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If I have a credit card with a negative reward points balance (say due to a returned product), and if I let the reward balance remain negative, will this eventually incur interest charges?

A negative reward points balance means I owe the credit card company some money. Thus I will not be surprised if they will charge interest on this amount. But I am not sure if they will send me a bill for this. Should I make some purchases with this card so that the reward balance becomes positive or zero, or it is okay to leave it negative?

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This may or my not be outlined in your cardholder agreement...

I am quite certain that they would NOT incur interest, since points in general are not "money", but a non-monetary benefit which could be redeemed for money. I suspect that instead, you would just "pay back" the negative balance as you earn points with future purchases.

A negative reward points balance means I owe the credit card company some money.

No, you don't "owe" the bank anything, just like they don't "owe" you anything when you earn points - it can be redeemed for cash or goods, but it's not a financial debt to them, and they can "reverse" points for a number of reasons (usually involving fraud or misuse). A negative points balance would just a debit balance that will likely get "paid back" by future benefits that you would have earned.

Should I make some purchases with this card so that the reward balance becomes positive or zero

No - just like you shouldn't make purchases just to earn points, you shouldn't make purchases just to erase the negative points balance. Let is correct itself naturally.

If you want to use it to spend on things that you would have bought anyway, that's fine, but I wouldn't go on a "shopping spree" just to get rid of the deficit, and I certainly wouldn't spend more than you could absolutely pay back without accruing any interest.

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  • Thank you for the answer! This happens to a card that I do not use often anyway. So in this sense, I can leave it negative forever without worrying about anything? After all, hypothetically, this amount I owe can be large if I have just returned an expensive product.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 21:18
  • It's possible, but not something I would lose sleep over. If the points were originally redeemed for a statement credit they might try to recover the "loss" at some point.
    – D Stanley
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 21:40
  • I am amazed they let you go negative in the first place.
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 21:51
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    @keshlam, redeem all points, then return a product.
    – Zuriel
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:00
  • Interesting. I redeem about once a quarter (as cash) and return products for refund almost never (except unused building supplies).
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 22:36

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