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Credit unions

If there is a credit union local to you, it can be a good place to save whilst also helping the disadvantaged in your community.

Credit unions are mutual self-help organisations offering members who share a common bond a way of saving or borrowing money. They are usually organised around living or working in a certain area, belonging to a particular organisation (such as a Trade Union), or working for the same employer.

They are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who as well as being savers or borrowers have a say in decision-making. Savings are pooled and lent on to other members at affordable rates of interest. They operate on a not-for-private-profit basis, with all surpluses invested back into the credit union, or returned to members as dividends (rather than interest).

Savings with credit unions are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects savings (up to £75,000 per person). Most have a lower limit however.

Some credit unions offer a range of savings accounts, for example for children or Christmas, and some may offer cash ISAs, mortgages and insurance. They tend to pay a return comparable with what you might get from traditional banks, but are likely to only have one main branch in the area they serve – although some have service points too.

There are around 340 credit unions in Scotland, England and Wales with over 1.2 million members with savings of over £1 billion.

Find the most appropriate credit union for your circumstances.

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