Travelling abroad? Get the HomeTrust Preferred Visa - the only Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees AND no annual fees. This can save you up to a 2.5% fee on purchases internationally!
Chase Canada was an interesting credit card issuer. They had several store co-branded credit cards that all had no transaction fees – very rare in Canada. Unfortunately, effective March 15th, Chase will be closing their last two products – the Marriott Visa and Amazon Visa.
Chase stopped taking applications for the Amazon Visa in Apr 2017, and the Marriott Visa in Sep 2017. I have had both the Amazon and Marriott Visa. While they are good cards, I rarely use them. My primary use of these cards are for automated kiosks (trains, etc.) that required chip and pin. Most US credit cards, which are what I use now, are chip and signature.
It is disappointing that Chase made this decision, as they could easily capture more customers, keep no foreign transaction fees, and maintain or increase profitability. Most premium American credit cards have no foreign transaction fees, and everyone is doing just fine. Sadly, these products have been out there for years with no major impact on the credit card landscape. There are no changes on the part of the major banks, and none offer credit cards with less than a 2.5% foreign transaction fee.
What Will Happen to your Credit Card?
The status of the card once closed by Chase will update to Closed by Grantor or Account Cancelled/Non-Derogatory. This is different from a derogatory rating indicating missed payments or collections. There is no negative impact on your credit report, which is why I will not be closing my card immediately. What might change is your account history and credit utilization, although that will happen regardless of who closes the account.
Cardholders should get a letter in the mail with all the details; I just received mine today. You should note the terms regarding rewards and benefits. With the Amazon Visa, you will receive a credit for your points balance at 100 points = $1. Normally, you need 2,000 points for a $20 reward, so it’s nice that you’ll get some value out of your points. I’m looking forward to my $3 check for my 389 points on my account.
The Marriott Visa has very generous terms regarding annual fees. If your fee is due between January 1st and March 15th this year, it will not be charged. They will also be prorating everyone’s annual fees if you paid them between April and December last year. Furthermore, it looks like everyone is going to get a Cat 1-5 certificate on March 15th, even if your annual fee comes due after that point:
“Upon closure of your Marriott Rewards Visa Card account you will be awarded your anniversary Free Night Certificate to your Marriott Rewards Program account.”
The letter does not include details about elite night credits with the card. If that is important to you, call Chase to straighten things out.
Many are mourning about the loss of these products, but it doesn’t really affect me. Here are some alternatives.
US Credit Cards
Credit cards in the US often have better benefits. This is the case here. One of my primary cards is the Chase Ink Preferred Visa, which offers 80,000 UR points for signing up and completing the minimum spend. It earns 3x points on travel, with no foreign transaction fee. This credit card easily beats any Canadian option in regards to benefits and rewards.
Keep in mind that you need excellent credit and a solid history to be approved for these premium cards. It is better to start with American Express Global Transfer, which you are eligible for once you have been with American Express for at least three months with a qualifying product, like the new Cobalt Card.
Home Trust Preferred Visa
HomeTrust is one of the largest alternative mortgage lenders in Canada. Their demographics skew more subprime, so their other products are for those who have poorer credit. The Home Trust Preferred Visa is a pleasant surprise value-wise. There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and 1% cashback on purchases. You don’t need to be an existing Home Trust client to be approved for the card. Unfortunately, there are a few problems.
The application page is fairly glitchy, and you don’t get a response until 2-3 weeks later. Furthermore, they seem to randomly decline people even with good credit. On top of that, I’ve read of problems regarding online access and changing your pin. Last year, there was a promotion (if I recall correctly) that offered double cashback (2%) for the first six months. Unfortunately, I didn’t seem to bookmark the page – but that would be a good reason to apply.
I don’t plan to get the card right now – there are plenty of other better alternatives. This card is not available to Quebec residents.
HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard
The HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard, in my opinion, is one of the best credit cards currently available in Canada. The only limitation is that you need to be an HSBC Premier Client – which means you need to have a minimum of $100,000 in assets to be eligible for the card. This card earns 6 points per dollar on all travel purchases, and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. This translate to a 3% and 1.5% return respectively. Additionally, you can transfer to Krisflyer, Asia Miles, and Avios.
This is a fantastic card for most frequent travellers as many of your transactions outside the country will be classified as travel – hotels, car rentals, airfare, and more. This card also has the standard insurance policies, including baggage loss, trip delay, and car rental, so you save an additional 2.5% by using this card instead of the American Express Platinum Card or the MBNA World Elite MasterCard.
Rogers and Fido MasterCard
You can also get the Rogers or Fido MasterCard. They do have foreign exchange fees of 2.5%, but give a 4% return on any foreign currency transactions. I dislike this system, as you get hit with the fee twice with a refund. You can only redeem these points cashback once a year if you are not a Fido or Rogers subscriber. Thus, I’m not a big fan of this card.
What will you be doing after Chase Canada closes your credit cards?