Chase and The Amazon Rewards Card – A Mistake You Should Avoid

More than any other US Bank, Chase is not reliable, and that’s really unfortunate.

Chase is the bank behind the official Amazon Rewards Card, so anyone who buys a lot from Amazon is going to want to use this card. But there’s a huge problem with this, and its Chase. Chase has designed their policies around strict analytics (which is fine), and puzzlingly, instant and opaque account cancellation (which is not at all fine). The web is littered with stories of Chase’s puzzling behavior, and the thing that makes it worse is Chase won’t explain why they take the actions they do, in the way that they do, so we’re left to speculate.

Here’s my personal experience. As a major Amazon customer, I decided to open a Chase Amazon Card account three months ago. I did this in spite of the fact I’ve had major problems with Chase in the past, and swore never to deal with them again. But the rewards for Amazon purchases were the best out there, so I went against my better judgement. I began charging Amazon purchases through the card, then began using the card generally at other stores. I made every payment on time, and in full. Last month, my charges were higher than they’d previously been, and those charges, combined with what I’d charged this month to date, exceeded the low credit limit Chase gives these cards. On that day, Chase cut off the card, which is not surprising; most card companies would do that. That was the 17th of the month, and my payment was due by the 24th. They received a payment on the 19th, which paid the previous month’s balance in full, and which with any other bank I’ve dealt with would have reactivated the card for new charges. Not Chase. They closed the account, permanently. I called Chase and spoke to two different support people, who read me Chase’s reason for closing the account: “Chase has decided to close this account because we feel this banking relationship may lead to reputational harm for the bank.”

Which is interesting, because I would suggest that closing accounts without warning that are paid on time and in full will lead to “repetitional harm for the bank.” A quick search on the web for the phrase “Chase closing account” brings up 18 MILLION pages, while the same search for Amex brings up 1 million. Considering that Amex has 25% of the credit card market and Chase 18%, that should tell you something.

What’s the Take Away?

I took a few different conclusions away from this situation.

1) Unless you MUST do business with Chase, they should be avoided at all costs. It’s a major hassle to go back and reconfigure all your auto billing because Chase decides to cancel your account without notice. If you’re really unlucky, it can also lead to you getting hit with cascading late fees or cancellations because Chase suddenly stops paying. Good luck trying to recover those.

2) Chase appears to want more than just normal transaction fees. Remember, even if you pay off your balance every month, and it costs you nothing to use a card, the credit card company still makes money for every dollar you charge. This does not seem to be enough for Chase. If it were, they would be thrilled to have people charging thousands on a card every month then paying it off in full, because they get a piece of that. That’s Amex’s entire business model, and they lead the industry, so clearly it works. But Chase wants more – it may be late fees or something else, but Chase does not want a “normal” banking relationship with their customers, so they cancel that sort of account. And they do it instantly and without warning.

3) Amazon needs a different card issuer. I love Amazon. I spend way too much with them every month, and though this is certainly not going to hurt my relationship with them, there’s no question that with a Bank of America or Amex Amazon card I’d spend more with Amazon. I have no idea what Chase is paying Amazon for this relationship, but I feel quite certain it’s not enough, and Amazon would actually see greater benefit in the form of increased sales with a different card provider. Hopefully Amazon will consider this. Amazon is one of the most beloved brands in America (and the world), but Chase is one of the most disliked. This ongoing relationship will tarnish Amazon’s reputation over time.

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