But, technology is about to change the way we charge purchases.
Why? The credit card is a good medium which holds your account number, name and ccv on the back.
It has served us well.
But the push now is clearly for the easier and better solution.
Just as online account management has helped with monitoring our accounts and making payments, so the next generation of credit 'cards' will add even more usefulness and functionality.
It is interesting to note that those who are in their early twenties have grown up with cell phones.
And, so it is with credit cards.
They have been around for so long, it is hard to imagine a time without them.
One of the most important drivers and concerns with the use of credit cards is fraud.
Technology is improving to offer new and better options for this area as well.
Embedded chips and changing authorization codes in a special window on the card are among the solutions being reviewed.
Also, moving along towards acceptance around the world and marketing in America is the use of a cell phone with a chip installed that acts as your 'credit card.
' All of these improvements come with a cost factor.
The cost for the credit card companies is that they have to implement these plans into their systems.
The cost for the merchants is in obtaining the necessary equipment to utilize the new systems.
The cost for the end user is in purchasing the marketed solution and beginning to use it.
So, you can see that it is something that will not happen overnight.
There will be gradual steps towards these changes and improvements.
As a secondary benefit, convenience will be built into these systems.
The idea will be to make them easy to use and manage.
Give up what? What will we relinquish in the development of these new systems? That is hard to quantify at this point since we have no experience with them, but there are a few things for which we should be on the watch.
Privacy is probably at the top of the list.
As we move towards electronic records keeping as well as online and instant information access, we see the trend towards becoming a victim of identity theft as a very real threat.
Where there are great security measures, there are also great hackers and thieves who would do almost anything to get at information from which they stand to profit handsomely.
This is especially true of data that is housed all together in one database.
Cracking the code that opens that vault would be worth billions of dollars.
More of the same only different.
The bottom line is that technology improvements will help the credit industry and afford conveniences to the consumer but privacy will remain the number one issue.
Only time will completely tell this story, but it is one upon which we all need to keep a watchful eye.