Credit card use is up, and that’s great news for industry heavies Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) , both of which have been on a tear over the past few month. To make things even sweeter, delinquencies have dropped, too, and now stand at a level not seen since 1990.
For consumers, however, the jump in swiping activity is having a deleterious effect — and not on their financial health. According to The Street, research has found that using a credit card can lead to weight gain, ostensibly because purchasers are more apt to buy junk food or pricey gourmet items. The same effect was not found in consumers using a debit card — or cash — which tend to limit overspending by removing the “buy now, pay later” factor.
It doesn’t look like Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) need to worry, though. Not only is consumer card-swiping increasing as the public’s perception of the economy improves, but both companies also provide debit card services, as well.
A terrific year
Both card companies have seen their fortunes rise over the past year, and they’ve been garnering attention for their impressive gains, which have pushed both toward their 52-week highs. Analysts note that these companies are especially well-positioned to take advantage of an improving economy, as increased consumer confidence leads to more credit card purchases.
In addition to domestic markets, both companies have been focusing on emerging economies, where historically cash transactions are beginning to segue into credit and debit card purchases. In the first quarter of 2013, MasterCard reported an increase in global payment volume of 11%, and Visa Inc (NYSE:V) notched gains of 7%.
Banks love plastic, too
Big banks make a nifty profit from the credit card industry, and both Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) made note of this in their recent earnings reports. Wells reported that its revenue growth was partially aided by double-digit revenue growth in its credit card department, and JPMorgan also showed growth of 10% year over year in its own credit card sales division.