Credit unions ended the year with consumer loans taking more spots in the portfolio parking lot, leaving a smaller share of the loan space for real estate.
A preliminary assessment by CUNA and the Federal Reserve Bank’s G-19 Consumer Credit Report released Wednesday show credit unions continued to increase loans for cars and credit cards faster than banks and most other lenders.
The result was again a record high share of consumer lending, topping 11% for the second month in a row.
For all credit unions, CUNA estimates the portfolio of new car loans grew 15% to $135.9 billion, while used car loans grew 12% to $206.8 billion.
The Federal Reserve Bank’s G-19 Consumer Credit Report released Wednesday showed total U.S. car loan portfolio was $1.1 trillion as of Dec. 31, up 3.8% from a year earlier.
Jordan van Rijn, CUNA senior economist, said the combined growth in credit union automobile loans was 12.8%.
“Although high, this figure is actually lower than the previous three years, which all saw rates of about 14% to 15%,” van Rijn said. “This could be a sign that pent up demand for auto loans is slowing, although we expect relatively strong demand to continue into 2018.”
The nation’s total credit card debt again topped $1 trillion in December, up 6% from a year earlier.
Credit unions held $58 billion in credit card debt on Dec. 31, up 9.2% from a year earlier. Their share of the nation’s credit card debt was 5.6% in December, compared with 5.7% in November and 5.5% in December 2016.
“We expect many to pay down these credit card balances in January, when there is often a decrease in total credit card balances,” van Rijn said.
The nation’s 10 largest credit unions held $20.9 billion of the credit card debt, and it rose 15.7% from a year earlier.
The biggest percentage gain was made by First Tech Federal Credit Union of Mountain View, Calif. ($11.4 billion in assets, 506,442 members), where card debt rose 30.4% to $307.4 million. The second biggest percentage gain—and providing the vast majority of the dollars—was Navy Federal Credit Union of Vienna, Va., where card debt grew 19.1% to $14.8 billion.
Navy FCU added $2.4 billion in card debt to its portfolio last year, accounting for nearly half of the $4.9 billion gain made by the entire credit union movement.
The Fed report includes the broad categories of revolving consumer debt, which is essentially credit cards, and non-revolving debt, which includes car loans and student loans.
All lenders held $2.8 trillion in non-revolving consumer loans in December, up 5.1% from a year earlier. Credit unions held $367 billion of these loans, up 12.2%.
Among all lenders, student loans represented 53% of all non-revolving loans, including $1.1 trillion in federal student loans. Total student loans, including private loans, were $1.5 trillion in December, up 5.9% from a year earlier.
The Fed report includes student and car loan amounts only in these quarter-ending months, but does not break them down by type of lender.
However, NCUA call reports for the top 10 credit unions showed a major increase in student lending. They held $564.1 million in private student loans on Dec. 31, nearly double the $286.6 million a year earlier.
NCUA reports for June 2017 showed 810 credit unions holding $1.2 billion in private student loans, up 38% from June 2016.
Membership ended the year at 113.9 million, up 4.3% from December 2016, the fastest annual membership growth since the 1980s, van Rijn said. “And 2017 witnessed the fourth straight year of double-digit loan growth,” he said. “At nearly 11%, loans grew faster than any other year since 2009.”