US bank cancels all debt on Canadian credit cards

A bank in the US has wiped all the outstanding debt owed by holders of its credit cards in Canada.

The US-based Chase Bank operates two cards in Canada, but decided last year to exit the market north of the border. Rather than continue to chase up debt owed by cardholders, it's just giving up altogether and letting them off.

"Ultimately, we felt it was a better decision for all parties, particularly our customers," Chase spokesperson Maria Martinez told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). 

"It is definitely a head-scratcher, for sure," said Patrick Sojka, who founded rewards programme website Rewards Canada, adding that perhaps it worked out cheaper just to cut thier losses.

"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.'"

The two cards Chase operated in Canada were the Rewards Visa and the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. Chase didn't say how many customers were affected or how much they owed.

A number of customers CBC spoke to owed thousands.

"I'm honestly still so... flabbergasted about it," one said after finding out the CA$1645 he spent on Amazon wouldn't have to be repaid.

"It's kind of like I'm being rewarded for my irresponsibility," said another. "To have it just gone, it's sort of like, surreal."

In a post on its website, business magazine Fast Company called it "like getting the 'bank error in your favour' card in Monopoly, but even less believable".