Contact 6 offers warning about credit card rewards points

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- With the holidays around the corner, many are racking up serious credit card bills -- and Contact 6 is warning folks not to forget about those credit card reward points because if you're not careful, you could lose them.

A lot of charge cards give users some added perks when they use their credit cards to make purchases -- but those "reward points" aren't there forever!

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it's gotten over 600 complaints about rewards programs.

"Part of it is we're not reading, part of it is all the rules and the gotchas.  Read the mail they send you to update.  And if you're someone who goes online, when you get that message that says there's an important update to your account - make sure you check it out because they may be changing the terms," Gerri Detweiler with said.

Credit card rewards can be taken away for many reasons, including a missed payment.

"So you're late with a payment and you can have your rewards go away and you may have to pay to reinstate them,"Detweiler said.

So how much do you have to pay to get those points back? American Express will ding you $35.

"Remember, you've probably paid a late fee on top of that so it is expensive.  But the truth is, these reward points - they don't consider them yours. They are theirs.  They're at your benefit, but you don't own them.  And so you do have to make sure you keep track," Detweiler said.

You will also lose your points if you close a card.

"Some issuers like AmEx will give you 30 days to redeem them.  But if you forget and you don't redeem them, those are not your points.  You don't get anything for it," Detweiler said.

Worried about keeping track of your reward points, there's an app for that!

"CardWatchdog, for example is one of the things you may want to look into.  Wisely has one where they'll help you maximize your reward points.  You may just use a spreadsheet, or remember 'okay every four months I'm going to check in on my reward points and see where they are,'" Detweiler said.

Right now,a bout 65% of cash back rewards don't expire, and the others may expire in three to five years. Now's a good time to check your balance and cash it in or get a gift card for the holidays.