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Brief History of Credit Cards.


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1920's- Certain gas stations began to issue charge cards. Most were good at just that individual station


1947- Flatbush National Bank, Brooklyn NY issues the "Charge it" card. The card could be used at several area merchants- who would have to bring their receipts to the bank for payment. The bank would then bill the consumers.


1950- the Diners’ Club issued the first credit card in the United States, useful for New York restaurant bills only.

27 restaurants accepted the card as payment. The founder of Diner's club misplaced his wallet one night at dinner. Determined to never be embarrassed by this again, he created the card.


1958- American Express first issued cards usable at various retailers, not restricted to restaurants. Not truly a credit card, charges were required to be repaid monthly.


1958- BankAmerica issued the BankAmericard (now Visa), the first bank credit card. They are Bank of America now, after merger with Nations bank in 1998. This was truly a credit card, not requiring the full balance to be repaid monthly.


1962 Plastic replaces cardboard and metal as the material of choice for cards.


1966- the Interbank Card Association was formed, later known as Mastercharge, and Mastercard. This was the first credit card that was issued by multiple banks.


1986- Dean Witter Financial Services Group introduced the Discover Card.

Sears Consumer Financial Corporation changed its name to NOVUS Credit Services Inc in 1993, and they all became Morgan Stanley following a merger in 1997.



BTW, Bank of America is generally credited with starting "banker's hours"- closing the banks at 3pm.


Back in the 1940's, Bank of America (The Transamerica Corporation) was the largest bank on the west coast.

Soldiers in WW2 were using the bank quite heavily, resulting in the need to close the bank at 3pm in order to process the checks by 5pm!


BA pioneered modern electronic check recognition and processing in order to cope with the volume of checks, and as a result- had significantly higher efficiency than other banks. What took many man-hours at other banks was done via automation at Bank of America..

This efficiency and speed allowed it to expand, and in the 1970's, it became the worlds' largest banking institution.

Citibank later took that distinction, outgrowing BofA by purchasing up several smaller banks. Citibank is now being challenged by HSBC....

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