When Was the First Credit Card Issued?


Quick Answer

The first card that allowed holders to buy in a variety of stores and pay over time was BankAmericard, issued in 1959. Created by Bank of America, then a California bank, the credit card was franchised to other banks around the country in 1966. BankAmericard evolved into Visa in 1976.

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Full Answer

Charge cards for specific department stores and oil companies started in the early 1900s. These cards were used to inspire brand loyalty. The first card that could be used in more than one store was created in Brooklyn in 1946. Cardholders had an account at a specific bank, and shop owners forwarded a bill to the bank for payment. The next evolution came in 1950 with the creation of the Diners Club card, which had widespread acceptance but was used primarily for meals and entertainment. These were considered charge cards, rather than credit cards, as users still had to pay off their balance monthly.

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