On October 1, 1958 American Express launched the American Express card. Because American Express previously had an international network of offices in place, and their traveler's' cheques had been accepted throughout the world for decades, this was the first credit card accepted internationally.
". . . public interest had become so significant that they issued 250,000 cards prior to the official launch date. The card was launched with an annual fee of $6, $1 higher than Diners Club, to be seen as a premium product. The first cards were paper, with the account number and cardmember's name typed. It was not until 1959 that American Express began issuing embossed ISO 7810 plastic cards, an industry first" (Wikipedia article on American Express, accessed 12-27-2008).