SPONSORED: How Thomastown Credit Union helps beat the loan sharks
THE Department of Finance is studying submissions from a consultation on licensed moneylenders. When it launched the process three months ago there were 39 of these moneylenders operating with the authorisation of the Central Bank. They were charging annual interest rates which ranged from a frightening 152 per cent to a horrifying 287 per cent.
And these are the legal operators. The illegal operators are the guys who call at your door and offer to help you out with money for the First Communion or school costs.
Nobody really knows what annual interest rates they charge because the loans are either paid off quickly, with a huge penalty loading, or, as is more often the case, they are never fully paid off, and they take payments in instalments from families for years and even generations.
A Community Safety Taskforce warned: “The debt will never be paid as these illegal moneylenders never tell you how much you owe. Once in, it can be for life.”
A survey by the Centre of Co-operative Studies at UCC found that emergency household spending drives many people to money lenders. But predictable costs, such as education and family events, are at the root of the problem. High-interest loans taken out to cover these events leave families vulnerable and open to further dealings with moneylenders when the emergencies arise.
With a little sensible planning and advice, it is not neccessary for families to put themselves in debt to moneylenders.
Thomastown Credit Union accepts applications for personal loans of up to €50,000 above shares, but the average loan is for much less than that. All applications are assessed on the individual circumstances of the member.
Depending on the nature and duration of the loan, interest rates range from as low as 6 per cent to just over 12 per cent and it is the Credit Union’s policy to meet the borrowing requirements of as many members as possible.
“The Credit Union will consider loan applications from members for any worthwhile purpose,” says CEO Anne Marie Daly. “Each application is treated in the utmost confidence and will be considered on its own merits.”
Thomastown Credit Union offers its members a range of personal loans:
*Standard Loan at 12% (12.68% APR);
*Micro Credit Loans 12% (12.68% APR);
*Special Home Improvement Loan at 7.6% (7.89% APR);
*Special Motor Loan at 8.2% (8.5% APR);
*Third Level Education Loan at 7.5% (7.79%);
*Secured Loan at 5.83% (6 % APR);
*50th Anniversary Personal Loan at 6.4% (6.6% APR).
Repayments are tailored to the needs of members. For instance, loans to help with the cost of third level education are spread over a five-year period. That means lower repayments which can be particularly important for parents who have a number of children attending college at the same time.
For many years now, credit union members have received an annual interest rebate. In December 2018, members received a 25% refund of the interest that they had paid in the year. This refund reduces the interest rates further and makes the credit union loans even more affordable.
Thomastown Credit Union has more than 5,000 members in a catchment area that includes Thomastown, Bennettsbridge, Dungarvan, Ballyhale, Knocktopher, Stoneyford and Inistioge.
Its Thomastown office is open every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Bennettsbridge office is open every Wednesday. There is late opening on Friday nights, from 7 to 9pm in the Thomastown branch.
“We are a financial co-operative,” explains Anne Marie Daly. “Our ethos is not to make a profit but to look after all our members.”
All of the surplus at the end of the year is allocated to reserves for the future of the credit union and distributed to members in the form of a dividend and interest rebate.
If this seems like the service for you, you should make an appointment to talk with one of our friendly staff.
“Maria, Theresa, Deirdre, Laura, Carol and Nicole are always happy to assist.” says Anne Marie Daly.
She explains how Thomastown Credit Union differs, not just from moneylenders, but, at the other end of the scale, from the commercial banks. Whether you are in receipt of social welfare, an employee or self-employed, we have a loan to meet your needs.
“We do our very best to make sure someone gets the loan they need,” she says. “It’s a small community so we know how much a loan means to someone.”
*To make an appointment with the Thomastown Credit Union team, call 056 772 4445 or log on to: https://www.thomastowncreditunion.ie/