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Wells Fargo doesn't issue Master Card ATM cards

08/01/14

Permalink 06:31:47 am, by Paul ROBINSON, 515 words   English (US)
Categories: Announcements [A]

Wells Fargo doesn't issue Master Card ATM cards

I have a corporate ATM card for my corporate checking and savings accounts at Wells Fargo. It's a VISA branded debit card, which is rather interesting because of some history.

Back in 1969, seeing how successful the roughly ten-year old Diners' Club card had been for professionals, someone at Bank of America got the idea of creating a credit card. Diners Club was - and still is - a charge card, like American Express Gold, you get the bill at the end of the month and you are required to pay it off in full. With a credit card, you can carry the balance over from month to month, and of course, pay interest at rates that would make a loan shark blush for being too greedy.

So Bank of America creates the Bank Americard, and does so by sending out thousands of unsolicited cards out to prospective customers, a large number of whom use the card, run up large bills and never pay. But enough did that the experiment was successful, and eventually Bank of America would spin off its credit card to a new organization called Visa International, and the card would be renamed Visa. (Bank of America still brands their Visa cards as Bank Americard.)

Well, after seeing how successful Bank of America was with their credit card, United California Bank (which was not chartered in California, my understanding is that it was chartered in Panama) decided to create their own competing card, which they could also make money by licensing to other banks, which Bank of America would later do, which is why London's Barclays bank issued a Bank Americard in the blue, white and gold color scheme, under the name Barclay Card. The card that United California Bank created was called Master Charge (with the nickname "The Interbank Card").

United California Bank (UCB as they were called on their buildings) also spun off Master Charge into a separate organization, which like Visa International is owned by the banks (and other organizations) that are licensed to issue its cards. The organization is MasterCard International, and - like Bank Americard - the card's brand was changed to Master Card.

UCB would later rebrand itself as First Interstate Bank. Later, First Interstate - except for a small part which is still operating in the Pacific Northwest and some western states - would be sold to Wells Fargo, which renamed it, (as it did when it ate Wachovia Bank), to Wells Fargo.

So Wells Fargo, while it is the successor to the company that invented what became Master Card, does not issue ATM cards with the Master Card logo, it issues the usual VISA branded ATM cards. Citibank, on the other hand, which is now the owner of the Diners Club charge card, does issue its ATM cards under the Master Card logo. I believe you can ask for a VISA branded one; I didn't, because I wanted to differentiate between my cards, and besides that, it gives me a card with the Master Card logo on it, which (in the form of a credit card) I do not currently have.

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