I filed Extension of conference/business visa for 17 days instead of 10 days for South Africa - New Application? with an open bounty which didn't evoke any responses. Now, I got a notification telling me that I need to award it to an answer but as there is no answer, I cannot give it to anyone. What does happen in event that the bounty is not rewarded as in my case.
It just expires. It's a shame but it happens sometimes with tricky answers. After 24 hours it just...vanishes.
The help centre is pretty clear about this:
All bounties are paid for up front and non-refundable under any circumstances.
A bounty does not guarantee a response, however, and reputation refunds are not available if no answers are received as a result of the bounty.
(You cannot award a bounty to your own answer.)
If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with a minimum score of 2 will be awarded half the bounty amount.
So if you offer a bounty, you lose the reputation immediately. If nobody answers then the bank wins automatically. (Note that this also happens if you choose not to award the bounty and no answer meets the criterion of being posted after the offering and gaining a score of at least 2.)
‘Tough luck’, one might say.