The History of Credit Cards

Many consider credit cards and their use as a recent trend that took place during the late 20th century, but the truth is that credit cards have been around longer than most people think.

Unless you have been living under a rock or amidst the Amazon rainforest for the past hundred years without any access to modern civilization, we all know what credit cards are used for. A credit card is method of selling and buying goods without having to deal with cash. You can use credit cards anywhere today from shopping transactions to doing business online. So, now the question comes to this: Who invented these ever so popular credit cards and how long have they been in use?

According to researchers, credit cards have been around since the 1920's in the United States when individual firms such as oil companies and hotel chains began issuing them to customers. However, some say that credit card use began as far back as the 1890's in Europe. Researchers also say that credit cards back in those days were not made of plastic but most probably from metal coins, metal plates, celluloid, metal, fiber or paper.

In 1946, John Biggins of the Flatbush National Bank of Brooklyn in New York invented the first bank credit card. Biggins invented the "Charge-it" program between bank customers and local merchants where merchants deposited sales slips in the bank after which the bank billed the customer.

In 1950, Frank McNamara invented the Diners Club credit card, which was intended to pay restaurant bills. A customer would eat at a restaurant that accepted the Diners Club credit cards and would later repay the club. In 1958, American Express issued their first credit card and the Bank of America issued Visa later in 1958. By the early 1960's, companies offered credit cards to traveling salesman and promoted them as time saving device and a few years down the road, credit cards became a huge sensation.

Contrary to popular belief, credit cards can be helpful tools if managed properly, and when carefully analyzed for the best rates and terms.  Find out more.

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