Weekend Wisdom: The Time Value of Points

Financial goons will be quick to tell you about the time value of money, which is a basic concept in economic theory that says money is worth more now than it is in the future, in part because:

  • You can earn interest immediately on money you have now
  • Thanks to modern monetary policy, inflation will always eat away at money’s value
  • Opportunity cost (which is sometimes added directly into either or both of the above)

The same concept applies to points and miles, but the factors aren’t quite the same. In the case of points and miles, they’re worth more now than the future because:

  • Devaluations happen
  • The redemption value of points is often tied to the cost of tickets (inflation bites here too)
  • Currencies get washed away
  • Miles and points don’t earn interest

What’s the takeaway? Burn those points as soon as practicable. Can you come up with a formula to describe this, asked no one? Yes we can, but no, I’m not going to do that today.

Have a nice weekend friends!

Yes, it’s time for the quarterly MEAB math nerd joke. Sorry, not sorry.

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