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Incredible True Story of the Very First Credit Card

The Birth Of The Credit Card

The Birth Of The Credit Card
  • The concept of a multiple-establishment credit card came in the mind of Frank X. McNamara in 1949, when he had forgotten his wallet and was unable to pay for his dinner at a fancy restaurant, where he was dining with his relatives.
  • Store-specific credit accounts were used at that time, but a single credit card capable of handling all merchant establishments, and involving a middleman company, was never thought of before.

McNamara founded The Diners Club, the first credit card company, in 1950.

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Incredible True Story of the Very First Credit Card

Incredible True Story of the Very First Credit Card

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-first-credit-card-1779328

thoughtco.com

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Key Ideas

The Birth Of The Credit Card

  • The concept of a multiple-establishment credit card came in the mind of Frank X. McNamara in 1949, when he had forgotten his wallet and was unable to pay for his dinner at a fancy restaurant, where he was dining with his relatives.
  • Store-specific credit accounts were used at that time, but a single credit card capable of handling all merchant establishments, and involving a middleman company, was never thought of before.

McNamara founded The Diners Club, the first credit card company, in 1950.

Convenience In The Pocket

The initial card offered by Diners Club didn’t involve revolving credit, and the dues were to be paid off in full by the end of the month. The credit cards that we see now came much later.

Initially targeted at salespeople, the company started charging a $3 annual fee and also charged the establishments 7 per cent for each transaction. The paper-based cards showed tremendous growth in a year, with 20,000 people using it.

Status Symbol

Eventually, the Diners Card became a status symbol and more and more establishments began to trust it. The company printed a list of participating merchants for the help of the members.

Innovative ideas, like associate cards for married women who wanted to shop in the afternoon using their husbands money became popular.

The Concept Of A Universal Credit Card

The founder of the card didn’t think this ‘fad’ would last long and sold off his shares in 1952.

With American Express coming in the picture in 1958 and two banks started their personal credit card business at the same time (MasterCard and Visa), the concept of a universal credit card turned into a multi-billion dollar business.

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