Credit card loan balances at credit unions nationwide grew 7.5% in 2018, ending the year at $62.4 billion. Credit card balance growth, however, slowed 1.6 basis points compared to 2017. This was the largest decline of any loan product. As the loan portfolio has expanded, the percentage of credit card loan balances to total loan balances has steadily decreased. Credit card loans accounted for 5.9% of the entire $1.1 trillion credit union loan portfolio at year-end 2018, down 8 basis points from Dec. 31, 2017.
Unfunded commitments for credit card lines increased 9.5% year-over-year, indicating that credit unions expanded lines of credit faster than members accessed those lines. As a result, credit card utilization — the ratio of outstanding balances to outstanding balances plus unfunded commitments — declined 40 basis points over the year to 31.7%.
Credit card penetration rose to nearly 17.6% in 2018 from 17.5% in the previous year. The number of credit card loans across the country increased 5.0% year-over-year to slightly more than 20.6 million by Dec. 31, 2018. The average balance of these loans was $3,022, a $71 increase from the year prior. The share of the credit card market held by credit unions expanded 29 basis points year-over-year to 6.0% by year-end 2018.
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