Help and Advice

Financial Advice

We want to help you manage your money better. Where does your money go each month? Can you reduce the cost of your household bills? How much can you afford to save regularly with Advance Credit Union?

Have you seen our Life Events series? Our top tips for saving money for the big events in life including having a baby, getting married, Christmas, tips for parents and more. We also include free planners to help you make the most of your money.

We encourage all our members to complete a budget, regardless of income. It is important for all of us to know that we are living within our means. In fact a simple budget is required as part of your loan application with Advance; to ensure that member’s don’t borrow more than they can afford.

Why not try the budget planner, courtesy of the Money Advice Service – you might be surprised by what you find! The planner allows you to save your budget, change it as your circumstances change, plus get guidance on how to manage your money. You can even download your own budget, and use it as part of your Advance Credit Union loan application.

Try It Now If you like a spreadsheet to analyse your budget in more detail, then try the budget analyser on Martin Lewis’ MoneysavingExpert website.

Financial Difficulties

If you find yourself in financial difficulties and you are concerned that you may not be able to afford your loan repayments then please contact us at the earliest opportunity. We do want to work with you to manage your loan arrears. Most of our members who do fall behind with their payments are able to come to an arrangement with Advance Credit Union, and are able to have another loan in the future without their arrears adversely affecting their credit rating.

Advance Credit Union does not offer personal financial advice, however there are many local agencies who are able to help. See Helpful links for contact details.


Advance Credit Union is committed to providing members with quality financial services. We can only do this with your help. If we have let you down, please tell us. Read more about our Complaints policy and procedure.

Please remember to talk to the Credit Union first if you are unhappy with our services, but don’t forget to tell your friends and family if you have had a great experience with Advance Credit Union!

Important information about compensation arrangements
Savings with Advance Credit Union are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Read more about the scheme.

Engage Account

Engage_card_ClassicThe new Engage Visa Debit card is purpose-built for credit unions and offers an excellent range of features including cashback rewards of between 3% and 15% on everyday shopping, clothing and electrical items at supermarkets and local stores including ASDA, Argos, B&Q, Halfords, M&S and many more! Other benefits include:

  • FREE to load
  • Visa debit card to make purchases in store or online
  • No charge for cashback at the till
  • Withdraw money via ATMs (75p charge applies)
  • UK sort code/ account number
  • Contactless capable
  • Envelopes for Bill payments
  • FREE mobile phone app so you can manage your money from anywhere…anytime
  • Online account facility for statements, bill payments, money transfers, etc.
  • FREE to set up a standing order
  • FREE email alerts to help you track your spend
  • Exclusive discounts on utilities, phone contracts and broadband
  • Telephone and online UK based customer services available 6 days a week

    All this for a monthly fee of just £2! Cash rewards from your everyday shopping will offset this cost and there is no charge to load money onto your card.

More and more participating retailers are joining Cashback Rewards – you could receive up to 15% every time you use your Engage Visa debit card to pay for goods instore or online. Participating Retailers include:

Engage Rewards retailers

About Prepaid cards

A Prepaid card is a pay-as-you-go payment card. Cardholders ‘load’ money onto the card, which can then be used to buy goods and services, or withdraw from cash machines, in the same way as debit cards.


  • Simple to use
  • Safe alternative to carrying cash
  • Great way to shop online
  • Accepted anywhere in the world – just look for the Visa symbol
  • Great budgeting tool
  • Low cost
  • Check your balance and recent transactions online, text message or by phone
  • No overdraft facility, so you can’t spend more than the amount on the card
  • No credit checks

SmartCash engage cardNew! Smartcash Junior Account now available for children aged 8 and over. A great way to learn how to manage pocket money, smartphone App and parental controls, find out more.

Find out more at the Engage website

Engage prepaid Visa debit cards are issued by Contis Financial Services Ltd. Full terms and conditions including fees and charges

Download the Mobile App at the Apple App store or Android Play Store, search for Engage Card by Contis.



