Credit Card and Plastics

Credit Card Pic

As per the market report of researchandmarkets, global credit card market in 2020 was about 100 billion USD and is expected to reach 108 billion USD by 2025 at a CAGR of about 3%; wherein some of the key players are Citibank, American Express Company, Mastercard Incorporated, and Visa Inc. Whereas, for India the credit card market was about 16 billion USD in 2020 and is expected to reach 40 billion USD by 2025 at a CAGR of about 20%. There are nearly 74 credit issuers in India of which majority of the market is dominated by HDFC Bank (25%), followed by SBI (19%), ICICI Bank (16%) and Axis Bank (11%). Thus, it can be seen that credit cards have huge demand and growth in India, and THESE ALL ARE MADE OF PLASTIC. Thus, this blog post is an attempt to show the relation between credit card and plastics.

Below is an interesting YouTube video showing how credit cards are made.

Credit Card making video (Source:

Some details:

  • Credit card concept was put up by Edward Bellamy (An American author, journalist and political activist) in his novel ‘Looking Backward in 1887’
  • Introduced in the United States by the oil companies and hotel chains in the 1920s. These were called as ‘Charge-Plates’ then
  • First universal credit cards were made by Diners club in 1950
  • Plastic made credit cards were first issued by American Express in 1959
  • In India, credit cards (Diners Card) were introduced in 1960s through foreign travellers
  • First bank to introduce Visa credit card was Central Bank of India (1980)
  • First bank to introduce Mastercard credit card was Vijaya Bank (1988)
  • No of credit cards globally: 2.8 billion (Aug 2020)
  • No of credit cards in India: 58 million (Aug 2020)

Credit Card and Plastics:

  • Core plastic in the credit card: Polyvinyl chloride acetate
  • Surface laminating of the card: Polyvinyl chloride acetate or Polyvinyl chloride
  • Process used: Extrusion molding
  • Generic steps involved in the credit card making process (Figure below shows the process schematic):
    • Compounding
    • Extrusion molding
    • Printing
    • Lamination
    • Die cutting
    • Embossing
  • Standard for credit card: ANSI specification x4.16-1973 (American National Standard Magnetic Stripe Encoding for Credit Cards, published by the American National Standards Institute, New York, N.Y., 1976)
  • Maximum allowed surface roughness: 15 micro-inches
  • Physical testing of cards is performed in accordance to ISO/IEC 7810
  • Below two patents describes in detail the process of making credit cards:
    • US4897533 – Credit card and method of making the same by National Business Systems Inc. (1990)
    • US4100011 – Production of Laminated Card with Printed Magnetically Encodable Stripe (1978)
Schematic of Credit Card making process (Source:
Schematic of Credit Card making process (Source:

Some new developments in making of plastic credit cards:

  • July 2020: Mastercard Inc. is endorsing the use of sustainable credit cards made from recyclable, bio-sourced, chlorine-free, degradable and ocean-safe plastics, for which they are rolling out new directory of sustainable materials and vendors
  • August 2020: CaixaBank is the first to offer 100% recycled material based credit cards in Spain, for which recycled PVC would be sourced from construction industry, plastic bags or other cards
  • April 2021: A UK based finance company named Tred is making cards made using plastic obtained from oceans and they are also pairing it with an app for tracking users spending-based carbon output
  • April 2021: HSBC is running a programme to eliminate single-use PVC based payment cards using recycled PVC. They are planning to end the usage  of single-use cards, from all its global locations, by the end of 2026
  • April 2021: DBS is also introducing Singapores first eco-friendly credit card made using recycled PVC

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