Airline points are a pretty lousy investment so use them if & when you can

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 20, 2015

1000-Free-Southwest-Points-0“One of my largest assets is about to take a hit, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” writes Allison Schrager in Business Week.

She’s referring to airline points expiring in January, a frustrating reality for many among us.

But it’s not just airline points that are a lousy investment, as Ms Schrager points out. Credit card points are pretty useless too.

“Airline and credit card companies constantly redefine how and when you can use your points,” she writes, “and point inflation is rampant—larger and more pervasive than dollar inflation. Credit cards regularly offer tens of thousands of points for signing up, leaving the 1,300 miles accrued on a New York-to-Florida flight practically worthless. As airlines consolidate, they also devalue what your points can buy…”

Ms Schrager says that if her points were cash, she’d invest them in stocks or inflation-linked Treasuries to fight inflation. “If they were my apartment, I’d update my kitchen to maintain resale value.”

As things stand though, according to what she heard from Brian Kelly, aka the Points Guy, there are only a couple of things possible:

Spend points as and when you can

Diversify the way you use them, when possible

You can hoard points all you like and travel thousands of miles, but ultimately, it’s going to be a lottery.

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac