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Can a Bank Confiscate Your Credit Card Rewards?

BofA rewards cardA lawsuit was recently filed against Bank of America by a California consumer who claims the bank confiscated the cash rewards earned by her with her BofA credit card when the bank chose to close her account.

The consumer, Christy Ngo, says in the lawsuit that last September her debit card stopped working because the bank told her they had frozen her account and would close her checking and savings account by the end of the month. Preemptively, she withdrew all the money. How these account closings are related to her losing her accumulated credit card rewards is not explained in the lawsuit. We questioned her lawyers directly about that too, but they did not respond. And BofA declined to comment about the case to another media outlet.

For simplicity sake, let’s assume that the bank closed her credit card as well. Certainly the bank has a right to do that. But why didn’t they give her whatever amount of cash back she had already earned on her cards (assuming she had paid off her balance)?


Bank of America terms

The terms and conditions statement of BofA’s current “cash rewards” credit cards says that any unredeemed cash rewards at the time of closure, whether the closing was voluntary or not, would be forfeited.

Bank of America is not alone including fine print in their credit card agreements like this. Recently, after a TV reporter’s 98-year-old mother passed away, a California bank did the same thing. See story.

Most people don’t read the fine print of credit card agreements, and if they did, would any accountholder even remember this restriction perhaps years later? And is it fair for banks, even with proper disclosure, to confiscate already earned cash back that had not been redeemed rather than to automatically refund it?

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4 thoughts on “Can a Bank Confiscate Your Credit Card Rewards?”

  1. Banks are corrupt and greedy. They should not be allowed to keep any money that belongs to the customer.

  2. While I have no reason to believe that the BofA would close my account, I redeemed my ‘cash rewards’ today. I have a healthy balance, no recent history (last 15 years) of any account disputes and no known problems with the bank. The rewards don’t earn interest, they are just sitting there waiting to be used/redeemed or confiscated.

  3. This is one of many sleazy bank practices, but one which I was already aware of, which is why I regularly redeem my credit card cash balance before it gets too high.

    I think the fact that she lost what was essentially cash makes the bank’s offense seem more … offensive. Some (many?) airlines have a policy that if you don’t use your accumulated frequent flyer miles within a certain time period, or if you don’t get additional miles within that time, you forfeit all of your miles. People might not know about that policy, and if it gets triggered then that’s annoying … but it would feel even more egregious if instead of miles, you had accumulated an equivalent credit with the airline that could be redeemed for cash.

  4. BOA is worst bank PERIOD..

    you cannot cash a check drawn on BOA if you do not have an account there. i had $10 check, they refused to cash it. you need an ID to DEPOSIT MONEY…EVEN CASH.. Years ago before latest nonsense you could cash a BOA check but it would cost you $5. they also will not let you use drivethrough unless you had an acct there.

    they have my vote for most arrogant bank.

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