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Card spending climbs 11% in April on eased COVID-19 rules

Travelers move about Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Travelers move about Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Sunday. (Yonhap)

Card use for settlement in South Korea swelled 11 percent in April on softer anti-coronavirus rules with spending on travel and transportation spiking, data showed Tuesday, in a sign of the country's consumption returning to pre-pandemic normalcy.

Spending made with credit, debit and prepaid cards came to 90.3 trillion won ($71.9 billion) in April, compared with 81.3 trillion won a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Credit Finance Association.

The number of approved card settlements also climbed 10.6 percent on-year to 2.14 billion cases in the month.

In particular, card spending in the transportation sector, including railroad, aviation and bus services, shot up nearly 70 percent on-year to 1.8 trillion won in April.

Card use for settlement in the travel and related services area also surged 40.4 percent from a year earlier to 320 billion won.

"Card spending on travel and transportation has been rising sharply since the government sharply loosened COVID-19 restrictions in April," an industry source said. "That shows South Korea is quickly returning to pre-COVID-19 normalcy."

South Korea scrapped most COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, including middle-seat vacancy rules, business hour curfews and a food ban on indoor public places, on April 18 as part of its efforts to return to normal.

Meanwhile, major credit card issuer Samsung Card Co. said card use by its members in the United States, Japan and 12 other countries jumped 17 percent on-year in April thanks to a surge in the number of outbound travelers.

Card use for the purchase of flight tickets and items at duty-free shops expanded 19 percent in April from a year earlier, said Samsung Card, the credit card arm of South Korea's top conglomerate, Samsung Group. (Yonhap)

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