In the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, R.H. Macy & Co. of New York used two well known slogans: “It’s smart to be thrifty” and “6% less for cash.” How outdated, unfortunately, those slogans sound these days.
The dilemma of charge accounts
Because of the slogans, especially the “6% less for cash,” Macy’s faced a problem of what to do about charge accounts. They couldn’t have 30-day charge accounts billed at the same purchase price for items as paid by the cash customers, who were then in the majority. Nor would any account customer, in those days, have stood for any sort of “service charge” on regular 30-day charge accounts.
Solving the problem
Macy’s solved the problem by incorporating Macy’s Bank, under the banking laws of New York state, as a private banking institution. They created a bank account into which Macy’s customers could deposit cash, checks or whatever.
Withdrawals were made by either withdrawal slip or by charging purchases at R.H. Macy against their credit balances in their “Deposit Account” or “D.A.” as it was usually called. In other words, customers put in the money in advance and then charged it.
Macy’s Bank even paid a small interest on the balances. D.A.’s at Macy’s also paid a 1% “dividend” on annual purchases if they totaled over $100.00 in a year.
Deposit accounts as charge accounts
D.A.s operated just like a charge account, with an identification card, except the money was supposed to be in the account before you charged against it. There were the usual credit authorizations on large purchases and “floor limits” below which the account wasn’t checked for funds.
Many people in those days disliked the idea of buying “on credit” (even on a 30-day charge account) and preferred to pay in advance – but they still wanted to have the convenience of an account with monthly statements, sale mailings, etc.
Paperboard D.A. cards with a metal rim were issued in the late 1940s and ’50s. These cards measure 1 1/2 X 2 1/2 inches. The same type of paperboard card was encased in heavy plastic and issued in the 1950s. Plastic credit card type D.A. identification cards were issued sometime around 1959-1960.
These are all highly collectible credit pieces.
Copyright 1988 by Credit Card Collector