Credit unions


What are credit unions?

A credit union is a profit-sharing, democratically run financial co-operative which offers convenient savings and low interest loans to its members. The members own and manage their credit union themselves.

The three main aims of a credit union are:

  • to encourage its members to save regularly
  • to provide loans to members at very low rates of interest
  • to help members to find appropriate support with managing their financial affairs (if required)

What are the benefits? Click to get info

  • It is an easy and convenient way to save and borrow
  • It offers very low cost loans
  • Members’ savings and loans are insured at no direct cost
  • It's a way for volunteers to learn new skills
  • Credit unions bring people together, to work alongside each other for their own benefit and the benefit of the community as a whole
  • A credit union can help to revive the local economy by keeping money in the community
  • Loans to members can mean income for local shops and businesses

Churches, community groups, national consumer councils, Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards, police, fire, taxi drivers, local authorities etc.

How do they work? Click to get info

Some members will save regularly and these savings then form a common pool of money from which loans are made to members. Members pay a low rate of interest on the loans and that money helps to pay the administration costs of the credit union.

People who join a credit union must belong to what is called a "Common Bond". This could be that you reside in a specified area, study in a local college, work for a particular employer or are a member of a club or association. Credit unions welcome everybody who qualifies regardless of income, employment status or age.

You can visit the office at 4 Church Hill, Walthamstow, London E17 3AG (junction of High St and Hoe St). To qualify for membership, you need to live, work, worship or study within the borough and we will need proof of your address and separate proof of your address. See website for details of what proof we can accept.

Do I have to save? Click to get info

There is no requirement to save initially, but it is part of a credit union’s ethos to encourage members to make the most of their money and regular saving is part of that. Credit unions try and make it as easy as possible to save, even if you don’t have much to start with, including offering time lock facilities so you can set money aside for a special event.

Credit unions are not allowed to offer interest at present, but we can pay an annual dividend based on the amount of money generated as a surplus.

The amount you will be able to borrow will depend on how much you need, what you can afford to repay, and the credit union's policies. To start with, loans available will be relatively small and may increase as you build up your credit history with us and, hopefully, get a savings habit.

Security Click to get info

Credit unions have to be registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

They are covered by the Credit Union Act 1979.

They are independently audited.

They are regularly monitored by the FSA.

Your business is private in the credit union because all staff and volunteers who have access to personal information must act in a confidential manner at all times.

They are insured against fraud and theft and belong to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so your money is completely safe in a Credit Union.

They provide life assurance and loan protection insurance at no direct cost to the member, with the proceeds payable to a nominated beneficiary.

The life assurance means that if you die, your beneficiary can receive up to twice the value of your savings.

The loan protection insurance would pay off the outstanding amount of your loan. If you were to die while a member

In most of the world, credit unions are well established. Starting in Germany 150 years ago they spread throughout Europe, to North America, Canada, Asia and to Ireland. One third of the adults in Ireland are members of a credit union. Credit unions are steadily increasing throughout the UK both in communities, and the work place (eg. Police Force, British Airways, Fire Service, local authority employees etc.).

East London Credit Union  - For general and membership enquiries contact:

Contact us online   
Tel 020 8520 8740

By post:
East London Credit Union
72-74 High Street
E17 7LD

Or visit the East London Credit Union website.