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Orange Wednesday-style free cinema tickets are back, when you switch your bills

Comparethemarket.com has stepped into the gap left by Orange Wednesday, giving you free movies when you buy or switch broadband, insurance, credit card or utilities.

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Aleks the Meerkat is rescuing Orange Wednesday -- as long as you switch your insurance, credit card, or other bill. BlueSkyImage / Shutterstock / Comparethemarket.com

Orange Wednesday is dead -- long live Meerkat Movies! After the long-lived British deal was killed off by EE, free midweek trips to the pictures are back thanks to Comparethemarket.com. If only it was as simples as that...

For more than a decade, Orange Wednesday has treated Orange customers to a free second cinema ticket when journeying to the local fleapit in the middle of the week. Orange parent company EE finally ended the popular promotion in February, which is where meerkat-loving Comparethemarket.com comes in. The price comparison site promises two-for-one tickets not just on Wednesday but Tuesday too. So how do you qualify? You need to buy something from Comparethemarket.com.

That could mean switching your energy company, changing to a new broadband provider or phone line supplier or transferring your digital TV. It could be as simple as buying a single trip-worth of travel insurance, or shifting a balance transfer to a new credit card.

Once you've bought something, you get a free ticket each week for a year. If you've bought something from Comparethemarket.com in the last year you're already qualified, but the clock started ticking when you made the purchase -- so if you bought something a year ago in March 2014 your year is up and you only get a week or so of free tickets. If you bought something, say, last October, you will get free tickets up until this October.

The promotion launches on 3 April, and from 7 April anyone registered can log into the Meerkat Movies app for iOS and Android to collect a code and redeem their free ticket.

Changing your utility company or credit card feels like a bigger psychological hurdle than signing up to a particular phone network, but at least you only have to make one purchase to earn a year's free tickets rather than making a long-term commitment to Orange. And it's open to anyone, regardless of what phone network you're on. But complicating things is the fact that switching utilities or changing credit card can actually induce substantial cashback or perks from other providers and comparison sites. This means you need to think about how often you'll actually use those free cinema tickets, and compare that value to the potential cashback you could earn from making the same switcheroo elsewhere.

Not exactly simples, then. I miss the simplicity of Orange Wednesday, but if you're a major cinephile it could be time to haul out those electricity bills and start thinking about a change.

The new incarnation of free midweek cinema has been announced hard on the heels of Orange Wednesday's actual replacement, EE Film Club. That gives Orange, T-Mobile and EE customers a movie rental from online streaming service Wuaki.tv for £1 plus a 35p text each week. If you're a regular renter of new movies at £3 or £4 a throw then the deal could save you a bob or two, but it's up against stiff competition from rivals: Vodafone's enticements, for example, include free Netflix, Spotify or Sky subscriptions.