Credit Card Facts – Top 10!!
They sit in your wallet, but, how much do you know about them? Credit cards are a huge part of most people’s everyday life, but, they’re a relatively recent phenomenon. A bit more about the history of this influential financial device:
- Store cards predate regular credit cards by as much as 50 years. Issued in the early 1900s, the first cards could be used only in the store where they were issued. They were offered as a convenience to build customer loyalty.
- The first card that is similar to the Visa and MasterCards in your wallet today was the Charg-It. This was offered in 1946 by a Brooklyn banker named John Biggins. Merchants in New York would forward customers’ bills to the bank and Biggins would pay them and deduct the amount from clients’ bank balances.
- The Diners Club card was established in 1949 after a businessman named Frank MacNamara was embarrassed by the discovery that he’d left his wallet home while out on a business dinner. Deciding that there had to be a more elegant option than cash, he set out to create the card, which was soon accepted at restaurants and hotels. By 1951, there were more than 20,000 people with Diners Club accounts.
- American Express got into the card game in 1959 with a purple charge card. Before jumping into charge cards, American Express had offered their famous travelers checks and acted as a competitor to the US Postal System.
- The first credit cards that resemble the revolving cards we have now were introduced in 1966. The first card was established by Bank of America and called the BankAmericard. Later on, it became the modern Visa card.
- MasterCard followed Visa quickly. Originally known as MasterCharge, it was created by a federation of banks working together to provide nationwide credit card coverage.
- Even though American Express got into charge cards early, it was awhile before the organization started offering revolving cards. Original American Express cards needed to be paid in full at the end of each month. In 1987, they began offering a revolving card that could carry a balance from month to month.
- 51% of Americans have two or more credit cards. On average, they carry a little less than $9,000 in credit card debt.
- 1 in 10 have 10 cards or more. That’s higher than the portion of Americans that hold Masters degrees (8%) and roughly equal to the number of people who are left-handed.
- A credit card is a credit card, right? Not so! The familiar magnetic strip in American cards is no longer the chosen standard overseas. In Europe, there’s been a migration toward EMV cards which feature a microchip instead of the magnetic strip. There are about 20 card issuers in the US that offer cards with the chips; they’re not a standard feature, but one offered to customers who travel overseas a lot.