What is a credit union?

Credit Unions are often described as ‘people helping people’ organisations.  Essentially, as mutual financial services co-operatives, credit unions encourage people to save together and to lend to each other responsibly.

Worldwide over 200 million people use the services of a credit union with 56,000 credit unions operating in 101 different countries.  Yet, no matter where in the world they are based, or how large (or small) they are, every credit union follows the same democratic principles and operates solely in the interest of the customers who use its products and services.  In any credit union, these customers are called members.  Every member of the credit union is also an owner of the organisation and has a say in how it operates and develops.

Unlike most other financial organisations, membership of a credit union is based around the concept of a common bond – something which links all of the members.  This may be a geographical bond, a work related bond or even a mixture of both. 

Credit unions are not for profit organisations.  With no external shareholders, credit unions can focus on their members offering them a range of safe, competitive and fair products and services.  Any surplus funds generated are returned to the membership of the credit union in the form of dividends on their savings. 

Member service is of utmost importance to all credit unions.  The world of finance can be a complicated place.  Credit unions aim to keep things simple and straightforward. No hidden catches, no hidden fees or charges.  Simply a range of competitive products combined with high levels of friendly and professional service.

A recent development sees UK credit unions now able to offer corporate accounts to businesses and other organisations within their common bond area.