People have always changed and borrowed, and borrowing, for example, is by no means new or revolutionary. On the other hand, credit cards as a means of payment and a form of loan not inherited from our culture since the Stone Age, their history is a bit shorter (though more sophisticated).
Here’s a rough look at credit card history. Did you know, for example, that credit cards came to Finland in the 1960s and that the history of credit cards can be considered to have begun in the hotel chain? Read more!
Hotels at the forefront of development
The first credit card payment method was developed and introduced by a hotel chain called Good Finance Company. Not surprisingly, even today, credit cards and hotel bookings go hand in hand, especially in the US, where hotel rooms are usually not rented except by credit card.
With the advent of the 20th century, payment bolts were introduced. The idea here was that you did not have to pay in real coins or other so-called real money, but instead could use a token. The bolts usually had a hole in the middle, allowing more bolts to be inserted into the string.
Tickets were usually given to customers who had a credit account at, for example, department stores or hotels. “Credit account” may sound like a stranger to the term, but for a long time, for example, milk was always bought in Finland from the dairy shops to credit.
The first debit cards and the First World War
It was during World War I, in 1914, that Western Union, known as a telecommunications company, began to offer its regular customers a payment card. It was not really a credit card, but a payment card, so the credit had to be paid off in one month.
However, since it was a credit for that month, the card was first given to regular customers – those who were considered trustworthy.
Airport credit cards on a world map
In 1934, American Airlines introduced the Air Travel Card. Today, point credit cards are part of the credit card portfolio of many companies.
A credit point card means that you collect credit points for your purchases. Each purchase usually earns a certain amount of points. When you have enough points, you can pay for a flight or hotel booking, for example.
First credit cards
The first credit cards were introduced in the United States (anywhere else?). At the time, the idea was behind McNamara, who developed the Diners Club card, which by its name was a card that could initially pay for its meals.
Soon, credit cards began to spread from the United States and the lunch payment card to a worldwide payment instrument.
Payment cards spread to Finland in the 1950s – around the same time as Armi Kuusela was crowned Miss Universe (a race once owned by the current US President, Donald Trump) and the Olympics were held in Finland.
Payment cards first came to Finland as gas cards for big oil companies.
The 60’s brought credit cards to Finland
The first credit cards were expected in Finland in the 1960s. However, they did not immediately gain immense popularity, but spread only in the 1980s, thanks to the economic boom and the slow start of globalization.
In the 1980s, approximately 1.2 million credit cards were used in Finland and approximately 20 million transactions were processed. The numbers are high, but so has it, since in 2010 there were 3.4 million credit cards in Finland and a staggering 146 million transactions.