In Turbulent Times Like These, Credit Provides the Financial Support Members Need

By Beth Phillips, Director, Strategic Growth for CO-OP Financial Services

This article previously appeared on

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic. The last several months have given us a roller coaster of an economy that has left many consumers financially-vulnerable and uncertain about their long-term financial outlook. Looking at the data from thousands of credit unions within the CO-OP Credit and Debit portfolio, we’ve seen member spending levels climb back over the last few weeks; however, with many Americans still unemployed and the next government stimulus package potentially in limbo, we can still expect some bumps in the road to recovery ahead.

If history is any indicator of what we can expect in the upcoming months, then we’ll likely see a shift to credit spending among credit union members. A review of September payment transaction data across CO-OP’s credit and debit portfolios indeed shows that credit purchase activity is picking up after months of depressed volume, while debit spending is beginning to fade. Credit transaction counts and amounts increased for the month by 16% and 17%, respectively, compared with September 2019. This tells us that as more consumers suffer from reduced income and access to cash in their checking accounts, they are relying more on credit for daily expenses.