How to get unlimited ski access at top resorts through 2021

Feb 29, 2020

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This year’s ski season is still going strong, but now is precisely the time of year when you should outline your ski plans for next year. Not only is it much easier to book the best slope-side hotels on points when you plan early (and remember, many Marriott ski properties will increase in award category starting March 4), but ski passes are cheaper the earlier you buy, too.

With everyone anxious to learn about next year’s pricing and resort offerings for the three major players in the ski pass world — Epic vs. Ikon vs. Mountain Collective — it looks like Ikon has beat everyone to the punch and by releasing its 2020–2021 pricing first. The actual pass will not be available for sale until March 5, 2020, but you can start some planning now. What makes this extra great is that you can use next year’s pass this year at some mountains for spring skiing.

Related: Kids ski free — save on your family’s next ski vacation

Image courtesy of Ikon Pass
Steamboat Springs (Photo courtesy of Ikon Pass)

The Ikon Pass network is made up of 41 ski resorts, some of which provide unlimited skiing and some that have a capped number of days based on your pass level. Eligible resorts can also vary by pass level. These resorts include both bigger and smaller names such as Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, Deer Valley, Jackson Hole, Tremblant, Taos, Big Sky, Sugarloaf, Stratton and more in the U.S., Canada and beyond.

You can find the full list of resorts here.

This year, Ikon is offering three pass levels: a less expensive Base Pass with some restrictions, the full Ikon Pass and a new four-day “session” pass.

2020–2021 Ikon ski pass prices

For the 2020–2021 ski season, the initial Ikon Base Pass prices are:

  • $699 for adults ($649 renewal price before April 22)
  • $539 for those 13–22 years old ($499 renewal price before April 22)
  • $529 for college students/military
  • $269 for kids ($169 with purchase of an adult pass, up to two discount child passes per adult pass through April 22)
  • $169 for those 4 and under (though many mountains offer free skiing to 4-year-olds)

The Base Pass has a few peak blackout dates, unlimited skiing at 14 destinations and up to five days at 24 additional mountains. You can also add on five-day access to Jackson Hole and Aspen Snowmass for an additional $150. (Blackout dates include Dec. 26, 2020–Jan. 2, 2021, Jan. 16–17, 2021 and Feb. 13–14, 2021; Thredbo blackout dates include July 4–19, 2020 and July 26–July 11, 2021.)

Skiing at Snowmass (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Skiing at Snowmass (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

For the 2020–2021 ski season, the full Ikon Pass prices are:

  • $999 for adults ($899 renewal price before April 22)
  • $739 for those 13–22 years old ($659 renewal price before April 22)
  • $709 for college students/military
  • $309 for kids ($209 with purchase of an adult pass, up to two discount child passes through April 22)
  • $209 for those 4 and under (though many mountains offer free skiing to 4-year-olds)

This pass has no blackout dates, unlimited skiing at 15 destinations and up to seven days at 25 additional mountains.

Related: Best ski schools for kids

For the 2020–2021 ski season, the Ikon Session Pass 4-Day pricing is:

  • $399 for adults
  • $339 for those 13–22 years old
  • $339 for college students/military
  • $249 for kids 0–12 (though many mountains offer free skiing to younger kids)

This pass gives you four days of skiing at 30 destinations, although blackout dates apply at most resorts. For an adult, this means $100 per day, which may or may not be a good deal depending on where you are looking to ski. For example, at Steamboat, a one-day walk-up lift ticket could cost as much as $199 and a four-day consecutive ticket is between $460 to $620, depending on the time of the year. This makes the four-day pass potentially worth it. Although, if you are an East Coast skier, you might not find it to be as good of a deal.

Related: Hotels near Ikon ski pass resorts you can book with points

The current ski prices are valid through April 22 and will then go up in price, likely multiple times until we reach the start of the next ski season. If you want to ski at the best possible price, lock in your pass before the first round of price increases this spring.

Tremblant - Image courtesy of Ikon Pass
Tremblant (Photo courtesy of Ikon Pass)

Use a payment plan

Ski passes are a big investment, so I’m thrilled to see a payment plan option for the Ikon Pass. By purchasing either pass by April 22, you’ll put $199 down and then your credit card will be charged four monthly payments for the remaining amount that are scheduled for June, July, August and September. Here are the best credit cards to use for ski pass purchases. Hint: Get your Citi Premier℠ Card ready for the most likely bonus points return (ski tickets don’t always code under one particular bonus category). The information for the Citi Premier card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Best credit card to use for ski trips

New this year

Aside from the prices increasing slightly, you’ll notice some enhanced benefits with the Ikon Pass.

East Coast skiers will be happy to see that both Stratton and Sugarbush now have unlimited access on both the Ikon Pass and Ikon Base Pass (although there are still blackout dates with the Base Pass). With Stratton at an all-time high of $130 a day for the walk-up rate, this can be a huge money-saving opportunity. And if you are OK with select blackout dates, you can still opt for the base pass for significant savings. Stratton is also on the list for unlimited skiing for the rest of this season once the passes go on sale, allowing you to fully maximize your days on the mountain at no extra cost.

Related: What it was like to ski in Maryland

Also new this year is the opportunity to spread out your days between this season and next — if skiing in the Southwest Hemisphere is in your future. At resorts such as Thredbo, Mt. Buller, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mt. Hutt and Valley Nevado, you can split up your five or seven days across the 2020 and 2021 season, which allows for more flexibility.

Ski spring 2020 with next year’s Ikon Pass

This has been a good snow year for many resorts, and some will likely be open deep into May. If you buy next year’s Ikon Pass this spring, you can start using it as soon as you buy it on March 5 at some mountains.

Use the 2020–2021 Ikon Pass beginning March 5:

  • Big Bear Mountain Resort
  • Blue Mountain
  • Snowshoe Mountain
  • Crystal Mountain
  • Snow Summit
  • Stratton

Use the 2020–2021 Ikon Pass beginning April 13:

  • Alpine Meadows
  • Mammoth Mountain
  • Solitude
  • Squaw Valley
  • Sugarbush Resort
  • Winter Park

Book points-friendly properties at Ikon resorts

As long as you’re mapping out your 2020–2021 ski passes and resorts, you might as well factor in hotels. For me, Marriott properties seem to align most frequently with the Ikon Pass while Hyatt properties often align well with Epic, though there are exceptions. A few points-friendly properties to consider if you pick up the Ikon Pass include:

Ski into the St. Regis Deer Valley and then go for a swim (Photo courtesy of Summer Hull/ The Points Guy)
Ski into the St. Regis Deer Valley and then go for a swim. (Photo courtesy of Summer Hull/ The Points Guy)

Bottom line

I’m a planner, so I think it’s great we have next year’s Ikon Pass prices and details now. The payment plan and ability to purchase up to two discounted child passes with an adult pass are great improvements in the program’s third year. We’ll do some more updated head-to-head comparison between the major annual ski passes as they all release their 2020–2021 line-ups and prices.

Featured image courtesy of the Ikon Pass

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