FAQs

Find answers to common member questions, such as “What is a credit union?” and “How can I join GMB Credit Union?” Feel more confident about becoming a member and using our services.

General FAQs

What is a Credit Union?  

A Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial institution. It’s owned and operated by members, and resources are shared for the benefit of the community. Credit Unions give people another affordable, fairer and more flexible option for saving money and getting loans. They’re entirely focused on their members’ financial well-being rather than financial profit. There are no greedy shareholders or faceless investors and all funds are kept within the member community, rather than being invested or speculated elsewhere.

Can I join GMB Credit Union?

To join GMB Credit Union you must be an active member of the GMB Trade Union. You can join us by completing a loan or savings application via our website or our mobile app. When you’ve joined, your immediate family members will also be eligible to join GMB Credit Union and access our loans and savings services.

What are the benefits of joining GMB Credit Union? 

GMB Credit Union is an exclusive service for GMB Trade Union members and their families and we only circulate money within our community. 

GMB Credit Union is an ethical financial co-operative owned by its members.

GMB Credit Union is a not-for-profit organisation, existing primarily to serve the needs of our members and the community in which we operate.

The trading surplus generated by GMB Credit Union is paid back to the members as a dividend.

GMB Credit Union provides simple secure savings, affordable loans, and access to free resources which support GMB members by advancing their understanding of personal finance.

What’s more, members can enter our exclusive GMB Credit Union Prize Draw for a chance to win some cash and give back to their favourite charity.

How do I enter the GMB Members Prize Draw?  

By completing a short form on our website or our mobile app, you can learn more about how our Members Prize Draw works and the many deserving charities that have already benefited.

Member Loan FAQs

Can I apply for a GMB Credit Union loan straight away?

If you’re a GMB Credit Union member or family member between the ages of 18 and 70, you can apply for a loan anytime, without needing to save first. GMB Credit Union makes the process simple with an easy online application and fast decisions. We don’t charge any loan fees or early repayment fees. We keep paperwork to a minimum, and if you need extra funds later, you can ask for a top-up loan. 

Why choose GMB Credit Union over other lenders or banks?

GMB Credit Union is a responsible lender that offers loans between £200 and £20,000, focusing on the financial well-being of our members. Our main goals are to help members save money and manage their household budgets effectively. Members only pay interest on the remaining outstanding balance, which means interest charges decrease as you repay your loan. There are no hidden fees or early repayment charges. 

For larger loans, we offer a three-month repayment break to help members handle unexpected events. These breaks can be taken one month at a time or all at once.  

So far, GMB members have borrowed over £75 million from the GMB Credit Union. We regularly compare our loan rates with the market and provide a price match promise to make sure our members get the best deal on their loans. 

What is the process for getting a Credit Union member loan?

Applying for a Member Loan is simple and consists of three steps: 

  1. Fill out your application online using our mobile messaging app or through our website. 
  2. We’ll assess your application, perform a credit reference check in most cases, and send you a loan offer via your preferred communication method. 
  3. When we receive your signed loan agreement, we’ll transfer the funds to your chosen bank account through faster payments. 

We aim to minimise paperwork and use our mobile app for electronic signatures. We’ll respond with an offer within two working days for new applications and within one working day for Top Up Loans and Save Secure Loans. 

Why do I need to provide additional information, such as proof of income, when applying for a loan?

All our loans are based on affordability, so as a responsible lender, we need you to verify your income. We might also request that you connect your bank statement through Open Banking, which helps us understand your household expenses. 

By doing this, we protect the Credit Union’s funds and avoid putting too much financial pressure on our members. This extra information allows us to make fairer loan decisions, without relying solely on historic credit reference reports. 

Why did you ask me about my household income when applying for a loan?

We want to make sure members can comfortably afford their loan and manage the monthly repayments. We request information about household income to understand how much disposable income is available. This means we consider a partner’s income when evaluating a loan. However, the loan will be in the applicant’s name only, and the partner won’t be responsible for repayments. If members would rather apply for a joint loan, we can arrange that too.  

