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How did businesses take credit card information before computers?

Latest QuestionsCategory: BusinessHow did businesses take credit card information before computers?
HawkeHawke asked 5 years ago

Well it’s for math homework and the information should be from the internet and I can’t find the answer on google.

5 Answers
j_sun answered 5 years ago

they used one of those hand held machines that used carbon paper and you put the card on the top and slide something over it and the paper copies the card

aeroaero answered 5 years ago

There have been computers since before there were credit cards.

Before stores had computers and magnetic strip readers, they used pieces of paper. Multiple copies were made (originally using carbon paper, later using carbonless copies when it was discoverd that used carbon paper was being used to commit fraud). The store kept one copy, the customer kept one copy, and the bank kept one copy. The banks had to manually enter the information from the paper into the bank’s computers.

Jesse_J answered 5 years ago

The two previous answers are partly correct. Here is the procedure when I worked in stores in the 1970s:

1. The customer handed a credit card to a store clerk.
2. The clerk placed the card into a small imprinting machine, then fitted a credit card form over the credit card.
3. The clerk moved a slider from one side of the imprinting machine to the other. This printed the credit card information and the store’s information onto the paper credit card form.
4. The clerk hand wrote the purchase information onto the credit card form.
5. The clerk called a toll-free phone number and gave credit card and purchase information to a person who worked for the bank. (This took less than a minute, usually.) The bank employee would approve or disapprove. If approved, the clerk had to write an approval number on the credit card form.
5. The customer signed the form.
6. If it’s a carbonless form, the clerk tore off the customer’s copy of the form and handed it to the customer. If the form had carbons, the clerk pulled the carbons out and disposed of them. Then the clerk gave the customer his/her copy.

Somehow, this system worked for lots of purchases and there was no more credit card fraud then than there is now. It was definitely a slower process, however.

Hope that helps!

Hungry! answered 5 years ago

To set the record straight, so far pvredito is correct.
Computers WERE NOT around before credit cards!!!!
Credit cards were available back in the 60’s but were mostly gasoline or store cards. Long before the computer came along.

cocococo answered 5 years ago

Oh wow!
I remember those days and actually had to use one of these machines that you would place the credit card in…then you would put the credit card slip over the card..then you would run this handle like thing over then back across the slip and card. There was carbon paper between the slips that would make duplicate copies. You would then pull it out, fill in the amount and things they bought, add the tax and total it up. Next, hand it to the customer to sign. Usually had to view their drivers license too, to see if it was them. In the old days, if the amount was over $50, you had to get on the phone and talk to a LIVE person (wow, not automation back in the 70s and 80s!) to get the amount verified and get a code to put on the slip that they actually had the funds available on their card! If all went ok, you tore off the middle slip (copy) for the customer and gave that to them with their purchase. The other two copies were for the store records and one you had to mail to the credit card company in order to get paid!

Wow! That was a long time ago!