Chase Bank wipes out all outstanding credit card debt owed by Canadian users

Paul Adamson was paying his bills online last week when he came across something curious — the balance on one of his credit cards was wiped clean.

After noticing that his bank had removed the Chase Bank credit card from his list of payees, he phoned both and got a delightfully unexpected answer from the customer service agent.

“She said, `Actually, you owe no balance,”’ said Adamson, 43. The southwestern Ontario resident said he should have owed about $1,645.

“I was a little confused and kind of skeptical at her response,” he told The Canadian Press.

But a letter from the credit card issuer a day later confirmed that financial institutions are capable of forgiveness.

“I was stunned, I’ll be honest. I just said, ‘Hey, here’s one more thing we don’t need to worry about.”’

Adamson is just one of the Canadian consumers of Chase Bank who are now off the hook for credit card debt.

The New York-based institution confirmed Thursday it is forgiving all outstanding debt owed by users of its two Canadian credit cards as part of its exit from Canada’s credit card market.

Chase folded all Amazon and Marriott Visa accounts last year and recently opted to cut its loan losses completely.

Customers with an outstanding balance as of June will no longer see red on their statements, Chase said.

The bank declined to share how much debt was wiped out or how many customers were affected.

For Adamson, a tech writer who, along with his wife, recently moved in with his parents in Dundalk, Ont., to save for a house, the surprise “absolutely” comes a big relief.

“When I got the card, I was a little extra hungry on buying things online. I’ve curbed that and I’ve got a hold of my finances,” he said. “So this is a nice little pat on the back for doing so well, as far as I’m concerned.”

Adamson said the Canada Revenue Agency is looking into whether his windfall is taxable, but he believes it isn’t since the card was used for personal purchases rather than business.

Elena Jara, director of education at non-profit counselling agency Credit Canada, said Chase Bank’s swift exit may indicate it can write off much of the outstanding debt.

“Otherwise they would still write it off, but they may have to spend more time and effort on how to collect all the outstanding debt, and that may not be good for the bottom line,” Jara said.

“There’s also the possibility that the insurance company will cover the losses,” she said.

Chase Bank, owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co., decided to quit the Canadian credit card market in March 2018 after 13 years north of the border.

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