MasterCard Inc , the world's second-largest credit card network, said first-quarter profit increased 24 percent, beating analyst expectations and confirming that consumers are spending once again.

The company earned $455 million, or $3.46 a share, compared with $367 million, or $2.80 per share, a year earlier.

Those results beat market expectations by a wide margin, driving MasterCard shares up more than 2 percent in premarket trading. Analysts on average had expected MasterCard to have net income of $3.14 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

MasterCard attributed its improved results to increased consumer spending, higher cross-border volumes, and a pricing increase.

MasterCard posted net revenue of $1.3 billion, up from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $1.27 billion.

The company offered the latest signs that consumers are emerging from the recession, almost a week after larger rival Visa Inc reported higher-than-expected payments volume.

MasterCard's gross dollar volume growth rate rebounded to 8.3 percent worldwide on a local currency basis, up from 0.2 percent in the year-ago quarter.

MasterCard and Visa do not lend at all and have not suffered from credit losses affecting banks in the past two years. But they process transactions made on credit and debit cards, so their revenue growth was affected by the cutback in consumer spending during the recession.

(Reporting by Maria Aspan; editing by John Wallace and Maureen Bavdek)