The founder of Safeway supermarkets was a preacher who felt that credit purchases were evil, and named his cash-only stores to promote the “safe way to shop”.
In 1888, Edward Bellamy predicted the credit card. He wrote a book called “looking backwards” in which everyone uses a mechanical device to monitor and use their money/credit. The device he describes is almost identical to the credit card we are today.
Up to the early 1970s, credit cards were reserved for men, women could get a credit card if their husbands cosigned on the application. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (1974) made it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or marital status.
In 1958, Bank of America mass mailed 60,000 unsolicited credit cards, with a credit line of $500, to residents of Fresno, California. They chose Fresno so that if the plan failed, it wouldn’t get much media coverage. The program was wildly successful and marked the birth of Visa.
The concept of using a card for purchases was described in 1887 by Edward Bellamy in his utopian novel Looking Backward. Bellamy used the term credit card eleven times in this novel, although this referred to a card for spending a citizen’s dividend from the government, rather than borrowing.
In 1958, as an experiment, Bank of America mailed 60,000 residents of Fresno, California a small plastic card with a $500 credit line. Bank of America figured if it failed, there would be no media coverage because it was in Fresno. The experiment was hugely successful and the program became Visa.
A man wrote his own credit card contract then sued the bank for breaking the contract’s terms.
Until 1974, banks could (and usually would) refuse to issue a credit card to a woman unless she was married and her husband co-signed for the card. A divorced woman was considered too much of a risk because she “couldn’t keep a marriage under control.”
A Russian man, mad with an unsolicited credit card offer, scanned, edited, printed, and sent it back. The bank approved 0% interest, no fees, unlimited credit, and paying $182,000 for cancelling his account. They sued him years later, he won, and he’s counter-suing them for closing his account.