General stores have tracked customer purchases for eons and in the 1900s department stores began to follow suit by using metal plates that would allow patrons to make purchases, without having to carry cash. From these metal plates co-branded credit cards would eventually evolve, according to pyments.com.
In the 1920s, gas stations like Texaco took the metal plates a step further by creating slips of paper the size of playing cards that allowed customers to pay without cash. Gas cards were a popular way to pay for gas on credit up until the gas crisis of the 1970s when gas prices skyrocketed. Consumers still wanted to pay for gas on credit but gas stations had to pay merchant fees and began to only accept cards for their own store, rather than bank cards.
Eventually by the 1980s gas stations would eventually begin to accept credit cards for other stores again and consumers enjoyed the ability to use rewards at many merchants.
The 1980s would also see the rise of the co-branded credit cards as merchants began to work with banks rather than issuing their own credit cards. This gave way to frequent flier programs, which allow consumers to allow points and mileage doing anything, anywhere. Loyal customers love the ability to earn points and mileage and it is also a positive for banks and their retail partners as customers continually roll over their balances each month.
Today, the co-branding of credit cards continues to grow as Starbucks, Uber, and other companies announced their partnerships with banks to create reward opportunities. Some cards offer additional benefits on subscription services and other perks and members enjoy getting rewarded for their usual purchases and earn additional points on select purchases that tend to hold benefits for the bank company partners.