Safer money: credit unions

Friday 12-06-2015 - 12:49

Credit unions can provide a safer alternative to students who are looking to access money. 

Over the past few years NUS has been campaigning to ban payday lenders from campus and instead to encourage students to access safer money options such as hardship funds or from credit unions if they are struggling with their finances. 

Students’ associations can play a role in providing students with information about credit unions and their services, and can work with local credit unions to work together to promote safer money lending options. Below is more information about what credit unions are, how they operate and how to find out more about your local credit union.

What your credit union can do for students?


Credit union services

Although different credit unions offer a different range of services, all credit unions offer:

  • Savings accounts – members are encouraged to build up savings.
  • Affordable loans – taking into account the member’s personal circumstances, payment history and ability to repay the loan.

Many credit unions offer insurance products, and some offer a wider range of products including prepaid debit cards, budgeting accounts, foreign exchange, current accounts and even mortgages.


Mutual and ethical savings 

Credit unions offer a range of saving accounts for everyone. You can choose to save as little or as much as you can afford.


Distribution of profits

Unlike banks, credit unions distribute a share of their profits to members – the people who use their services - in dividends, which means the money stays in the community rather than going to external shareholders.


Affordable loans 

Credit unions offer loan products suited to your individual needs and at rates you can genuinely afford.


Putting customers first

A credit union’s customers are its members, because credit unions are co-operatives – self-help organisations owned and democratically controlled by their members. The board of the credit union is made up of members and elected by members.

  • Credit unions make it easy for you to save
  • Even a small amount saved each week will soon mount up.
  • Credit unions serve the community. So when you use your local credit union, you know it’s your neighbours or fellow students who are benefiting, not outside shareholders.
  • You can save as much or as little as you like, weekly, monthly or as often as you wish.
  • Deposit savings at local branches, collection points (within your college or university), by direct debit or directly from your wages.
  • Credit unions aim to pay a dividend on savings once a year to all members. 
  • In many credit unions, life insurance is included at no extra cost.

Savings in a credit union are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme up to the value of £85,000 per person.

Finding your local credit Union

To be a member, you must meet the common bond criteria set by the credit union. This might simply be that you live, work or study in a certain area, or might be based on the college or university you attend or employer you work for.

Everyone in Scotland is eligible to join at least one credit union. To find your local credit union visit 


NUS Scotland

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