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Weird Facts about MasterCard®

  • MasterCard was originally called MasterCharge. The word master implies predominance, while the word charge means to purchase on credit. The words master and card suggest the predominant credit card.
  • Shopkeepers often let regular customers charge items to their account to be paid monthly, eventually letting them pay for large purchases in monthly installments.
  • In the 1930s, oil companies offered motorists a "courtesy card" to use service stations across the country, and department stores began offering customers "revolving credit."
  • In 1950, tarpaulin salesman Francis Xavier McNamara founded Diners Club, the first multipurpose credit card offered by an intermediary between the vendor and buyer, popularized by an article in The New Yorker's "Talk of the Town."
  • The Franklin National Bank in New York offered the first bank credit card in 1951. Numerous credit cards issued by independent banks quickly followed, but, by the mid-1960s, MasterCharge and BankAmericard (renamed MasterCard and Visa in the 1970s) dominated the field.
  • An average of 200 million credit cards are used every day in the United States.
  • Americans charged a total of $480 billion on credit cards in 1990. That's equal to $1 million every minute.
  • The typical American credit card holder carries nine credit cards and owes over $2,000.
  • In 1983, MasterCard became the first credit card company to introduce the laser hologram on its cards to combat counterfeiting.
  • In 1988, MasterCard became the first payment card issued in the People's Republic of China.
  • In 1990, Citibank, the largest issuer of credit cards in America, made over $610 million in profits on its Visa and MasterCard operations, according to Spencer Nilson, editor of The Nilson Report, an industry newsletter.
  • According to Consumer Reports, 80 percent of all purchasing in the United States is done on credit.
  • The magnetic strip on a MasterCard holds two or three tracks of information. The first track contains your name, expiration date, card type, and data such as your PIN and credit limit. The second track holds your account number, start date, and discretionary data. The third track holds information for ATM use.
  • The first six digits of your account number indicate the company that issued the card. The second four digits identify region and branch information. The last five digits are your account number (the last digit being a check number for security purposes).
  • As of 1994, there were 238.9 million MasterCards in circulation worldwide. 135.6 million of those were held by Americans.
Copyright © 1995- Joey Green. "Mastercard" is a registered trademark of Mastercard International, Inc.
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