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Created on 04.05.2020

Who invented it? A brief history of the credit card

You realize you’re absolutely starving, but have nothing in the fridge, or that you’ve forgotten to get a present for a birthday coming up? This is where the credit card comes in which – thanks to its widespread acceptance – can be an absolute lifesaver. And soon enough, that food delivery or present will arrive. Having credit cards is so handy. But who actually invented them?

Special credit cards have been around since 1894

In the USA, credit cards have been in circulation since 1894. They were initially given to good guests by hotels, and from the 1920s onwards, oil suppliers, restaurant chains, warehouses and airlines would also hand them out to good customers. These customers were then able to buy things on credit from the business that issued the card. 

And then, in 1950, a businessman forgot his wallet

What distinguishes these cards from today’s credit cards is the fact that the early ones were not universal, and could only be used with the business that issued the card. The groundwork for the credit card as we know it today was done by a forgetful businessman in New York. Frank McNamara was having dinner at a restaurant, but he couldn’t pay the bill because he’d left his cash in another suit. This is what prompted him to found the Diners Club with a business partner, and to launch a credit card of the same name on the market. With this card, you could dine on credit in dozens of New York restaurants. Businesses from other industries and countries would soon follow suit.

Credit cards today

These days, we can scarcely imagine life without credit cards (which are now made of plastic instead of paper, and have a contactless feature). According to The link will open in a new window Statista, 53.7% of credit card holders use their credit card often to very often. With a credit card you always have your finances under control. It provides so many useful features:

  • a bonus programme including cashback on sales turnover
  • In e-finance and the PostFinance App, you can block and unblock credit cards yourself
  • You can, on request, receive a free SMS for each transaction
  • In e-finance and the PostFinance App, you have the option of putting additional credit on your credit card in the blink of an eye (for instance if your credit card limit is not high enough to pay a larger amount)

Handy, right? Get an overview online now of which credit card suits you best and make a selection at your leisure.

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