Thursday, January 1, 2015

Credit Cards in the Stone Age

And by "stone age", I mean within most of your lifetimes! Well, mine anyways! I was thinking about credit cards on the first day of 2015. One of my few (and easily kept) resolutions for this year is to eliminate credit card charges completely for 2015. I only have two credit cards left that charge an annual fee, but one I will hate to see go, is a really cool metal card, with an onboard chip. One of the two coolest cards I carry.

That got me to thinking about the trend for chips on credit cards. If I had done a prediction post for 2015, I could have predicted that 85% of credit card holders will receive a new or replacement card with a chip on it this year. (And that number is probably low) Having stumbled down memory lane about credit card security, I got to thinking about when the first holograms appeared on credit cards to make it harder for thieves to forge the plastic cards. Remember when that happened? Mass produced holographic imagery was still in its infancy, but the credit card companies embraced it with great fervor.

And that got me to thinking about credit cards before they had magnetic stripes on the back. We take those so for granted these days. You swipe a credit card or your driver's license and it reads the information on them. But, back in the olden days, they used those clunky machines beside the cash register, where the store clerk would make an impression of the numbers embossed on the front, by sliding that roller over a carbonless form that you would sign, and would then be used to bill your credit account. Remember those??

I remember the stone age of credit cards, though I haven't thought of it in years. The more stuff you bought, the flatter it would mash those numbers down on the front until your card was practically smooth. They really needed to send you a new card every year, because the old one was really getting worn out. A two year expiration date was pretty much out of the question.

So, for all you old timers out there, let me know if you remember stone age credit cards and buying stuff that required an impression of the card. I sympathize with you. And stop writing "2014" on your checks, those of you who still haven't committed all your banking to cyberspace.

I know who you are!


  1. I remember when the credit card forms had carbon paper in them.

  2. I thought I remembered that, too, but it was a little fuzzy. My memory is what I use to forget with.


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