Diners Club: The First Credit Card

In 1949, Frank McNamara dines in a New York restaurant and discovers that he cannot pay for the meal because he has forgotten his wallet. Although his wife rescues him from his dilemma, he resolves never to face this embarrassment again.

In 1950 with his attorney, Ralph Schneider, Frank McNamara creates Diners Club. The first charge card is offered to 200 people, most of whom are personal friends and acquaintances. Fourteen New York restaurants agree to accept the card. The business expands so rapidly that Diners Club has to change its offices three times. The business begins on the 24th floor of the Empire State Building, and then expands to the 32nd, and finally to the 77th floor.

By the end of the year, 20,000 people carry Diners Club cards.


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