Did you know – around 150 years ago, Edward Bellamy wrote a science fiction time-travel novel called Looking Backward 2000-1887. It was translated into various languages and sold over a million copies. In Chapter 9 of this 150-year-old novel, Edward introduced a concept that we use today – CREDIT CARDS! In the socialist utopia that Bellamy created, every citizen receives an equal amount of credit.
Credit cards became a reality in the mid-20th century, and in 2023, we have moved a step ahead. Now, we can pay our credit card bills, with ease, from the comfort of our bed via our mobile phones.
In 1934, American Airlines and the Air Transport Association issued the first credit card known as the Air Travel Card. With an Air Travel Card, passengers could “buy now, and pay later” for a ticket against their credit and receive a 15 percent discount at any of the accepting airlines. By the 1940s, all of the major US airlines offered Air Travel Cards that could be used on 17 different airlines.
In 2023, you can not only use credit cards for air travel but also for going 2 km from your house in a cab. The discounts are there as well and have gotten better with time. Now you can get cashback and reward points, not only when you use your credit cards but even when you make payments for those credit cards. American Airlines wishes they came up with that.
The first universal credit card was introduced in 1950 by the Diners’ Club. It was initially intended as a charge card for travel and entertainment expenses. The card allowed customers to charge their expenses at select restaurants and hotels, and they would receive a bill at the end of each month. However, the Diners’ Club card wasn’t made of plastic like modern credit cards. Instead, it was made of cardboard, similar to a paperboard material. The cardholder’s name and account number were printed on the front, and the card had to be signed to be validated.
What the next innovation is going to be in the credit card space is anyone’s guess but with the need for credit going up around the world and specially in India, credit cards are here to stay.