How do Top Up Loans work?

When you request a loan top-up, we create a new loan that combines the remaining balance of your current loan with the additional amount you want to borrow. Then, we pay off your old loan. The new loan may have a different interest rate, term and monthly repayment than your initial loan, but we’ll explain all these details at the time. 

Top-Up Loans are a popular, convenient and flexible way for members to increase their Credit Union loans. We offer them at our discretion, and you must be up to date with your existing loan repayments to apply. 

When and how can I apply for a Top Up loan?

You can ask for a Top-Up Loan after you’ve repaid at least one third of your first loan’s balance. After that, you can request up to three Top-Up Loans in a year. Members can apply for a top-up using a short application form on our website. We might ask for additional information, and Top-Up Loans depend on each member’s individual situation.  

What if I’m struggling to repay my loan?

It’s important not to overlook missed loan payments and falling behind on repayments, as they can negatively impact your credit score and make it more difficult to obtain credit in the future. 

We know that life events can sometimes impact members negatively, often through no fault of their own. So, please talk to us as soon as you can, and we’ll discuss options to help you repay your loan and improve your financial stability. 

These options might include pausing loan repayments for a set period or lowering your regular repayments. Keep in mind that reducing or deferring repayments can result in a longer repayment time and possibly higher costs. These agreed-upon measures might also show up in your credit file. 

Does GMB Credit Union offer any loan protection?

Our members can rely on our loan protection benevolent fund when they need help the most. Members are usually covered until their 70th birthday for outstanding loan balances up to £5,000. To learn more about the Loan Protection Scheme and its conditions, please call us at 0161 486 1777, email info@gmbcreditunion.com, or send us a message through our mobile app. 

Family Loan FAQs

What is a Family Credit Loan?

This revolving loan service is for established GMB Credit Union members (those with at least three months of membership) receiving child benefit. Immediate family members, like partners, are also eligible if they receive child benefit. 

Family Loans offer members receiving child benefit access to a revolving loan of up to £1,200 if the child benefit is paid directly into a GMB Credit Union savings account. The maximum repayment period for Family Loans is 18 months, and once you’ve repaid one-third of your Family Loan, you can request a top-up. We encourage all members to save when possible, and Family Loan members must maintain a minimum savings balance of £5 for GMB Credit Union membership. Interest is charged at 30% (34.5% APR), with no fees or charges. You can pay off your loan at any time without any additional costs. 

How do I apply for a Family Loan?

To be eligible, you need to be an active GMB Credit Union member with at least three months of membership, or an immediate family member. You must also receive child benefit and can apply for Family Credit through our secure messaging app. 

To finish the application, you’ll need proof of identity (like a driver’s license or passport) and proof that you receive child benefit (such as a copy of the award letter from the Child Benefit Department or a bank statement). 

Do you carry out credit checks and will a low credit score prevent me from obtaining a Family Loan?

As a responsible lender, we perform credit reference checks. But our goal with Family Loans is to help as many members as we can, even those with lower credit scores. Unfortunately, if you’re in Bankruptcy, have a Debt Relief Order, IVA, Debt Management Plan, or County Court Judgments (CCJs) in the past six months, we won’t be able to provide you with family credit. 

How do I arrange for child benefit to be transferred to the Credit Union?

When we have agreed your loan, please contact the child benefit office on 0300 200 3100 and request for your child benefit to be transferred to your GMB Credit Union account. We’ll provide you with all the details including your Credit Union account number and our bank account details. 

How long will it take to process my Family loan?

After completing your loan application and setting up the transfer of your child benefit to us, we’ll get in touch as soon as the first benefit payment arrives in your Credit Union savings account, which is opened automatically when you apply for a loan. We’ll then process your loan and send it via faster payments to your chosen bank account. 

Can I top up my Family loan?

