Here you can find answers to many to the questions you may have about the Credit Union, what is it, how it works, who can join and how you can use its services. If you can't find and answer to your question here then go to our contact us page and ask us there instead!
What is a credit union?
Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Credit Union (BFWCU) is a locally based financial co-operative owned and run by its members
It provides a savings and loan service
It is not for profit.
It is owned and controlled by its members.
How does it work?
All the members have something in common, called a “common bond”. For Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Credit Union (BFWCU) the common bond is people who live or work in Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre.
Members save regularly together to build up a pool of money. Members can then apply for a loan from the pool when they need it, provided they can afford to pay it back. Most members can save by means of a direct payroll deduction, so your savings are already done before you receive your salary, leaving your savings to build while you just get on with your life. Those members who cannot use payroll deduction will be able to pay in by Direct Debit, by using their membership card at the post office or pay-point outlet or by having one of their benefits paid directly into their Credit Union Account.
Who runs it?
It is run by the members who each get a vote to elect a board of directors from the membership. All members over 18 can stand for election to the board. The Credit Union employs professional staff to manage the day to day running of the organisation.
Why is this different from a bank?
Members of the credit union are also owners of the credit union and are right here on the Fylde Coast. The relationship with members is important and decisions are based on that relationship. You won’t be talking to a call centre, but to real local people that you will get to know. Each application will be considered individually. A computer won’t make decisions and your circumstances will be taken into account. The credit union is not-for-profit and
Any excess income is returned to the members after being agreed at BFWCU’s Annual General Meeting.
Who Can Join?
Anyone who lives or works in Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre can join the Credit Union.
We are supported by a partnership of local employers who want to support their employees by providing this important benefit and if you work for one of these, you can operate your savings and loans through payroll deductions:
- Blackpool Council
- Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre NHS Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust
- Blackpool & Fylde College
- NHS Blackpool
- Ai Claims Solutions
- Blackpool Coastal Housing
- Northern Care
- Hilton Hotel Blackpool
- Great Places RSL
- Fylde Coast YMCA
- Fylde Borough Council
- Wyre Borough Council
- New Fylde Housing
- Great Universal Products
- Blackpool Advocacy
- Fylde Community Link
How do I join?
For more information and an application form you can either;
Call us on 01253 478827
Download an application form from this web site.
On receipt of a fully completed application we will verify your identity and open your account. This verification is usually done electronically. In some cases, we may need to ask for additional ID before we can open your membership account. Once your account is open you will receive a welcome pack with all the information you should need.
Proof of Identity? Why does BFWCU need this?
All financial organisations need to know who their customer is. The level of ID we request will be the level required by the Money Laundering Regulations.
Is my information safe?
Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Credit Union is registered with the office of the Information Commissioner and operates entirely within the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. This also allows you to get copies of information we might hold about you in our records.
All board members and staff sign a confidentiality agreement and none of your details are passed outside of the Credit union except with your permission or as allowed under our Data Protection Registration or where required by law. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information.
How much do I have to save?
You can save as much as you like up to £15,000. This can be by a lump sum deposit or by regular monthly savings from £10 per month. We also operate a Christmas Savings Club into which you can save extra money that can only be taken out in November so you never need to worry about how you will pay for Christmas. If you would like a seperate savings account for longer term saving for items such as children's college expenses or funeral costs, that can also be arranged.
Is my money safe?
Your money is totally safe. The Credit Union is a part of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which covers 100% of your savings up to £85000. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, fully insured and both internally and externally audited. There is no danger to your savings.
Can I continue to save while I repay my loan?
Those who take advantage of borrowing from other members' savings are required to continue to save alongside their loan repayments. For those with loans, a minimum savings balance equal to one month's loan repayment must be maintained in the account at all times.
Will I get paid interest on my savings?
The Credit Union is a members’ co-operative run on a not-for-profit basis. Once operating costs have been covered, any excess income can be paid back to saving members in the form of an annual dividend, approved by members at the Annual General Meeting. The Dividends for the last few years have been
2009 was 3%
2010 was 2.25%.
2011 was 3%
2012 will be announced at our AGM on the 18th March 2013
This beat most high street banks' savings rate for instant access savings accounts.
How do I withdraw my savings?
To withdraw your savings, you can either
- complete a shares withdrawal form and send it through to us or
- complete a money transfer request in the members' area of this web site
- complete a money transfer request on your mobile smartphone
We would then process this and your money would be transferred to your bank account by BACS. This process will take 3 working days.
You need to keep at least £5 in your account to remain a member of the Credit Union.
You might also consider keeping your savings intact and applying for an affordable credit union loan for your needs instead.
How do I change the level of savings I make to BFWCU?
You can increase or decrease the amount you regularly save whenever you like by completing and sending to us a “change of savings amount” form. You should not reduce your amount to less than the minimum of £10 per month if you wish to remain an active member.
You can add more money into your account whenever you like using your membership card at any Post Office or Pay-point store.
What happens to my savings if I die?
Your savings are automatically insured free of charge, so that if you die your savings may be doubled and paid out to your nominated beneficiary.
