Previously, there were cards that were neither bank nor ordinary plastic ones. The purpose of these cards was to confirm the credit capacity of the cardholder outside the bank. In 1914, some enterprises and oil companies began issuing special tickets to their richest regular customers in order to connect these customers with their business entities.
In 1928, Boston’s Farrington Manufacturing company produced the first metal plates and then plastic ones on the surface of which the data on the cardholder and the term of the card validity were indicated. The process of applying of relief symbols to the metal was called embossing. The seller put such plate in a special machine called an imprinter and the letters stamped on it were printed on the sales receipt.
The era of a modern universal credit card began in 1949 with the formation of the “Diners’ Club.” Alfred Bloomingdale, Frank McNamara, and Ralph Schneider presented a plan for a new type of cards. The card should become universal and allow doing shopping throughout the country. Already in 1951, the “Diners’ Club” issued the first license to use its name and scheme in the UK.
On October 1, 1958, the first American Express card was issued. In a year, this company had more than 475,000 cardholders. In the 1950s, more than one hundred American banks began their credit programs. However, a fundamentally new period in the development of cards began when the first and second largest American banks joined it: Bank of America and Chase Manhattan Bank.
With the growth of card programs, most banks have faced the main obstacle – the locality of the service network of their plastics. In that way, in 1966, Bank of America began giving licenses to issue BankAmericard plastics to other banks. In response to this, several large competitive banks of Bank of America established their Interbank Card Association. In 1969, this association bought the rights to Master Charge, which further developed into Master Card.
Initially, the universal cards were divided into the ones for travel and entertainment and purely bank ones. The first ones were manufactured by Diners’ Club, American Express, Carte Blanche and were mainly used to pay for hotels and restaurants, that is, mainly for traveling businessmen. At the same time, those issued by banks had a more consumer character and were intended for ordinary customers.
At the end of 1992 EuroCard International merged with the EuroCheck payment system. The new organization began to be called Europay International. Beginning from the 1990s and up to the present, VISA and MasterCard payment systems are the dominant ones in the world of financial transactions carried out through credit cards. Apart from, of course, American Express – the leader in tourism and entertainment. Technologies continue to develop, and cards evolve all the time.