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We Will Spend Credits in the Future

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For some reason, possibly the widespread adoption of credit cards as a form of electronic currency, it has become convention that the unit of currency in futuristic and particularly Space Opera settings is called the "Credit". It's also a way to avoid using the name of any existing currency, which would tend to fall into Creator Provincialism or seem outdated as history marches on.

According to this site the earliest known use of the term "credit" in this sense is to be found in John W. Campbell's story "The Mightiest Machine" from 1934.


Accounting lectures in the future must be terribly confusing things. For fun, try asking a real accountant what they think about naming a currency this in Real Life.note 

A subtrope of Global Currency, although not always. Also a subtrope of Fictional Currency.


Credits as Global Currency

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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 


  • The Foundation series by Isaac Asimov (well, less global than lenticular - it's used across the entire galaxy, except on one occasion where Asimov slips up and refers to "dollars" instead).
  • The Lensman series by E. E. “Doc” Smith is the Trope Codifier:
    • Credits are used as currency throughout the Galaxy, and later in two galaxies.
    • The villainous Senator Morgan accuses his adversaries of worshiping "the almighty CREDIT!"
  • Hex by Rhiannon Lassiter, which takes place in the 24th century, uses credits as currency worldwide. As everything is computerised at this point, this system may be the logical next step after the use of credit cards and nonphysical monetary transactions became common.
  • Dragonriders of Pern: As seen in "Dragonsdawn", the original colonists used communal "credits" along with the barter system. As the population grew and scattered and their technology started failing, this shifted to the minted currency "marks" used in the main storyline and the later flashback stories.
  • MARZENA has the World Credit, which must then be converted into Credit US, Credit EU, etc.
  • Discussed in "The Marching Morons" by C.M. Kornbluth. A man is roused from suspended animation hundreds of years in the future. Assuming that life is like science fiction, he asks about their money — supposing they use credits — and is told they use dollars.
  • The currency inside the OASIS in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One is known as the credit, likely as a nod to it's use in coin-op arcade games noted below. It's notably more stable than regular currency, on the Earth That Used to Be Better.
    Wade: The OASIS credit was the coin of the realm, and in these dark times, it was also one of the world’s most stable currencies, valued higher than the dollar, pound, euro, or yen.
  • The Four Horsemen Universe: Union credits are traded mainly in hard currency, which consists of standard sizes of red diamonds embedded in stackable plastic discs embossed with a face value calculated to be slightly higher than the market value of the diamond itself. Million-credit coins are mentioned, and the credit itself is worth a ridiculous amount compared to indigenous Earth currencies (in Winged Hussars, a night in a seedy motel in an Earth spaceport is said to cost several months' rent of a decent apartment on the rest of the planet).
  • The War Against the Chtorr has caseys e.g. "kilo-calories”. Also a case of Practical Currency; they're backed by food - one casey can be exchanged anywhere in the civilized world for a one-thousand-calorie block of "soya". Reality Ensues in that the laws of supply and demand are still in effect - it takes a lot of caseys to purchase, say, a pound of caviar. Add in that the book begins at the Class One stage of an anticipated Class Three apocalypse, nine-tenths of the world's population died before the first page and those same laws mean the casey is depreciating at an exponential rate because there's a surplus of food compared to the amount of manpower left in the world AKA humans left alive.
    Foreman: The physical universe uses heat to keep score. Actually, it's motion, but on the molecular level we experience it as heat. Just know that it's the only way one object ever affects another, so it's the only way to measure how big a difference an object really makes. We measure heat in BTUs. British Thermal Units. Calories. We want our money to be an accurate measure, so we use the same system as the physical universe: ergo, we have the KC standard, the kilo-calorie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who (Galactic Credits)
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Often mentioned indirectly, as in the episode "Catspaw":
    De Salle: Maybe we can't break it, but I'll bet you credits to navy beans we can put a dent in it!
    • And sometimes directly, as is "The Trouble With Tribbles" where there is a whole scene where people argue over how many Credits a Tribble will be sold for.
    • Mirror/Kirk (while in our universe) tries to bribe who he thinks is Mirror/Spock with enough "to make [him] a wealthy man."
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation would ditch money altogether. Or, at least that was Gene Roddenberry's intention. That didn't stop Dr. Crusher from asking a merchant to charge her account on the Enterprise, though. In the first episode, no less. Maybe it was Early Installment Weirdness. However, this can be explained by the fact that although the UFP doesn't use money, Deneb IV, the planet where the first episode of TNG was set, wasn't a member of the UFP, so they might still have been using money. Obviously there needs to be some medium of remunerative exchange between Federation citizens and non-Federation citizens. Also Quark charges money, despite him working on a Federation-controlled space station. In fact, as mentioned in one episode, he also has his own vouchers, which he claims are as good as latinum, only for Riker to point out that, while that may be true, Quark's vouchers are only good at his establishment, while latinum is valid tender almost anywhere. Again though, Quark is not a Federation citizen, he's Ferengi, and they definitely do use money. Deep Space Nine is controlled by the Federation but operates under the authority of the Bajoran government, which may make a difference. In truth the way the TNG and post-TNG Trek universe depicted money is highly contradictory and complicated. For example while many on Deep Space Nine use money as a matter of routine, there's a whole episode - "In The Cards" - in which Jake repeatedly and positively states that he doesn't have money because he is Human. Despite that, there are many casual mentions of money here and there. Fans sometimes try and write these off as hyperbole. In truth it's just inconsistent writing. The simplest canon explanation is that only certain planets (Earth, Risa are two mentioned) are moneyless, while most planets have their own currency and use gold-pressed latinum as a medium of interplanetary exchange. Bashir can afford Quark's holodecks because he gets a stipend from the Federation while stationed on DS9, Jake can't because he's not employed by the Federation or anybody else during that episode (although later in the series he does work a couple jobs). One thing they don't explain is how Sisko's dad on Earth can have a restaurant staff without a payroll... It may be the same thing as with Picard's wine, it's more of a hobby than a way to earn a living. As for credits, it may be the only reason why the Federation even has them is to deal with non-federation planets. Star Trek Online uses several currencies, of which the most basic is Energy Credits or EC for short. These are mostly used on the Exchange, the in-game item auction house.
  • Andromeda used to have this, but it went away with the fall of the Commonwealth. Many systems use "thrones" and "guilders" though.
    Dylan: Oh, we have plenty of currency. It's just that none of it's... current.
  • it's mentioned in The Comet's Curse that the world created a credit bank, making the quarter that they found incredibly rare.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Starfire: The costs for building starships are calculated in "megacredits" for all races/empires.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones after the nuclear sterilization of Earth the Mars colonies started using a crypto-currency called the "credit" for simplicity. A while later its value was tied to a system of stock-trading programs owned by every citizen.

