Credit card purchases see slowest growth in a year

The amount of transactions consumers made using their credit and debit cards – and the amount of debt they took on – grew slowly in May, in part due to high prices and persistent unemployment.

While the number of transactions made in the month of May only improved 5.1 percent on a year-over-year basis – the lowest spike in 12 months – the amount consumers charged in those rose more significantly, according to the latest monthly SpendTrend report from First Data Corp. Credit card transactions grew 6.5 percent, with an increased dollar volume of 8.8 percent.

“Card spending growth slowed in May,” said Silvio Tavares, senior vice president and division manager of First Data Information and Analytics Solutions. “High gas prices and stubbornly high unemployment constrained growth in most merchant categories.”

Meanwhile, signature debit card use ticked up 6.9 percent and PIN debit transactions rose 1.4 percent, the report said. The value of these purchases rose 6.6 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

When consumers run into money trouble these days, they may shy away from using their cards to make ends meet unless they absolutely have to.