History of credit cards

History of credit cards

By admin

Back to early 90’s, there were only the traditional coins and paper currency. Later some people introduced the idea of using a credit card in the market. This idea was not new. But it was an advanced and altered idea. If we look back into the history, we will find that Mesopotamia civilization started using credit card system. At that time, only copper was available to make coins with. It was too expensive. So, making coins from copper was not a good idea in any sense.

This was the reason those people thought about a new idea. That was much similar to the credit cards we use today. They introduced clay slates to make payments to other civilizations. The required data and information were embedded on it. It could be used for purchasing different items. By this way, they controlled the excessive use of copper. They introduced a new system which is still in use. We can easily find some other civilizations too. Different ancient civilizations used credit card like systems at their times. Back to 9000 BC, people used to sell and buy items using silver and gold plates. At that time, the exchange was most popular way of purchasing and selling anything. However, physical money like coins also existed. They used to shop using the coins.

We can say that our ancestors used gold and silver plates for selling and purchasing. It was easy just like today’s credit cards facilities. By time, the ideas of credit card used to be improved by the people. Today, we are using it in its latest form. Lets discuss everything about the history of credit cards in detail.

What is a credit card?

What is a credit card?
What is a credit card?

The modern credit card is a plastic card in which the digital information is embedded. The machines read and use the information on cards. It means you cannot find out how much money is available in the card. The information of card holder is printed on it. The other information like the issued date and date expired are also printed. A credit card can be used to purchase different items. There is no need to actually exchanging the physical money. You can just use a credit card and purchase something. Whether we talk about large store or we consider banks and small shops, we can use credit cards. It is the best alternative of money.

The processing system of credit card is simple. Every credit card is linked with a bank. It provides different facilities to the user. In other words, the bank offers the suitable usage of credit card in different places. You just need to pay a specific amount of money. It is deducted from your overall balance. This is how a credit card works.

Types of historic credit cards


Today, we have plastic and hard polymer cards. These can be used to make payments. However, plastic was not available in the older times. Back to different times, different civilizations used various types of credit card. All of these credit card ideas were very different from one another. However, the main idea was same. It was using a card or plate to make payments. The first ever credit cards were used by back to 9000 BC. At that time, people used silver and gold plates as a credit card. After that, around 5000 years ago, different civilizations used metallic credit cards. Those metallic cards were different from one another. Those cards were made of a metal. A piece of paper was attached on the back of such cards. All the holder’s information was printed on this paper. The buyer could easily use the card to get the payments. Similarly, in the banks, these credit cards were used where two options were available. The first one was holding the card with yourself which was a bit difficult. The other one was using the seller’s cards at the shopping place. The buyer was able to use the regarding credit card to exchange his payment.

Besides this, numerous credit card types were there in the early 1800’s and mid 90’s. Those credit cards were simple. They used to make from different stuff. At that time, the credit cards were used in banks and larger store. There were a few merchants who were using credit cards. Later on, credit cards spread to everyone and now almost every person uses it.

Modern history of credit cards

We have discussed the early history of credit cards where people used silver and gold plates. They also used clay tablets and plates to buy different items. Now let’s talk about the modern history of credit card. We will discuss how and when did the credit card introduced in the global market. How the credit cards were evolved. Today, the credit cards which we are using are the advanced type of the starting credit cards.

Early charga plates

Early charga plates
Early charga plates

In the modern history of credit cards, the charga plates were introduced at first. These plates were made of a metal and a piece of paper was attached with it. This type of credit card was used in the US. Charga plate was introduced in 1928. That was the time when people felt the need of physical money’s alternative. The plate had a paper attached. On that, all the transactions and payment information were printed. When a user wanted to pay some amount of money, a printer was used. It embedded the information on the plate. The written information on the paper was also updated regarding to the user’s current account balance. Before charga plates, the US and other military’s used dog tag system. That was very similar to credit card system. So, the starting credit card ideas was influenced by the dog tag system. The charga plates were kept in stores. The user could buy anything according to his needs using charga plates. After purchasing, the receiver updated the card and it could be used again in the future.

