Credit unions braced for invasion by Green Army
Credit unions are expecting a surge of loan applications from football fans heading to the Euros in France next summer.
The lenders say they were open to applications from members who want to experience the football extravaganza.
Banks have been cutting loan rates as they try to lure more customers, and are expected to target the Green Army, finance experts said.
Fans hoping to travel to the tournament have been advised to start saving now.
Most fans who went to Euro 2012 in Poland are understood to have travelled on a tight budget, with spending of between €2,000 and €3,000.
For this tournament fans are expected to spend more.
But large numbers may still opt to travel and sleep in camper vans, reminiscent of the 'Joxer Goes to Stuttgart' song made famous by Christy Moore during the 1988 Euros.
Credit unions have more than €5bn available to lend, said a spokeswoman for the Irish League of Credit Unions, the largest representative group for the lenders. "Credit unions have historically had a very good relationship with travelling football fans and Euro 2016 will be no exception."
She said it was likely that credit unions in many local communities around the country will see an increase in loan inquires and applications as Irish fans plan ahead for their trip to France next year, as they did for the European Championships in Poland in 2012. "This will be a welcome development for credit unions as they have over €5bn available to lend."
Football fans were urged by the credit union body to look at the full cost of the trip to ensure they work out the cost of everything from travel, accommodation, to food.
"Our biggest message would be to start a saving plan now. Even if it's only a very small amount, start saving regularly. This will mean that you have a pot of money available to you by the time the tournament comes around," the league spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Ulster Bank is the latest to cut its personal loan rates.
The lower Ulster Bank loan rates apply on all fixed-rate personal loans over €4,500 and up to €40,000.
The new reduced standard rates will start from 10.9pc for between €4,500 and €7,999, and go to 7.9pc for loans between €12,000 and €40,000.
Customers who hold a Ufirst, Ufirst Gold, or Ufirst Private account can get lower rates.
KBC Bank is offering a 2pc discount on loans to customers who make their loan repayments by direct debit through a KBC current account.