CREDIT CARDS: Charge It, Comrade

Charge It, Comrade

The Soviet Union has one of the world's largest economies, but it operates on a simple principle: pay as you go. Soon, though, some Soviet denizens may utter the Russian equivalent of that time-honored phrase, "Charge it!" Visa International, the world's No. 1 credit-card issuer, last week won the right to offer the Soviet Union's first credit cards.

Initially, only a handful of Moscow's biggest stores will accept the cards, many of which will go to Soviet citizens who work or travel abroad and to foreigners living in the country. Unlike Westerners, who can stretch out their payments, most Soviets will...

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