Air travel card

Air travel card
Air travel card

After the development of Charga plates, the American Airlines introduced a new credit card system. Its name was Air Travel Card which was introduced in 1934. This was the simplified version of the charga plate. Their initial concept was to give their customers the option to pay easily. There were no restrictions. They also introduced “Buy now and pay later” system which became very popular. This system was very simple. The user was available to buy air tickets with the air travel card. However, it was not necessary to pay at that time. You could buy tickets with the air travel card and you had the option to pay later. This service was introduced first time in the history. With the popularity of air travel card, several other companies and agencies introduced their card system. Right after 6 years of air travel card’s launch, almost all US airline companies offered air card system. After a few more years, more than half of the international airlines used to offer such cards. Not just this, several companies offered installment plans. That was enough for easy payment and exchanging of funds. It means the air travel card was a great and successful launch.

Local credit cards

The early credit cards were only used by some specific companies or brands. In other words, you were not able to use the credit cards everywhere. You did not use cards in shipping malls, stores or other places. They were limited to the specific companies. However, later on, a few companies launched local credit cards. These cards were great as you could buy anything with these cards. Every store and shopping place were allowed to accept payments through these cards. However, there was a problem with these cards. The problem was their local use only. It means you were able to use the cards in the local markets and shops only. You were not allowed to use it to make international payments. Furthermore, these credit cards used to expire or stop working on other regions of the world. To overcome this situation, a global credit card was required which was made later on.

Global credit cards

With the high demand of credit cards, a global system was required. It was necessary to allow the users to buy goods in the international market too. However, this was a difficult process. The main problem with this idea was bank integration. Without associating cards with banks, you could not use credit cards internationally. Several ideas were made for the global credit cards. But every idea used to fail as this was not possible without bank integration. So, the global credit card idea failed.

Basically, the local credit cards were issued by different merchants. They accepted the cards for several purposes. These merchants were everywhere but only in the local market. Another thing to consider was their scope in the local market. Only a few merchants for each card were available in the market. So, you could not buy each and everything by using only a single card. Similarly, on the other hands, there were limited people who were using the credit cards. Those all credit cards used to issue by a specific merchant. They were buying items from them and they were accepting the payments. However, these credit cards were not applicable at other merchants. This was another problem with local credit cards. At this time, a lot of banks tried to associate some merchants with them. But this idea failed too because of limited merchants and credit card users. If a bank were to issue a credit card with their association, only a limited people could use their services. The other merchants were not allowed to access that bank’s services. That merchant’s users were also not allowed to use the credit card with the bank’s services. All the merchants rejected to have a single bank association. The credit card users did the same. So, this idea was flopped and there was a need to improve the process.

BankAmericard Master Charge system

BankAmericard Master Charge system
BankAmericard Master Charge system

In 1958, only local credit cards had been used in different regions of the USA. So, the Bank of America introduced a new system. That's names was BankAmericard in Fresno, California. This idea fixed the problem of global credit card. Bank of America issued the cards to more than 60000 residents at one. It means more than 60000 people had the same credit card service at the same time. Besides this, they had the facility to use the bank’s services with their credit cards. By issuing credit cards to such huge number of people, all the merchants decided to go with their services. The BankAmericard and Master Charge system became popular. All the merchants launched their card services with the same facility. The best thing about BankAmericard system was international use. People were able to use these credit cards both locally and internationally. This was the first huge successful idea in the history of credit cards. Then after time to time, several credit card companies were established. These companies included Visa, American Express and MasterCard. All of these companies used the same idea which was designed by BankAmericard.

Today’s credit cards

Today’s credit cards
Today’s credit cards

Today, we have the advanced form of credit cards. We use them in our daily lives. From purchasing a new phone to buying a car, we use credit cards. Credit cards are easier to take and efficient in paying. You don’t need to take a lot of money with yourself. If you are a businessman and deal a lot with payments, credit card helps you.

Moreover, if you are going to buy an expensive thing, you only need to carry your credit card. You dont require to take cash bundles. Now, almost every bank on the world is associated with any credit card service. All of these services are provided by the banks both locally and internationally. The companies take some interest from the payment. Users can easily make their payments. So, we can say that credit cards have been evolved since the evolution of mankind.


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