Compare credit unions’ home loans

Credit union vs bank - what's the difference? Credit unions are member-owned and regulated like banks, but they offer some of the market's most competitive loans.

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Credit unions, mutual banks and building societies are Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs). This means they are covered by the Australian government regulations as publicly listed banks. Unlike banks, however, credit unions are customer-owned. This means they don't pay dividends to shareholders. Some credit unions operate nation-wide while others are limited to a specific state, city or region.

Comparing credit union home loans

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Bank loans vs Australian credit union home loans

There are two major distinctions between credit unions and banks, including both Big 4 banks and smaller banks:

  1. Profits re-invested for members

    While bank profits are distributed among shareholders in the form of dividends, credit unions re-invest profits for their members in the form of customer service enhancements, lower interest rates and fewer fees. The interest rates are usually significantly lower for credit union home loans than they are for the banks. You can also expect to pay fewer fees, and the fees that you do have to pay are often much lower than what you would pay on a bank loan. This was supported by a 2008 study by ASIC, which found that mutuals on average charge the lowest overall loan fees in the market.

  2. Credit unions are owned by their members

    Anyone who is a member of a credit union and has an account is a part owner. When you deposit money into your account at a credit union, the deposit is referred to as a share. This is due to the fact that the money deposited represents an ownership in the union. It's much like owning a share of the stock in a company.

Australian credit unions

There are more than 130 customer-owned banks in Australia (industry speak for credit unions, mutual banks and building societies). Of those, 76 are credit unions. There are plenty to choose for.

Size of Credit Unions vs Banks

Products offered by credit unions

In most cases you will have access to the same type of services that you would have at a bank. If you are looking for a specific product or service, you should find out if it is available before becoming a member.

Banks can offer promotional products to attract more customers based on volume. Banks serve a lot more customers than credit unions and can offer certain deals that a credit union may not be able to afford. Credit unions will usually offer only the services and products that a majority of the membership will want to use.

Personalised service

Credit union customers get personalised service. Staff at credit unions have the flexibility to accommodate some of the borrowers the big banks can’t.

Credit union safety

You can rest assured that any money deposited or any loans taken out with a credit union are as safe as they would be if you dealt with a bank. The government guarantee on deposits applies to all ADIs in Australia, not just the big banks.

Becoming a credit union member

Some credit unions are still based in their historical roots in terms of membership restrictions, although as a general trend these restrictions are loosening.

Helpful access

There are many ways how you can get in touch with different credit unions. For example:

  • You could visit a union through one of its physical branches.
  • Online banking services. This can help you to monitor your accounts with a union at any time of the day.
  • Phone services are available from many credit unions. However, the localised approach may mean that support is restricted to business hours. Unassisted phone banking is available 24/7.
  • You may get access through ATMs of all sorts. Most are affiliated with the rediATM network, which is the largest network in Australia.
  • Some unions can handle bank payment services through Australia Post’s Bank@Post service. This could help you to get different bank payments handled through any Australia Post outlet.

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