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The Legal Aspects Of Credit Reporting: Kansas Attorney Insights
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A credit card is a payment card that is issued to users (cardholders) so that the cardholder can pay the merchant for goods and services based on the accumulated debt of the cardholder (i.e. a promise to the card issuer to pay them the amounts plus other agreed fees).
The card issuer (usually a bank or credit union) creates a revolving account and extends a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money to pay a merchant or as a cash advance. There are two groups of credit cards: consumer credit cards and business credit cards. Most cards are plastic, but some are metal (stainless steel, gold, palladium, titanium),
A regular credit card is different from a charge card, which requires the balance to be paid off in full each month or on the day of each statement cycle.
In contrast, credit cards allow consumers to build a continuous balance of debt, while charging interest. A credit card also differs from a charge card in that a credit card usually involves a third party paying the seller and being reimbursed by the customer, while a charge card simply delays payment by the customer until a later date.
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A credit card is also different from a debit card, which the cardholder can use as currency. Alternatives to credit cards include debit cards, mobile payments, digital wallets, cryptocurrencies, manual payments, bank transfers and buy now pay later. In June 2018, there were 7.753 billion credit cards in the world.
In 2020, there were 1.09 billion credit cards in circulation in the US, and 72.5% of adults (187.3 million) in the country had at least one credit card.
Most credit cards measure 85.60 x 53.98 millimeters (3+ 3 ⁄8 in × 2+ 1 ⁄8 in) and have rounded corners with a radius of
In accordance with the ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1 standard, the same size as ATMs and other payment cards, such as debit cards.
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Or embossed bank card number in accordance with the numbering standard ISO/IEC 7812. The prefix of the card number, called the bank identification number (known in the industry as BIN
), is a series of digits at the beginning of the number that determine the bank to which the credit card number belongs. These are the first six digits for MasterCard and Visa cards. The next nine digits are the individual account number and the last digit is the validation digit.
Both of these standards are maintained and further developed by ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 17/WG 1. Credit cards have a magnetic stripe in accordance with ISO/IEC 7813. Most modern credit cards use smart card technology: they have a computer chip built into them as a security feature . In addition, complex smart cards, including peripherals such as a keyboard, display or fingerprint sensor, are increasingly being used for credit cards.
In addition to the main credit card number, credit cards also contain issuance and expiration dates (given to the nearest month), as well as additional codes such as issuance numbers and security codes. Complex smart cards allow for a changeable security code, increasing security for online transactions. Not all credit cards have the same sets of additional codes or use the same number of digits.
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Credit card numbers and cardholder names were originally embossed, to allow for easy transfer of such information to billing receipts printed on carbon paper forms. With the reduction in the number of paper slips, some credit cards are no longer embossed and actually no longer have the card number on the front.
The concept of using a shopping card was described in 1887 by Edward Bellamy in his utopian novel Looking Backward.
Bellamy used the term credit card several times in this novel, although it referred to a card for repaying citizens’ handouts from the government, not for borrowing,
Beginning in the late 19th century, charge cards came in a variety of shapes and sizes, made from celluloid (an early type of plastic), copper, aluminum, steel, and other types of whitish metals.
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Some were coin-shaped, with a small hole that could be inserted into a key ring. These charge coins were usually given to customers who had charge accounts at hotels or department stores. Each had a billing account number, along with the merchant’s name and logo.
The coin offered a simple and quick way to copy the billing account number onto the sales slip, by pressing a coin onto the sales slip.
The Charga-Plate, developed in 1928, was an early precursor to the credit card and was used in the US from the 1930s to the late 1950s. It was a
2+ 1 ⁄2 -by-1+ 1 ⁄4 -inch (64 mm × 32 mm) sheet metal rectangles related to the Addressograph and military dog tag systems. It was stamped with the buyer’s name, city and state. On the back he held a small paper card for his signature. When recording the purchase, the plate was placed in a recess in the printer, and a paper “slip” was placed on top. The record of the transaction included an imprint of the imprinted information, made by the printer by pressing the written ribbon onto a piece of paper.
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Charga-Plates were issued by large merchants to their regular customers, much like today’s department store credit cards. In some cases, the plates were kept at the store that issued them and not at the customer’s place. When an authorized user made a purchase, the clerk retrieved the tile from the store’s files and processed the purchase. Charga-Plates speeded up back-office bookkeeping and reduced copying errors that were done manually in paper ledgers in each shop.
In 1934, American Airlines and the Air Transport Association simplified the process even further with the introduction of the Air Travel Card.
They created a numbering scheme that identified the card issuer as well as the user account. That’s why modern UATP cards still start with the number 1. With the Air Travel Card, travelers could “buy now, pay later” a ticket on their credit and get a five percent discount on any of the airlines that accepted the ticket. By the 1940s, all major US airlines offered air travel tickets that could be used on 17 different airlines. By 1941, about half of airline revenue came through Air Travel Card contracts. Airlines have also started offering installment plans to attract new travelers to the air. In 1948, the Air Travel Card became the first internationally valid payment card for all members of the International Air Transport Association.
The concept of customers paying different merchants using the same card was expanded in the 1950s by Ralph Schneider and Frank McNamara, founders of Diners Club, to combine multiple cards. Diners Club, formed in part by a merger with Dine and Sign, produced the first “general” charge card and required a tire bill to be paid with each statement. Then came Carte Blanche, and in 1958, American Express created the worldwide credit card network (although these were initially payment cards that later acquired credit card features).
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Until 1958, no one could successfully establish a revolving credit financial system in which a card issued by a third bank was generally accepted by a large number of merchants, as opposed to a merchant-issued revolving card that was accepted by only a few merchants. There were a dozen attempts by small American banks, but none of them could last long. In 1958, Bank of America launched the BankAmericard in Fresno, California, which would become the first successful recognizably modern credit card. This card succeeded where others failed by breaking the chicken-and-egg cycle where consumers didn’t want to use a card that few merchants would accept, and merchants didn’t want to accept a card that few consumers used. Bank of America chose Fresno because 45% of its residents used the bank, and by sending the card to 60,000 Fresno residents at once, the bank was able to convince merchants to accept the card.
It was eventually licensed to other banks throughout the United States and the world, and in 1976 all BankAmericard licensees were united under the common Visa brand. In 1966 the ancestor of MasterCard was born when a group of banks formed Master Charge to compete with BankAmericard; it received a significant boost from the merger of Citibank
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