More than a billion credit cards are reportedly now in circulation in
Sixty-seven percent of all clothing sales, 64 percent of gas transactions and 62 percent of travel expenses are put on a credit card these days, according to
There are a lot of significant dates to review in the evolution of the U.S. credit card such as 1946, when
But 1959 might have been the most important year of all. That's when
Today, credit card companies make up an industry all of their own. The names are well-known:
Also well-known are the problems associated with credit card usage -- and not just about making payments on time.
Recent massive data breaches at stores like Target and
But Americans remain attached to their plastic. Visa, the world's largest processor of debit and credit card payments, announced that first-quarter earnings were up 9 percent in January.
That's despite a lackluster holiday shopping season with U.S. retail sales rising only 0.2 percent in December, according to the
Visa reported processing 16 billion transactions during the last three months of 2013, up 13 percent from a year earlier.
Consumers need to do some research on the different types of credit cards available, said
"You need to see what you can afford. Credit cards are a nice tool for short-term purchases but not to live on," she said.
Be aware that even zero-interest credit cards come with a condition, said Conrady. "If the customer doesn't pay their bill in time, the credit card company can add all that interest," she said.
It's wise to check the credit card statement every month -- and not just for a big charge that might jump out at you, added Conrady. If you see a
Conrady added that consumers should also regularly check their credit ratings to insure that all is in order.
CEFCU credit manager
Priess said that it's not a bad idea to let the bank or credit union know if you're traveling so that charges that pop up in a distant place won't be flagged.
As for combatting credit card fraud, credit card firms will unveil new chip-based EMV (standing for Europay,
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