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25 interesting credit card facts

Think you know about the ins and outs of credit cards? Think again.

The secret lives of credit cards

Credit card fact #1 – Credit cards were originally like today’s store cards — offered by individual stores and only for use at those stores. The first one to be used at multiple locations was offered by The Diner’s Club in 1950 and it was good for use in 27 restaurants in New York City.

Credit card fact #2 – The first American Express credit card came out in 1958 and their Black Centurion card today has a $2,500 annual fee and minimum spend requirement of $250,000 a year. That’s not earnings, that’s spending.

Credit card fact #3 – Visa began life as BankAmericard, offered by Bank of America in 1958. It became Visa in 1976.

Credit card fact #4 – Visa stands for Visa International Service Association.

Credit card fact #5 – The Visa logo colors represent the blue of the sky and the gold of the hills in California where Bank of America was founded.

Credit Card Fact #6 – Mastercard began life as MasterCharge and was formed by four Californian banks in 1967. It became Mastercard in 1979 and it was the first card to use holograms.

Credit card fact #7 – Sears introduced the Discover Card in 1985 was introduced by Sears in 1985. Dean Witter owned Sears, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997.

Credit card fact #8 – It is against the merchant agreements of Mastercard, Visa, and American Express for a vendor to require you to provide your phone number, home address or other personal information. You also do not need to present a driver’s license or spend above a certain purchase amount.

Credit card fact #9 – A fixed interest rate on a credit card can be changed with only 15 days notice from the credit card provider.

Credit card fact #10 – You don’t have to sign anything to agree to the cardholder agreement. You are agreeing to this when you first use your card.

Credit card fact #11 – If you have several debts on one card at different interest rates, payments are applied to the balance with the highest interest rate first.

Credit card fact #12 – A common clause in the terms and conditions is that the cardholder waives their right to sue the credit card company.

Credit card fact #13 – Each American household receives approximately six credit card offers a month.

Credit card fact #14 – Minimum payments are so low because it allows the consumer to carry more debt. Someone who can only pay $100 per month can have a credit limit as high as $5,000.

Credit card fact #15 – Credit cards are all the same shape and size, as their dimensions are governed by the ISO 7810 standard, an international standard for identification cards.

Credit card fact #16 – You can often lower your interest rate with a phone call to your provider if you suggest you might go elsewhere if they don’t play ball.

Credit card fact #17 – Credit card numbers conform to the Luhn algorithm, which is a simple checksum test on the number.

Credit card fact #18 – There are generally two types of magnetic strips: high-coercivity and low-coercivity. High-coercivity is stronger and more durable.

Credit card fact #19 – Higher-coercivity are usually black and low-coercivity strips are dark brown.

Credit card fact #20 – Low-coercivity strip cards can be scrambled by a weak magnetic force, including mobile phones.

Credit card fact #21 – A potentially useful credit card trick for anyone under 18 is that they cannot be forced to pay back any charges on a credit card they own, because they are not allowed to enter into a legally-binding contract until they reach 18.

Beginners guide to credit cards

Credit card fact #22 – Visa and Mastercard operate zero-liability policies in respect to fraudulent use.

Credit card fact #23 – Credit card companies earned $55.2B in fees in 2006.

Credit card fact #24 – Credit card companies earned $90.1B in interest in 2006.

Credit card fact #25 – finder.com is a magnificent place to learn about and compare credit cards. We’re on your side.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%), 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores and 1% on other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Earn a $200 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months. This is a higher-than-average welcome offer for a card with no annual fee. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on other purchases (redeem as statement credit)
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months. Having 6 months to earn a welcome offer is a rare benefit as most cards give you only 3. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
$0

Best of Finder 2021

An impressive 21 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
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