MasterCard Inc's fourth-quarter profit soared 41 percent, beating expectations, as consumers around the world spent more money using credit and debit cards.

Revenue rose almost 11 percent to $1.44 billion, slightly above expectations. Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga said revenue improved from the previous quarter in all regions.

MasterCard and larger rival Visa Inc are increasingly looking abroad for growth. The U.S. market is relatively saturated, as most people already use credit or debit cards, and new U.S. regulations are expected to limit the card industry's revenue.

MasterCard's cross-border volumes, which indicate that people are traveling more and using their cards in foreign countries, grew almost 19 percent in the fourth quarter.

The earnings showed some really nice fundamental progress, said Jim Tierney, chief investment officer of money management firm W.P. Stewart, whose assets under management include MasterCard shares.

These are signs both that banks are issuing cards, and cardholders are using their cards again, he said, so we're getting back to normal.

But like Visa, MasterCard is facing several regulatory and legal challenges to the fees it collects from merchants for processing credit and debit card transactions. The Federal Reserve has proposed rules under the U.S. Dodd-Frank law that would cut some $13 billion of the banking industry's $23 billion in annual debit card processing fee revenue.

The card industry is also facing a long-simmering merchants' antitrust lawsuit over processing fees. MasterCard said on Thursday that it had entered into an agreement with Visa and partner banks over how to divide the costs of a potential legal settlement or ruling against the industry.

The company is continuing to fight the lawsuit and said in a regulatory filing that it is not possible to determine the ultimate resolution of, or estimate the liability related to the lawsuit or related claims.

MasterCard, the world's second-largest credit and debit card processing network, reported a quarterly profit of $415 million, or $3.16 per share, compared with $294 million, or $2.24 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected $3.04 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

On Wednesday Visa reported a 16 percent increase in quarterly profit, to $884 million or $1.23 per share.

MasterCard shares were up 0.6 percent at $240.84 in morning trading.

(Reporting by Maria Aspan, editing by Maureen Bavdek, John Wallace and Lisa Von Ahn)