Credit Where Credit Is Due: A History of Credit Cards

Credit Where Credit Is Due: A History of Credit Cards

Many of you reading this might be too young to realize that the credit card, as we know it, is a very recent invention.  Yes, that piece of plastic you rely on  didn’t even exist just 50 years ago! Before then, no one had credit cards at all…so what did people do before plastic?

The History of Credit Cards

We did a little digging and came across the charming story of the father of modern day credit cards – a businessman named Frank McNamara. Frank was out at a business dinner in 1949 when he realized he had left his wallet in his other suit. He had to call his wife to ran over with it so he had the cash (yes – cash) to pay for dinner.  That night he devised a little idea so he would never be embarrassed like that again – and the Diner’s Club card was born!  Diner’s Club was developed for convenience sake – not so you could go out and charge a really expensive meal you could not otherwise afford! Sadly, today we’ve gone way beyond Frank’s original intention…


How Did People Live Before Credit Cards?

Today's consumers can't even imagine a world without credit cards. How could we shop online? So, what did people do before Frank’s invention? They mainly used cash, personal checks and the layaway system, which is making a small comeback.  But as modern conveniences became more accessible and people’s lives became more transient, people began to travel far from home more often to places where their faces might not be recognized to take a personal check.  Because of this, the charge card gained even more popularity.  Not only was it a convenient option, but it gave both vendors and consumers peace of mind!


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