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  • The modern credit card, usable for a variety of general purchases, wasnt introduced until the middle of the twentieth century. Before that, the unique credit schemes of individual merchandisers at the end of the nineteenth century gave way only gradually to credit cards for specific merchants, like gas credit cards for the then-burgeoning number of auto owners.

    The Diners Club Credit Card was first introduced in 1950, followed by Bank America in 1958 (which ultimately became Visa), and MasterCard in 1966. Because no one retail banking branch was nationwide, credit cards gained rapid popularity as a way for travelers to utilize their credit in places where they had no branches of the banks they frequented.

    Nowadays, the basic concept of a revolving credit line has spawned numerous permutations, including (but not limited to) corporate cards, department store cards, and branded credit cards (like those issued by Starbucks offering rebates on coffee purchases).
     

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