Tip #1: Don’t stay on Manhattan Island

Manhattan is usually the area that you think of when you think of New York, and it is the main borough that makes up the city. Due to its popularity, the prices for hotels and accommodation are through the roof!

3 nights in an average hotel in Midtown can set you back $700, so it’s best to stay elsewhere. A great alternative is Long Island City. It’s a 15-minute subway ride into Midtown Manhattan and it costs a fraction of the price. I paid $295 for a 3-night stay in Long Island City, and the budget-friendly accommodation is linked here. In NYC, you’ll spend the majority of the day exploring. So if you’re like me and just need a no-frills place to rest your head, this can be a great money saver.

new york skyline

NYC Budget Tip #2: Take the Subway

Uber’s and taxis are extremely expensive in NYC, so to save yourself some money, take the subway! The best part way to pay on the New York subway is with a contactless card or Apple Pay.

If you take 12 trips between Monday – Sunday, every other trip after is free! So the maximum you can spend on the subway is $33 in the week.

NYC Budget Tip #3: Book your Broadway tickets last-minute

A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without seeing a Broadway show, and there are so many shows to choose from, to suit all tastes. There are two good options to save money on tickets;

Option 1: Buy Tickets at the TKTS stand in Times Square

This is a stand where you can buy tickets to shows on the same day for up to 50% off the original price. Do be warned that the queue for the stand can get extremely long and you may not get tickets for the exact shows you want.

Option 2: Enter the Broadway Lottery

This gives you the option to enter into a lottery for discounted tickets and if your name is drawn you have the chance to purchase heavily discounted tickets.

NYC Budget Tip #4 Take Advantage of Happy Hour

If you’re on a budget in NYC, alcohol can be one of the biggest money drainers. Cocktails can set you back $16 in some average bars, and as much as $22 in more expensive places. One of the best ways to save is to take advantage of different happy hours around the city.

Some of the best happy hour deals are as follows:

Black Crescent NYC – (Lower East Side) – Every day between 5-7 pm, with $2 Wellfleet Oysters and $5 Draft Beers.

Botanica Bar – (SOHO) – Every day until 7 pm, with $2 Off Draft Beer, $6 House Wine and $8 Frozen Cocktails.

Cask – (Murray Hill) Mon – Wed 4- 7 pm, Thurs & Fri 3 – 7 pm, with $10 Cocktails, $6 Bottled Beers and $8 Wine.

NYC Budget Tip #5 Eat Like a Real New Yorker

NYC is a food lover’s paradise, and while it can be nice to splurge on fancy sit down meals in New York, most locals don’t eat in the tourist traps in Times Square or in the Michelin starred restaurants. Instead New Yorkers frequent the street carts, by-the-slice pizza joints, delis and bagel stores.

Some of my favourite cheap eats were:

  • The Halal Guys: These are well-known street carts serving up shawarma platters and gyros. They can be found around the city but the original carts started on the corners of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue. Small platters are $7 and Pita Sandwiches are $6.
  • Ess-a-bagel: This is a New York bagel staple. A regular bagel with cream cheese costs just $3.95. There are several locations around the city.
  • Tasty Dumpling: This is a popular dumpling spot in Chinatown where you can get 5 dumplings for just $2.
  • Pizza by the slice can be found all throughout the city, Joe’s Pizza is on the more expensive end where a slice of cheese pizza will cost you $4, whereas you can get a $1.50 slice of cheese pizza at 2 Bros. Pizza.

I hope these budget-saving tips can help you as you plan your next trip to NYC.

Let me know if you have any other tips to save money on a trip to New York?

Written by

ainebennett8

Áine is a qualified chef turned digital nomad and is the creator of Travel with Áine. She has been traveling around the world for the past few years and draws on past mistakes and experiences to create helpful and insightful travel guides.