FAQs

We’ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions here, covering everything from membership to saving and borrowing, but if there’s something else you’d like more information on, please get in touch, the team will be happy to help.

About membership

With my bank I’m a customer but with the credit union I’m a member – what’s the difference?

The credit union is a co-operative.  That means that rather than being owned by one or two individuals or shareholders via the stock market, we are owned by our customers – the people that use our services.  That’s why our customers are called members.

So when you use our services you become a member and part owner of the credit union.  And because we’re a co-op, each one of our members has one vote regardless of how much you invest with us or how often you use the service.

This means that we are only here to serve you, our members, and we do not have separate owners who want to make as much money from you as possible.  We make decisions based on what our members want us to do and we have an incentive to reward our savers as well as we can and to keep our interest rates for borrowers as low as we can.

You get to use your vote when we want to change our rules on how we operate and to elect directors who sit on our board and represent your interests in setting our plans on what products to offer, how much to charge in interest, what dividend we pay and how to invest our income.

Are there any fees for being a member?

No, the credit union does not charge any fees to be a member and save with us.

What are your opening hours?

The credit union is open Monday-Friday, 8.30am-4.30pm except on bank holidays and occasional days where we are closed for staff training.

What is the best way to get in touch if I have a question?

You can contact us via email, on our secure members’ app Nivo, by sending a secure message via the Members Access website or by requesting a call back on the phone.  Full details are available here: https://www.co-operativecreditunion.coop/contact/

How do I check my balance(s)?

The best way to keep track of your balances is by registering for our Members Access website where you can check balances, request a withdrawal, send secure messages, manage your nominated bank accounts and apply for loans. Registration is easy – you will need your membership number, mobile number, email address and date of birth.  To register visit: https://secure.co-operativecreditunion.coop/register

If for any reason you can’t access Members Access, you can request a balance by sending us a message via Nivo or email.  Please make sure you put your full name, membership number, postcode and date of birth in any email you send to help us respond to your query quickly.

How do I request a withdrawal?

The best way to request a withdrawal is via the Members Access website.  Registration is easy – you will need your membership number, mobile number, email address and date of birth.  To register visit: https://secure.co-operativecreditunion.coop/register

 

Any withdrawal request submitted by 3.30pm on a working day will be processed the same day and paid into your nominated bank account by 6pm the same evening.  If you miss the 3.30pm deadline, your withdrawal will be processed on the next working day.

What return to I get on my savings?

All savings held in the credit union attract a dividend.  The dividend rate is paid based on the credit union’s financial performance and market conditions.  It is not agreed in advance, but proposed and voted on at the AGM every January.  In 2021, the credit union paid 0.25% and in 2020 paid 1% and we always aim to pay as much as we can reasonably afford to.

Are you part of the Co-op or independent?

We work closely with our payroll partner employers and the Co-op helped get us started.  But we’re an independent company and none of the data and information you share with us would ever be shared with your employer.   They also have no way of knowing whether you are a borrower or saver member just because you might use our payroll scheme.

It also means that once you join our credit union, even if you leave the Co-op or any of our other partners, you can keep your account with us and continue to save and borrow as before.  We would just need to arrange for you to pay into your account some other way – either Direct Debit, standing order or Child Benefit – if you pay by payroll deduction.

Does my employer know about my account with you?

If you pay into your credit union account by payroll deduction then your employer’s payroll department will know that you are a member of the credit union but otherwise they do not have any information.  Payroll departments operate under strict confidentiality rules and so none of the information regarding your deduction is shared with anyone else in the business.   They are also not aware of what your deduction amount is used for – they don’t know if you’ve got a savings or loan account, just that you have an account.

Do I have to close my account if I leave my job?

No. Even if you leave the Co-op or any of our other payroll partners, you can keep your account with us and continue to save and borrow as before.  We would just need to arrange for you to pay into your account some other way – either Direct Debit or standing order – if you pay by payroll deduction.

About saving

How does saving with the credit union work?

We ask all members to save at least £10 per month.  If you work for one of our payroll partner employers such as The Co-op, you can save by payroll deduction.  This is a really simple and easy way to get into a savings habit – just tell us how much you’d like to save and we’ll take care of the rest.  After a couple of pay days you’ll be used to saving and the money will start to build up quickly.

