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  • Learn About Credit Unions
    • Historical Timeline of Credit Unions

      As not-for-profit depository institutions, credit unions were created to serve members as credit cooperatives.

    • How is a Credit Union Different than a Bank?

      In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.

    • How to Find a Credit Union in Your Area

      Once you select a specific credit union, you can view more details about that credit union, including contact information, branch locations, services offered, and recent financial statements.

    • How to Join a Credit Union

      Anybody can join a credit union. Each credit union serves what’s called their “field of membership” – that’s the commonality between the members.

    • How to Start a Credit Union

      If your group is eligible, NCUA's staff will assist you with preparing an application for a charter and see that your group receives guidance in getting your federal credit union started.

    • Is a Credit Union Right for Me?

      Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, their focus is serving the financial needs of their members and not making a profit.

    • Credit Union and Bank Interest Rate Comparison

      In general, credit unions offer higher savings rates, meaning that your money grows faster, and lower rates on loans, meaning that you will owe less over the lifetime of the loan.

    • Learn More About Your Credit Union

      NCUA makes financial information about credit unions available to the public through Financial Performance Reports (FPRs).

    • Low Income Credit Unions

      Credit unions provide valuable access to financial services for people underserved and unserved by traditional financial institutions.

    • Understanding Differences in Federal vs. Privately Insured Credit Unions

      Federally-chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    • What is a Credit Union?

      A federal credit union is a cooperative financial institution chartered by the federal government and owned by individual members.

  • Protect Your Finances
    • Consumer Protection Update

      Watch the latest NCUA Consumer Protection Update video to learn about important updates and changes that may affect you as a consumer."

    • Credit Reports and Credit Scores

      It’s a good idea to monitor your credit report on a regular basis to make sure that the information is accurate. You can also verify that no one has stolen your identity to make fraudulent charges.

    • Share Insurance Coverage

      Federally insured credit unions offer a safe place for you to save your money, with deposits insured up to $250,000, per individual depositor.

    • Online Financial Safety Tips

      When performing transactions on your credit union's website, it's wise to make sure that the website is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured.

    • Prevent Identity Theft

      If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you should contact any credit union, bank or creditor where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft.

    • Frauds and Scams

      NCUA reports on frauds and scams aimed at credit union members. In this section, we provide an overview of recent activity.

    • Scams Targeting Seniors

      America's growing senior population is vulnerable to a broad range of financial crimes. In this section, NCUA provides tips on how seniors can protect themselves from fraud.

    • Tips for Young Adults

      Credit unions offer young adults desirable, affordable financial services, as well as the advantage of personal service developed to help them grow their savings. Many credit unions offer services within schools or have student-run branches.

    • Pocket Cents

      Learn about the history of money, different currencies used around the world, the power of dividends and how to be smart about preparing for your financial future with Pocket Cents from NCUA.

    • Understand Your Privacy Rights

      Federal privacy laws give you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. The law permits your financial companies to share certain information about you without giving you the right to opt out.

  • Financial Tools and Resources
    • Brochures and Graphics

      These brochures and graphics may be linked, downloaded, or printed.

    • Calendar of Events

      View a listing of upcoming events, designations, and opportunities for each month.

    • College Scorecard

      Plan your entire financial aid packages online for all of the schools that you are considering.

    • Consumer Loan Calculator

      Explore your consumer loan, including the effect of adjusting number of payments, principal and interest rate on your monthly payment.

    • Consumer Resources

      Use these references and tools to make better informed financial decisions.

    • FAQs

      Locate answers in the Knowledge Base to a wide variety of frequently asked questions.

    • Games and Activities

      Test your financial knowledge with these games and activities for all ages.

    • Glossary

      Become an educated consumer by taking the mystery out of commonly used financial terms.

    • Lesson Plans and Resources

      Educators and parents can use these plans and resources to teach youth, tweens, and teens about saving, spending, budgeting, and the value of money.

    • Mortgage Loan Calculators

      Compare monthly payments and the amount of equity you would build with several kinds of fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

    • Personal Budgeting Worksheet

      Take a close look at your income and expenses with this helpful worksheet that can identify where you might have room to save.

    • Savings & Retirement Calculator

      Get estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record with this calculator.

    • Share Insurance Estimator

      Are your deposits insured? Find out with NCUA’s electronic Share Insurance Estimator.

    • Videos

      View NCUA's Consumer Report and Consumer Protection Update videos on current financial hot topics.