    Video Games 
  • In the X-Universe, the local Proud Merchant Race backed the creation of a single currency for the Commonwealth governments. Prior to this, each race used its own currency.
  • Deus Ex, and its sequels and prequels.
  • Escape Velocity
  • EVE Online has a little more complex a take on things. The currency, known as ISK (Inter-Stellar Kreditsnote ), is not so much a global currency as it is a global exchange currency. Planetary economies and sometimes individual planetary nations almost all have their own currencies, ISK was merely setup as an exchange medium to manage the obscene amounts of money being used at the inter-stellar level — the popular saying goes you can retire comfortably planet-side basically anywhere in the cluster on single digit amounts of the stuff. And despite that, the economy is such that the de-facto unit of currency is in millions of isk. Ask someone for a price, and they say '50', they mean 50 MILLION isk. Guess the Casual Interstellar Travel isn't all that casual...
  • Mass Effect: Similar to the EVE example. Every country/government/planet has their own currency, while "credits" are actually just a short-hand exchange rate for money. There are several high-powered accounting firms tasked with monitoring and adjusting exchange rates among every currency, so if you bought a gun your account would be subtracted dollars and they would be given ... whatever they use. Credits is just an easy way for everyone to get an idea of what prices are. They don't actually "exist" like money does.
    • One can imagine that money doesn't "exist," either, in an interstellar civilization. We're already on the verge of replacing physical currency.
    • It's specifically mentioned that there was no universal currency until the volus created the credit system, earning them an embassy on the Citadel, even though they're not an independent government (they were at the time; it's complicated).
  • Wing Commander
  • MechQuest
  • Master of Orion. The standard unit for Galactic governments is the "BC" or "Billion Credits".
  • Elite and its successors from Frontier: Elite II to Elite: Dangerous as well as open-source clone Oolite. The earlier games tended to be a little vague about the exchange rate between Credits and Real Life currencies, but one "ton" (which may or may not represent what it does in metric or American Customary Measurements) of something like grain usually sells for between three and seven of them.
  • Freelancer
  • Haegemonia: Legions of Iron: "bc" stands for "billion credits", which make sense since you're building spaceships and conducting massive colony enhancements.
  • Secret of Evermore: In Omnitopia, complete with an Icon of a Credit Card
  • Galactic Civilizations also has BCs ("billion credits") by virtue of you running an interstellar empire and using money for projects on planetary scales.
  • Neptunia, although this could be interpreted as the "standardized exchange rate" handwave, since there are four different empires competing with each other. The player party tend to talk in terms of credits, but those characters are the heads of those nations.
  • Sa Ga Frontier
  • EarthGov in the Dead Space series uses credits as its currency.
  • Vega Strike (currently, at least) has even outlaws and aliens not allied with major human groups trade in Credits.
  • Uplink
  • No Man's Sky uses Units everywhere as an interstellar exchange currency, even though most of the Galaxy is unexplored.
  • F-Zero doesn't bring up currency very often, being a straightforward racing series. When it is brought up, like in the story mode cutscenes in GX, it's very clearly referred to as "space credits".
  • In Warframe, the Corpus Mega-Corp, Grineer Empire, and Tenno all spend credits. It's not clear who backs the Credit, as it's extremely rare for the Grineer and Corpus to not be in — at minimum — low-level conflict.
  • Doom 3. It's not completely clear if credits are a global currency or if they're limited to use in the UAC base, but given that spam emails from Earth found throughout the game also make references to credits, it's likely the former.
  • In Stellaris every empire in the galaxy uses energy credits, which are equally useful to everyone from democratic federations to hive minds to ancient vestigial empires.

