Give them some credit
Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30
Like the banks, credit unions have had a mixed press over the last few years thanks to financial difficulties experienced by some of them, not to mention branch closures.
They have also bore the brunt of new Central Bank regulations, including some quite severe lending restrictions. Many credit unions are not permitted to lend any more than €40,000 to any one individual, with some restricted to even less.
But the movement knows it needs to appeal to more young people. A recent conference held by Cuna (Credit Union National Association) in Dublin was told that credit unions are attracting younger people, but they need to do more to be relevant to those born since the 1990s.
A number of credit unions around the country have teamed up to offer debit cards as part of an effort to modernise operations and broaden their services beyond just loans and savings, while others are reportedly branching into mortgages and even motor insurance.
Loans and savings remain their bread and butter, and the Irish League of Credit Unions has been running a nationwide multimedia ad campaign for small credit union car, home improvement and holiday loans.
At Dundrum Credit Union, the standard rate is 11.02pc APR - but loans for home improvements or a car come with a rate of 8.19pc APR.
Tralee Credit Union's standard rate is 9.4pc APR, while at Dundalk the standard rate is just over 7pc APR on all loans.
At Dundalk CU's rate, the cost of credit for a loan of €10,000 paid over five years would be almost €1,900 - compared to nearly €3,400 with Ulster Bank.
One of the traditional advantages of a credit union is that repayments are calculated on your reducing balance, so you pay less interest with each repayment, which keeps down the cost of the loan. You can also choose to repay weekly rather than monthly as well as pay more than the agreed amount, both of which can reduce the cost.
You also get free loan protection insurance with a credit union loan, which will effectively pay-off your outstanding loans in the event of your death.
Of course, you'll have to become a member of a credit union, but this is usually very straightforward.
Sunday Indo Business