Credit unions have something to offer everyone. For those on higher incomes, the local, ethical focus of credit unions makes them an attractive place to invest part of their savings, with returns that often exceed what is available on the high street. Credit unions have been identified by Experian as the best in the UK market for loans of up to £2,000-3,000 and many credit unions will match bank rates for larger loans. 

For those on lower incomes, credit unions are a much cheaper alternative to payday loans and other forms of high cost-credit, as well as encouraging people to get into a savings habit. Some of the larger credit unions offer a full range of other financial services, including current accounts, ISAs, home insurance, and mortgages.

Your money is safe. Credit unions are regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, and members’ savings are protected up to a total value of £85,000 per person under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Over 90% of the British population is eligible to join a credit union because of where they live, so the chances are that there is at least one covering your area.

Read our stories from Cheryl and Bishop Adrian on their experiences joining their local credit unions.

Credit union members share their reasons for joining the local credit union.

Churches' Mutual Credit Union

The Archbishop of Canterbury joined ecumenical church leaders in February 2015 to launch a flagship credit union for ministers and employees of their churches.

At least 60,000 people, including ordained ministers, lay ministers, employees and trustees of the churches involved will be eligible to join the Churches Mutual Credit Union (CMCU).

Archbishop Justin Welby joined the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, John Chalmers, and the President of the Methodist Conferences, Ken Howcroft, at Church House in London to celebrate their churches' collaboration in forming the credit union.


The idea for a credit union for Clergy and Church workers arose out of the consultations in 2008 about clergy retirement housing and pensions. Clergy need an easy to use safe haven for tax efficient saving and a source of affordable credit for short and long term needs. The subsequent banking crisis and the increasing understanding that the Church of England’s financial resources are limited, underlined the need to assist clergy in taking personal responsibility for their finances and to help them plan for both living on a stipend and future retirement. An occupationally based credit union is the ideal vehicle for these purposes. A recent update on the progress of CMCU was given at General Synod in July 2014.


16th December 2014

CMCU receives authorisation

Fair returns to savers, fair interest rates on loans and the aspiration to be a flagship credit union are among the aims of the Churches' Mutual Credit Union Ltd (CMCU) which has received formal authorisation from the regulatory authorities today. This has been a rigorous process undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. CMCU plans to begin to offer its services to those eligible for membership from February 2015.

CMCU has been formed for and with the help of the Church of England, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales. CMCU President, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said, "I am delighted at the news of authorisation. CMCU will help many, even in its first year of operation and, in due course, it should become a significant financial resource to the church and individuals throughout England, Wales and Scotland. CMCU will enable a virtuous re-cycling of money within the church community, through a combined portfolio of savings and loan products."

At first, churches and individuals (notably ordained ministers, licensed lay ministers, elders, employees and trustees of churches and church charities and the charities themselves) will be able to become members and benefit from the financial products. It is estimated that at least 60,000 individuals plus churches and church charities will be eligible to join CMCU. This will enable savings and provide loans to individuals for essential items and to churches for mission projects and equipment. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme covers deposits up to £85,000.

CMCU plans to offer a range of loan products which will be a major funding stream for the dividend that will be paid on savings products such as ISAs, instant access and regular (monthly) savings accounts. These products will include a competitive car loan scheme.

Once the credit union has built up an established track record it is intended that CMCU will be open to all church members and extend its denominational base. This would require permission from the regulators to alter CMCU's common bond (the definition of those eligible for membership). CMCU aspires to become an example of best practice in the sector and aid the Church's involvement in a critical area of national life for renewal and transformation.

Who will be able to join?

Agreement has been reached in principle with the FCA for a ‘common bond’ to allow the following persons in England, Scotland and Wales (but for regulatory reasons not Northern Ireland), to be members:

  1. Clergy, Ordinands, Licensed lay ministers, and Employees and Trustees (i.e. PCC members) of Anglican churches and charities.
  2. Persons living in the same household as the above.
  3. Anglican Churches or Charities based in Great Britain (up to 10% of membership.)
  4. The Church of Scotland and Methodist equivalent of the above

What will the CMCU provide?

  • Savings facilities - including cash ISAs - at competitive rates of interest because overheads can be kept low when savings and loan repayments are transacted by deduction from the payroll.
  • Loans for the purchase of cars, for general family use (including consolidation of existing more expensive commercial loans), and ultimately for the purchase of retirement houses/flats via mortgages at competitive rates of interest.
Most Rev Justin Welby signing the CMCU register alongside (l-r) Revd Antony Macrow Ward, Revd Dr Malcolm Brown and Revd Ewan Aitkin.

Most Rev Justin Welby signing the CMCU register alongside (l-r) Revd Antony Macrow Ward, Revd Dr Malcolm Brown and Revd Ewan Aitkin.