These days, credit cards can be used to make payments. But it wasn’t always that way. In the 1920s, there was a significant shift in the tech world that has affected our lives in the world we live in today.

Companies involved in the oil trade and others in the hotel sector started issuing credit cards to their customers in the United States of America. 


That made a significant shift not only in the tech world. It also created a considerable stride in affecting the USA’s economy. Credit cards are considered the cornerstone of America’s economy today. 

Example of what credit cards look like

First Idea of Credit Cards

The first idea of credit cards was started back in the 1790s. Though it wasn’t much of a credit card per se, it was more of a credit system. 


During those times, farmers could get seeds on credit, and they would then pay for them after harvest. This was just in the early years, though, and that’s how far credit cards can be traced. That’s before the merging of the credit and the card happened in the 1920s.

The Great Merge

We have already seen that a merge had to happen for us to be having the credit cards that everyone waves around today. That’s what’s referred to here as the “great merge.Most companies felt that they needed to identify customers with their accounts quickly. 

This had to be done with a physical and also mobile object. And that’s when, sometime between the 1920s-1930s, credit was merged to a card. 

Early Years of the Credit Cards

In the early years of the credit card, it was mainly used by specific companies to help their customers finance their purchases. For example, if you did not have enough money to pay for gas and you had the company’s credit card, you’d still be able to buy gas. 

It was a way to ensure that loyal customers never lacked what they wanted from the company. It was also a smart way for companies to keep customers loyal to them. 

The Evolving Card

At some point, everything, whether good or bad, has to evolve and match the changing times. With credit cards, it wasn’t any different. With the ever-changing tech world, the changes have been meteoric. 

In the 1920s-1930s, metal coins and medals quickly evolved to rectangular metallic cards. These cards were primarily used to pay for gas and hotels for the specific hotels that offered the service. 

In the 1940s, the trend continued with the rectangular metallic cards, but there was a huge step forward. The airlines joined suit and started allowing travelers to purchase a ticket using credit cards.

In the 1950s, the card made a large change in appearance, as most companies began using plastic cards. This was also when most merchants started offering their services to credit cardholders. It was no longer just for a few clients to be used on specific companies, but really for anyone. 

In the 1980s, the tech world evolved again in terms of credit cards, and they now had a magnetic stripe on the back. Specific computers could only read the strip and also made the card more secure.

And finally, in the 1990s-2010s, credit cards have evolved to include EMV chips and mobile wallets to enhance growth further. The ease and accessibility of credit cards have never been greater than they are today.


Credit cards are ingrained in modern-day economics but many cardholders have no idea of the changes the cards have undergone over the years. Using credit cards today is simple, fast and hassle-free. They have come a long way since they first appeared in history.