According to the 1968 The World Book Year Book, “Bank Credit Card programs, despite a faltering start 10 years earlier, were flourishing in 1968.” Several new card programs joined the great credit race in 1968–most notably the Interbank Card group (later to become MasterCard). These new cards were introduced to compete with the successful Bank Americard (later to become Visa). In 1970, MasterCard was the industry leader. They remained in this position for about a decade until Visa’s innovative and aggressive marketing finally earned it the industry’s top spot.
In 1968, US credit card debt totalled $8 billion (in current dollars). As of January 2008, that total had ballooned to $947 billion. For perspective, that is $8,094 per household. There’s nothing more American than crushing debt, right? Well, gotta run. I’m just about up to the pay window at McDonalds and I need to find my Visa card.