Formerly a status symbol for the rich, today they make it easy for everyone to live on credit: The history of the credit card leads back to the elite clubs of New York.

Nothing beats credit cards: American comedian Marty Allen shows his wallet in 1960.

Dhe credit card success story is too good to be true. It starts with their invention almost seventy years ago. The New York rental agent Frank McNamara allegedly dined and drank extensively with a few friends in the Major’s Cabin Grill in Manhattan, but when he was presented the bill, he couldn’t pay it: McNamara had forgotten his cash in a different suit . He only escaped the embarrassment by handing the restaurant manager a business card and signature and promising to settle his debt later. Returning home, McNamara invented the credit card: a signed piece of cardboard that authorized the owner to dine on credit in select New York restaurants. The cardboard card was given a name that suited its purpose: Diners Club Card.

The dinner of McNamara and his guests went down in the annals as the “First Supper”. As great as the story is, as often as it has been told – it is not true at all. It is only true that McNamara brought the first credit card into the world in 1949, albeit from a desk at home. All the dramatic trappings came up with a PR youngster who was later hired by the Diners Club.