Consumers continue using credit cards as Visa profits surge

Consumers continue using credit cards as Visa profits surge During the recession, millions of consumers shied away from using their credit cards on a regular basis due to financial concerns that forced them to reassess their debt relief plans. But now, after many may have been able to successfully reduce debt, consumers are returning to credit use.

Visa recently announced that in the final three months of last year, the amount of card use, and spending, it observed rose significantly on a year-over-year basis. The number of transactions the company processed climbed 8 percent from 2010's total to 13.6 billion, and the amount of money spent on its branded debit, credit and prepaid cards jumped 11 percent to a total of more than $994 billion.

Recent studies have suggested that the new surges in card spending have to do with consumers continuing to move away from using cash to complete purchases, instead relying on credit and debit. But in the last few months, consumers have added significantly to the amount of credit card debt they carry. Some say this is the result of just seasonal increases in spending seen every year, but others believe the improving economy plays a role in consumers' confidence to better handle their accounts.