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Credit cards celebrate their 40th birthday

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It was 40 years ago this week that Barclaycard launched Britain’s first ever credit card and, possibly, initiated the rolling snowball of personal indebtedness that has become today’s avalanche of trouble.

The year 1966 has a special resonance for England football fans because it was the only time the team has won the World Cup.
At time of writing many have great expectations that Our Boys will do it again – and have splashed out on their cards on travelling to Germany, buying plasma televisions and stocking up on millions of litres of beer to enhance their enjoyment.

Whatever, the credit card has proved a huge success in this country and Britain is the only country in Europe with more credit cards in circulation than people.

Over 35 million of us have at least one of the 67 million in circulation, and we each spend an average of £4,600 a year on them.

“Credit cards have been an indisputable success, but I’d ask the question if they have been exclusively for the good,” said City analyst Colin Perry.

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