The History of Credit Cards | Infographic

The History Of Credit Cards

References to credit cards date back to 1890 in Europe.

The use of credit cards originated in the United States during the 1920s, when individual firms, like oil companies and hotel chains, began issuing them to customers.

Early credit cards involved sales directly between the merchant offering the credit and credit card, and that merchant’s customer.

Credit cards were first promoted to traveling salesmen as a time-saving device rather than a form of credit.

The inventor of the first bank issued credit card was John Biggins of the Flatbush National Bank of Brooklyn in New York.

In 1946, Biggins invented the “Charge-It” program where the merchant deposits a sales slip, gives the sales slip the bank and then the bank bills the customer.

In an effort to capture customer loyalty, department stores and gas stations began to offer charge accounts for their customers which could be accessed by a card.

Unfortunately, people needed to bring dozens of these cards with them if they were to do a day of shopping.

Frank X McNamara, head of the Hamilton Credit Corporation, had the idea of needing only one credit card.

In 1950 McNamara started The Diners’ Club.

The Diners’ Club offers credit to individuals for many companies, then bills the customers and pays the companies instead of individual companies offering credit to their own customers whom they would bill later.

Credit Debt

1952: $100,000’s in total U.S. consumer credit ($160 per person)
1984: $.5 trillion in total U.S. consumer credit ($2,000 per person)
1996: $1 trillion in total U.S. consumer credit ($4,000 per person)
2012: $2.5+ trillion in total U.S. consumer credit ($8,800 per person)

Average credit card debt per household with credit card debt is $15,956.

A person uses a credit card 119 times each year.
An average of $88 is spent on each transaction, totalling $10,472 a year.

How many credit cards do people sign up for every year?

2005: 6 billion
2009: 1.3 billion
2007: 5.2 billion
2011: 4 billion

In 2009 the U.S. had about $156 million credit card holders. With about 1.4 billion cards in circulation, each credit card holder has eight credit cards.

Citibank: $381.6 million
Chase: $304.5 million
American Express: $94.1 million
Capital One: $91.3 million
Bank of America: $74.1 million
There were 4.9 billion credit cards sent in 2012.

Credit cards are used more than 20 billion times in a year. That’s $1.9 trillion total value in transactions.