If you don’t work for a partner employer, you can also save by Direct Debit or standing order.  Let us know how you’d like to save and we’ll give you all the details of how to get started.  Whichever way you choose, we do everything we can to take the pain out of saving.

Which employers are your payroll partners?

We have a number of employers that we work with to provide their employees with payroll deduction facilities to make managing your money as easy as possible.  The employers we have these facilities with are:

The Co-op Group

The Co-op Academies Trust

MidCounties Co-op

Southern Co-op

The Co-operative Bank

2 Sisters Food Group

Usdaw

Co-ops UK

The Association of British Credit Unions Limited

Charities Aid Foundation

If you don’t work for one of these employers, you can still save and borrow with the credit union and we have a number of options for making payments:

Direct Debit – collected on the first of every month, or the next working day thereafter if the first falls on a weekend or bank holiday

Standing Order – gives you flexibility as you can pay on a date that suits you and change the amount you pay directly with your bank

Child Benefit – we allow parent members to pay their Child Benefit directly into their credit union account, this gives you the option to borrow using the Family Loan as well as saving.

Can I have more than one savings account?

All members have a Regular Share account which is their main membership savings account.  This is where most members keep their savings.  However, if you want to put money aside for a particular reason, we can create as many saving “pots” as you would like to create.  We can give these names referring to the particular saving reason – e.g. Christmas, holiday or wedding etc. – and we can work with you to set up your savings contributions into each account according to your priorities.

When you have a loan, your Regular Shares account is always tied to the loan so that your savings are not available to withdraw while you have a loan balance greater than your savings balance.  However, we can create a Special Shares account alongside your Regular Shares if you want to add to some of your savings with the ability to access them when you need to.

How do I make a payment into my savings account?

If you work for one of our payroll partner employers such as The Co-op, you can save by payroll deduction.  This is a really simple and easy way to get into a savings habit – just tell us how much you’d like to save and we’ll take care of the rest.  After a couple of pay days you’ll be used to saving and the money will start to build up quickly.

If you don’t work for a partner employer, you can also save by Direct Debit, standing order or using your Child Benefit.  Let us know how you’d like to use and we’ll give you all the details of how to get started.  Whichever way you choose, we do everything we can to take the pain out of saving.

 

As well as your regular saving, you can always add to your savings account with extra one-off payments made to our bank account.  Simply drop us a line and ask for the bank account details to make your payment.

About Loans

How do you decide whether or not I can have a loan?

We make our decisions on whether or not to grant you a loan on a number of factors: the amount you want to borrow, your credit history and an assessment of your affordability – that is, what we think you can afford to repay each month.

The evidence we ask you for to make a decision will vary depending on what you are looking for but at a minimum we will run a credit search if we can look at an application at all.  We would only run the credit report if you are at least eligible to apply. The credit search will leave a mark on your credit file.

As a credit union we will do everything we can to offer you a loan, including offering you a smaller amount if we think you’ve applied for more than you can afford, but there will always be times when we can’t even help with a smaller amount.  This is because we have to balance the interests of borrowers with those of our savers whose funds are used to make our loans.  We are also obliged to follow regulations around the affordability of the loans that we make.

How long does it take to get an answer on a loan application?

This depends on how busy we are.  We tend to be busiest in October and November in the lead up to Christmas. In general we aim to get back to you within 24 hours but this might be two or three days at our busiest times of year.

How quickly you get an answer will depend upon how promptly you provide your supporting information, including pay slips and connecting your bank account.  It’s also good to bear in mind that if you have received your application confirmation it is in the queue and you will be contacted as soon as possible.  Often – and especially within the Nivo app – to chase your application up with messages asking for an update will only slow down your answer.

Do you run credit searches for loan applications? Will it leave a mark on my credit file?

When you apply and you are eligible to do so (that is, you’re a member and at least 3 months have passed since your last application) we will conduct a credit search as a routine step for all loan applications.  This will leave a mark on your credit file.  Therefore you should try not to apply too often – both with us and other lenders – as it will impact upon your credit score.

What is Open Banking and how do you use it to make a loan decision? Who are Credit Kudos?

