Years ago, a new invention revolutionized the world of consumer purchasing. In 1950 Diners Club, the first credit card, was invented by an American businessman, eliminating the need to carry cash around at all times. (Of course, cash was itself invented to eliminate the need to carry around other valuable items, such as shells or gold.) The idea caught on rapidly, and other companies began issuing their own cards, notably Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Customers found credit cards to be ideal for a large number of purposes, such as traveling or ordering items by mail. With the development of the Internet and the growth of e-commerce, the cards were especially welcome to pay for remote transactions.
Today the credit card is one of the most common forms of payment in the Western world. In general, this form of payment is extremely popular with both buyers and sellers. However, recently the cards have begun to face some competition from some newer forms of payment such as debit cards, e-wallets and prepaid vouchers.
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How do credit cards work?
Paying with a credit card is very simple. Hand over your plastic to the merchant or casino cashier to allow its magnetic strip to be electronically read, or pass on your credit card information via telephone or Internet. (Note: When giving any financial information over the Web, make sure that the transaction is encrypted with 128 bit Secure Sockets Layer technology.) Casino payouts may be made to your credit card account, and can be withdrawn through an ATM or at a bank.
Where can this method be used?
Use your credit card over almost all the physical world and cyberspace to pay for anything from casino gaming to your weekly groceries. The merchant will submit the charge in local currency, which the credit card issuer will convert to the currency of your country of residence. There are a few places that do not accept credit cards, however. Countries in Europe, Asia and South America that have switched over to smart cards may not take cards with the traditional magnetic strip. Some African nations or areas in a state of political turmoil will refuse payment by credit card. If you are traveling, check beforehand to see which methods of payment are acceptable at your destination.
Advantages and disadvantages
The most obvious advantage to the consumer is convenience. It is extremely easy to carry and to use credit cards, and you do not need to have funds on hand to cover large purchase right away. Responsible use of your cards will also help you establish a good credit history, important if you wish to take out a mortgage or other loan. However, there is a strong temptation to overuse your plastic, building up debt and high interest charges, and possibly harming your credit rating.