What is a credit union or mutual building society?

What is a credit union or mutual building society

What is a credit union or mutual building society?

A credit union or mutual building society offers many of the same kind of products and services you’d find at a bank*, but the big difference is they are ‘cooperatively owned’, so when you open an account there, you become an owner as well. We call our owners ‘members’. 

*Credit unions are not registered banks, but like banks, are supervised by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand as non-bank deposit takers.

What’s so special about ‘cooperative ownership’?

Being a cooperative means that the credit union or mutual building society is there to serve you, its members, and not to make profits for outside shareholders.

Any profits made are given back to members through a combination of more advantageous interest rates, fair fees, improved customer service and community sponsorship. That means the money stays in your local community and within New Zealand. We think that’s really important.

Can anyone join a credit union or mutual building society?

Yes!  There are credit unions and mutual building societies in New Zealand for every family in every community. You just need to open an account there, and enjoy the benefits!

> Click here to find your local credit union or mutual building society

Do I have to do anything special as a ‘member’?

You can just enjoy the genuine, personal service you’ll receive at your local branch (some people say it’s a bit like being part of a family), or you can get more involved if you want to.

As you’re a member, you can have a say in who runs your credit union or mutual building society by voting in the annual general meeting and you could even put yourself forward as a board member if you like.

What else do credit unions do?

Switching it easyWhether you’re in debt, have something special you’re saving for, or just want to deal with people who honestly care about helping you, a credit union or mutual building society is a great place to be.

Credit unions and mutual building societies really want to help you get your finances sorted and will work with you personally to help you get ahead - no matter what situation you might be in. 

Helping people understand about budgeting and the importance of saving is at the heart of every credit union and mutual building society, and we work hard to support the communities we are involved in.

We think it’s really important that profits are distributed back to members in New Zealand and do not go offshore. Which means credit unions and mutual building societies are an attractive alternative to banks.

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"Credit unions and mutual building societies have been around for hundreds of years, which means they have a lot of knowledge and experience to teach New Zealanders’ healthy financial habits for life."

International Co-operative Alliance