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What is a Credit Card?

Updated on November 20, 2009
Photo by Ulrik De Wachter
Photo by Ulrik De Wachter

The Credit Card System originated in the USA whereby credit-worthy customers of finance houses and banks are issued with credit cards. The cards are accepted by many hotels, restaurants, and shops which allow those who possess them credit up to an agreed amount. The account with the store is settled by the bank or finance house.

Credit cards both provide an alternative to using cash and can be used to obtain extended credit up to the holder's agreed limit. Their use in Britain is increasing. The first British bank to issue its own credit card was Barclays; the other important British card is Access, issued by a combine of banks including Lloyds, Midland, and National Westminster. The Barclaycard is linked with similar systems in both the USA (Bank Americard and Interbank) and Europe (Carte Bleu), while Access is linked in Europe with Eurocard and in the USA with Interbank.

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