Credit Cards

Chase Bank forgives debt on two of its credit cards as it exits Canada

By: Lisa Coxon on August 8, 2019

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of — if you dream about credit card debt. 

Chase Bank has decided to forgive the outstanding balances of its two Canadian credit cards — the Rewards Visa and the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa — as it completes its exit from the Canadian credit card market. 

We reported that the U.S.-based bank was folding both Visa cards back in March 2018. It had been in the Canadian credit card space for 13 years.

Canadian cardholders couldn’t be happier their debt is being forgiven. 

“I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face,” 55-year-old Douglas Turner from Coe Hill, Ont., told CBC News.

Turner still owed $6,157 on his Amazon Visa when he got the news (which, based on what he pays in interest, would have actually been more like $7,500, he estimated). 

“I couldn't believe it,” he said, adding that he thought he’d maybe missed a payment when he first saw the letter from Chase in the mail this week. "It’s crazy. This stuff doesn't happen with credit cards. Credit cards are horror stories.”

But, according to Patrick Sojka, a credit card rewards expert and founder of the reward programs website Rewards Canada, it makes fiscal sense.

Speaking to CBC News, Sojka said that forgiving the outstanding debt is actually cheaper for Chase than trying to keep collecting credit card payments here in Canada once it leaves.

“They're still probably paying taxes, paying accountants, and for them, they just probably worked it out and [said], ‘Let's just forgive the debt and fully get out of the country,’” he said.

According to Chase spokesperson Maria Martinez, who provided a comment to CBC News via email, “Ultimately, we felt it was a better decision for all parties, particularly our customers.”

It would seem Chase’s Canadian customers wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.

Christine Langlois, a 24-year-old university student from Montreal, told CBC News she actually stopped making payments on her Amazon Visa five years ago. She still owed the company $1,300.

“It's kind of like I'm being rewarded for my irresponsibility,” she said. “I consider myself lucky. To have it just gone, it's sort of like, surreal.”