As loans also include free life insurance then in the event of your death you loan balance is cleared and your savings doubled to help support those you leave behind.
As with most insurance some exemptions apply; for example you may not be covered if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over a maximum age. Check with us for latest up to date details.
Can I deal with my account over the telephone?
You may contact us about your account by telephone provided that you can answer security questions. Some transactions, such as loan agreements, will always need to have your signature before they can be processed. We cannot take withdrawal instructions over the telephone.
Can I check my balance or carry out transactions online?
Yes you can.
Just click on the "Members Area" button on the main menu and register.
Complete the registration form and choose your own PIN and Passwords.
You will receive an email within one business day (often much faster) confirming your account is active.
Once this is active you can log in and view balances, make withdrawals, make loan applications, change PIN & Passwords and more.
I ordered an online money transfer and didn't get it, or got a lower amount, why?
There are 3 reason why this might happen;
1. A minimum of £5 must be kept in your share account at all times. Our system will automatically reduce your money transfer to a level which keeps £5 in your account.
2. If you have a loan, shares are attached to the level of one loan payment. Our system will automatically retain in your account one loan payment plus the £5 minimum balance and will transfer anything above that level.
3. You don't have enough in your account to make the transfer you have requested.
When you log in to the members' area we strongly recommend that you check your balance before asking for a money transfer and bear in mind the above when deciding how much to ask for.
I am trying to register for a PIN or fill in a form in the members' area but when I click submit, nothing happens!
A form will not submit until it is properly completed with all the required fields. Fields that are not verified show with a red arrow pointing at them. If your form is not submitting then check the form and fix any fields that have a red indicator. Common errors include;
- not completing a required field
- email address not in correct format
- telephone number has a space in it
Once all fields are correct the form will submit.
I have logged in, but when I try to do anything, it says I am not logged in
This issue is seen by a small number of members and is due to the security settings on their own computers. The members' area uses "cookies" (small files on your computer) to track logged-in members. If your security/privacy settings don't allow third party cookies, then you wont be able to use our members' area. Check your internet browser instructions for details on how to change your securtity/privacy settings.
Our web site and members' area are provided over a 256K SSL encrypted connection for your security and privacy.
Is the data on the web site up to date?
The web site data is not real-time. It is currently updated twice each day, at around 11.30am and again at around 4.30pm. On your balances screen, you can see when the last update was made.
I have forgotten my PIN, can I get a reminder?
Yes. Click the PIN reminder link, complete the form with the same details that you used when you registered, and a PIN reminder will be emailed to you within one business day.
I want to make a withdrawal but can't remember my password
You can retrieve your password by clicking on the password reminder button and completing the form. Please note that the details on the form MUST be the same details that you registered on the web site. The password reminder will only be sent to the email address you used when you registered on the site.
I am trying to retreive my password but it says it cannot validate my data
This means that something you are entering into the form is not the same as information as you used to register on the web site.
Some of the issues we have found are;
1. Trying to enter a different email address to the one you registered with
2. You registered using the long number on your membership card instead of your membership number
3. You registered using zeros before your membership number.
Your actual membership number is the number on your welcome letter, statement or any other correspondence that we have sent to you. This is the number you used to log into the web site. This is the number you must register with in order to make use of our online services. This is the number on the bottom right of your membership card, excluding all the leading zeros. (EG: if the number at the bottom right of your card says 00001234 then your membership number is 1234.)
I no longer have access to that email address, can you give me my password over the telephone?
Our staff do not have access to your password and cannot give it to you over the telephone. What they can do is go through security questions with you and change your registered email address. You will then be able to retrieve you password through the web site within 1 business day.
I have another problem or comment regarding the web site
If you have any problems, comments or suggestions, please click the "Contact Us" button on the main menu and we would be happy to hear from you.
How does the Christmas Savings Account Work?
We will agree with you the amount that you want to save for Christmas and this will be deducted from your wages each payday. In November it will be transferred to your membership account for you to use. You cannot withdraw money from Christmas Savings Accounts until November, so you know you will have it available when you need it. For members unable to use payroll deductions this account will be operated through direct debit.
Why is a Credit Union Loan better for me?
A Credit Union loan has lots of advantages.
- A Credit Union won’t exclude you just because a computer says so.
- We won’t offer loans you can’t afford.
- We can offer lower levels of loans that the banks just don’t offer.
- Loans usually come with free life insurance. (conditions apply)
- There are no arrangement fees or early repayment penalties and the maximum interest rates are set by law.
- This all means that you will only get affordable loans from us.
- If you have been using doorstep lenders, then a credit union loan is less expensive by a huge amount.
Who can get a loan?
Loans are only available to BFWCU members. Nobody else will be considered.
How much can I borrow?
The minimum loan is currently £200, the maximum loan £15000.
How much you can personally borrow depends on various things like how long you have been a saving member, your payment history, whether you can afford to pay it back and how much money for loans the Credit Union has available when you apply.
The Credit Union aims to support you and at the same time protect its members’ money and we do that by assessing each application individually. It is not in our interests or yours to lend you money you can’t repay.
