The origin of the credit card

Credit cards are part of our everyday life, and we can hardly imagine the world without them. Long before it was actually invented, author Edward Bellamy referred to a “credit card” in his 1887 science-fiction novel Looking Backward or Life in the Year 2000. The first physical credit card was born in the US in 1914, when Western Union and General Petroleum Corporation began issuing paper cards to selected automobile owners every three to six months.
The universal credit card was first dreamed up in 1949. Frank McNamara, a businessman, founded Diners Club with his partner, and began to issue credit cards made of cardboard. Just one year later, some 42,000 credit cards were in circulation, accepted by 330 businesses.

Milestones in the history of the credit card

as of 1914

Credit cards issued by Western Union and General Petroleum Corporation


Issue of the first universal credit card, Diners Club founded


Founding of Eurocard in Sweden


Founding of National Bank Americard Inc


Americard becomes Visa Card


GrĂ¼ndung Founding of Eurocard (Switzerland) S.A. by Swiss banks


Bank Finalba issues first Visa in Switzerland


Eurocard becomes MasterCard®