The Credit Union National Association’s estimates show that credit union membership expanded by 3.6%—the highest calendar year growth in membership since the 3.7% increase in 1994.

“Credit unions truly had a banner year as 2014 marked a time that credit unions experienced exceptional growth, something that hasn’t been seen in two decades,” said Jim Nussle, President and CEO of CUNA. “I’m proud of the credit union movement, its growing membership – from 100 million in August to 102 million to close out the year – and the fact that Americans are choosing credit unions as their best financial partner.”

Mike Schenk, vice president of economics for CUNA said, “Although there's a big difference between those who simply join a credit union because they recognize the value proposition and those who join and actually use credit union services, the data seems to suggest that Americans are both joining and tapping the services of credit unions:  Strong loan portfolio growth provides important clues.”

Credit union loans outstanding rose by 10.2% during the 12-month period, the fastest jump since 2005 when loans expanded by 10.7%.

In 2014, fixed mortgage, adjustable mortgage, and home equity loans also increased by 6.7%, 14.1%, and 7.2%, respectively.

“Against the backdrop of better economic conditions—positive output growth, rising personal income, falling unemployment rate, and increasing consumer confidence—competitive rates will ensure more lending at credit unions in 2015,” Schenk said.

CUNA’s baseline forecast calls for loan portfolios to jump 11% in 2015—eclipsing 2014 results.

“It’s an exciting time to be leading CUNA, and I’m looking forward to what 2015 holds,” said Nussle.