What is a credit union?

Hoot Credit Union is a member and community-owned financial cooperative.

This means that when you join Hoot you are committing to being a member-owner and joining with others in your community in benefiting from fair finance.

You have ownership – You are the shareholder and your interests and those of other members come first. Profits are shared amongst the members, not fat cat city investors.

You have a say – Members elect the Board of Directors to represent your interests. The Board report back to members at the annual general meeting.

It’s all about you and your community – Our staff understand what members want and everything we do is for the benefit of members and the local community.

We save you money – Hoot offers flexible savings and affordable loans at fair and responsible rates saving the community hundreds of thousands of pounds in loan interest.

To find out more about what that means click here.

How do I open a Hoot account?

You must join the credit union first to start saving.

Simply go to the Join Us page, check your eligibility and apply.

Once your membership is approved you will be allocated a member number and sent a welcome pack telling you all about Hoot and how you can save with the credit union.

Once you have started saving you can ask for a Christmas Savings or Nest Egg pot to be added to your Regular savings account.

Will I get a sort code and account number?

No, a Hoot account is a savings account and not a bank account.

We cannot offer the account facilities that a bank can such as debit cards, standing orders, direct debits or your own account number.

Your membership number is what identifies your account.

See below to learn how to pay into or withdraw from your account

Can I get my wages or benefits paid into my Hoot account?

You can have wages or benefits paid in using these details.

Account name: Hoot Credit Union
Sort Code: 08-92-99
Account No: 65155288
Reference: Your Hoot member number*, National Insurance Number or Child Benefit Payment Reference.

*It is very important to use your membership number or National Insurance Number as your reference so we can correctly allocate your payment to your account. If you do not use the correct reference we will not be able to allocate the payment to your account.

I don't want a loan. Can I just save?

Yes, many Hoot members save without borrowing.

You can apply for a loan at any time, but if you just want to save that’s fine.

Will I earn interest on my savings?

As a co-operative, Hoot savings earn a dividend rather than interest.

Dividends are your share of the profit in proportion to your savings and are agreed by members at the Annual General Meeting.

We cannot guarantee a dividend or confirm what that is until after the AGM. You can find out what has been paid in previous years by contacting us enquiries@wisewithmoney.org.uk

What is the best way to manage my account?

The best way to check your balances is by registering in the member area or downloading 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 in the member area to find balances and make withdrawal requests.

You can also download our Hoot Credit Union App here. Look for Hoot Credit Union in the Apple Store or Google Play.

Click here for information on how to activate your online account.

You can email enquiries@wisewithmoney.org.uk or call us on 01204 365024 to check your balance and ask any other queries.

For our opening hours and contact details click here.

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.

Check the eligibility tab on each loan to see if it’s the right one for you.

How do I apply?

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

If you are already a Hoot member, you will be asked for your member number. When you provide that, your loan application form will appear with some of your details pre-filled.

If you are not a member the first form that will open is the membership form. Complete this form and make sure you tick the box to say you want to apply for a loan at the same time. When you have entered all your personal details, you will be asked to fill in the loan application.

When you apply you will be offered Open Banking. This is when you give permission for us to view your bank statement online. This will only be a snapshot view of your account and we cannot alter, amend or make any transactions.

Doing open banking will speed up your application.

If you do not want to do this, or your bank does not support it you should upload a copy of your last two month’s bank statements.

If you do neither of these we will send an email asking for the statements within 3 working days.

Tips for completing your loan application form

Tell us how much you want to borrow

Make sure you slide the loan slider to the amount you want to borrow. Sliding it all the way to the right will take it to the maximum amount that can be borrowed for that particular loan.

You also have the option to type in the amount you want to borrow in the box above the loan slider.

Entering your date of birth

In the date of birth box – select the year of birth first, then the month then the day – click on the day to submit your date of birth.

Open Banking

Select skip this step if you do not want to do Open Banking but will upload bank statements.
Bank statements must be full statements in PDF format showing name, address and account details as well as transactions. You can download these statements from your online bank account. Please do not upload screenshots of transactions.

Submitting your application

Don’t forget to read the declaration and submit your application. You will receive a text confirming that you have completed the application successfully.

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

Do you do credit checks?

We carry out an affordability check and a credit check on all 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.

Having a poor credit score does not necessarily mean we will not lend to you, but we cannot offer a loan if we believe you cannot afford it or are not managing the credit you already have.

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

How will I repay my loan?

The best way to repay your loan is by Direct Debit (applies to some loans) or Standing Order.

You can also repay from your benefits if you have your benefits paid into your Hoot account.

Other ways to pay:
• 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.

For Personal Loans, we ask you to save at least 10% of your regular repayment. We 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 Family Loans, you must save £4 per week, or £14 per 4 weeks in Pledged Savings. These can only be withdrawn when you repay in full or top up your loan halfway.

If you don’t believe you can manage these terms, you should not apply for the loan.

For example:

On a Personal Loan – 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!

What if I am struggling to make the payments?

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.