American Inventions – Credit Card

In America cash is exponentially becoming a thing of the past. With the use of Credit Cards skyrocketing and all the benefits companies offer in their use not one person at Hancock International College lives without a Credit Card. Our ESL students often times are sponsored by parents and loved ones and they are able to access money from their sponsors by using a card as well. So where did they come from? And why is it so strange to carry cash for most Americans these days? Let’s learn about the Credit Card. says, “The use of credit cards originated in the United States during the 1920s, when individual firms, such as oil companies and hotel chains, began issuing them to customers for purchases made at company outlets. The first universal credit card, which could be used at a variety of establishments, was introduced by the Diners’ Club, Inc., in 1950. Another major card of this type, known as a travel and entertainment card, was established by the American Express Company in 1958…

A later innovation was the bank credit card system, in which the bank credits the account of the merchant as sales slips are received and assembles the charges to be billed at the end of the period to the cardholder… The first national plan was BankAmericard, begun on a statewide basis by the Bank of America in California in 1958, licensed in other states beginning in 1966, and renamed VISA in 1976–77… The growing reach of credit networks allowed a person to make credit card purchases on a national and, eventually, international scale. The system has spread to all parts of the world.

In the late 20th century, credit card use began to increase dramatically, with many customers soon outspending their earnings. Users who were unable to make the monthly payments on outstanding balances accrued on high-interest cards were subsequently hit with hefty penalty fees and quickly fell into default. The recession and rising unemployment that accompanied the global financial crisis of 2008–09 led to a rise in defaults as consumers were increasingly forced to rely on credit. In April 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights, which would provide additional consumer protections and restrict or eliminate credit card industry practices deemed unfair or abusive. Credit card debt is typically higher in industrialized countries such as the United States—the world’s most indebted country—the United Kingdom, and Australia. Nonindustrialized countries and countries with strict bankruptcy laws such as Germany, however, tend to have relatively low credit card debt.”

“Today there are more than 2 billion credit cards being used around the world. On February 9, 1950, there were three.”(

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Idiom of the Day

Take Charge

Meaning: To take (over) control of someone or something.

Example: When the new manager took charge, things really began to happen.