Credit card spending by Bangladeshis travelling abroad rises 32% in March

The highest amount of dollars spent through credit cards took place in India

08 June, 2023, 10:50 pm

Last modified: 08 June, 2023, 11:00 pm

Infographic: TBS

Infographic: TBS

Infographic: TBS

Bangladeshis travelling abroad spent around Tk426 crore, equivalent to $40 million, in March to buy goods and services, which is 32% more than in February.

According to a report by the Bangladesh Bank, credit cards issued by 43 Bangladeshi banks were used in various countries for buying products from department stores, pharmacies, clothing outlets and transportation in March. In February, this expenditure was around Tk313 crore or $29 million.

An analysis of the credit card spending pattern reveals that about 77% of these transactions took place using VISA cards, 13% using MasterCard, and 9% using American Express cards.

According to the central bank, Bangladeshis spent the highest amount of dollars through credit cards in India, followed by the USA, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and other countries.

A senior official at the central bank told The Business Standard, “Bangladeshi nationals can spend up to $12,000 a year. They can spend it using cards or by taking cash dollars with them when they go out of the country.

“However, if anyone wants to make a dollar payment through a credit card, they can spend up to a maximum of $300 at a time.”

Pointing out that people are interested in dollar payments through credit cards due to the high price of cash dollars, this official said, “Currently, if someone wants to buy cash dollars from the country’s kerb market, he/she has to pay about Tk112 per dollar. But they can buy electronic dollars for Tk109-109.50 from most banks and spend through cards. That is why everyone is interested in card payments.”

Currently, the number of credit cards issued in the country is 40.49 lakh.

The head of the card department of a private bank, wishing not to be named, told TBS, “There are many people who use multiple credit cards. So, the number of customers will be much less compared to the cards. Besides, not all credit card customers travel abroad. Therefore, most of the citizens who spend dollars through cards while travelling abroad belong to the upper middle class or upper class of the country.”

Ahsan H Mansur, the executive director at Policy Research Institute, told The Business Standard that the government cannot decide how a citizen spends his income. However, foreign travel can be discouraged in various ways if one wants to reduce dollar consumption in the current situation.

Besides, it is not possible to reduce the demand for the greenback if the price is not based on the market, he added.

According to the central bank data, foreign nationals have spent as much as Tk237 crore or $22 million through credit cards in Bangladesh. About 95% of these expenses are spent on purchases from department stores, cash withdrawals and transportation.

About 26% of the transactions took place using credit cards issued by the USA. The citizens of the UK, India, Singapore, China, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, and Germany also spend a significant amount by using credit cards, data shows.

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