Credit Card Reward Points Go Away With Missed Payments

Submitted by Jen Jones on Wed, 10/07/2009 - 10:40am

Credit Card Reward Points Go Away With Missed Payments

With the government's new credit card legislation possibly reaching its stride two months early on December 1, a lot of frustrated credit card users may be breathing a collective sigh of relief. Given the tighter restrictions on credit card issuers, you might want to take the opportunity to be a little more choosy in selecting your new card, as industry players are going to push hard to win customers from competitors, using reward plans and low introductory rates as incentives. However, unknown to many credit card users is how reward plans are handled when payments are missed. What far too few consumers understand is that not only do credit reports get the news when a payment is missed, so do the third party companies that handle the reward plans. Understandably, most people find themselves worried more about the late fees and interest rate bumps that occur when a balance goes unpaid. However, if you're counting on the reward points to finance your next vacation, you may be in for a big surprise when they are told that as a result of missed payments, a big chunk of those rewards have been taken away. A research effort at www.cardhub.com showed that each of the major credit card companies employ rules which revoke reward points when a payment is missed. That list includes American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and Discover. Discover seems to be a bit more brazen than their competitors. For example, miss your due date for two months and all of your points go away. All of them. (Don't forget, Discover is "the card that pays you back." Maybe.) American Express examines situations individually but will seemingly not hesitate to take away what you have earned. With all the other penalties for missing payments, like late fees, interest rate spikes, credit report dings and dinner time phone calls, this is just one more slap in the face to consumers. Also, remember that the credit card companies can change the terms of a reward program at any time, without notice. Essentially, the lending industry allows points to be accumulated but not necessarily returned. Thus, a consumer may be using a card for a specific rewards program only to find that program is suddenly no longer available. Furthermore, reward programs are marketed as perks, gifts for simply doing business with a specific bank. Yet, that gift can be revoked without notice. Thanks for nothing. Consumer advocates preach that those looking for a card with a rewards program should choose only those that offer cash back, because it can't be devalued. Plus, you are more apt to take the cash reward earlier than if it was simply a pile of points accumulating in cyberspace over time for you to "eventually" use for a new mountain bike, kayak or trip to Yosemite. Remember, if a card's rewards plan is the main reason you choose to open the account, as it is for more card users today, make sure you understand all of the fine print before you make a decision. From: The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, with 4 convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville and Wilson. Call us today to set up your free initial consultation. +1-919-646-2654.

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