People spent more on accommodation and in cafes and restaurants last month with Easter falling in March. However, the holiday period slowed spending growth for the month.
Paymark, which processes three quarters of all electronic transactions in New Zealand, said the total value of credit and debit card transactions rose 3.1%, to $4.1 billion in March, compared with the same period a year earlier.
However, the annual growth was at 5.7% in the first three weeks of March, though it declined over Easter.
But spending at Easter this year rose 8.8% to $48 million, compared with the five days of Easter in 2012.
Paymark chief executive Simon Tong said it all points to more consumer confidence.
"We're continuing to see gardening stores and those sorts of outlets doing well - in March we saw accommodation providers up - hostels, camping grounds - and that actually also lined up with what we saw with regards to the regional differences, so people were on holiday over that period - Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay also did very well."