The so-called “First Supper” was the first time a credit card was used to make a purchase. It occurred on February 9, 1950 when Frank McNamara paid his dinner bill at Major’s Cabin Grill in New York City by using a cardboard card. This card was the very first credit card, and it went on to become the Diners Club International card, founded by Frank McNamara with his partner Ralph Schneider. Diners Club International is, of course, still around to this day.
The original scheme was straightforward. Diner’s Club International would guarantee payment to the restaurant, which would receive 93% of the total, and Diner’s Club International would be responsible for getting the money from its cardholders. In exchange for this, Diner’s Club International would keep the 7% difference in the price, and the cardholder would not be charged anything extra for the purchase. Eventually, as Diner’s Club International was struggling to stay in business, they added an annual fee to be charged to cardholders, which, at the time, was $3.
Sadly, Major’s Cabin Grill, the site of the “First Supper,” which was adjacent to the Empire State Building in Manhattan, is no longer around. Today, it is the rear entrance to the Zoni Language Center, a language school that teaches English as a second language to people from all around the world–and, of course, the school also accepts credit cards.
For more information about the First Supper and the origins of credit cards, or to sign up for a merchant account so that you can start accepting credit cards, too, you can go to Charge.com or call 1 (888) 924-2743.