According to MasterCard, John Biggins, a banker in New York, was the inventor of the first bank issued credit card.
In 1946, Biggins invented the “Charge-it” program to run between bank customers and local merchants.
When a customer used the card for a purchase, the bill was forwarded to Biggins’ bank by the merchant. The bank then obtained the payment from the customer.
The next step in the history of credit cards was the Diners Club Card, which some claim to be the first credit card in widespread use.
According to a representative from the Diners Club, in 1949 a man called Frank McNamara attended a business dinner in a restaurant in New York. When the bill arrived at the table, Frank realised he didn’t have any cash on him. He managed to talk his way out of the problem but decided there should be a way to pay for things without using cash.
He came up with the Diners Club Card, a small cardboard card that could be used to pay for entertainment and travel in selected venues.
By 1951, there were 20,000 Diners Club cardholders and by 1961 the card was changed from cardboard to plastic.