With credit unions in the news after Archbishop Justin Welby @abcjustin told pay-day loan company Wonga the Church of England would “compete them out of business”, I wondered how easy it would be for Headington residents to access a credit union.
A quick search found just two in Oxford. In case you didn’t know, one of the quirks of credit unions is that members have to have a “common bond”, which means something that links them together. This can be a postcode or group of codes, work (there is one for police officers for example), membership of a particular trade union, etc. Both Oxford ones are postcode-based, and the good news for those of us in OX3 is that the Oxford Credit Union is open to anyone living or working at an address with an OX1, OX2, OX3, or OX4 postcode. The other, the Blackbird Leys Credit Union, is only open to people with OX4 postcodes.
Both credit unions have an office in Oxford where transactions can be made. The Oxford Credit Union is in Temple Cowley, the Blackbird Leys Credit Union is in the Blackbird Leys Community Centre.
Other things you might like to know about Credit Unions (and I’m indebted to the FAQs on the Oxford Credit Union’s website for a concise summary of these points) is that their interest rates on loans are capped at no more than 2% a month (26.8% APR) compared to the hundreds or even thousands of percent charged by commercial pay-day loan companies. If you deposit money with them your savings are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and the Financial Ombudsman Scheme. Credit unions also offer free life insurance on all savings and loans. You can save from £2.50 a week upwards, to a maximum of £10,000. Interest on savings is set once a year at the Union’s AGM.