Before the invention of the plastic transactions-cards we see today (gift cards, debit cards, etc.) there was the Charga-Plate, invented in 1928 and used until the 1950s. It was a metal sheet with folded over edges, just a bit bigger than a military dog tag, and it even held small signature card. Retailers gave these out in mass to their customers, and they were used to speed-up the recording of transactions as they would be used to notarize a sale in a way similar to that of a stamp. Charga-Plates were also sometimes held by the retailers and kept in storage until the transaction.
The First Prototypes
Considering the history of the credit card, it is ironic that the most popular rewards programs for credit cards today are the ones where consumers rack up air miles. In 1934, American Airlines came out with the Air Travel Card, which allowed customers to purchase airlines tickets on credit. By 1948, the Air Travel Card had become accepted internationally by airlines all over the world. Then in 1950, the Diners Club card came out, and became the first card to be casually accepted by any business in the restaurant, bar and club industry. Any accumulated charges to a Diners Club card had to be paid off periodically in full, but transactions were charged 7% whether the payment was timely or not.
The Birth Of Revolving Credit
Finally in 1958 American Express had built the world’s first revolving credit system, wherein multiple retailers could participate in using transacting cards issued to consumers by a third-party bank. Although it was Bank of America that had invented what we know of as the modern credit card in the same year. MasterCard was then founded in 1966, although at first it went by “Interbank” and then “Master Charge” in 1969, and finally MasterCard in 1979. The company was also the first credit card company to print laser embedded holograms on their cards for security in 1983. And wouldn’t you be surprised to know that the magnetic strip became the global standard for credit cards ten years before in 1974?
The Wild West of Credit
Since the Truth In Lending Act of 1968, the methods for determining annual percentage rates (APR) were standardized, ending the pioneering age of the credit industry. Before this, rates were sometimes quoted on a monthly basis, or calculated in such a way to disguise higher and often unfair rates. Thus the consumer unfortunately lay vulnerable to such and other such exploitation. Nowadays the credit industry provides more protection to its customers, as riskier policies are only dealt to those with disciplined credit, while for others it offers secured cards in which the card-holder is obligated to deposit a minimum security payment of the amount he or she wants to be lent to build credit. APR is also adjustable, but to date most credit cards one can apply for will start at 17%.
The Modern Credit Card
Today there are a variety of different credit cards each with policies catering to one’s relationship with their credit. For disciplined users with excellent credit there are even a myriad of benefits and perks that can come from using their credit card. This is why most Norwegians own a credit card or for the flight bonuses, cash-back services and shopping discounts. If you want to know what makes a beste kredittkort then look no further. Credit cards also an answer to incidents like unexpected bills or if you blow a car tire. They can therefore play a vital role in one’s sense of security for times where one is low on cash. In Norway’s market credit cards allow a minimum of 45 days interest-free. This allows the average Norwegian multiple pay periods to work and pay off temporarily accrued debt.
Into The modern Age
This next trend of the modern age I discuss will have you wondering what all this build-up about credit cards was for. Don’t be alarmed, but these days more and more consumers are turning away from credit cards and looking to technology- Or in better terms- they are turning to credit and away from cards by using their smartphones instead to make secure, regulated transactions. The truth is 3 out of every 4 consumers with a credit or debit card has made an online transaction in the past month, which means that the need for actual plastic and all of its physical security features is phasing out.
We Like Physical Money
But this is not the end for plastic money. As with the Diners Club, ironically, human beings will always head of their homes to go eat at a restaurant or meet their friends at a bar, which means that people will always get a chance to physically swipe a card (so long as apple pay and other phone-only payment services never truly catch on!). There is something gratifying, too, about having to ‘go and pay’ by taking a hard, physical representation of ones wealth and actively gesturing with one’s arm to make physical contact in order to solidify transactions.