Happy 50th birthday to the credit card!

In February, we celebrated 10 years of Chip-and-PIN cards in the UK and on 29th of June we celebrated its older sibling, the credit card.

On June 29th, 1966, Barclaycard launched the first ever credit card, 50 years later, over half of the UK’s population owns a credit card and monthly spend exceeds £15 billion. Today £1 in every £3 spent goes through Barclaycard, with 4.6 billion transactions processed in the UK last year.

“Back in the sixties, cash was the most popular form of payment and the idea of ‘paying by plastic’ was completely alien to most people. But the introduction of credit cards led to a ‘democratisation of credit’ in the UK and kick-started fifty years of great British shopping, creating a material shift in how we pay for goods and services,” said Amer Sajed, Chief Executive Officer of Barclaycard.


Ahead of the curve

The credit card was an instant hit and after just one year, over a million consumers in the UK had signed up for a Barclaycard credit card, which then could be used to make purchases of up to £25.

It also enjoyed being ahead of its time as it took a whole six years for competitors to come up with their own cards! By 1972, when Lloyds, NatWest and Midland (now HSBC) released their own card, the Access card, there were already 1.7 million Barclaycard holders, according to the BBC.


The original advert for a Barclaycard


Barclaycard has also created an infographic, charting the rise of the credit card from humble beginnings in 1966, through the launch of electronic card payment machines in 1986, to its latest service: contactless mobile payments. Check it out here:


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