Credit Cards & Travel

Turn away right now if you’re looking for advice on how-to avoid those hidden credit card fees that seem only to appear when you make a purchase in a French pastry shop in Paris or any foreign transaction at that. I’m not here to talk about those matters tonight. Instead I’m passing this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story onto those who are interested in learning some history on their plastic pocketbook pals and wish to explore who deserves the credit for credit cards. My initial thought was no one should get credit for creating those debt generating cards, but on the flipside I couldn’t imagine life without them. Sad, but so true. When I want to book a flight to California I head to www dot ‘x’ travel search engine dot com, enter the credit card digits and wa-la! I’ve got an e-ticket to L.A.! I know who to fault when I carry a balance for too long – myself. But who is to thank?

Even though credit card references date as far back as 1890, when European merchants offered them as perks to their better customers, it is Frank McNamara who deserves most if not all for crafting the world’s first broad-use charge account. McNamara is said to have gotten the idea for the Diner’s Club card after an experience in 1949 where he left his wallet behind in another suit while dining out and though his old lady saved him from royally embarrassing himself it bothered him so much that he went and had a chat with his lawyer. The story goes on from there and a club for diners with a card to tote was created, but I won’t be the one to tell it in full. It’s an easy read if you give a half-hoot about credit topics and want to give thanks to the right man this Thanksgiving. Just think about all the trips you’ve charged on a card or the souvenirs you’ve plucked up because of the plastic!