Pay late, lose your reward points and miles

Highway sign with the words Rewards-Next Exit

Failing to pay your credit card bill on time not only means you'll pay a late fee, it could cost you reward points or miles.

Delinquent customers can lose all their points or miles or cash-back bonuses after missing only one or two payments.

Some credit card companies will let you get them back -- for a fee. With others, they're gone for good.

Chase and Discover seem to have the most stringent policy.

If a customer is 60 days late (Chase) or misses two payments (Discover), the customer loses all points, miles or cash rebates that they are due.

And once they're gone, they're gone. Paying the bill won't reinstate the rewards, and neither company will allow customers to pay a reinstatement fee to get them back.

American Express also snatches back all points and rebates after just one missed payment. But it allows customers to recover forfeited points and rebates once their account is current by paying a $29 reinstatement fee.

Citi has a similar policy, except the reinstatement fee is only $15.

Capital One cardholders only lose miles or rebates earned during the billing cycle of the missed payment.

Bank of America seems to have the most lenient policy.

Cardholders forfeit points if they're 60 days late with a payment. But once the account is made current again, they get the points back without paying a reinstatement fee.

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