How to Save on a Ski Trip

Travel rewards and hotel elite status go a long way toward making the slopes more affordable.
Ariana Arghandewal
By Ariana Arghandewal 
Updated
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Whether you live on sunny pastures or an area where it snows, a ski vacation makes for a fun winter getaway. But depending on where you travel, it can also get quite expensive. Here, we’ve gathered some tips to help you do it on the cheap. Read on for five tips you can use to take that ski vacation and still save cash.

Tips to save money on a ski trip

1. Use points and miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
NerdWallet rating 

Whether you’re heading to Vail or Tahoe, Taos or Big Sky, using points and miles can help you book a ski vacation for much less. For starters, having a transferable rewards currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards® or AmEx Membership Rewards can provide flexibility in the booking process.

With multiple airline partners, you can compare redemption rates and book the cheapest option based on your particular travel needs. When you’ve found a flight that meets your (points) budget and schedule, simply transfer the points to your frequent flyer account and book your ticket.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® are particularly useful since they have 1:1 transfer relationships with several hotel rewards programs: World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Bonvoy. Among these three hotel chains, there are plenty of opportunities to redeem points for a ski vacation. Below are some examples, ranging from budget to luxury resorts:

  • The Westin Snowmass Resort: 30,000-40,000 Marriott points.

  • St. Regis Aspen: 70,000-100,000 Marriott points.

  • Marriott’s Timber Lodge Lake Tahoe: 40,000-60,000 points.

  • The Lodge at Spruce Peak: 40,000 Hyatt points.

  • Holiday Inn Tahoe Ridge Resort: 35,000 IHG points.

  • Park Hyatt Beaver Creek: 30,000 Hyatt points.

  • Stonebridge Inn: 20,000 Hyatt points.

You can save even more by opting to stay at a hotel rather than a resort situated on the slopes. It’s not as convenient, but if you’re willing to commute to the slopes, the savings could be worthwhile:

  • Residence Inn Salt Lake City Sandy: 10,000-15,000 Marriott points.

  • Element Basalt Aspen: 20,000-30,000 Marriott points.

  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Salamanca: 20,000 IHG points.

  • Hyatt Place Keystone: 15,000 points.

2. Go where status takes you

If you have lots of points and are deciding between a few different hotel chains, be sure to factor in elite status. If your status level with, say, Hilton Honors gets you free breakfast or lounge access, that can help cut down the cost of your ski vacation. After all, when you’re done hitting the slopes, refueling can get expensive — especially at an isolated resort.

Be sure to factor in the savings your elite status affords you, in addition to point redemption requirements. You may have to use more points with one hotel rewards program, but if the value is less than the savings on things like breakfast, snacks and room upgrades, then it might be worth it.

3. Travel off-peak and avoid weekends

Regardless of whether you’re paying for a ski vacation out of pocket or with points, traveling off-peak can work out much cheaper. That’s because during peak travel dates, saver award space may be unavailable. And now that Hyatt and Marriott have implemented peak/off-peak pricing, your hotel rate might fluctuate too.

4. Check Airbnb for condo deals

While hotel points are a great option for booking a ski vacation for less, Airbnb can also offer tremendous value. Some hotel chains have timeshare properties at popular ski resorts, which are listed on Airbnb at bargain prices. For example, the Marriott Streamside in Vail, Colorado, requires 50,000-70,000 points per night. Meanwhile, a studio at this property can be booked for as little as $59 per night through Airbnb.

If you have a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you can book your ski accommodations on Airbnb, then use the miles for a statement credit against the charge. The miles from this card can also come in handy for flight bookings, baggage fees and other incidental expenses incurred during your trip.

5. Ski for free (or just less)

Alaska Airlines partners with resorts around the country to offer free lift tickets. All you have to do is present your Alaska Airlines boarding pass and ID to get free access to the slopes. Note that some resorts do impose blackout dates, and free lift tickets are usually restricted to the day you arrive in that particular city.

If you’re looking for discounted lift tickets, then check out Costco Travel, Groupon and Liftopia. All of these sites offer deals year-round, and you may be able to save quite a bit on a ski adventure. If you’re headed to Mammoth, for example, Costco is offering $70 off three 2-day lift ticket vouchers.

If you want to save on a ski vacation

Taking a cheaper ski vacation is definitely possible. Points and miles can take a huge chunk of the cost out, but with dynamic pricing becoming more commonplace, it’s important to be flexible with your travel dates and make plans to minimize cost. With so many deal sites out there, it’s possible to save not only on lodging and transportation, but on activities as well.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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