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S. Korean overseas card spending hits record last year

S. Korean overseas card spending hits record last year

SEOUL: Credit and debit card spending overseas by South Koreans hit an all-time high last year helped by increases in travel to Japan and direct buying from overseas online shops, industry data showed on Monday.

Overseas card spending reached a combined US$13.26 billion in 2015, up 8.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Credit Finance Association (CREFIA).

The yen’s weakness pushed up Koreans’ outbound travel to Japan by 45 percent and they swiped their credit cards to download songs from Apple iTunes or to order products from Amazon.com.

But the pace of growth continued to slow down from 2010 when overseas card expenditure jumped 35.2 percent year-on-year. “The won’s weakness against the U.S. dollar partly weighed down Koreans’ card spending last year,” a CREFIA official said.

Meanwhile, card spending by foreign visitors in Korea fell 13.2 percent year-on-year to $10.05 billion last year as foreigners delayed planned trips to Korea due to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in May, the official said.

This year, foreign card spending here will return to the level of 2014 as the deadly virus was officially declared over late last year. In 2014, the spending stood at $11.57 billion won.