A history of credit and debit cards in the UK

By Marianne Curphey

It's been five decades since the first UK credit card debuted, and it has revolutionised the way Brits pay. The history of credit is, however, much older, and the journey to the way we use credit -- and debit -- today is lengthy.

The idea of credit began in 1880, when the first credit voucher product was introduced in the UK by Provident Clothing Group.1 From the late 1800s to 1930s, charge coins made from celluloid, copper, aluminium or other types of metals, and stamped with an account number and merchant's name, were used to pay for goods.2

From there, the idea to use cards came about, and the concept grew until we reached today's chip-and-PIN cards.




1. The Provident Story

2. CreditCards.com (US)

3. UK Cards Association's history of cards

4. Diners Club history

5. Barclaycard history

6. Barclays cash machine history

7. UK Cards Association Contactless web page

8. UK Card Expenditure Statistics: March 2016 (UK Cards Association)

9. Lloyds Banking Group

10. UK Cards Association Debit Card Report November 2015

11. BBA Monthly Statistics Release November 2015

See related: Regional differences in debt, credit use in the UK, How British card behaviour compares to other countries, Calling all payment tech junkies: Emerging innovations gather steam

Published: 14 June 2016