    Web Comics 

    Web Originals 
  • Chakona Space uses Fed Creds. Galaxy-wide currency and e-currency.

    Real Life 
  • An interesting Real Life subversion: in coin-op video games, credits (not quarters) were the standard currency, but a credit was whatever coin was typically used in the localization. Of course, in Mortal Kombat, it was kredits.

Credits that aren't Global Currency.

  • Demolition Man: "John Spartan, you are fined one credit for a violation of the verbal morality statute." We don't know quite how widespread the use of credits are, as San Angeles is apparently independent from the rest of the US (on which we get no clear information) following "the Big One" earthquake devastating California and leading to a merger of San Francisco with Los Angeles, thus its name.
  • Many factions in Star Wars mint and back their own "credit" with varying acceptance. Credits are often chits or coins, or just transferred electronically, but in Marvel Star Wars, they looked like bills. Come the reboot, both Darth Vader and Star Wars Rebels seem to have established that credits are physically small metal ingots.
    • Knights of the Old Republic however has one "credit" that is used by everyone except the Sand People, despite the civil war and weakness of the backing government.
    • It also appears that "credits" may just be a generic term for money-at one point Qui-Gon Jinn, when asked for credits, refers to "Republic dataries". The merchant he's talking to promptly laughs in his face, since Republic credits are no good on Tatooine.
    • It's noted in The Thrawn Trilogy that the New Republic and the Empire both use credits. But since neither recognizes the other as even existing as a legitimate government with the authority to issue money, there's no official exchange rate. Instead, anybody who does business on both sides of the border has to rely on the black market's unofficial exchange rates, which might not be particularly favorable.

