DETROIT (7/21/09)--Credit unions are the only lenders taking care of their consumers, noted a Saturday Detroit Free Press article. The newspaper also prominently mentioned the Michigan Credit Union League and its Invest in America program in contrast to the tightened access to credit consumers face at banks and other lenders. Credit unions financed 170,000 loans to Chrysler and General Motors (GM) customers through the Invest in America program in the first half of this year. The program offers credit union members discounts and rebates when they purchase Chrysler or GM vehicles, the Free Press said. Credit unions are the only lenders that are taking care of their customers, Joe Ricci, a former Dodge dealer who now operates a buying service, told the Free Press. The newspaper also noted that credit unions are an alternative for creditworthy borrowers rejected by banks. They offer lower interest rates and more flexibility, and they account for one of every four new car loans. Credit unions also have more money to lend, the newspaper said. A graph appearing in the article indicated that credit unions had $189.7 billion available in consumer loan cash during the first quarter. Credit unions in Michigan financed 27% of new vehicle purchases in May. New car loans at Michigan credit unions increased by 19% from Sept. 30 to March 31--when car sales plunged to their lowest levels in 30 years. The growth at credit unions is expected to continue, according to the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL). Credit unions are nonprofit and have lower rates, added MCUL President/CEO David Adams. “We didn’t swing for the fences and end up in trouble, like many commercial banks,” he told the newspaper.