  • Credit Unions and You
    • Dealing with Debt

      Bill payer services, or debt consolidation services, can help consumers preserve their credit scores by merging debts and establishing a workable schedule to pay down money owed to creditors through a single monthly payment.

    • Buying A Car

      It's important to know how to make a smart deal. Your credit union can discuss car loan options with you.

    • Paying off Credit Cards

      Read your statement carefully for information about how long it would take to pay off your account balance if you only pay the minimum payment. It can take years, even decades, to pay it off.

    • Home Ownership and Mortgage Options

      Once you are ready to buy a home, consult your credit union about competitive interest rates and to find out about your mortgage options, including the term of the loan and the conditions.

    • Mortgage Modifications

      NCUA encourages credit unions to work constructively with residential mortgage borrowers who may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations.

    • Preparing for Retirement

      Between longer life expectancies and fewer employers offering traditional pension plans, it’s a good idea to take an active role in planning for retirement.

    • Saving for College

      Whether you are saving for your own education or for your children’s, it’s wise to start planning for college as soon as possible.

    • Short Term Loans

      Payday loans (a.k.a. deferred advance loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans) are loans borrowers promise to repay from their next paycheck or salary deposit.

Pocket Cents
  • Youth

    Have you ever thought about why money is worth anything? It's just paper and ink, or a small piece of stamped metal. To do a lot of things we need to use money. Money can give you choices and independence. Have you ever thought about how you could earn your own money? Or, how much money you should you save? The way you manage your money could determine if are able to buy food, a movie ticket, a pair of jeans, just about everything. Learn about the history of money, why we use it, how to save it, and how to protect it.

  • Teens and Tweens

    You may be thinking about your first checking or savings account, your first job, or even your first car. Soon, you will have the opportunity to pursue your dreams. You could go to college, launch your career, or start a business. No matter what you decide, you will need money to make it happen. It's never too early to learn smart financial habits. Whether saving a portion of a weekly allowance or understanding the deductions on the pay stub from a first job, good money management skills can last a lifetime. In this section, you will not only learn how to prepare financially for life after high school, but also how to avoid scams and common money mistakes.

  • Young Adults

    Are you prepared to make wise and informed financial decisions? Do you know how to recognize predatory credit offers? Can you balance a checkbook? Do you have a savings plan? Smart financial choices you make today could help you can achieve that new car purchase, or sail through an apartment lease or mortgage application. However, money mistakes when you're just starting out can leave you in debt and ruin your credit score. Learn how to live within a budget, handle credit and debt, and build a solid financial foundation for your future.

  • Parents And Educators

    How do you teach kids about money? It may be as simple as talking about your job, taking a trip to the grocery store, or opening a savings account at a credit union to deposit allowance and birthday money. The bottom line is that it’s never too early to start teaching children smart financial habits and the value of money. Educating, motivating, and empowering kids to become regular savers will enable them to keep more of the money they earn. Whether at home or in the classroom, this section will provide you with the tools and resources to teach kids how to grow into financially responsible adults. The reward could mean a life free from the anxieties of debt.

  • Seniors

    Did you know that seniors account for almost 30% of all fraud victims? Whether you are looking for information for yourself or for a loved one, in this section you will learn how to defend against these scams, as well as, find information on reverse mortgages, prepaid funerals, emergency savings, and long-term care. Additionally, you will find articles that will help with money management, post-retirement planning, and maximizing government benefits.

  • Marriage and Family

    You may have a retirement account. But, do you really know how much you should be saving? Do you budget to save, and not just when you have extra money left over in your paycheck? Have you thought about saving for college? Does your family have an emergency fund? Anyone can learn how to save money and invest in their future. In this section, you will learn how to take control of your financial future, including how to defend against fraud and scams, tips on buying a car or home, how to handle credit and debt, and information about credit reports.

  • Servicemembers

    Are you financially ready? Servicemembers and military families face unique financial challenges, whether on active duty, returning to civilian life, or living as a veteran. In recent years, servicemembers have joined the ranks of those who are considered most vulnerable to predatory lenders and identity theft. Most military families today are not saving adequately for retirement, and many do not have an emergency fund. In this section, you will learn how to protect yourself from financial vulnerabilities, as well as, how to budget, save, and handle debt and credit. Additionally, learn about free financial resources, benefits, and special protections offered by the U.S. government for servicemembers and their families.

