Credit unions have been providing financial services to the people of Scotland for 45 years, but how much do you really know about them?

Yes, all credit unions in Scotland are member-owned and those members can save and borrow from their credit unions, but some offer much more.

Take Scotwest Credit Union for example - unlike your local credit union that may only be able to accept members from your local community, Scotwest can welcome members from the whole of the west of Scotland, the Highlands, Stirling and Perth & Kinross. In fact Scotwest has 36,000 Members around the country.

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Like all credit unions, Scotwest encourages members to save and we give you more ways to save with four main savings accounts, a savings account just for children and the popular Christmas Savings Account where last year over 4,000 Members saved almost £3.5million to make the most of the festive season.

Of course, Scotwest is also there for Members if they need to borrow and in these uncertain times it’s good to know that we are here with a range of loans for whatever you may need help with.

And unlike some credit unions you may have seen, at Scotwest you don’t need to have savings with us before you can apply for a loan. What do Members borrow for? Being able to apply for loans up to £30,000, the sky is the limit.

Members borrow for home improvements, to help celebrate special occasions, holidays, a new car (in fact, Scotwest is among the first organisations to offer a specially priced Green Car Loan for electric and hybrid vehicles), or help with day to day expenses if they need fair and ethical help before pay day.

Scotwest is also one of the few credit unions in the country to offer mortgages, and being an ethical lender concerned about the financial well-being of our members, we put applicants in touch with an Independent Financial Adviser to make sure they get the best deal available for them, whether that is with Scotwest or another provider.

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But Scotwest is about more than only savings and loans, helping Members support their local communities through the Scotwest Community Awards with grants of up to £2,000 available for groups or charities to fund projects or events.

The Board of Directors also makes annual charitable donations on behalf of Members. As Scotwest continues to grow, it is committed to doing so in a responsible manner, not only for Members but communities and society at large.

Scotwest now offers its first ‘green’ themed loan with more to follow - and encourage Members to go paper-free, restricting annual paper statements to those Members who don’t useonline banking services. On average this has saved around 100,000 sheets of paper every year.

So forget what you think you know about credit unions and try Scotwest, where people count.

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