Opportunity Cost vs Trade Off: Difference and Comparison

Opportunity cost and Trade are terms we come across when we have decisions to make in the financial arena of our business.

For both the concepts of opportunity cost and trade, a single preference has to be made amongst many other choices. In each case, another potential or non-potential alternative has to be left behind.

Key Takeaways

  1. Opportunity cost is the value of the next best alternative forgone when deciding, representing the benefits that could have been obtained by choosing a different option.
  2. A trade-off is giving up one benefit to gain another, involving a compromise between competing desires or goals.
  3. While both concepts relate to decision-making, opportunity cost focuses on the value of the unchosen option, whereas trade-offs involve balancing competing benefits.

Opportunity Cost vs. Trade-Off

Opportunity cost is the cost of foregone alternatives that must be sacrificed to pursue a certain course of action. Trade-off refers to the exchange of one thing for another and is necessary because resources, such as time and money, are scarce and must be allocated efficiently.

Opportunity cost vs Trade off

Finance Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to finance

1 / 10

The shares of well-established, financially strong and big companies having remarkable Record of dividends and earnings are known as:

2 / 10

What is the full form of "EPS"?

3 / 10

Common People can deal in stock exchange through?

4 / 10

What does speculation in Stock Exchange means?

5 / 10

What is a bull market?

6 / 10

What is a portfolio in finance?

7 / 10

What is a bond yield?

8 / 10

Share capital is

9 / 10

If  a bank thinks lending money  to a certain business is risky it will:

10 / 10

What is a mutual fund?

Your score is



Comparison Table

Parameter of comparisonOpportunity CostTrade-Off
MeaningThe cost of choosing a particular option in return for letting go of the next best potential opportunityThe action of giving up on a particular option trade-off chose another option.
Choices madeUsually, one opts for a better preferenceThe process is entirely under the action of prioritizing what an individual wants.
Risk TakenLosses experienced are not accountedNo direct link trade off what one has sacrificed for
PrivilegesBetter choices are made hence at a privilege.The price of other possessions is at a cost
Profit/LossLinks trade off the lost gain but could have been avoided due to the trade-off of wrong decision-making.It does not calculate the profit or loss but is linked with factors such as the choice of time.
CalculationCalculated by subtracting the value of the preferred option from the value of the most worthwhile choiceIt cannot be calculated.


What is Opportunity Cost?

Opportunity cost denotes the potential benefit an individual loses in choosing one alternative over another.

In business, resources can be limited or within restricted boundaries. Choices must be made; under such circumstances, one course of action must be chosen over others.

opportunity cost

What is Trade Off?

Trade is the choices that we let go of to receive a particular choice (product, service) that we desire. A negotiation arises where one has to give up on others to obtain a specific service.

Trade-off generates opportunity costs. Whenever a trade-off is made, the choice that is not opted for is opportunity cost.

trade off

Main Differences Between Opportunity Cost and Trade-Off

  1. The main difference between opportunity cost ad trade-off is that opportunity cost determines the value of the next best alternative. In contrast, trade-off determines the choices that have already been sacrificed.
  2. In opportunity cost, an individual looks for the next best alternative, whereas in the case of trade, the services have already been sacrificed in determining what one wants.
  3. In opportunity cost, losses experienced are not considered wherein the trade-off, there is no such direct link to what one has sacrificed for.
  4.   In opportunity cos, the preference for better choices is made to trade off the price of other possessions at cost.
  5. Opportunity cost refers to the profit that has already been lost; on the other hand, trade-off does not do with profit or loss.
  6. Opportunity cost can be calculated by subtracting the value of the preferred option from the value of the next most worthwhile choice, while in the case of trade-off, it can be calculated in any such manner.

  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/1138929.1138946
  2. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/37/9516

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

dot 1
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

20 thoughts on “Opportunity Cost vs Trade Off: Difference and Comparison”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want to save this article for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own articles box!