As JP Morgan Chase retreats from the Canadian credit card market, the bank has given remaining customers a parting gift: debt forgiveness.
Rather than continue collecting payments on its two Canadian Visa cards, which it discontinued in March 2018, Chase figured debt relief “was a better decision for all parties, including and most importantly our customers,” said Maria Martinez, VP of communications for Chase Card Services. Some customers were still making payments on their balances, preventing the US bank from closing down its Canadian credit card operation.
“I was sort of over the moon all last night, with a smile on my face,” Douglas Turner told CBC. He’s a 55-year-old long haul trucker who still owed more than C$6,000 ($4,534) on his Amazon Visa. “This stuff doesn’t happen with credit cards. Credit cards are horror stories.”
Chase’s decision is unusual because it could have sold the outstanding debt to a collections agency or the customers’ accounts to another bank. By comparison, when Citigroup exited the Canadian credit-card market in 2010, the company sold its $2 billion Mastercard portfolio (paywall) to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Chase hasn’t disclosed how many credit-card customers it had left in Canada or the total amount of debt it forgave. The cost of forgiving the debt was possibly cheaper than the cost of selling it or continuing to collect.
JP Morgan’s other Canadian businesses have not been affected.