In the 1800s merchants accepted celluloid charge coins or metal charge plates as a means of extending credit to customers to enable them to make purchases without money. The charge plates or coins were linked to a specific customer by having their name and address or an identification number printed on them. These were definitely the precursors of credit cards.
It is very likely that credit cards or some form of cashless borrowing system was thought of in the 1800's. This was an era when people were beginning to have a lot of ideas that although weren't implemented then, they were brought to life later on. It is likely the 1800's is when they were first thought of.
Credit cards came much later than the eighteen hundreds since there were no computers as we know them in existence.. However, credit existed long before that. If a person didn't have money to buy something, it would be sold on credit. That means they could buy the item or service with the promise of paying later.
Credit cards have become part of American's daily lives. We don't leave home without them and they allow us great freedom but can also land us in serious financial woes. While the first credit card is difficult to identify, ever since early days of commerce there has been a form of buy now pay later. Whether it was at the local drug store or loans from a bank, lending has been an important part of daily commerce.