There is no shortage of ways for credit card holders to screw up their financial lives, but try a new one on for size. If you don’t pay your bill on time, your credit card company is more likely these days to pull your card rewards points as a penalty, and it’s all perfectly legitimate in the eyes of the federal government.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank’s “Survey of Consumer Payment Choice," about 60% of consumers own a rewards credit card.
As long as card customers are current on their payments, their rewards points aren’t in jeopardy. But pay your bill late, and card issuers are increasingly likely these days to cancel your hard-earned rewards points.
Creditcards.com offers a list of penalties related to rewards points for card owners who pay their bills late.
American Express (Stock Quote: AXP), for example, will block access your rewards points if you pay your bill late, but reinstate them for a $29 fee. Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) will pull the points, but reinstate them once the account is current. Citi (Stock Quote: C) will pull the points permanently if your bill is over 60 days late.
The best way to keep your rewards points is to be vigilant, make your minimum payments on time, and learn how to gain leverage with your credit card rewards points.