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Credit card companies see jump in spending

Feb 04, 2011 Brian Bradley

Despite record highs in credit card debt throughout the country, many consumers continue to add debt via plastic. According to The Wall Street Journal, MasterCard experienced a 41 percent increase in profits during the fourth quarter of 2010. Much of that can be attributed to the holiday shopping season, but the figure is nevertheless a sign that consumers are saying, "forget the credit report, full steam ahead." However, despite the profit increase and consumer spending habits, the credit card giant remains cautious about where the economy is going. "It's hard to see sustained growth until the housing market and unemployment improve," Ajay Banga, MasterCard's president and chief executive, told analysts and investors. The number of transactions processed by MasterCard jumped 6.3 percent to 6.2 billion in the 12 months between Q4 2009 and Q4 2010. Cross-border volume, which is made up of travel-related transactions, climbed 19 percent - the best showing in 10 quarters. MasterCard's biggest competitor, Visa, also experienced significant gains. Visa, like MasterCard does not lend money and only makes money from charging banks. It witnessed 16 percent growth during Q4 2010.