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Frequently Asked Questions

General: What is Sheffield Credit Union?

It’s a savings and loans co-operative.  It provides access to safe, affordable and inclusive savings and loans, and can also help with budgeting.  It is owned by its members and is directed by a voluntary Board with different areas of experience and expertise. It is authorised by the PRA and regulated by the PRA and FCA.

Credit Unions are found all over the world, and are the preferred choice for financial services in many countries such as USA, Canada and Ireland. The UK doesn’t promote them as widely as other countries, and their not-for-profit status means that they don’t have huge budgets for promotion.  They work closely with partners, and rely on word of mouth to increase their membership.

General: Who are its members?

Anybody who chooses to have savings and/or loans with the Credit Union becomes a member. They have to meet at least one of the following criteria, pay a small one-off joining fee and keep a minimum £1 balance in their account:

Members must keep £1 in the Membership Share account. This share gives the member a vote on what happens to the Credit Union.

General: What makes it different to a Doorstep lender, Payday lender or similar high cost lender?

Credit Unions aren’t quite as quick to make a loan decision because they want to be sure a loan is the right solution for the person. This means looking at income and expenditure, bank statements and running a credit check. They charge less interest and the interest rate is capped by the government at a maximum of 42.6%.

The interest is also charged on a decreasing balance, which means you only pay interest on the balance left when you have made your latest payment.  You can overpay, or repay early with no penalty charges.  If you are having trouble making repayments, we will work with you to keep up to date. See our loans pages for further details.

General: What makes it different to a bank?

Credit Unions specialise in savings and loans products, and are not-for-profit.

They do not provide as wide a range of services as banks, but specialise to make their products accessible to as many people as possible.

Being not-for-profit, any surplus made is returned to the members as a dividend, and/or used to improve the services.

Sheffield Credit Union are specialists in offering loans of up to £10,000 and offer interest rates which beat most high street banks. Credit Unions generally offer loans from £200 and over, where banks would usually only consider much larger amounts.

General: Why are they a good choice if you find it hard to get credit?

Credit Unions are customer-focussed, with friendly staff who will make suggestions for sound saving and borrowing based on individual circumstances. They only allow members to borrow what they can afford. They can help members access a basic bank account and/or debit card if they don't already have one. Sheffield Credit Union also offers budgeting accounts, to help members keep on top of bills.

You are also More Than a Score to us - which is why we never make a loan decision just based on somebody's credit score.

Membership: What happens if I don’t use my account?

If you do not make any deposits or withdrawals for a whole year, you will receive a letter informing you that your account has become dormant.  This is an official process that is put in place to protect your account. If your account becomes dormant, you will need to re-present your ID and proof of address. You will also need to carry out at least one transaction each year to ensure your account remains open.  If you do not do this, your account will remain dormant and you will be charged £5 per year for the cost of administering your account.  To avoid this, please make sure you make at least one transaction within each year.

Loans: Providing your bank statements using Consents.Online

How does it work?

It’s as simple as logging into your online banking. First you will need to enter some basic information like your name and phone number.  You will then be asked to select your bank and authenticate yourself using what’s called “Open Banking”. This looks just like your online banking log in and is a service provided directly by your bank. will then attempt to make a secure connection with your bank account, which may take up to 2 minutes. Please wait until you see the screen that says, 'Connection Successful' before you log off. work directly with the bank to provide this service, using Open Banking APIs (see below).


Who is are a regulated Account Information Service Provider (AISP), regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. offer a quick, easy and secure way to provide your information, using Open Banking. In addition to helping you share your data in a safe and secure way also provide you with access to a free portal (available online and via an app) where you can see what you’ve shared, control and revoke access to your data at any time. Should you choose to revoke access, it will mean that and any services you previously granted access to will no longer be able to view your information, unless they are required to store it by law. This puts you in control of your data.


What is Open Banking?

Open Banking is the secure way to give providers access to your financial information. Open Banking APIs are made available to by your bank under the new Open Banking regulations. Open Banking is regulated, monitored and built on the principles of GDPR (General Data Protction Regulations). To access these APIs must hold a licence and be authorised by the FCA.


Is this safe? use rigorously tested software and security systems. By using to share your data you’re always in charge. You can decide what information can be accessed and for how long. No one gets access unless you say so!


Is regulated?

Yes, are regulated by the FCA. To provide their Open Banking service they must comply with the strict rules of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or a European equivalent. You can view their credentials on the FCA Register.


How does connect with my bank? will connect to your account directly using Open Banking APIs. An API - or Application Programming Interface - is a software intermediary that allows two applications to securely talk to each other. When it comes to Open Banking, think of it as secure packages of data being transferred between two places. It's extremely secure and delivers only what is necessary and nothing more. make a request via the API, your bank responds to it by packaging information up, encrypting it and sending back - but the separation between the two is always maintained.

Loans: When will my loan be ready?

Our usual decision times for assessing loan applications are 1-2 working days. At times of peak demand (such as the weeks leading up to Christmas) this may be longer but we will let you know at the point of application.

When you submit your loan application with banking details through and/or other required documents, an estimated time scale will be sent to you by text message. At the end of each day our staff team will text or ring to inform members of completed decisions.

Loans: What is the deadline for a Christmas loan?

Christmas is our busiest time of year for loan applications.  We set a deadline by which we must have received loan applications in order to guarantee that they will be assessed in time for Christmas.

The deadline is generally near to the start of December.  Please check our website, our office displays, Facebook or our telephone message for the current year’s deadline, usually displayed from the end of October.

Loans: I applied for a loan - why are you offering me a lower amount?

Sheffield Credit Union is an affordable and ethical lender.  As such, we use consistent methods to work out what size of loan is affordable for you given your income and expenditure, as well as examining your credit record and bank transactions to ensure that by providing a loan, we are not likely to worsen your financial situation.  One way we may do this is by reducing the amount we offer to you.

You may also already have a balance with us that we need to take into account before making an offer.

We may also recommend regular savings, or require you to secure some of your regularly built up savings to enable us to provide you with a loan.  Building savings helps you to handle unexpected expenses.

Withdrawals: How quickly will I receive a payment to my bank or Engage card?

Payments are credited on to accounts and the relevant bank transfers are usually made by 10am.

Please be aware, these transfers can take up to 2 hours to reach your account (depending on your bank).  Engage card transfers are typically faster.

If after 12pm you have still not received your money please contact us by telephone or email and our staff will help you to resolve this.

If you have requested a transfer during the day, these will be sent after 3.30pm, and should be in your bank account or on your Engage card by around 5:30pm. Please note: if you are requesting a withdrawal of £2,000 or more to your Engage Card, please allow 3 working days for this to be processed.

If your expecting a benefit payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) they may send your money shortly after midnight, but we cannot process the payments until we have staff in the office the following morning. Processing payments is our first morning task.