Your questions answered

General FAQs

What is a credit union?

A credit union is a community savings and loans provider that exists to provide financial services to a common group of members.


Credit unions are owned and controlled by their members and offer a real alternative in the community for safe savings and affordable loans.


Members of the credit union pool their savings to provide the funds from which loans are made. The interest on loans pays for the running of the credit union and members get a share of the profit known as a dividend.


They are committed to doing business in a way that contributes to the community and meets the needs of members. Money is kept in the community by the savings on loan interest by borrowing from the credit union and because profits are shared amongst the people who use the credit union – the members.

Why a credit union rather than a bank or other lender?

A credit union is a community of its members, whose aims are to promote their financial wellbeing through savings, affordable and appropriate lending opportunities, and through the promotion of greater financial awareness.


Banks have a duty to generate profit for shareholders. In a credit union members are the only shareholders and are the only ones who benefit from its success by a share of the profit. There are no fat-cat city shareholders to satisfy so the credit union is focused on the needs of members, not external shareholders.


As community co-operatives credit unions can offer financial services to a broad section of the community and can become a lifeline for people who may otherwise have to resort to payday loans or doorstep lending which often carry incredibly high interest rates.


The key objects of a credit union are:


  • To promote a good saving habit
  • To offer ethical and affordable credit
  • To share the profit amongst its members
  • To promote financial education and good money management

Who can join?

Hoot, like all credit unions, is a member co-operative. This means that as well as getting the benefit of our savings and loan products, you are a member shareholder and get a share of the profit each year.


Anyone who meets the criteria for membership can join.


To join Hoot Credit Union you must be 16 years of age or older and live, work or study in the BL0-BL9, M25-M29, M38, M45 and M46 Postcode areas or be employed by a partner employer. For more details click here.

How do I join?

Firstly check you are eligible for membership.


If you meet the criteria click here to apply.


Alternatively, you can pop into our Victoria Square branch and complete an application form. Bring two forms of identification with you.


A list of suitable identification documents can be found here.


Savings FAQs


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How can I check my balances?

The best way to check your balances is by registering into the member area or dowloading our app.


This is where you can access your account 24/7 keeping you right up to date.


  • check your balances
  • view a mini statement
  • request a transfer of money
  • apply online for a loan
  • amend personal details
  • request or print forms
  • send an online enquiry


If you are a member of Hoot you can register on the member area to find balances and make withdrawal requests.


You can also download our App. Look for Incuto in the Apple Store or Google Play



You can call us on 01204 365024 to check your balance and ask any other queries.


For our opening hours and contact details, click here

Will I get interest on my savings?

Hoot savings accounts do not earn interest but as a co-operative you are a shareholder and will get a share of the profit (a dividend) in proportion to your savings each year (subject to credit union performance).

Is my money safe with you?

Absolutely. Like all major financial institutions, we are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS can pay compensation to depositors if an organisation is unable to meet its financial obligations. Find out more about this scheme here.


We are also authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. This means that we meet strict conditions for trading, we are required to submit information on our financial performance to the regulators every three months and our directors and senior staff are vetted by the regulators.

How can I deposit and withdraw my savings?

Paying into savings


The best way to save is by setting up a Standing Order.


You can deposit cash at our Victoria Square branch.


Deposits are also accepted by debit card over the phone but maximum limits apply.

If you are employed by one of our payroll partners you can save via payroll deduction. Click here for more details


Looking to withdraw some of your savings?


You can withdraw your savings in three ways:


  • In cash at our Victoria Square branch (maximum of £250)
  • By bank transfer by registering your bank details with us in advance
  • Onto your Engage Prepaid card.



Members must leave a minimum of £1 in your Share1 Regular Savings Account at all times.


Why not take a Secured Loan instead?


Instead of withdrawing your hard earned savings why not consider a Secured Loan, which allows you to keep all your hard-earned savings intact – and enjoy our lowest rate of interest.


Loans FAQs


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Why is a credit union loan better?

There are many reasons why our loans are better for you than any other loan.

For example:


  • 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 amounts of loans that the banks just don’t offer
  • Loans usually come with free life insurance
  • There are no arrangement fees or early repayment penalties and the maximum interest rates are set by law
  • If you have been using doorstep lenders, then a credit union loan will be less expensive by a large amount


All our loans are based on affordability, so as a responsible lender, it is important that we ask you to confirm your income and expenditure. For this reason many loan applicants will be required to send in copies of wage slips and bank statements to show these incomings and outgoings.


This ensures that we do not take unnecessary risks with the credit union’s funds and do not give out loans where we feel it will result in the member getting into financial difficulty. It also means that we can look beyond a member’s credit report to try to help them in every way we can.


This all means that you will only get affordable loans from us.

How much can I borrow?

With Hoot you can borrow from £200 to £15,000


The amount you can borrow depends on your income, credit history or a specific loan like the Family Loan and Savings Plan.


When you are applying, you should apply for what you need, not what you think you can have.

How do I apply?

You can apply for a loan on this site by selecting the button Check Eligibility and Apply. Make sure you are eligible then click through to the application form.


If you want to apply on a paper form you can apply in branch or by asking us to send you a form.


If you apply online we may ask you to forward a copy of bank statements. If you apply on paper you should attach your last 2 month’s bank statements to your application.


