Most of us can’t remember a time when credit cards weren’t a part of our wallets.
Remember the Diner’s Club card?
Credit cards actually go back to the 1920’s when gas station attendants wanted to provide a system of payment for the increasing amount of automobiles on the roads. The first cards were made out of card stock making them easy to counterfeit but as is the case with every good idea, evolution took over.
As of this year, of the households who have a credit card balance, the average amount of debt is $15,956 per household which equals total outstanding balances of $609.8 billion nationwide.
The evolution of the credit card is far from over.
As mobile technology moves from its infancy to adolescence, the credit card industry is hoping that we’ll begin paying with our cell phones using near field communication. This technology allows users to enter a pin on their phone and use it to pay for purchases by running it over a sensor.
Isis is one of those technologies.
Isis allows you to set up a virtual wallet that holds all of your credit and debit cards as well as other payment cards and using NFC, or near field communication, your phone can serve as your method of payment using the credit card you choose.
Similar to Isis is Google Wallet. Also using NFC, you can link certain Citibank credit cards or a Google prepaid card to your Google phone (it must have NFC technology) and pay for items with a tap of your phone at Google Wallet-enabled merchants.
Google Wallet is also able to store participating gift cards and loyalty cards (you know, those little plastic thingys you put on your keychain). It will also integrate with Google Offers, their daily deal site.
Retailmenot and Cardspring
Another company helping to evolve the traditional credit card is Cardspring.
Cardspring created the website, retailmenot.com. Instead of having to keep track of coupons, gift cards, and loyalty cards, retailmenot will apply the coupon directly to the charge once it appears on your credit card statement. You don’t have to remember to bring the coupon or worry about how much money is left on your gift card. Instead, the balance of the gift card is applied directly to your credit card balance.
The same technology works with frequent flyer and other rewards cards. Instead of having to remember to provide these numbers, when you use your credit card at certain merchants, the rewards card is automatically applied to the purchase.
In theory, this sounds like a very useful way to use your gift cards and promotions.
American Express wants to be the card that is most social media friendly and it has taken steps to reach that goal.
American Express has partnered with Twitter to apply coupons and discounts when their credit card is used for a purchase. By tweeting a certain hashtag, the consumer is entitled to a discount on that purchase.
For example, on March 6th, 2012, American Express offered $20 off of your first purchase at Whole Foods of $75 or more if you tweeted the hashtag, “#AmExWholeFoods.
Some of these technologies are in their infancy. The problem with NFC technology is that not many phones are capable of near field communication but even more important, experts continually raise security and privacy concerns making the technology slow to catch on.
Aside from that, credit cards are continuing to evolve from those card stock cards from the 1920’s, but evolution often comes about because thieves have cracked the current technology.
Soon, you may not have to carry credit cards at all and we may have the credit card thieves to partially thank for that.