South Korea's credit card spending grew at a slower pace in February than a month earlier due to a one-time effect, data showed on Tuesday.
Purchases made with credit cards reached 41.48 trillion won ($38.52 billion) in February, growing 2.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Credit Finance Association. The February figure is compared with 46.9 trillion won worth of credit card spending a month earlier and also marks a slowdown from a 9-percent on-year gain in January.
The data includes transactions on credit, debit and prepaid cards. Cash advances, overseas spending and card loans were not included.
The association attributed the slowdown in credit card spending to a base effect stemming from the Lunar New Year holiday that fell in late January. Last year, the Lunar New Year holiday fell in February.
In the first two months of the year, credit card spending reached 88.47 trillion won, up 5.8 percent from a year earlier, the association said.
South Koreans often carry multiple credit cards, which has contributed to boosting private spending in the past few years.
The data also showed that the use of debit cards has been on a steady rise, accounting for a record high of 19.4 percent of the total card purchases in February.
In contrast, the portion of credit card spending against the total declined to a record low level of 80.2 percent last month.
Debit cards are widely expected to make up a larger portion of purchases made with plastic this year on the back of a government effort to invigorate debit spending through tax incentives, the association said.
The government has also been moving to tighten credit card rules to reduce the country's record-high household debt.
Last year, credit card spending rose 4.7 percent on-year to reach 545 trillion won, the slowest pace since 2005 when the association began to compile related data, a sharp turn from the previous year's 13.5 percent expansion.
For the whole of 2013, Asia's fourth-largest economy grew 2.8 percent, the fastest pace in two years, after increasing 2 percent in the previous year. (Yonhap)