Visa profits jump on more card use

The world's largest processor of credit and debit transactions recently announced that consumer credit card use surged in the final three months of 2011.

Visa saw the amount spent on its branded credit, debit and prepaid cards increase by 11 percent on a year-over-year basis to a total of more than $994 billion, the company recently announced. In addition, the total number of transactions climbed to 13.6 billion, up 8 percent from the previous year. This may be a sign that consumers are continuing to rely on their cards to replace cash purchases.

Recent studies have shown that as the number of card transactions grows, it's being driven by credit purchases. That may be the result of consumers continuing to feel better about the state of both the economy and their personal finances, and therefore being more comfortable dealing with debt after eschewing it during the recession.

When seeking new credit accounts, consumers should first be sure to order a copy of their credit report to determine their standing. There may be errant or unfair items that are lowering their scores.