Credit unions offer an alternative to traditional banks and building societies for saving and borrowing.

21 October, is International Credit Union Day, celebrating the spirit of the global credit union movement and raising awareness of the work that credit unions and other financial cooperatives are doing around the world.

This year's theme is "Building financial health for a brighter tomorrow". It highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge the financial wellbeing of members and communities at large and how credit unions are responding to that challenge.

The global credit union movement is now more than 291 million members strong.  They are served by more than 86,000 credit unions in 118 countries.

What makes credit unions unique?

  • Equal Ownership - Each member has equal ownership and one vote regardless of how much money they have in savings.
  • Not for Profit - providing a safe, convenient place for members to save money and access loans and other financial services at reasonable rates.
  • Social Purpose - People helping people - Credit unions exist to serve their members, not to make a profit. Every member counts, including those of modest means.
  • Volunteer Leadership - Each credit union is governed by a volunteer board of directors elected by and from the credit union's membership.
  • Financial Education for Members - Credit unions place particular importance on educational opportunities for their members and the public to help everyone become better-educated consumers of financial services.
  • Trust - Lately, credit unions have received positive press for being trustworthy and resilient institutions during a tumultuous time. Credit union members worldwide can be proud of these accomplishments and rest assured that their money is safe at the credit union.

How to find a credit union

There are several ways to find a credit union that's right for you - it's often based on your location, but it can also be because you belong to a certain profession.

The Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL) has a Find Your Credit Union website, where you can search by postcode, employment type, or other organisations that you think may have a union. If you'd prefer, you can call ABCUL on 0161 832 3694.

Other online tools include the ACE Credit Union Services or the Scottish League of Credit Unions.