Bill Payment Service

Take control of household finances with one regular monthly or weekly payment into your credit union account.

We will help you draw up an annual budget to include as many household bills as you wish. Your bills could include gas, electric, water, TV licence, Mortgage, rent, telephone, mobile, TV licence, satellite, cable, broadband, car tax, insurances, loans

We can also handle your savings and loan repayments.

The Bill Payment Service offers complete peace of mind and excellent value for money at a cost of just £1.00 per week. There are no percentage tariff or additional charges.

Payroll Deductions

Advance Credit Union is an Employer-friendly credit union. We will do what we can to make Payroll Deduction as simple as possible for the employer and for employees.

Offering Payroll Deduction with Advance Credit Union as an employee benefit works for you as the employer, and is a valuable service for your employees. Your employees decide how much to save, this is deducted from their pay packet and credited to their Credit Union savings.

Employees also have access to our affordable loans. Payroll deductions are adjusted to repay the loan from their payslip. Employees’ individual savings and loans are kept confidential and are not disclosed to the employer. We can however provide management information to monitor the take-up and effectiveness of the scheme.

Personal debt can cause anxiety and depression, when staff are preoccupied by money worries they are not focusing on their work and performance will suffer. Requests for salary advances and loans from employees who are under financial strain can create difficulties for organisations. Employers offering payroll saving to their employees have the reassurance that their people are taking responsibility for their money, they are putting some money aside for when they need it, and they have access to the affordable loans from Advance Credit Union.

We do not charge employers for this service and the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals have arranged with many of the UK’s payroll outsourcers to not charge their customers for the processing of credit union loan repayments, so the cost to employers of offering Payroll Deduction is negligible.

Benefits for employers

  • Employees managing their money
  • Reduce salary advance and loan requests
  • Reassurance that employees have access to affordable finance
  • Reduce employees’ financial stress, absenteeism
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Support local social enterprise

Benefits for employees

  • Saving straight from their pay packet – they won’t miss it
  • Putting some money away for a ‘rainy day’
  • Planning for a big event; Christmas, holidays, weddings
  • Apply for an EasyPlan or Select loan
  • Simple loan repayments straight from their pay packet
  • Internet banking
  • Life insurance included (terms and conditions apply)
  • Confidential; individual’s savings or loans are not disclosed to the employer

Advance Credit Union already offers payroll deduction for employees of the following organisations:

cipp2_logo Jaffray Care logo Pioneer Group logo
Solihull community housing logo Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

If you would like to offer Payroll Saving to your employees as an Employee Benefit then contact us for further information, or if you would like to arrange a presentation to your board, HR department, payroll department or staff.

Why not forward this page to your HR Manager and we will help enable this facility for yourself and your colleagues.

Landlord Saver Account

Advance Credit Union offers Landlord Saver Accounts to landlords and managing agents with properties within the credit union’s catchment area of North Birmingham and Solihull Borough.

How does it work?

A credit union account is opened in the tenant’s name, the tenant’s housing benefit is paid to AdvanceCU and is ‘ringfenced’ to ensure the rent is paid. Tenants do not have access to this money. We forward the housing benefit to the landlord on a monthly basis with a schedule of payments. A £5 fee per tenant is deducted, this is paid by the landlord and cannot be passed on to the tenant. This fee is a tax-deductible exepense to the landlord and offers exceptional value for money for reducing the risk of rent arrears and potential eviction costs. Our Landlord Saver Account offers peace of mind to landlords and security for tenants through managing the local housing allowance on behalf of tenants for the landlords. What is more, tenants can access our range of services, helping them manage their money better.

With effect from April 2015 we are also able to accept Universal Credit for extra peace of mind for landlords and tenants. The housing benefit component is managed in the same way as LHA plus the tenant gains the benefits of credit union membership to manage their money. Find out more about Universal Credit with Advance CU.

