Although the original idea of the credit card was introduced by consumers and merchants, the commodity started becoming popular in the early 1900s as oil companies and department stores issued proprietary cards. At this point in time, these cards weren’t specifically developed to expand on material culture and make purchases easier, but it was designed to ensure customer loyalty and improving costumer service. In fact, they were so primitive that they were constructed of cardboard!
In the 1940s, Biggins Bank became the fist bank to commodify the credit card, which was then called a “Charg-it”. New York’s Franklin National Bank next took up credit cards only five years later for loan customers and account holders. Outside of banking, Frank McNamara assimilated the card to be used in New York’s Major’s Cabin Grill due to the fact that he had forgot his cash one night. At this time, the Diners Club Card was created and used mostly for travel and entertainment, but claims the title of the first credit card in widespread use.
Within the next year there were 20,000 Diners Club cardholders, showing extreme diffusion in a contiguous manner.
Other companies such as American Express (formed in 1850 for specialized deliveries) adopted the use of the credit card in 1958. In 1959, the card evolved into plastic thanks to American Express. Within the next five years, about 1 million cards were being used at about 85,000 establishments worldwide. In 1966, Bank of America established the BankAmerica Service Corporation that franchised the Visa to banks nationwide. More and more advancements in the card have taken place as cultural appropriation from different companies has become evident.
Credit cards have been one of the quickest growing materialistic objects due to their great convenience, ease to purchases and nothing preventing its rapid spread. It seems as if everyone now days has a credit card handy at all times. The use of the credit card has surely broadened both the banking, and business worlds over the past 60 years and its creation has led to online services such as PayPal and chips implanted in mobile devices. Consumers and merchants in the late 1800s have made peoples lives in the 21st century easier and more efficient thanks to their original idea of the credit card.