Open Banking is a government-sponsored and regulated system allowing you to share your bank account transactions with a third party.  We use a company called Credit Kudos to allow us to access your Open Banking data for certain larger loans or those where we need more information than just a credit report.

You can think of this as a quicker, more secure and more convenient way for you to share your bank statements with us as you may have done when you applied to borrow with us in the past. If you consent to share your data with us, we get a snapshot view of your payment transactions and you can withdraw your consent again afterwards via your bank at any time.

Consenting to allow us to view your bank account data does not in any way affect your credit score.

Can I top up my loan and how often?

Yes, you can apply to top up your loan at any time from 3 months after your original loan was granted.  However, if you last topped less than 6 months after the loan before we ask you to wait at least 6 months until your next top up.   We call this the 3 & 6 rule and it is intended to prevent repeated and frequent top ups.

Each top up is subject to a new application and assessment including credit check and Open Banking report depending on the value of the top up request. If you are successful with your top up application, your new loan will be rolled together with your existing one creating one larger loan.

Can I repay my loan early and are there any penalties if I do?

Yes, you can repay your loan early at any time and there are no charges for doing so aside from the interest that has accrued against the outstanding loan balance since your last repayment.  The interest is calculated and applied daily at the rate you agreed to when you took out the loan.

In order to pay early, please contact us on any of our usual channels (https://www.co-operativecreditunion.coop/contact/) and explain that you would like a settlement figure to repay your loan early.  This will stop new interest being applied to your loan for 7 days to give you a set figure that you need to pay to clear the balance.  If you do not pay the loan off within the week, we will reset the interest and leave the account running as it was, therefore if you need longer than 7 days to repay you should get back in touch and request a new settlement figure.

Full details of how to make your payment will be provided along with your settlement figure.

If I’m declined for a loan, can I apply again?

Yes, but only after at least 3 months have passed since the declined application.  We advise that those applying having been recently declined take steps to address the reasons that they were declined before – such as repaying recent defaults, catching up outstanding arrears or addressing problems like high-levels of gambling.  We also advise that applicants wait as long as they can to allow the benefits of any action they’ve taken to address the reasons for their previous decline.

Can I access my savings while I have a loan?

No.  A standard condition of borrowing from the credit union is that your Regular Shares are tied in while your loan balance exceeds your Regular Shares balance.  These shares act as security in the event that you should fail to repay your loan.

If you want to be able to use your savings as well as taking the loan you’re applying for you should let us know when you apply as we may be able to offer you the loan without the security of the Regular Shares, depending upon our assessment.  In these circumstances we can either allow a withdrawal of your Regular Shares before your loan is issued or move funds across to a Special Shares account which you can still access while you have an outstanding balance.

Any savings that are tied to your loan will become available to withdraw when your loan balance falls below your Regular Shares balance.  Only the difference between your loan balance and savings balance will be available to withdraw at any one time.

We can consider requests to withdraw Regular Shares which are tied to a loan in circumstances of financial hardship.

Will my regular payment automatically stop when my loan is repaid?

No.  While we will often set up a new payment amount either by payroll deduction or Direct Debit when your loan is first set up, the two are not connected and so when your loan is finally repaid, we will continue to take the same amount as a payment each month or payroll period until you instruct us to change the amount.

In these circumstances, the whole amount of your payment will roll into your savings account and be available for you to withdraw when you need to.  This is a good way of getting into a savings habit as you get used to going without the payment amount during your loan and so, even though you can withdraw these savings when you need to, you can leave the payment running to quickly build up some savings.

What happens if I miss a loan payment or have trouble making my repayments?

If you are having difficulty keeping up with your payments, the best thing to do is to contact us to explain your circumstances and we will do everything we can to support you.  This might involve, for example, reducing or stopping your payments for a period of time.   When we receive requests for support in these circumstances we may ask for some evidence to demonstrate the difficulties you are facing.

Where you can’t keep up with the agreed repayments we will report this to credit reference agencies.  This may have an impact on your ability to obtain credit from elsewhere.

If you stop making your payments to us but don’t talk to us about why then we will chase you to establish contact and a plan to repay the debt.  The longer that you go without communicating with us, the more severe this process will become and we will not hesitate to take legal action against you if you refuse to speak to us.