Visa and MasterCard see increase in credit card use

MasterCard and Visa, two of the largest payment processing networks in the country, saw increases in the number of credit card transactions on their networks in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the companies’ most recent regulatory filings.

MasterCard’s profits rose 41 percent during the three-month period that ended on December 31, and saw transactions totals climb 6.3 percent to 6.2 billion. These gains were largely the result of increased consumer spending, as many shoppers began using credit cards again after foregoing their use during the recession, The Wall Street Journal reports.

By comparison, Visa processed 13 billion transactions during this time, which represented a 15 percent gain over figures from 2009. Visa’s income for the quarter was more than $880 million.

“Visa’s first quarter was a great start to our fiscal 2011 as evidenced by strong earnings fueled by continued growth in payments volume, cross border volume and processed transactions globally – our core business,” said Joseph Saunders, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa.

Despite many reports that consumers would avoid using credit cards for holiday purchases, nearly every major lender has reported big fourth quarter increases in transaction totals and revenue.