Credit through the ages

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With instant approval credit cards, peer-to-peer lending and a range of finance options on many products and services, it’s never been easier to access credit. But have you ever wondered how people went about borrowing and using credit in the past?

Our number nerds have scoured the history of lending to bring you a whistle-stop tour of credit wonder and woe over the last 4,000 years, and what people had to do to get a little credit.

You might be surprised to find that the ancient Babylonians were, at times, positively charitable when it came to issues of credit and debt, despite their reputation for harsh ‘eye for an eye’ punishments.

That wasn’t quite the case for the Victorians, however, who threw debtors in prison for owing measly sums. Although during the Dark Ages, it was those charging interest who came under the harshest scrutiny.

Perhaps more surprising than all of this though, is what people were willing to do to find methods of obtaining and dispensing credit, despite the risks.

Check out our infographic, The Evolution of Credit, to see how borrowing sometimes made things more complicated for our ancestors and how interest has changed throughout the ages, from ancient Babylon to modern Britain.

Thankfully, it’s easier to get credit today than it was in the Dark Ages. MBNA offer a range of credit cards with interest rates and benefits to suit your needs. Selected cards even offer an eligibility check, so you can find out if you’re likely to be accepted before you complete a full application, without affecting your credit score.


The Evolution of Credit infographic

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