America Embraces Debt

“Put it on my card!”

It’s the American way. We buy now, pay later. 

The history for card purchases is nothing new. In fact, it was first described in an Edward Bellamy utopian work titled Looking Backward (1887). Bellamy employed the term “credit card” in his work as a way for a person to spend what the government had portioned to him.

In reality it was less a “credit card” and more a “debit card.”

In the early 20th century various technology emerged to make Bellamy’s idea a reality. Initially, every store and restaurant had it’s own “credit” card (or tab). But then, on this date (May 13) in 1950, a new concept emerged. Why not have ONE card to pay multiple merchants? Ralph Schneider and Frank McNamara led the way and the “Diners Club” credit card was born.

It proved a popular buying strategy.

Eight years later, American Express would issue the first general credit card.

And we’ve been indebted ever since.

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