A Closer Look at the History of Credit Cards

Have you ever wondered how credit cards came to be? If you have then, join us as we take a close look at the brief history of these credit programs.

Where Did Credit Cards Originate?

Credit CardsAlthough the concept of credit has existed long before the first banks have been established in Europe, credit cards were only introduced in the US market, in the year 1920. Car owners back then were given cards they used for purchasing fuel.

But there was a catch – they can only use their cards in the gasoline stations and centers which issued them. Good thing that in the year 1938, most firms decided to accept cards even from their direct competitors. And the rest, as we all say, is history.

In 1950, the Diner’s Club introduced the very first multi-purpose credit card. Such card program gave consumers the ability to transact business, even without cash. All they had to do was charge their purchases, bills, and expenses on their credit cards. Then, at the end of the month, they will simply settle the transactions made on their card accounts.

In 1958 with the launch of the BankAmericard by Bank of America,​ credit card usuage in the US grew rapidily.  It was the first successful revolving credit financial system in the United States, where consumers could carry a balance month-to-month, paying a finance charge on the unpaid balance.

The success of BankAmericard led to its rebranding as Visa in 1976, which further expanded its reach and influence, both nationally and internationally.

Credit card usage around the world in order of country that uses credit cards the most

  1. United States
    • Credit Card Debt: Among the highest globally, with an average debt of $7,300 per cardholder carrying a balance​  .
    • Credit Score System: Uses the FICO score model, which ranges from 300 to 850​ 
    • Credit Card History:  Credit cards were first introduced in 1958 with the launch of the BankAmericard by Bank of America, which later became known as Visa​ 
  2. Canada
    • Credit Card Debt: Average credit card debt is around $4,000 per cardholder​  
    • Credit Score System: Similar to the U.S., Canada uses credit scores, primarily the FICO model, with scores ranging from 300 to 900​
    • Credit Card History: Although the specific year credit cards were first introduced isn’t readily available, the widespread use of credit cards followed similar trends as in the United States, given the close economic and cultural ties.
  3. South Korea
    • Credit Card Debt: Median credit card debt is approximately $1,815​  
    • Credit Score System: Uses a credit scoring system similar to the FICO model, though detailed range specifics are less frequently discussed in international summaries.
    • Credit Card History: Although the specific year credit cards were first introduced isn’t readily available, the widespread use of credit cards followed similar trends as in the United States, given the close economic and cultural ties.
  4. Hong Kong
    • Credit Card Debt: Median credit card debt is about $1,935​  
    • Credit Score System: Hong Kong has a credit scoring system that ranges from 1 (low) to 1,000 (high), somewhat akin to the FICO system​  
    • Credit Card History: Credit cards became popular in the late 1970s, coinciding with Hong Kong’s rapid economic growth and development as a global financial center.
  5. Norway
    • Credit Card Debt: Median credit card debt stands at $1,964​  
    • Credit Score System: Utilizes a credit score system; however, specific details about the model and range are less commonly detailed in international credit reporting summaries.
    • Credit Card History: Credit cards were introduced around the same time as in other Western countries, likely in the 1970s, following trends in Europe and North America.

Now, more than 90 years from the time the use of cards have been first employed by gas stations, we still enjoy the great benefits of managing credit cards, especially for covering the costs we incur, on a daily basis.

bad credit credit cards

Elizabeth Roberts

Elizabeth Roberts

Liz Roberts and her team are continuously providing information to people who are ready to repair their credit and improve their credit score. Also NewHorizon.org team strives to empower the homebased and small business owners by bringing information that can help them to manage and grow their businesses. Let our 24+ years of business finance experience help you to get the financing you need! CONTACT US if need financing for your business.

13 Comments
  1. Nice article, very informative. Please also visit my site about free debt consolidation programs and services

  2. That’s a very interesting credit cards history, people today are so well familiarized with credit cards that it’s hard to believe the they appeared about half century ago. You got that perfectly right: “for many people, owning a credit card has become a lifestyle” considering that the wide majority of products and services today

  3. I think everyone at some time or another has gotten a low interest credit card offer in the mail but few people read the entire agreement and get stuck with really high interest rates that ends up ruining their credit when they cant pay the cards back.

  4. It is very Nice article, very informative very interesting credit cards history valuable information
    providing.

  5. Depending on the rewards card you choose, you can earn cash back on each purchase, travel discounts or free travel, or points towards merchandise based on how much you spend on your card. People who use a card all month long for all expenditures and pay them back in full each month can quickly build up rewards and really get more for their dollar than people paying with cash or non-rewards cards.

  6. Secured credit cards come with high interest rates and annual fee. Do your research to find a card with minimum additional charges.

  7. Debt mediators can help you with debt problems through debt consolidation with debt agreements and advice on bankruptcy

  8. Credit limit depends on your credit rating. If you don’t have a good credit rating, you may be denied a higher limit.

  9. Credit card makes our simpler. We can buy any thing wherever we go. People who use a card all month long for all expenditures and pay them back in full each month can quickly build up rewards and really get more for their dollar than people paying with cash or non-rewards cards. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Reply
    travel northern europe May 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    History of credit cards seems to be interested .Perhaps credit cards change the way of life but cash money has it’s own value.We can’t use credit cards in rural areas.

  11. Reply
    discount shopping June 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

    nice blog i think credit card makes our life so easy like we can buy anything without going anywhere.

  12. I’m glad that worked out for you, but I don’t encourage people to create credit files in their children’s names. You REALLY lucked out! More often than not when people tell me about their parents creating credit files for them, they usually turn 18 and find that they have terrible credit. Make sure you thank your parents!

  13. my parents got a credit card in my name before I even knew about it and started to build my credit for me, i’m able to get unsecured business loans now and have excellent credit.

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NewHorizon.org is an independent, advertising supported website. The owner of the site may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. NewHorizon.org has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace.

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