If you are not sure whether you can afford it, we may be able to help you with a Financial Health Check.
What is a Financial Health Check?
We hope to offer this service to all members who would like it, free of charge. As our utility, travel and food costs rise rapidly, many more of us are wondering just how tight our belts can be pulled and how we can manage. Our financial health check, carried out by a professional Money Adviser, can take a look at maximising your income, making savings on your outgoings and budgeting to better manage your finances in these difficult times. We hope to launch this service in the future.
What is the interest rate?
Interest on Credit Union loans is limited by law, so you will never pay more than 2% per month (26.8% APR) and many loans may be lower. Check out our current loan deals for up to date information.
Amount Max repayment period APR
£200 - £2000 36 months 26.8%
£2001 - £5000 60 months 19.8%
£5001 - £7500 60 months 9.9%
£7501 - £15000 60 months 9.9%
Loans over £7500 are only available to homeowners with excellent credit history who are able to repay through payroll deductions.
I think I have seen lower rates on the high street, why?
You may see lower APRs advertised but we recommend that you check whether the advertised rate applies to the loan amount you actually need. Often, the lowest advertised rates from major financial institutions only apply to the higher value loans and are quoted as a “representative” rate, which means that may not be the rate that you are offered.
You might find that they won’t even provide the loan amount that you need at any rate.
Also, check what you will actually pay monthly and what is included. We charge interest on the reducing balance only, whereas they might apply interest up-front on the total loan.
Our loans include life cover at no extra cost up to age 69 and up to £5000 (conditions apply) and have no arrangement fees and no penalties for early settlement. Would your bank be the same?
In addition, with BFWCU, you build up savings so that you can pay off your loan early or, if your loan runs its full term, you have a savings balance to keep.
As we are a regulated Credit Union, you know that you are not paying for outside shareholders or profits. Surpluses, after operating costs and allocation to reserves, are used to pay dividends to savers.
How do I repay my loan?
In the same way you make payments to your savings account. This might be by direct payroll deduction, by direct debit, pay-point card, standing order or through benefit payments directly to your Credit Union account.
Can I pay off my loan early?
Yes. If you wish to repay your total outstanding loan early you can do so in one payment. Just contact the Credit Union office to check the final payment required. There are no early repayment charges for this.
Can I pay extra amounts off my loan if and when I have the money?
If you have extra money you can pay this into your savings account at any time. When the balance of your savings account is enough to pay off the balance of your loan, you can do this.
What if I leave my current employer?
If you leave your employer, you can still retain membership of the Credit Union; however it is your responsibility to contact us to keep us updated and to make alternative arrangements for paying into your account or repaying your loan.
How do I apply for a loan, and how long will it take?
Once you have been a saving member for at least 13 weeks you will be eligible to apply for a loan if you need one. The application and approval process in simple cases will take a few days. You apply by completing a loans application form available from us, from your workplace Credit Union champion or by download from our website. If approved, you will be sent a loan agreement to sign and return to us before we make payment to you.
What do I need to send to you?
You need to send us a completed application form. Make sure this is signed and dated. Include with it 3 latest wage slips or benefit award letters and 3 latest bank statements.
Why do you want to see all this?
The Credit Union is a local co-operative. The money it loans out belongs to your friends and colleagues and fellow members and we must loan it out responsibly. For this reason, we need to check that you are able to repay any amount we lend to you and this is why we ask for all this information. Please note that all information provided to the Credit Union remains strictly confidential.
When do I get my money?
Once your loan has been approved we will send out a loan agreement for you to sign and return to us. You will receive your money within 3 working days of us receiving the signed agreement.
Do you perform a credit check?
Yes. We reserve the right to perform a credit search on loan applications. This is to help ensure we are lending sensibly and protecting the interests of all members who save with us.
The Credit Check will in part be used to verify the information you provide on your application form. It is therefore vital that you accurately record all other outstanding credit on your application form.
A decision on your application will not be made by credit check alone and your personal circumstances will be taken into account.
What about insurance?
We provide you with FREE life insurance for the amount of your outstanding loan. As with most insurance some exemptions apply; for example you may not be covered if you die of a pre-existing medical condition within 6 months of taking out the loan
We do not currently provide sickness, accident and unemployment insurance.
What if I have difficulty repaying?
By only making affordable, responsible loans and by working in partnership with independent, local, free money advice services we hope that you won’t get into serious difficulty. In the future we hope to offer access to a financial health check for all members, which could help you with budgeting and income maximisation and if you need it then we also work with local debt advisers who may be able to help you.
We have a duty to recover our members’ money. Members who fail to pay and fail to work with us to come to repayment arrangements will be entered into a strict debt collection process, including court action, bailiffs, attachments to earnings, charging orders and other available forms of enforcement.
Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Credit Union is a professional, local, ethical, not-for-profit financial services organisation, owned and governed by its members. We aim to provide affordable savings, loans and financial products to our members and are supported by major employers across the Fylde Coast.
You have nothing to lose, and peace of mind to gain.