CHICAGO (1/16/09)--Data from major card companies indicate that debit cards have so far held their own through the struggling economy—good news for the 58.9% of credit unions overall who offer debit cards. However, analysts warn that a prolonged recession could affect consumers’ debit spending. According to Synergistics Research Inc., debit card penetration has reached 75% to 80% of U.S. consumers. But the unemployment rate is also deepening. Consumers who don’t have jobs and therefore have no earnings won’t be spending, Synergistics CEO William H. McCracken told ATM&Debit News (Jan. 15). Visa reports debit volume at $280 billion for the three months ending June 30, 2008, an increase from $248 billion for that quarter in 2007. MasterCard’s total volume is also up. For the nine months ended in September total debit volume was $232 billion, up 18.3% from $196 billion a year earlier, said the publication. Although the economy hasn’t impacted debit so far in the U.S., other countries are seeing beginning signs of the economy’s effects. The average debit and credit card transaction processed in December through the United Kingdom’s Barclaycard Payment Acceptance was roughly US$71.20--down 1.3% from the period a year before. That didn’t dent the volume of processed transaction, which rose rose 4.7% during the same period. Visa says that nondiscretionary spending on its debit cards, which represent 53% of its global payments transactions, is less susceptible to economic volatilities than credit cards are. Among credit unions with assets of $50 million or more, debit cards are offered by 96% to 99.6% of credit unions with assets of $50 million or more, according to the Credit Union National Association’s Credit Union Service Profile for December 2007.