Credit unions

A credit union is a non-profit-making money cooperative whose members can borrow from pooled deposits at low interest rates.

Who can join?

There are well over 100 credit unions in Northern Ireland. Each one is an independent organisation serving members from a particular area or group. This is called a Common Bond.

For some the common bond might be the job the people have, the employer they work for or, members are drawn from a society. This common bond is what lets members to know and trust one another.

What’s the difference?

Every credit union is  a “not-for-profit” organisation that only exists to help its members. All of its decisions are made at a local level, and as a member you are a shareholder in the organisation. The more savings you have, the more shares you have.

All of the money held in a credit union is provided by its members. Every member benefits because any extra money made is returned to its members.

How do I join?

Find your local credit union. You can do this through an online search, or ask if your work or club has one. Find out more at:

Start saving. Every £1 saved in the credit union counts as 1 share.

Build up your savings in the credit union.

Once you are a member you can apply for loans through the credit union and have a say in how the credit union is run.

What do credit unions offer?

Services and rates may vary between credit unions, but most offer the following:


Saving at your credit union has a number of benefits. The more you save the bigger your shareholding and the greater your share of any excess at the end of the financial year.

Your saving will also be protected by Life Savings Protection at no cost. Find out more at or pick up the 'Loan Protection and Life Savings Insurance' leaflet from your credit union. All members’ savings are protected up to the value of £85,000 under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.


Credit union loans are designed to be ethical and flexible. Loans are based on what people can afford to repay and repayments are planned around individual circumstances.

Loan insurance is included in loan packages at no cost.

Find out more at

Or pick up the 'Loan Protection and Life Savings Insurance' leaflet at your credit union.


The insurance products from the credit union are designed to protect members and their families.

Insurance policies include Loan Protection and Life Savings Insurance, which all members benefit from.

Death Benefit Insurance is also available through the majority of credit unions.

Other Services available through credit unions may include:

  • Budgeting tips/Money management service
  • Paypoint
  • Receipt of Benefit payments
  • Debit card payments
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Pre-paid debit cards
  • Bursary schemes

For more information on credit unions, or to locate your nearest credit union, visit:

Banks and Building Societies

In addition to credit unions, the following financial institutions which all have local branches, offer Basic Bank Accounts, with no overdraft facilities:

  • Bank of Ireland - Basic Cash Account
  • Barclays - Basic Current Account
  • Halifax - Basic Account
  • HSBC - Basic Bank Account
  • Nationwide Building Society FlexBasic Account
  • Santander  - Basic Current Account
  • Ulster Bank Foundation Account
  • Virgin Money -  Essential Current Account
  • First Trust Bank, Danske Bank and the Post Office also offer accounts. Please note that these accounts have overdraft facilities.

Other Loan Providers

Fair For You: tel: 0333 433 0739

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