by Brooke Nevils5 Steps to Getting Out of Debt
It's safe to say we know a thing or two about charging purchases. After all, American households, on average, carry $10,115 in credit card debt. But how did the credit card-an American invention-get its start?
In 1949, New Yorker Frank McNamara finished a business dinner and realized he'd left his money at home. Frustrated, McNamara came up with the idea for a card that could be used in place of cash at restaurants. Soon, Diners Club, the first widely used charge card, was born. The idea of deferring cash payment caught on: In 1958, American Express issued its first charge card, used mainly for travel and entertainment. Eight years later, the BankAmericard became the first that allowed you to carry a balance.
Nowadays, 54 million U.S. households carry some form of credit card debt. "Beginning in the early 1990s, Americans, even those with lower incomes, were offered easy credit," explains Carmen Wong Ulrich, author of The Real Cost of Living. "Since 70Read More »from 5 Steps to Getting Out of Debt