You can ask for a top-up on your Family Loan once you’ve repaid at least one third of the initial loan balance. You can request up to four top-up loans in a single year. If your situation has changed, we may ask for more information. Top-up loans depend on each member’s individual circumstances and are granted at GMBCU’s discretion. To request a Family Credit top-up, use our secure mobile app. 

Can I have another type of loan from the Credit Union?

You can top up your existing Family Loan, but if you have built a good relationship and account history with the Credit Union and meet our lending criteria, we might be able to offer higher borrowing amounts through a Member Loan

How can I access my savings?

You can access your savings via our secure mobile app or by going to the My Account Section on our website. If you submit a withdrawal request before 2:00 pm on a working day, the funds will be transferred to your chosen bank account the same day. 

We encourage all members to save when they can, and Family Credit members must maintain a minimum savings balance of £5.00 for GMB Credit Union membership. This balance will be returned when an account is closed. 

What happens if my child benefit stops or is no longer paid into the Credit Union?

You’ll still be liable to make your loan repayments. Contact us and select an alternative method of repayment such as Direct Debit or standing order. 

Save & Borrow FAQs

What is a Save & Borrow Loan?

Members with a low credit score, who may not be eligible for our standard Member Loan, can show their creditworthiness and improve their credit rating by saving with the Credit Union for five consecutive months before borrowing. 

Initially, we’ll offer Save & Borrow Loans based on 2x a member’s savings balance. We use the savings as security and evidence that a member can easily manage the monthly loan repayments. 

The table below displays the cost of a Save & Borrow Loan over 12 months and the minimum amount needed to save for five consecutive months to qualify for a Save & Borrow Loan.

[Insert table] 

Based on individual circumstances, future Top-Up Loans or subsequent loans might be considered at 3x a member’s savings balance. After establishing a good working relationship and, ideally, an improving credit rating, we would aim to transition a member to our standard Member Loan package, where they can enjoy lower interest rates. 

The accumulated savings belong to the member, and access to savings is only restricted to support a member’s borrowing. 

 

Save & Borrow Ts&Cs
  • Minimum loan: £250, Maximum loan: £2,000 
  • Members need to save for 5 consecutive months 
  • Minimum monthly savings amount: £25.00 
  • Save & Borrow members should pay via direct debit 
  • First Save & Borrow loan: 2x savings 
  • Lump-sum deposits can be made but usually won’t count towards the available loan amount 
  • Subsequent top-ups or new Save & Borrow loans may be 3x savings, depending on individual situations 
  • Save & Borrow accounts will be reviewed every 12 months, aiming to transition members to standard loans 

Member Savings FAQs

Is my money safe with you?

Just like other major financial institutions, Credit Union savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). In the rare event that we’re unable to meet our financial obligations, the FSCS will compensate you up to a current limit of £85,000. We’re authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and we report to them regularly. 

What is the interest rate on your Easy Access savings?

Instead of a fixed interest rate, Credit Unions pay an annual dividend based on the trading surplus generated during our financial year, which ends on December 31st. The dividend level is suggested by our board of directors and then approved at our Annual General Meeting in April. The dividend amount can change from year to year, depending on the Credit Union’s success. For the year ending 2022, our dividend was 0.75% for easy access savings accounts and 1.5% for Christmas and Junior accounts. 

Is there a limit to how much I can save and how do you withdraw funds?

Our savings accounts are popular and there is currently a £20,000 maximum savings limit per member. Most of our savings accounts provide easy access to funds, allowing withdrawals without restrictions although this may not apply if you have an active loan account. You can check your balance and make withdrawal requests 24/7 via our mobile app or our member’s area on our website, or alternatively by email.

What does it mean when you say my savings are locked?

We strongly advocate cultivating a savings habit to offer members a financial safety net during challenging times. Savings can also serve as collateral for member loans, such as Save Secure, Family and Save & Borrow loans, which involve locked savings. If locked savings apply to a loan, you will be informed during the application process, and the savings will remain yours to access when your loan balance decreases or is repaid. Locked savings will also earn a dividend, and increasing your savings can enable us to offer more competitive loan rates. 

