From Cash to Plastic?

The credit card is the result of many merchant credit systems. It was used for the first time in the 1920s. The first credit cards were used in the United States to sell fuel to the automobile owners. Their number was increasing dramatically and, in 1938, several firms started to use each others cards.

Edward Bellamy invented the first credit card in 1887. He was the first to use the term “credit card”. Ralph Schneider and Frank X. McNamara invented the concept of using cards to pay merchants in 1950. The Diners Club produces the first general purpose card, shortly followed by American Express and Carte Blanche. Western Union had begun a similar activity in 1914.

In 1958 the Bank of America provided the BankAmericard: the product that evolved into the actual Visa system. Mastercard appears in 1966 when some banks established MasterCharge.

Those who were traveling all over the country needed an effective way to make the necessary transactions. They needed to be able to take their credit anywhere and use banking facilities. Barclaycard, in 1966, in the UK, launched the credit card for the first time outside of the United States.

The card reaches huge adoption level in the United States, Canada and UK, but many cultures were cash-oriented in the last part of the 20th century. There are still many countries where the credit card system is poor, depending on the individual banking infrastructure.

The credit cards were not always made of plastic. They also consisted of metal, paper, celluloid, and fiber. In 1946 John Biggins invented the program that connected the local merchants to bank customers. The banks billed the customer, coming from the merchants that deposited sales figures into the bank.

France was very fast to develop chip-based credit cards and now this is the major anti-fraud credit feature. Now the design of the credit cards is important too. The customers are tempted to use the prettiest cards; they prefer best designed logos too. The personalized cards were used by Bank of Hawaii in 1969. They are delivered usually online by many specialized software firms.

Now, millions of families use the general-purpose credit cards, from many issuers, with the best conditions. This simple way to offer credit to customers is becoming more and more popular. Tips paid by credit cards are always welcome. We must remember that finance charges may be different depending on the method used by the creditors. All terms and conditions on the credit card use must be deeply understood. The bills must be promptly paid to keep the credit rating high and avoid important charges. Late payment charges must be avoided too. It is wise to keep a list of all credit card numbers. In case of theft or loss, this is the easier way to report the accident to the credit cards issuer.

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