BOSTON (2/11/08)--Credit unions are a safe haven in today's volatile consumer loan market, says an article in TheStreet.com (Feb. 7). Credit unions have avoided much of the subprime lending crisis by not offering exotic loans and teaser rates, it added. The article, "Credit Unions Give Banks a Run for Their Money," is based on a report by the Aite Group, a Boston research firm. It discusses the credit union difference, and notes that credit unions are expanding in membership while consolidating in numbers. Credit unions also are expanding in services, such as mortgage loans. Credit Union National Association Chief Economist Bill Hampel told the publication that credit unions are being more cautious with their loans as a result of the crisis that developed in recent years in an easy lending era. Of credit unions offering mortgage loans, 91% say they are seeing greater overall volume growth in mortgage lending than in any other consumer loan, the article noted. Bethpage (N.Y.) FCU, told the publication that offering a Home Loan Payment Relief mortgage (HLPR) helps it expand. The loan targets first-time homebuyers with good credit and who make less than 120% of the median income in the area. Another area of expansion addressed: credit cards. It quotes CUNA's midyear report, which said credit card loan flows grew steadily over five years until they reached 12.2% in June 2007. Another way credit unions grow is by offering innovative products to attract members. Fairfax County FCU discussed its Gen Y Extreme Checking Account, which offers a free rewards debit card and six free foreign ATM transactions, and more. The credit union promoted it through a YouTube video contest. Use the link to access the article.