The Credit Union Difference

At first glance we may appear the same as other financial organisations, however there are some significant differences which make the credit unions unique.


Credit Unions


Customers and ownership

  • Credit unions are ethical financial co-operatives owned by their members.
  • Eligibility to become a member is unique to each credit union (its common bond) and is determined within their rules.
  • Each member holds a £1 share in the credit union.
  • Banks have customers rather than members
  • Customers may not be owners in the organisation
  • Banks are owned by investors/shareholders who may or may not be depositors with the bank.

Main purpose

  • Credit unions are not-for-profit organisations, existing primarily to serve the needs of their members and the communities in which they operate.
  • Any surplus funds generated by a credit union are paid back to the members as a dividend
  • Loan rates and investment in new and improved services
  • Banks are in business primarily to generate profits for their investors/shareholders


  • Credit Unions are run by members, for members
  • Each credit union has a volunteer Board of Directors.
  • The Directors are all members of the credit union and are elected by the membership to serve them.
  • When it comes to voting, each member of the credit union has one vote, no matter how much they have in savings.
  • Banks are governed by paid directors.
  • Neither bank directors nor shareholders need be customers of the bank or based within the community the bank serves.
  • When it comes to voting, only the investors/shareholders of the bank can vote.  Bank customers have no vote.