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Pay now to ski at a big discount (or for free!) later

By Brad Tuttle
updated February 21, 2017

With summer barely over, few people are thinking about skiing. But here's why you should.

Now is the time to snag lift passes that will cost significantly less than the price asked of the poor sap who walks up to the ticket window in December or February. Many ski resorts offer early season discounts in the form of special frequent skier cards or flat-price ticket deals. But these offers are only available for skiers who commit early, which in many cases means buying in the next week or so.

A few examples:

In Montana, the Big Sky Resort's Frequent Sky Card is on sale for $49 if you purchase by September 30. After that, the price goes up to $89 (if you purchase by October 31). With the card in hand, you'll get to ski for free for two weeks at the beginning (November 29 to December 5) and end of the season (April 18 to 24). Just after New Year's (January 3 to 9), you'll be able to flash your pass and get a ticket at half price. And for most other days, you'll get a flat $20 off the walk-up lift ticket price.

In Utah, Alta's Powder Card is only on sale until September 29. The $520 price tag lets the holder ski any ten days of the season at Alta, and the card is fully transferable -- so you can split the costs with a buddy if you're going for one week and he or she is going for another. Considering that lift tickets normally go for as much as $69 a day at Alta, you're effectively getting a $17 discount each day you use the Powder Card.

In Vermont, Killington's K55 Lift Tickets are on sale through October 15 for (yep) $55 a piece so long as you purchase at least four tickets. These passes can be used most weekdays and weekends, when the walk-up full-day prices for adults are normally $79 and $84, respectively. However, there are some blacked-out peak ski periods when K55 passes can't be used: December 24 to January 2, January 15 to 17, and February 19 to 27. Other than those days, you can save as much as $29 a day by purchasing K55 tickets in advance -- well in advance.

These are just a few examples. Chances are there's a similar deal available right now no matter what your favorite place to ski is. Just don't count on these early-season discounts still being offered when the snow starts to fall.

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