 Short-Term Loans

Payday Lending

Payday loans (a.k.a. deferred advance loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans) are loans borrowers promise to repay from their next paycheck or salary deposit. They are often accompanied by exorbitantly high interest and fees. Borrowers who cannot repay these loans in two weeks are often forced to roll over the loans and can get trapped in a cycle of borrowing over and over and over.

For example: A person borrows $100 until the next payday. The lender provides a two-week loan and charges a $15 fee. The lender will require the borrower to provide a postdated check for $115 to be held until the borrower's next payday. When the loan comes due, the borrower may repay the loan by allowing the lender to process the check or by bringing in the full payment of $115 in cash. The borrower may also have the option to “roll over” the loan by taking out another loan and paying an additional $15 for another two weeks. In this example, the annual percentage rate (APR) calculates to 391% for the original two-week loan of $100 with a $15 fee.

Generally, federal credit unions are limited to a maximum lending rate of 18%, a loan in this way is impermissible. Generally, credit unions offer a much less costly alternative to their members, granting them a loan with no fee; interest is calculated over the term of the loan according to the APR disclosed. Although obtaining a payday loan from a credit union is less costly to the borrower, the credit union assumes a variety of risks.

Note: The Federal Credit Union Act and the NCUA Rules and Regulations set the maximum interest rate federal credit unions can charge on loans and lines of credit at 15% per annum inclusive of all finance charges. The Act permits NCUA to increase the interest rate above 15% for periods of up to eighteen months. The current maximum interest rate is set at 18%. In determining whether a particular charge constitutes a finance charge for purposes of compliance with the interest rate ceiling, we generally follow the Regulation Z interpretation of that term. If the credit union charges a fee only to those borrowers who receive the loan, the fee is included as a finance charge and must be included in the APR calculation.

As of September 2012, the NCUA Board extended the current 18% interest-rate ceiling on loans originated by federal credit unions for an additional 18 months, through March 10, 2014.

This means the maximum allowable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) remains 18% for most loans and 28% for loans made under NCUA's Short-Term Small Loan program. 


NCUA Short Term Small (STS) Loan Program

Providing consumers with an alternative to borrowing from potentially predatory payday lenders, the NCUA adopted a rule in 2010 – with a strong set of consumer safeguards – to allow federal credit unions to make STS loans and to extend lines of credit to their members.

Under the regulation, federal credit unions are permitted to charge an interest rate for a short-term, small amount loan that is higher than the ceiling permitted under Federal Credit Union Act, provided that it meets certain conditions. The rule imposes limits on the permissible term, amount, and fees associated with such a loan. The new rule also requires federal credit unions to set a cap on the total dollar amount of such loans that they will make, and it requires them to set at least a one-month period in which a would-be borrower must be a member of the credit union.

The ability to make STS loans will help federal credit unions fulfill their mission of promoting thrift and meeting the credit needs of consumers, particularly those of modest means. Permitting a higher interest rate for such loans will allow FCUs to make loans cost-effectively, even as the limitations set by the new rule will ensure that such loans meet their purpose as an alternative to predatory credit products. The rule also includes guidance in the form of “best practices” that federal credit unions should consider incorporating into their short-term, small amount programs.

To charge up to 28% APR, federal credit unions can offer STS Loans under the following conditions:

  • Principal Amount: $200-$1,000
  • Term: 1-6 Months
  • Application Fee: $0-$20 (based on actual costs)
  • Eligibility: Member for at least 1 Month
  • Amortization: Fully Amortized (no balloon payments)
  • Rollovers: Prohibited
  • Limits on the number of such loans to one member within a six-month period

Unlike payday lenders, which rarely report their customers' payment of loans to credit bureaus, FCUs will generally be reporting their members' payment histories with STS loans to the credit bureaus. Members who successfully pay off STS loans at FCUs will likely be able to improve their credit scores and qualify for future loans at lower costs.

Note: The NCUA's rule on STS loans does not prohibit an FCU from continuing or participating in a closed end payday loan or other short term loan program that currently operates successfully and is legal under NCUA's regulations and the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation Z.

For more information about the STS Loan program and the update extending the debt ceiling, refer to both the October 2010 NCUA Regulatory Alert, 10-RA-13, Final Rule - Part 701, Short-Term, Small Amount Loans, and the August 2012 NCUA Letter to Federal Credit Unions, 12-FCU-04, Permissible Interest Rate Ceiling.

To learn more about your loan options, contact your credit union or find a credit union in your area.

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