PrizeSaver FAQs

How do I join in the prize draw?

The PrizeSaver account is open to all GMB members and their immediate families. If you are not already a member of GMB Credit Union, you will need to join us to participate in the PrizeSaver draw. Click here.

How much can I win?

Every month there is one prize of £5,000 and 20 smaller prizes of £20. Remember you get 1 free monthly entry for every £1 savings held in our PrizeSaver account. The maximum number of monthly entries is 200 if you have a PrizeSaver balance of £200.

What are my chances of winning?

The PrizeSaver account is exclusive to the 19 participating credit unions. As of December 2023, there were 29,986 active accounts with total balances of just over £2.8 million. The average balance in a PrizeSaver account is currently £93.67.

When does the monthly draw take place?

The prize draw will usually take place on the 15th of each month. If the 15th of the month falls on a weekend or bank holiday, the draw may take place on a different date.

Will I earn a dividend or interest on my savings?

The return on a PrizeSaver account is the chance to win monthly prizes with no entry costs to a member. The savings in this account do not attract dividend or interest.

I already have a savings account with you. Will I go into the draw?

Existing members need to open a PrizeSaver account and move money into it for a chance to win.

My savings account is already at its maximum. Can I put more money into this account?

The maximum savings cap of £30,000 per member applies. You can transfer money between accounts though.

Read the full Terms & Conditions of the PrizeSaver Account here

Can I still participate in GMBCU’s Prize Draw?

Members can still participate in our Prize Draw which is for GMBCU members only. Our Prize Draw has been very successful since its launch in April 2021 and 32 different charities selected by the winning members have benefited from this worthy community draw.

Open Banking FAQs

What is Open Banking?

Open Banking is a series of reforms to the way providers (such as budgeting apps or banks) can view your financial information or assess your risk. It gives them more meaningful insight, leading to better support and fairer, more affordable deals. It’s also faster and safer than sending copies the three months bank statements.

What is the biggest benefit?

Access to in-depth, meaningful financial data allows for more responsible lending. While customers benefit from better deals and rates.  

Is open banking safe?

Very – providers can only access the data with your permission and must comply with data protection rules such as GDPR regulation. They also only have access to the data required for the service you’ve signed up for. You should always be careful who you share your data with, though.  

How can you check if the provider is authorised?

Use the FCA Register or the Open Banking Directory to check if a provider is authorised. It should also be clear on a provider’s website or app if they’re authorised. Be wary of third-party providers that aren’t regulated, you might not be fully protected against fraud. GMB Credit Union loans are based on affordability, so as a responsible lender, it’s important that we ask you to confirm your income. We may also ask you to connect your bank statement through Open Banking, so we understand your household expenditure. 

This ensures that we don’t take unnecessary risks with the Credit Union’s funds or overburden our members financially. This additional information also means that we can make a fairer loan decision and not rely exclusively on the credit reference report. 

Do you have to use Open Banking?

No, It’s completely up to you. But weigh up the benefits before dismissing it – Open Banking can revolutionise the way you manage your money and help you unlock much better loan deals and rates.

Is it easy to opt out?

Yes, you can cancel at any time. Your data is accessible to the lender for 90 days, but you can revoke their access during that period if you change your mind. 

How will GMB Credit Union access your data?

We use Credit Kudos to access your data. This third party uses government-backed Open Banking technology to help us transform complex data sets into an easy-to-use, comprehensive view of a borrower’s creditworthiness. 

Will Open Banking take over credit scores?

No. Lenders currently use credit scores in conjunction with Open Banking to make more informed lending decisions. Open Banking is a key element of the decision-making process because it provides more meaningful information on a borrower’s affordability.  

Does open banking impact your credit score?

Using Open Banking has no impact on your credit score. Rather, it’s the loan application itself that can impact your score (learn more).  

How has Brexit impacted Open Banking?

Technical changes have been made to the Open Banking infrastructure due to the UK’s exit from the EU. But these changes don’t affect most providers. We’ll update our members if the situation alters.