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25 interesting credit card facts

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

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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 – American Express issued its first credit card 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 – Discover Card was introduced by Sears in 1985. Sears was owned by Dean Witter, 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 do not 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 6 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.

Our pick for credit card offers

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Compare credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Earn a huge signup bonus for a no annual fee card with rewards of up to 5% cash back on popular everyday categories.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
N/A
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$0
Long 18 months intro APR periods on purchases and balance transfers. Plus Citi Entertainment℠ for deals on dining and going out.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
15.99% to 22.99% variable
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $1,000. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
This no-annual-fee cashback card is one of the most valuable on the market. It boasts a huge signup bonus and up to 5% cashback in multiple purchase categories.
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