What is a credit union?

It is a non-profit-making money cooperative whose members can borrow from pooled deposits at low interest rates. It is owned and controlled by its members.

It isn't just an oasis for those struggling to qualify for high street borrowing. As community co-operatives, credit unions appeal to those who want to benefit their local community. For many it is an ethical way of banking.

Credit unions offer members and potential members a range of opportunities to save and borrow. They are:
• ethical
• owned by their members
• rooted in the communities they serve
• ready to help lower income savers and borrowers who would otherwise be forced to turn to payday lenders or other providers of high cost credit.

Members of a credit union are linked by a common bond. The common bond of a credit union is the set of criteria for membership that all members must share in common with one another. This may relate to:
• all members following a particular occupation
• all members being employed by a particular employer
• all members residing or being employed within a defined locality

The objectives of credit unions include the promotion of thrift, financial education and debt management advice.

Credit unions do not maximise profit, and so their primary objectives differ fundamentally from commercial companies. The only persons to benefit from distributions of profit are members, who are paid dividends on their savings. This is funded wholly from the interest paid by those who borrow, and any other income generated.