The Early History of Diners Club is Actually Quite Interesting

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In my quest to make the somewhat dull subject of credit cards moderately more interesting, I’m going to stick some slightly random stuff about them up here every so often just to brighten up your day… or more likely your sleepless night squinting at your smartphone under the bed-clothes as your spouse snores loudly next to you, or whatever point in your life that you happen to be reading this…

In finding random facts to write about credit cards, I discovered that the early history of Diners Club is in fact moderately amusing.  I’m not talking belly-achingly funny or anything, you probably need You Tube for that, but I hope that something in the next few lines may generate at least a wry smile…

Frank X McNamara.  That was the name of the chap who started Diners Club, and basically came up with the idea of credit cards in the first place. Well come on, we all want to know don’t we… what the hell does the X stand for? Xavier? Xenon? Xanda? Xena? I’ve just conducted a small straw poll in the office and we cant even think of many more names beginning with X than that, even with Google’s help.. and I can’t find the actual answer anywhere!

Anyway I digress, apparently good old Frank X came up with the idea when he went to a restaurant in New York City, with two colleagues, bizarrely apparently to discuss a lending scheme which he had come up with, because a friend of his had got into trouble when lending to people using his own store cards. At the end of the night he reached into his pocket, realized he had forgotten his wallet, and so Diners Club was born…

Initially it was only accepted in 14 New York City restaurants, but within a year, more than 20,000 people were using it.

Not thinking that the idea had had got any legs, Frank decided after 2 years to sell his stake, pocketing around $200,000, the equivalent of about $1.6 million at the time.  A tidy sum no doubt, but oh my goodness, I reckon there would have been at least a tinge of regret more than once in his life, seeing as now, there are around 10,000 credit card transactions made every second.  If only poor old Frank X had been pocketing 0.00001% of every one!