Follow TV Tropes

Following

We Will Spend Credits in the Future

Go To

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a way to avoid using the name of any existing currency, which would tend to fall into Creator Provincialism or seem outdated as history marches on.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.

Advertisement:

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 

In many settings these are presented as a purely electronic currency, with no physical banknotes or coinage, but people might use Credit Chips for exchanges.

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


Advertisement:

Credits as Global Currency

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Used for a pun in Rocketship Voyager when the credit cards used by the crew turn out to be a magnetic-storage card programmed with Traben Imperial Credits.
Advertisement:

    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 1632: Averted in The Saxon Uprising. Jeff Higgin's 3rd Regiment needs some supplies, so they decide to issue their own currency. Someone proposes calling it a "credit", to which all of the down-timers immediately object , because of the Catholic Church issuing credits. They end up naming it after Jeff's boss's wife: the becky.
  • Foundation Series:
    • The Imperial credit, found early in the Foundation timeline, was usable throughout the Galactic Empire, as well as Foundation credits later in the series. Characters use these credits as a standard currency (technically it's lenticular, not global - it's used across the entire galaxy, although during "Search By The Foundation" there's several competing currencies, including "dollars"). At one point, the Imperial Credit (used by the first Galactic Empire) is contrasted against the Foundation Credit (used by the second Galactic Empire), because the first Empire is falling apart and the second Empire is expanding in their wake.
    • "The Psychohistorians": A tenth-credit payment is mentioned when Gaal is dropped off at the Luxor Hotel.
    • "The Encyclopedists": Two-credit and half-credit coins are mentioned in this story, but the coins on Terminus are made from steel, since they have almost no metal at all.
    • "The Merchant Princes":
      • The Commdor of Korell is listening to Hober Mallow's sales pitch, which involves claims that the Foundation-made jewelry will sell for ten thousand credits, while he is only asking for a thousand credits of processed iron (and other metals) in return. That's a profit of nine thousand credits, which pleases the Commdor.
      • When Mallow is on Siwenna, the tech-man he's talking to assumes an attempt a bribery with a pittance of credits.
    • "The General (Foundation)": When Lanthan Devers gives Ducem Barr a bracelet, he claims it normally sells for twenty-five credits. Privy Secretary Brodrig, however, bribes Devers with thousands of credits. Devers soon escapes and uses Brodrig's credits on Trantor to bribe other officials.
    • "The Mule": While Bayta and Toran are on the Pleasure Planet of Kalgan, they discuss costs in terms of credits. When they're trying to fly past the territory of Filia, their credits are accepted, despite not being from the same government.
    • "Search By The Foundation": Arkady's "Uncle Homir" lets her have ten Foundation credits to exchange for the local Kalganian "Kalganids", which is a lot of buying power. When she tries to buy an interstellar flight, she (and the Palvers) use credits again.
    • Foundation's Edge: It's briefly mentioned a few times that the Foundation's unit of currency is the credit, and has a national credit card.
  • Lensman 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.
  • "The Marching Morons", by C.M. Kornbluth, discusses this. 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.
  • Ready Player One: The currency inside the OASIS is known as the credit, likely as a nod to its 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 
  • Star Trek:
    • 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 and 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. GPL, as well as dilithium (in both raw ore and refined forms), and various other currencies (including Perfect World's microtransactional currency ZEN) can be used too.
  • 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.
  • Scum and Villainy has everything being paid for in CRED

    Video Games 
  • X: 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • EarthGov in the Dead Space series uses credits as its currency.
  • Vega Strike: Even outlaws and aliens not allied with major human groups trade in Credits.
  • 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. In the comic that came in the original F-Zero manual, Falcon states a bounty is worth 500,000 "Galactic Credits." However, in one of GX's story mode cutscenes, the currency seems to be "space credits," and the prize for winning an expert class grand prix is one billion 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.
  • Star Traders Frontiers does it in a unique way where there are three "tiers" of it: Credits, Marks, and Shillings, in descending order. Although the latter two are exclusive to Word Of God, as it's stated that one Credit is worth 1,000 Marks, and one Mark is worth 100 Shillings. To quote the wiki page: "Most Faction citizens and Indies will only ever see Shillings and the occasional Mark in their lifetimes." Knowing this, it's understandable as to why they aren't ingame, as most profitable trades are in the thousands of Credits at least, and the higher-end ships can go over a million (which would be equal to 100 billion Shillings).

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • Star Wars:
    • Many factions 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 look like bills. Come the reboot, both Darth Vader and Star Wars Rebels establish that credits are physically small metal bars.
    • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • Honor Harrington: The Solarian League uses credits, among at least three other interstellar currencies, although many other polities have their own, non-credit currencies. For instance, the Kingdom of Manticore uses dollars.
  • In Hayven Celestia the geroo crews of Generation Ships use credits in the ship's internal economy, however they're just a form of company scrip and the currency spent by their krakun masters is called "golds".

    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.
  • Firefly: 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: 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.
  • Eclipse Phase:
    • The Jovian Junta and some of the Inner System run on what's termed as the "Old Economy," which is driven largely by creation and transfer of wealth to keep itself running. The old economies use credits as a universal currency. The negative aspect is that much of this form of scarcity economy, and the scarcity is maintained artificially by those who rise to power on controlled supplies and profits, or just plain paranoia driving distrust of resources from the outside and post-scarcity high tech, such as in the case of the Junta.
    • Social networks have also given rise to personal reputation as an economic driver, being usable to obtain goods and favors. Rep doesn't go very far in the old economies, serving more of a barometer of success or prestige rather than an incentive for labor or goods. The post-scarcity "New Economy" habitats and settlements use public nanofabricators to take care of all basic needs, and can allow those with access to have a fairly high standard of living not tied to wealth. As such, new economies are often mutualist anarchists who use forms of the gift economy; they spurn wealth as a driver of inequality, and instead use rewards of reputation to serve as a means of exchange. In other words, do good work and be a good neighbor, and you can thrive, be a dick or a layabout, and you'll eventually be forced out of the habitat.
    • Transitional economies are economies that are switching from old to new, or are deliberately locked between the two, such as is the case of the Extropian economies and the Planetary Consortium. Extropian economies are notable for being the vision of the setting's anarchocapitalists, in the vein of modern Objectivist and Libertarian ideals, and as such use both credits and rep as means of procurement.
    • The one odd exception comes from the Titanian Commonwealth. While a full-fledged governmental body running on the new economy, they also grant all citizens an allowance of Titanian kroners. Kroners are a unique currency in that you can't spend them, but can invest them into Titan's microcorps to help gauge where the citizens want their economic efforts to be spent. In order to keep from being an socially conscious farce, the kroner actually does have value as a currency by tying it's worth to the production of quantum bits. Converting kroners to credits and back, however, involves a bit of criminal enterprise...
  • 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.
  • Halo: Humanity uses credits, 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.
  • Escape Velocity: While credits in 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.

    Web Original 
  • the-n.com 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 the-n.com, but an obsession of the-n.com users.

    Western Animation 

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report