ATLANTA (3/18/15)--Georgia's 136 credit unions continued their strong performance in 2014, powered by strong lending numbers, the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) reported.
Fourth quarter overall loan growth was 2%, bringing 2014 growth to 11%. New vehicle loans were up 5.5% in the quarter and 31.9% for the year. Used vehicle loans increased 6.7% in the quarter, contributing to an annual increase of 14.7% over 2013.
Simply put, Georgia consumers are getting a better deal on car loans at credit unions than they are at banks. The current average rate on a five-year new-vehicle loan at the state's credit unions now averages a rate 0.76 percentage points lower than the comparable rate at Georgia banks. On a $25,000 new auto loan, the credit union advantage saves the Georgia consumer more than $500 over five years.
Mortgage loans rose 5.9% for the year. Unsecured personal loans were up 5.1%, and credit cards increased 1.8%. Member business lending was down 3.4% for the year and second mortgages declined by 1.5% in 2014.
"Clearly, the numbers point to strong demand for vehicle loans and other types of consumer credit," said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. "With growing confidence about job stability and higher household income, credit union members are spending money again. This is showing up in higher loan growth and subdued growth in savings accounts."
Overall Georgia credit union savings balances reversed course in the fourth quarter, growing by 0.8%. Credit union checking account balances grew by 3.5% while regular savings also grew by 0.4% in the final quarter of 2014.
Georgia consumers clearly recognize the benefit of credit unions, with total memberships at the state's credit unions rising by 0.2% in the fourth quarter and by 2.9% for the full year of 2014. There are more than 2 million credit union memberships in Georgia.
Numbers from CUNA showed over the course of 2014, memberships nationwide climbed by 3.6%, the highest rate since the 3.7% posted in 1994 (News Now Feb. 6). Credit union memberships topped 102 million by year end.