Chase Sounds the Final Death Knell for Its Amazon and Marriott Cards
Well it’s the end of another beautiful relationship. I would have loved to see the partnership continue and am left wondering where things went wrong. At least I’m not alone. Chase Canada dumped us all.
The company recently announced that as of March 15, 2018 they’re closing Canadian cardholders’ accounts for both the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. In return for their loyalty, cardholders received a formulaic letter announcing that the cards would be discontinued with no explanation beyond “…the credit card relationship between JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. in Canada and Amazon.ca/Marriott is ending.” While each card had its own unique perks, the reason the loss stings so much is because they offered that rarest of Canadian credit card features: no foreign transaction fees.
The news doesn’t come as a total surprise, as there were many prior signs that Chase was losing interest. In April of 2017, the company stopped taking applications for the Amazon.ca Visa and a few months later, Canadians could no longer apply for the Marriott Visa. Nonetheless, I thought that even if Chase was looking to limit new cardholders, they would never actually terminate the relationship with their existing Canadian clients. But I was wrong. It really is over. So how do we move on?
The Bad News
Much of the negative fallout for the discontinuation of the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa is the same for both cards:
- As of March 15, 2018 you won’t be able to use your card for any new transactions.
- Though your account will close, your original cardholder terms and conditions still apply—as does your debt/card balance.
- The current annual interest rate will remain the same and will continue to accrue on any debt remaining until you pay it off. (I can’t emphasize this enough. Though your Marriott and/or Amazon.ca Visa account is dead, your debt is very much alive).
- For Amazon.ca Rewards Visa cardholders, you’ll no longer be able to redeem your points on Amazon.ca. as of March 15, 2018.
- It’s harder than ever for Canadian credit cardholders to avoid foreign transaction fees.
The Good News
Because the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa have different rewards programs, there are a couple of major differences when it comes to the bright side of the breakup.
- Both the Marriott and Amazon cards will continue to accrue points for purchases until March 15, 2018.
- You don’t have to immediately pay off your remaining balance just because Chase’s card program is ending (though your balance will continue to accumulate interest).
- For the Marriott card, you’ll still get your anniversary free night certificate and any outstanding points can still be accessed and used through the Marriott Rewards Program.
- The annual fee for the Marriott card will be prorated. If you paid your fee between April and December 2017, you will be reimbursed any amount owing (as a statement credit) based on a prorated date of March 15, 2018. No annual fee will be charged at all as of January 1, 2018.
- Amazon cardholders will be receiving a statement credit of $1 per 100 points. Those with 99 points or less receive a credit of $1.
Cardholders’ Action Items
Based on what we’ve heard from Chase, I advise those who are (or perhaps more accurately, ‘were’) Amazon or Marriott cardholders to consider taking the following steps:
- Destroy any cards associated with the discontinued accounts, including authorized user cards. You’ll also have to cancel any pre-authorized payments.
- After March 15, 2018, you can’t enroll for an online account at Chase.ca for either card, so if you want online access and don’t already have it be sure to enroll ASAP.
- Consider looking for a new rewards/no FX fee replacement card
Replacement Options for the Amazon and Marriott Cards
Sure, it’s sad things are ending, but now’s not the time to mope. There are other options out there that offer various constellations of the Amazon and Marriott cards’ perks.
If you’re looking for hotel rewards cards:
This is a solid option if you’re a big fan of Marriott properties (Starwood is a subsidiary of Marriott) and want to continue using your Marriott points as conveniently as possible. The major differences between the SPG and Marriott card are that the SPG charges you a foreign transaction fee, you need to make $40K in purchases each year to receive the free night’s stay, and Amex cards are not as widely accepted as Visa.
The SPG card does have some similarities with the Chase Marriott card, in that both cards’ purchases earn points that can be used for stays at Marriott or Starwood properties, and they both come with a $120 annual fee. At first glance, your earning potential may not seem as high as with the Chase Marriott (2 Starpoints per $1 spent at participating hotels vs. 5 points with the Marriott card). However, when you look at the actual redemption value of Starpoints (about 2.23 cents per point for hotel stays) the SPF card looks very attractive. The card also offers you the flexibility of transferring Starpoints to frequent flyer programs with dozens of airlines. For more details you can check out our complete Starwood Preferred Guest Card review here.
While the Best Western hotel chain may not have the cache that Marriott and SPG properties do, the card features some very enticing benefits. You’ll get enough bonus points for a free night just for activating the card, and unlike the Chase Marriott card, there’s no annual fee (which makes it easier to overlook the fact that the Best Western card charges a foreign transaction fee). The card’s rewards add up quickly if you use it to pay for stays at Best Western properties, and you can redeem points for hotel stays, merchandise and even gift certificates, including Amazon.ca. For more details you can check out our complete Best Western Rewards Mastercard review here.
If you’re looking for cards without foreign transaction fees:
Though its cash back rate is relatively modest (1%), the Home Trust Preferred comes with no annual fee, and it’s now the only card in Canada that does not charge a foreign transaction fee. It also grants the cardholder purchase protection, rental car insurance and roadside assistance. For more details you can check out our complete Home Trust Preferred Visa review here.
Though this card does in fact charge an FX fee, it offers 4% cash back on any purchases you make in a foreign currency. As Rogers charges you 2.5% on foreign transactions, you’re essentially enjoying a net gain of 1.5%, which is actually better than simply not charging an FX fee at all (as with the Amazon.ca and Marriott Visas). You’ll also earn a generous 1.75% cash back on all your Canadian dollar purchases. The annual fee of $29 is waived in the first year for all cardholders and thereafter for those who set up Rogers as a pre-authorized payment on their Rogers credit card. For more details you can check out our complete Rogers Platinum Mastercard review here.
Like the Rogers Platinum Mastercard, the FIDO Mastercard does charge an FX fee but offers a reward rate of 4% on foreign purchases, so once again you’re ahead 1.5%. You also get 1.5% cash back on all other purchases and there’s no annual fee ever. For more details you can check out our complete FIDO Mastercard review here.
If you’re looking for flexible rewards cards:
Earning points on a wide spectrum of dining and travel purchases, this new card offers more earning and redemption flexibility than Chase’s Amazon or Marriott cards. For an annual fee of $120 (which you can pay in monthly instalments), you’ll earn 5 points per $1 you spend on dining/bars/groceries and 2 points per $1 spent on things like airfare/hotels/ground transit and gas. You can redeem points for travel, merchandise or shop on Amazon.ca via the Shop with Points program. The card charges a foreign transaction fee but in return you’ll enjoy some attractive travel, car and hotel insurance perks when you travel. For more details you can check out our complete American Express Cobalt Card review here.