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Total card spending increases in May amid eased COVID-19 restrictions

Card spending surged more than 20 percent in May compared to the same month last year, according to data from the Credit Finance Association of Korea (CREFIA).

CREFIA said Monday in a report that total card spending, including credit, debit and corporate cards, amounted to 99.3 trillion won ($76.3 billion) in May, when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. This is a 20.7 percent increase from the 82.3 trillion won spent in May 2021.

During the same period, the value of personal card spending soared 14.2 percent, from 67.9 trillion won to 77.6 trillion won, while corporate card spending rose 51 percent, from 14.5 trillion to 21.8 trillion, according to the report. 

The average spending per transaction on company cards also saw a significant boost. Average spending rose 32 percent during the same period, amounting to a total of 164,543 won per purchase.

Analysts speculate that the rise in use of company cards resulted from resuming company dinners and client meetings, following the ease of pandemic restrictions here.

“The total value of personal card use has been increasing since the beginning of this year. However, the fact that company card use, which is sensitive to economic conditions, has increased shows that our society is rapidly returning to pre-pandemic conditions,” said an industry insider.

By industry, card spending has increased 89.4 percent in the transportation industry, while it has shown a 27 percent and 31.9 percent growth, respectively, in the sports, leisure, and food service industry.

Meanwhile, card spending in retail and education services each increased by slightly over 13 percent.

“If you look at data from each major card company, travel and transportation-related spending have been increasing rapidly since May, when restrictions were lifted,” said a local card company official. “It has become clear since April and May that consumption levels are recovering to pre-pandemic levels.”

By Lee Seung-ku (
catch table
Korea Herald daum