  • Futuretrack Five mentions Eurocredits. Presumably a rough equivalent of the European Currency Unit, and what currencies the rest of the world use is never explored.
  • The Solarian League in Honor Harrington uses credits, among at least 3 other interstellar currencies, although many other polities have their own, non-credit currencies. For instance, the Kingdom of Manticore uses dollars.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5': The only credits seem to be the Earth Alliance (i.e. human) ones; other species have their own currency (and even Earth Alliance member states have their own, such as the Northam Dollar). Since humans are one of the major merchant powers of the B5-verse, credits seem to be accepted fairly widely; it helps that they're all-electronic. Nevertheless, the Centauri ducat seems to have more currency in interspecies transactions—particularly in shady dealings, as the ducat can come in hard cash (gold coins, it seems) and is thus untraceable.
  • In the Firefly 'verse, the Alliance's central planets use credits (paper bills or electronic transfer) as currency, and 1 credit is about equal to $25 US according to the RPG. The lower-tech outer planets mint their own coins from precious metals (typically silver, gold, and platinum, in ascending order of value), and also frequently use barter.
    • Bricks of compressed nutrients— non-perishable emergency rations, more or less— are sometimes shown as being a valuable trade good nearly analogous with cash but very easily traced.
  • In Almost Human, a few references have been made to money in the form of Real Life digital currency, Bitcoin. The future portrayed in the series apparently has it become a common form of payment, though other forms of money have been seen.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Stasis", the unit of currency is the V-credit.
  • In Blake's 7, the Federation uses credits (Avon's crime was embezzling 500,000,000 of them). Outside the Federation other currencies are used, with one story having a Worthless Treasure Twist when a planet joined the Federation (and therefore the credit) after the Liberator crew acquired a Briefcase Full of Money.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Traveller, only the Imperium's currency is called credits. And unlike most examples it's often spent as cash instead of electronically, since it's a hassle to transfer from a bank in another star system when it takes at least a week to send the request alone.
  • In Eclipse Phase most of the inner system and some Extropian habitats in the outer system use a universal "credit" currency. But the Anarchists that make up the majority of the outer system and the Titanian Commonwealth don't even use money, their economies are based on public nanofabricators and favors from social networks, though Titan also quantifies citizens' social output as "kroners" used to fund various microcorps.
  • In Paranoia, Alpha Complex uses plasticredits. Sure, you could just charge things to your Millennium Express account, but plasticreds are off the record and untraceable. (You hope.)
  • In BattleTech, ComStar - a telecommunications NGO Super Power that controls the Subspace Ansible network - issues their own currency, the C-Bill, which directly translates into transmission time on the network. The C-Bill's name is derived from ComStar's 'Letters Of Credit' used in the organization's early history when negotiating transmission privileges with governments. While C-bills are the preferred payment method of Private Military Contractors due to its stability and nigh-universal acceptance, the various Great Houses each produce their own currencies, collectively referred to as 'H-Bills'.

    Video Games 
  • Secret of Evermore only uses credits in the Omnitopia section. It's also worth the least.
  • In the Halo franchise, humanity uses credits, which is symbolized as cR. While it was mentioned in the canon, it wasn't until Reach that the player could actually use them. Their Scary Dogmatic Aliens enemy, the Covenant, don't accept credits for the simple reason that they're in the middle of a genocidal war and there's no (official) trade between the two. What little black market trade exists is done via direct exchange of goods, information, or barter.
    • Post-war, it's implied that the collapse of the Covenant has made the credit much more widely accepted among ex-Covenant merchants, smugglers, etc., thanks in part to a thriving black market for ex-Covenant ships, munitions, and other equipment.
  • While credits in Escape Velocity Override are used throughout all of known space, there are still currencies used beneath the interstellar level (in fact, Earth alone still has several currencies — changing to a single UE currency is a matter of ongoing negotiation and preparation). It is entirely possible that credits are a gameplay simplification, and that what the pilot actually has is a bank account.
  • Star Control uses Interstellar Credits when trading with the Melnorme... and only with the Melnorme. You can trade with others, but it generally works on a barter system (or trading favors) rather than with any form of currency. Building new ships, adding new crew, and adding new parts to your flagship is not done with currency but is taken directly from the resource stockpile you've accumulated from mining planets, quantified as Resource Units.
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown uses "credits" specifically for XCOM, as the Council abstracts the fact 16 different nations are funding the project. It also makes things handy to ensure all transactions go through the Council. Note that in this game, a single credit is worth a lot: The complete maintenance of a top-of-the-line fighter plane, a monthly cost that would be around tens thousands of US dollars, amounts to only 20 credits a month.

    Western Animation 

  • uses "creds" to buy gear for avatars. You get creds just for surfing, and you get them for snitching. Considered a Scrappy Mechanic by Degrassi: The Next Generation fans who don't go to, but an obsession of users.


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