Frequently Asked Questions
How is a credit union different from a bank?
- Any profit goes to you the member and not to staff in the form of bonuses.
- Run by fellow member volunteers in your community.
- You are a shareholder with an active voice; members are entitled to vote at the Annual General Meetings, where directors and officers are elected.
- An ethical way to save and borrow which helps other members of the community.
How is the credit union different from a payday loan?
- We are a co-operative of members who wish to save money and not overcharge our fellow members.
- No admin charges or penalties.
- Our interest rates remain at a reasonable rate.
- We work with you when you are in difficulty not against you.
- We dont raid your bank account by direct debits, you pay us by standing order set up and controlled by you
- Negotiable payment frequency to suit your timetable.
- Negotiable time to repay.
- We give big or small loans
How do I apply for a loan?
For a standard loan just click here
You can borrow up to £7,500. Before you apply you need to have regularly saved with us for a minimum of 3 months before being considered. The savings amount can be small but the payments must be regular. You will need to complete a Loan Application form and send it to us (or hand it in at a contact point), together with your last 3 months payslips, pension and/or benefit payments and your last 3 months bank statements, for all your accounts. These must be original documents. Depending on your circumstances we may request other financial information.
If you have been a member for at 12 months and save regularly click here for our very affordable Member Reward Loan
If you are a NEW member you may be entitled to a Child Benefit Loan, click here to find out more.
Can I choose how to pay back my loan?
Yes, each loan is agreed on an individual basis and tailored to meet your needs and circumstances.
What is your interest rate on your loans?
The maximum interest rate on our standard loans is 3% per month (42.58% APR) but it could be a lot less depending upon your credit status and membership history. Please pop into see us at any of our contact points or call us on 0118 9585803 to find out more.
For our member reward loans we only charge 1 to 1.5% per month!
For our child benefit loan we charge 3% per month which is considerably cheaper than the payday lenders.
Why are your interest rates so high?
We are prepared to take the risk and make the effort to enable financially excluded people to have loans and ultimately improve their own credit ratings. Even so our interest rates are considerably lower than payday loans, internet loans and even Provident! Have a look at the loan cost comparison. Remember the rates quoted for a standard loan are the maximum that we will charge. The rate is reduced based on credit and membership status.
We will match any genuine loan offers from the High Street banks via our Price Guarantee Loan!
Why should I get a loan with you?
- There are no additional fees.
- No penalties charges for early repayment.
- A truly personal approach resulting in a loan tailored to you and your budget
- Free life assurance on the loan outstanding up to the age of 70
- If you get into difficulty we have a sympathetic credit control who will work with you not against you. Assistance with improving your credit score.
- Supporting your fellow members, your community and the credit union family (i.e. helping other in a less fortunate position than you).
What is the death benefit?
BERKSHIRE CREDIT UNION pays for insurance on all loans that will clear any balances on your loan if you die (currently up to the age of 70). Terms and conditions apply.
How long does it take you to make a decision on a loan?
As a responsible lender, we only lend to members who can afford to pay us back. For this reason we need to understand your current financial situation and reaching a decision may take longer if your finances are complicated. Providing all the information we need promptly will enable us to make a decision more quickly .If the loan is urgent put this on the application form and we will try and prioritise your application and reach a decision quickly .
Click here for more details of the process.
What should I do if I'm having problems repaying my loan?
Please contact us immediately to discuss your situation . Click here for more details and advice.
Can I make extra repayments of my loan and will it benefit me?
Yes it will, interest is calculated on a daily basis and therefore extra repayments will reduce the total interest that will be payable.
Can I fully repay my loan early?
Yes you can, and there will be no penalty charges and you will save on interest. However our interest payable on the loan outstanding is calculated by our computer system on a daily basis and therefore the amount outstanding will change also. Therefore it is important to contact us to calculate the exact amount required to fully repay the loan early.
Can I withdraw my shares when I have an outstanding loan?
For standard loans, this is dependent upon your repayment performance and may be subject to restrictions, especially if the shares have been used as security for the initial granting of the loan. Any shares over the value of the outstanding loan may be withdrawn.
For Member Reward and Child Benefit loans there are restrictions on withdrawals until the loan is repaid.
How do I withdraw my shares?
For security reasons, you can only take money out of your account by
EITHER sending us a completed and signed withdrawal form by post, email or handing it in at one of our contact points.
OR by using your online account. If you havent get got an online account please register by clicking on REGISTER ACCESS tab at the top right of this page.
There is also a pre-arranged emergency telephone banking facility available.
Please note we do not
- Pay out cash, all withdrawals are made by bank transfers or loading your Engage debit card.
- Provide instant access but endeavour to meet all withdrawal requests within a amximum of one working day.
How do I start saving?
Once you have become a member and made your initial investment of at least £10 we encourage you to save regularly. You can do this by:
- Paying in Cash or a Cheque at one of our contact points
- Setting up a Standing Order. You can get help with this by contacting us here
- Making Bank Transfers. You can pay directly into your credit union account using these details
The Cooperative Bank, Sort code: 08-92-50, Account number : 67004913. Quote your member number as a reference. If you need help with this, please contact our Reading office on 0118 9585803
You can request a Paypoint card for your account to pay in at any accepting retailer
What are the interest rates on savings?
We don't pay interest, any profits declared will be distributed to members as a dividend, this is agreed at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) .
Do I pay tax on this?
Higher rate tax payers will need to declare this income to the Tax Office but Non-tax payers and Basic rate tax payers do not have to pay any tax on the dividend.
What happens to any profit that the Credit Union makes?
Any profit (after dividends to members) that is made is retained within the Credit Union for the long term benefit of its members.
Can I speak to someone about my account?
Please pop in to see us at any of our contact points or call us on 0118 9585803.Or visit on of our contact points.
I'm on benefits can I save with you?
Yes, it doesn't matter where your money comes from.
How much can I save with you?
The maximum you can save is £15,000 or £30,000 if its a joint account.
Are my savings safe with you?
BERSHIRE CREDIT UNION members are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS can pay compensation to depositors if we are unable to meet our financial obligations. Most depositors - including most individuals and small businesses - are covered by the scheme. In respect of deposits, an eligible depositor is entitled to claim up to £85,000.
For joint accounts each account holder is treated as having a claim in respect of their share so, for a joint account held by two eligible depositors, the maximum amount that could be claimed would be two times the maximum payout limit.
The £85,000 limit relates to the combined amount in all the eligible depositor's accounts with Community Savings and Loans (Berkshire Credit Union) Ltd, including their share of any joint account, and not to each separate account.
For further information about the scheme (including the amounts covered and eligibility to claim) please ask at any of the contact points of BERKSHIRE CREDIT UNION, or call us on 0118 9585803, or refer to the FSCS website or call 0800 678 1100 or 020 7741 4100
How do I make a complaint?
When you submit a formal complaint the Complaints Officer will contact you within seven days.
They will attempt to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible. If you are not satisfied with the way the complaint is being handled you can contact the Chair of the Board of Directors to register your concern.
If your complaint has been taken through our internal complaints procedure and you are still dissatisfied you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Full details of the complaints procedure and the necessary form are either available from our contact points or can be downloaded now.
Download Make a Complaint Form (70.8kb)
I have an issue which is not listed here, where can I find help? Please pop into see us at any of our contact points or call us on 0118 9585803.