Completing your loan application form


Here at Hoot we treat all of our loan applicants as individuals and take your particular circumstances into account when we look at your application.


Hoot makes its loan decisions carefully and in the interest of all credit union members. Be honest about the information we ask for, especially about your income and expenditure and details of any other loans, catalogues or credit you have with other companies. When you sign the application you are agreeing that a credit check may be done using the information you give to verify the information you put on the form.


Having a poor credit rating or other debt will not necessarily prevent you from getting a loan with us but if you leave out important information about your household income and expenses or your existing debt it may affect the decision we make.


Firstly, we will ask you about your personal details including where you have lived in the past 3 years. This is so we can verify that you are who you say you are.


The next part of the application is about your income and expenditure. Make sure you include everything that your household spends. If you have included a spouse or partner’s income, or if they pay some of the bills, you need to give their details too. We need this information to be sure that you can afford the loan repayments. We may ask you for bank statements to verify what you say.


The next part will ask you about any other credit you have and whether you have managed to keep up with payments. Don’t leave anything out, a credit check will show us what debt you have and how well you manage it. Credit could be loans, hire purchase, credit cards, catalogues, store cards, car payments or payments to places like Brighthouse. Having other debt will not necessarily go against you. I fact if you have a manageable level of debt that you are managing to pay well, it may go in your favour by showing us that you can manage your loan.


The application then moves onto how much you want to borrow and what for. We will ask you how often you want to pay and what payment date suits you.


Finally you must read the declaration carefully and then indicate that you are happy for us to look at your loan application.


Do you do a credit check?


We usually carry out a credit check on most 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 that you provide when you apply for your loan. It is therefore vital that you accurately enter your information correctly in your application, including any other outstanding credit you may have.


Click here for information on how we use credit reference agencies.


If you need help completing your loan application, please contact us.

Will I pay interest on the loan?

We do not front load interest at the start of your loan.


Instead, interest on Hoot Credit Union loans is calculated on a daily reducing balance basis.


As a result, with each repayment you make, the interest which has accrued since your last repayment is cleared and your loan balance reduces.


Interest will then be calculated on the reduced balance.  As your loan progresses, your outstanding loan balance will continue to reduce and you will therefore pay less interest.  We believe this to be the fairest way to charge interest.

How do I repay my loan?

You can repay your loan in several ways:


  • By standing order
  • Cash repayment in our Victoria Square branch
  • By phone using your debit card
  • By payroll deduction if you work for one of our payroll partners.


The loan officer will discuss your options and arrangements for payment when you are signing your loan agreement.


If you think a payment is going to be late, please contact us and let us know. You will not be charged anything for the late payment but we may need to look at your repayment arrangements to see if they are suitable.

Can I make extra payments on my loan or pay it off early?

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.


Making extra payments will reduce the total amount of interest you pay on your loan and may reduce the time it taes you to repay in full.


If you wish to repay your total outstanding loan early you can do so in one payment.  There are no early repayment charges for this.


Why must I save while I'm paying my loan?

Hoot Credit Union is a financial community co-operative that promotes savings as well as loans.


We expect all of our members to save as much as they can afford, even if they are repaying a loan. As a rule of thumb we would ask you to save 10% of your regular repayment up to at least 10% of your outstanding loan balance.


We then ask that you keep 10% of your outstanding loan balance in your savings as your commitment to saving. If you can’t afford that level you can talk to us about what you can afford.


For example:


If you borrowed £200 over 52 weeks you would be asked to pay £6 per week. £4.60 to repay your loan and £1.40 in savings.


At the end of the year you will have repaid your loan and have £72.80 in savings!


Our loan officer will explain this to you when you are signing your loan agreement.


If you are experiencing hardship and need access to some of your savings, please ask a member of staff.


Why have I seen better interest rates on the high street?

Make sure you compare like with like

APR% will help you compare loans but you should remember to compare only loans that you would be eligible to get. For example, if you have a poor credit history, comparing with a bank loan with a low APR% that you would need an excellent credit rating for, wouldn’t give you a true picture of what your options are.


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. Many of our customers have reported to us that bank’s offered them a loan at a much higher rate than advertised. With us, what you see is what you get.


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.


In addition, 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.

What if I'm struggling to repay?

We know that from time to time people may struggle with money because of the demands of everyday life.  Loss of your job, unexpected expenses or other circumstances can sometimes overwhelm you and cause worry and stress about how you can keep up with payments. Sometimes we know that it is a short term problem and you just need a little time to get back on your feet.


Talk to us


Credit unions value their members and are here to help so we dislike taking any kind of action with regard to people who cannot pay their loan. The money you have borrowed comes from the savings pot of other members. We therefore have a responsibility to help you to pay us back. You should remember that, if you do not repay your loan, your credit rating will be affected and you will find it harder to get credit. Not only does it add more costs to your debt but can affect you for years into the future when you apply for credit, mobile phone contracts, car finance, opening some bank accounts or even passing pre-tenancy checks when you want to move house.


We may be able to help


It is important that you contact us straight away if you are struggling with your loan repayment.  It is better to talk to us as soon as you can so don’t be embarrassed about contacting us. We will be happy that you have contacted us to put things right

If you are having difficulty with your repayments, please contact us. 

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