by Maureen Dyvig
Ok, I’ve been trying to think of a way to say this without dating myself but it’s nearly impossible, so here goes. After graduating high school, I spent the summer in Europe with a friend and when we returned home we had a total of 12 cents left between us. There.
Such were the days before access to debit and credit cards. Back then, when you went on a trip, you anticipated how much money you would need, you took cash and traveler’s checks with you, and when the money ran out you came home. There was no “running to an ATM” to tap your account for more cash or deciding to just put that amazing find on your Visa and pay it back later. You had a pre-determined amount of cash that usually dwindled toward the end of the trip. If you started the trip with lobster and Champagne you ended it with cheese and crackers. Ok, I didn’t really buy lobster and Champagne at 18 but you get the point. Cash was cold and hard and real – and when it was gone, it was simply gone.
It is inconceivable to imagine traveling today without the security and safety net of a card, or several cards. It’s a long way from coming home with 12 cents to today where card marketing is one of the primary focuses of our company. At d.trio, we have produced literally thousands of credit and debit marketing programs and designed hundreds of cards. The rewards, advantages, services and styles are ever evolving.
Because I’m in a mood to wax nostalgic, here are a few fun facts:
- One of the first cards was named Charg-it, launched in 1946. It was a “credit card” that a bank customer could use at participating stores and the bill would be forwarded to the bank. The bank would then send a bill to the customer.
- American Express introduced their credit card in 1958 and in 1959 it went from paper to plastic.
- Originally known by different names, Visa and MasterCard were first launched in 1966.
- The first-ever debit card was issued by Seattle’s First National Bank 1978. The first nationwide network for debit cards (which allowed us all to get one) was introduced in 1984.
- In 1998, debit card transactions outnumbered check transactions.
In a time when most people report that they would rather lose their wallet than their phone, checks are becoming nearly nonexistent and our need to carry cash continues to wane. We’re moving quickly toward a day when our phones will become our wallets and our cards will be stored electronically. As we become more and more attached to our cards, our cards in turn become more ingrained in our lives and they serve us in ways we could not have imagined years ago. Also, our cards are more specialized. We are currently launching a Teen card that is completely managed by parents through their checking account (check out the work here). So today, no poor student traveler should arrive home penniless…or nearly penniless.