Gas prices force debit and credit purchases higher

Consumers took on more credit card debt at retail locations during the month of April than during the same period last year, largely due to an increase in the prices for gasoline and food.

Debit and credit card purchases at retail locations rose sharply on a year-over-year basis during the month of April, according to the latest First Data SpendTrend report. Overall, the total number of transactions on these accounts as well as checks rose 6.7 percent, and the value of those purchases climbed 8 percent.

Signature debit purchases rose most sharply in both volume and value, climbing 9.5 and 9.9 percent, respectively, the report said. Meanwhile, the number and cost of credit transactions also increased, by 4.6 and 7.4 percent, respectively. Debit purchases that require PINs for identification rose 4.8 percent in volume, and 7.2 percent in value.

However, without purchases at gas stations, the value of purchases rose just 6.7 percent in April, the report said.

Some reports have shown that consumers are putting more of their gasoline purchases on credit cards because the high cost would otherwise be nearly impossible for them to afford.