Throwback Thursday: How Credit Cards Pitched Travel In The ’80s

If you caught our Throwback Thursday feature a few weeks ago, you’d recall that we took you back into the ’90s to give a look back at how payments and tech companies pitched their products.

Today, we’re dedicating our Throwback Thursday shoutout to a decade before that. A decade when Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush held their presidencies. A decade when Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and U2 topped the music charts. And a decade when your cellphone weighed more than today’s computers.

The ’80s, for some, was a time of bad hair, bad clothes and bad music. And that’s seen in a lot of the commercials of the decade. For credit card companies, the marketing was no different. Cheesy music, bad graphics and dramatic effects. But that was the ’80s — love them or hate them.

So, to take you back in time, sit back and enjoy a few commercials from the major credit card companies during the ’80s and see how their commercials all had one thing in common. They all named why you didn’t want to travel without that particular credit card.


Visa takes viewers on a getaway to a castle, showing a luxurious trip full of indulgent foods and wines. And even in the ’80s, Visa got its digs at its competitor with the line “you can’t check in with American Express.”

American Express

Ironically, American Express’ commercial from around the same time also featured a travel scene. The commercial focuses on businessmen traveling and how American Express helped them pick up those last-minute expenses. It even combats what Visa suggests by saying “welcome around the world, and just around the corner.”


Also focused on how MasterCard is the card to travel with, this commercial starts off with a little jingle that sings “so worldly, so welcome,” and reminds consumers how MasterCard is accepted on an international level. “The only name you’ll need, besides your own,” the commercial says.


Since Discover was founded in 1985, you won’t find too many old commercials floating around out there, but Discover did make its Super Bowl debut with a 1986 commercial that shows the story of an athlete achieving his dreams. As its slogan suggests, that year was the “Dawn of Discover.”

“The Discover Card can put your dreams inside,” the commercial says.


Latest Insights: 

The Payments 2022 Study: Building A High-Performance Payments Team For Fraud Detection, a PYMNTS collaboration with Stripe, examines how digital platforms of all sectors and sizes plan to develop their anti-fraud teams as part of their their broader growth and development strategies. Drawing from an extensive survey from approximately 250 payments heads at digital platforms in the U.S. and abroad, our study analyzes how poor anti-fraud capabilities can harm platforms’ long-term growth strategies, and how they can build high-performing teams to tackle these challenges.

Click to comment


To Top