ALEXANDRIA, Va.-Credit unions added 740,000 new members in the third quarter of the year, a new quarterly record that easily puts CUs on pace for their best year ever, NCUA said.

By comparison, credit unions added a then-record 450,000 new members in Q3 2011 after the Bank Transfer Day promotion sent many consumers fleeing their banks.

This year's third-quarter member numbers makes a total of 2.1 million new members added for the first nine months of the year, on pace to top the previous high of 2.3 million members added in 2000, following the national campaign to expand membership powers, which culminated in passage of HR 1151, the CU Membership Access Act.

The new members are paying off in a variety of ways, with additional loans, new deposits and rising profitability.

"Third-quarter statistics show the credit union industry continues to recover from the economic downturn," said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz. Among the Q3 numbers:

* Lending rose by 1.6% in the third quarter and has now risen for six straight quarters.

* Savings growth slowed, as it typically does in the third quarter, to just 0.1%, but is 5.1% through the first nine months-adding $42.3 billion in new deposits for the year.

* Net income for the first three quarters of the year rose to $6.4 billion, higher than the $6.3 billion for all of last year, even with NCUA taking $790 million in corporate credit union assessments during Q3. The industry's ROA remained steady at a strong 0.86% at Sept. 30, 17 basis points higher than for 2011.

This year's membership growth has already exceeded last year's when credit unions added 1.5 million members in all of 2011. Credit unions added 600,000 new members in 2010; 1.3 million in 2009, and 1.4 million in 2008.

The number of federally insured CUs continued to decline and was at 6,888 at the end of the third quarter.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the credit union industry

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.