Gone with the Lend: Chase Bank Withdraws from Canada, Forgives All Credit Card Debt

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Chase BankIn January 2018 Chase Bank released a statement detailing that it will be closing all of its Canadian credit card accounts on March 15 of that year, but customers should continue to pay their bills. Last week all of those debts were cancelled.

Coming as a shock to many Chase customers, the decision comes as the bank withdraws entirely from the Canadian market, in which it had been active for 13 years. “Chase made the decision to exit the Canadian credit card market. As part of that exit, all credit card accounts were closed on or before March 2018. A further business decision has been made to forgive all outstanding balances in order to complete the exit,” said Maria Martinez, Vice President of Communications for Chase Card Services, in a statement. “Ultimately, we felt it was a better decision for all parties, particularly our customers.”

As noted by one former Chase customer who benefitted from the debt forgiveness, it is questionably unusual that Chase Bank would take into consideration the wellness of those customers in a market they no longer operate in. Speaking to CBC, credit card rewards expert Patrick Sojka guessed that the decision came after concluding it would be too costly and time-exhaustive to pursue the debt, “[Chase are] 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.’”

Chase has not released information regarding when the decision was made, how much debt was outstanding, nor how many customers were signed up for the two cards, the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa.

The response has been universally positive amongst customers, with many of them having been forgiven for debt that stretched beyond CAD$1,000 ($757). Christine Langlois, a 24-year-old Montreal student who owed CAD$1,300 and hadn’t made regular payments on her Amazon card in five years, said that “It’s kind of like I’m being rewarded for my irresponsibility.”

With further questions remaining, such as why Chase didn’t sell the debt instead, Luke Sheehan, Vice President of Marketing at RateHub, commented on the uniqueness of the decision, saying “It’s definitely an odd situation. I can only surmise that there was some bigger corporate play that meant had to [sic] exit the market quickly, and there must have been some benefits for doing that … As far as anyone seems to be aware, it’s a complete one-off. The chances of that happening ever again to anybody are so remote.”

Last modified: August 12, 2019
Brendan Garrett

Category: Banking

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