Op-Ed

The Logbook: A brief history of the credit card

Quick Take

  • The first credit card-like instruments were in the form of charge coins issued by department stores in the mid-1860s

  • After Charge Coins came Charge Plates, which were introduced in the mid-1930s

  • The invention of the first general-use credit card, the Diners Club card, is often credited to Frank McNamara, a finance executive

Recently we’ve seen new Bitcoin startups like Lolli and BlockFi exploring ways to offer credit cards with bitcoin rewards. The modern credit card has gone through multiple iterations before ending up at the rectangular plastic cards we are now familiar with.

The first credit card-like instruments took the form of charge coins issued by department stores in the mid-1860s.