On Your Side Alert: Unclaimed reward points

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Credit card users, you'll be excited to hear this story is not about late payments or high interest rates. This is about those attractive rewards points programs. Right now, you could have unclaimed rewards and money waiting on you.

Every year, consumers forget to cash in on reward points they sign up for. Rebecca Gershowitz, with Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions, says not keeping tabs on your points, is like giving away free money.

"It's actually a pretty wide spread problem, about a third of the people who have rewards points forgets to cash out on them and it's about an average of 205 dollars of savings for each consumer," she said.

That money could be waiting on you. All you have to do is visit your credit card's website or contact the customers service department to see if you're able to collect.

"It's a lot of money out there. The credit card industry is a big industry and every little piece that you can get back and make work for you, is going to be in your best interest," Gershowitz said.

The reward points sound really good but if you don't have a credit card. Consumer advocates warn, don't sign up for one, just for the rewards, it may not be worth it.

"Really, with any account, make sure the amount of interest you are paying, isn't out weighing the cash reward that you are getting back. Keep in mind that the rewards are not an incentive to spend money. You want to make sure you are not spending money just to get these rewards back," she explained.

Another important tip, each card is different, some allow you to use your points to purchase items at a discount, others offer cash incentives for things like airline miles. Make sure you read the terms and ask questions. Consumer advocates also say make sure you understand what kind of rewards your card is offering. For example, if you don't travel much, it may not benefit you to get a card that offers frequent flyer miles.

Here are some helpful links:

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