17 October 2019 is International Credit Union Day, this years’ theme is Local Service: Global Reach. Our Money Advice Officer, Steven, explains what Credit Unions are and how to get involved.
Credit Unions are financial co-operatives which provide savings, loans and other services to their members whilst being fully owned and controlled by their members. They are open to everyone and provide a financial community where all members contribute and benefit directly instead of shareholders, so the emphasis is on providing a good service to members rather than maximising profits. Globally, over 200 million people are members of a Credit Union in over 100 different countries.
Credit Unions can be a lifeline for people who are excluded from the retail banking sector and by joining one you are helping others in your community. They can offer loans at much lower interest rates than doorstep or payday loans and usually allow low weekly payments over the counter. They are not-for-profit, usually offer help and advice to encourage their members to save money with them and ensure any loans they take are affordable. They are also just as safe as mainstream banks as they are closely regulated to ensure they have enough money to stay afloat and are also backed by the Government’s Financial Services Compensation scheme.
Some reasons to join a Credit Union
1.They can help you save regularly, borrow responsibly and keep on top of your finances
2.They share their profits with their members which often means members can get a dividend on their savings
3.They can usually offer credit to people who struggle to get a loan elsewhere
4.They offer competitive interest rates
5.For smaller loans, they will always charge less interest than doorstep and payday lenders
6.All savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme
Residents of Warrington have access to various Credit Unions such as Warrington Credit Union, North East Warrington Credit Union and Enterprise Credit Union. Eligibility criteria, details of how to join and contact details are available on their individual websites.
Whilst Steven can’t recommend any particular Credit Union, savings or loan product, he can advise you about maximising your income and minimising your expenses. Get in touch if you would like any help.