- Still, what seemed most striking about the group was not their names but their credit cards, on which they charged over $150,000 for fancy meals and rooms at some of Milan’s finest ristoranti and hotels. Among them, the U.S. spies held a total of 10 Visa cards (no surprise there) but no MasterCards and, strangely, six Diners Club cards. Although Diners Club boasts of being the original charge card (its debut, with much fanfare, was way back in 1950), the ailing brand now claims less than 1 percent of the U.S. market.
So why do the CIA’ s spooks prefer Diners Club? Do they get bonus points? Free eavesdropping gear? The CIA and Diners Club aren’t commenting, but CIA veterans, past and present, say it’s just a coincidence. “No one pushes Diners Club for official cover,” discloses one former top spy. Maybe it’s the company’s motto: “Do you have the key that opens doors around the world?”