Credit Unions’ 4Q Consumer Credit Outpaces Banks

Credit unions’ consumer credit growth outpaced that of banks and finance companies in the fourth quarter, according to Federal Reserve data released Friday.

While credit unions’ 3 percent growth pace in the fourth quarter was only slightly better than banks’ 2.7 percent pace, it was 10 times the 0.3 percent rate of increase at finance companies. For the month of December, credit unions’ total consumer credit increased 0.5 percent from the previous month. Banks and finance companies saw increases of 1.9 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Overall consumer credit, a measurement that does not include real estate loans, expanded 6.3 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis.

NAFCU Research Associate Doug Christman said non-revolving credit “continues to drive growth as consumers take advantage of low interest rates to purchase new vehicles and as young adults pursue higher education in a weak labor market.” Revolving credit declined in December due partly to lower gasoline prices, he said.

Overall consumer credit has been growing steadily over the past year due to rapid growth in non-revolving credit (mostly auto and education loans). Revolving credit has been too volatile to reveal any consistent trend over the past several months.

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