- In 2012, there were 4.9 billion credit cards sent in the U.S.
- Credit cards are used more than 20 billion times in one year just in the U.S.
- Stacking all the credit cards in the United States would create a tower 288 miles high.
- In 1958, Bank of America introduced the first general-purpose credit card. They mailed 60,000 (unsolicited) real BankAmericard credit cards to the residents of Fresno, CA. By 1959, over 2 million cards had been “dropped.” Unfortunately, eventually 1 in 5 accounts became delinquent and credit card fraud became rampant. BoA lost $8.8 million with this project.
- According to federal law, the maximum liability for unauthorized card use is $50 per card and $0 for any charges after the card is reported lost or stolen.
- The first credit card hologram was introduced by MasterCard in 1983. It was created to help prevent counterfeit credit cards.
- MasterCard was initially named MasterCharge. It changed its name in 1979.
- The first company to use a credit card made out of plastic was American Express in 1959 (previous cards were made from cardboard or celluloid). It also introduced the first card made of anodized titanium (the Centurion Card or the “Black Card”).
- All credit cards everywhere are the same size: 85.60 mm x 53.98 mm.
- In 1959, the idea of a “revolving” balance was introduced. This means that cardholders could keep a balance on their credit card without having to pay it off completely every month. While it meant that customers might have to pay finance charges, it also meant that they had more flexibility.
- While early credit cards (Diners Club and American Express) functioned in a “closed-loop” system—which consisted of the consumer, the merchant, and the issuer of the card—in 1966, a national credit card system formed which allowed a “open-loop system,” which required interbank cooperation and funds transfer. Whereas VISA and MasterCard use an open-loop system, American Express, Diners Club, and Discover Card still use a closed-loop system.
- Excluding zero-balance cards and store cards, the average credit card debt per U.S. adult in 2013 was $4,878.
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