Barclaycard marks 45th anniversary of credit card in the UK


Barclaycard in marking the 45th anniversary of the UK’s first credit card.

Since it launched on 26 June 1966, credit cards have grown the company reports today Barclaycards are used 32,760 times an hour.

The year after the first credit cards became available, Sixties actor Reg Varney used a Barclaycard at the UK’s first cash point at Barclays bank in Enfield. Within a year, Barclaycard had attracted a million customers. Today the figure is 11.2m of a total of 31.2m (UK Cards Association, 2010) credit cardholders in the UK.

Back in 1966, Barclaycard’s aim was to make shopping easier and with the credit card nearing its half century, the company said it is continuing to innovate.

Barclaycard was the first credit provider to go online in 1995 and since then, online account management has increased in popularity. Last year 717m card transactions were processed online, totaling £47.2bn (UK Cards Association, 2010). More recently, Barclaycard claims it has led on the introduction of contactless cards, which it began issuing alongside Barclays retail bank in 2007.

Contactless mobile payments is the latest first for Barclaycard. This year Barclaycard introduced contactless mobile payments in the UK, in partnership with Orange. Customers can now buy goods of £15 or under, with a tap of their phone at over 50,000 stores across the UK.

It took 38 years from the launch of the Barclaycard credit card for spending on plastic cards to overtake cash. Last year 2bn credit card transactions were made to the tune of £136bn (UK Cards Association, 2010).

David Chan, CEO of Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said: “Our aim is the same today as it was in 1966, which is to make consumers’ lives easier. The introduction of the UK’s first contactless mobile phone during our 45th year is just the latest in a long line of innovations from Barclaycard which have revolutionised the way we pay. We remain committed to bringing our customers many more firsts long into the future.”

Key facts from 29 June 1966


·         Barclaycard launched

·         Number one single was Paperback Writer – The Beatles

·         Number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack

·         Top rated TV Show was Love Story (ATV)

·         The Box office smash hit was Alfie

·         A pound in 1966 would be worth £11.26 today


Key Statistics

  • Barclaycard launched the first UK credit card on 29 June, 1966
  • Barclaycard’s first office was in Northampton in an old shoe factory – the town’s original key industry of which Church’s shoes is one of the few survivors
  • Barclaycard had one million customers in its first year, today the number of adults with a credit or charge card is 31.2m, representing 64% of the adult population
  • Altogether there are over 55m credit cards in issue in the UK
  • It took 38 years from the first credit card (a Barclaycard) to launch in the UK for spending on plastic cards to overtake cash. Last year 2bn transactions were made to the tune of £165bn.
  • Barclaycard Germany launched in 1991
  • Barclaycard was the first to issue contactless credit cards in the UK, cutting queuing times by a third, today it is still the leading issuer with over 11m in the UK market
  • Barclaycard was the first UK card provider to introduce contactless mobile payments in Britain in 2011
  • Last year 2bn transactions were made to the tune of £165bn on credit cards in Britain
  • 32,760 of transactions are made on Barclaycards every hour