Benefits of a Landlord Saver Account:

                    Is the most effective way to guarantee regular rent payments

                    Isolates Local Housing Allowance from your tenants’ other income

                    Avoids loss of rental income and the costs associated with eviction and re-letting properties

                    Promotes sustainable tenancies to the benefit of you and your tenant.

                    Monthly schedules and payments direct to your bank account

                  Costs a mere £5 per month per tenant – a tax-deductible expense to the landlord.

Advance Credit Union has extended their Landlord Saver Account to Solihull landlords.

Please find below links to download our information leaflet detailing everything you need to know about the Landlord Saver Account and the application form needed to apply:

Landlord Saver Account Information Leaflet

Landlord Saver Account Application Form

If you wish to contact us regarding the Landlord Saver Account, or return completed application forms to us, you can call us on 0121 350 8883 or email us at Full contact details can be found at the bottom of the page.


This is the best way to be sure you’re in control of your household spending. You will need your income details plus knowing how much you spend on household bills and other spending.
Click here for the Money Advice Service budget planner.

Life Insurance 

Saving for the future and taking out a loan can involve a long-term financial commitment. We have no way of knowing what unexpected challenges life may spring upon us. Advance Credit Union provides free Loan Protection Insurance and Life Savings Insurance as a benefit to Credit Union members.

Life Savings Protection

Saving with Advance Credit Union really does add up. Not only are your savings secure, but they also include free life assurance cover, which can be a real financial comfort to your loved ones should you die.

Life assurance is a free benefit of saving with your Credit Union, paying your nominated beneficiary an amount equal to the amount of the deceased’s savings. The more you save, the more your loved ones can benefit.

If you deposit money with us between the ages of 16 and 64 years then life insurance benefits of your savings balance up to a maximum of £5,000 will be paid out.

Deposits made between the ages of 65 and 79 benefit from life insurance of 25% of up to £5,000 of your savings.

Members do not qualify for insurance on savings deposited on or after their 80th birthday.

16-64 years 65-79 years
Savings 100% up to £5,000 25% of up to £5,000 deposits

When you join Advance Credit Union you will be asked to state your chosen ‘Beneficiary for Insurance’. This is usually your next of kin; partner, parent or your child. This is the person who will benefit from any life insurance payable upon your death. Your Beneficiary doesn’t have to be a member of Advance Credit Union, but you may wish to recommend that they join and enjoy the benefits of belonging too.

It is important that you keep your Beneficiary details up to date as your circumstances change, please inform us of any change to your Beneficiary so that your wishes can be respected.

Loan Protection Insurance

If you should take out a loan with Advance Credit Union and die before it is fully repaid, Loan Protection cover can help to ensure your debt is settled and is not passed on to your loved ones when you are no longer here. Loan Protection will make a payment to cover any outstanding amount of loan direct to your Credit Union.

Loan Protection Insurance is provided by Advance Credit Union for you, the member, at no additional cost.  If you are under the age of 70 your loan is automatically insured by Advance Credit Union. You will be asked to complete a declaration of health when taking out the loan (some exemptions to the insurance do apply, please ask for more information when applying for your loan).

Loan Protection insurance will leave you with peace of mind and protection. This means that you can borrow from Advance Credit Union in full confidence that your dependents will not be obliged to repay the outstanding loan balance.

Credit Union borrowers aged between 18 and 69 years benefit from life insurance equal to their loan balance up to a maximum of £5,000.

18-69years 70 years
Loans 100% up to £5,000 No cover

Insurance cover is subject to Terms and Conditions which may apply. You should enquire when making a loan application to see if you are eligible.

Insurance services are arranged by CUNA Mutual Group.

Universal Credit

Ready for Universal Credit? We are!

From 6th April 2015 Universal Credit can be paid into Advance Credit Union.

Universal_credit_logoUniversal Credit is a single payment made to the household monthly in arrears for working-age benefits being received; housing benefit, JSA, ESA, income support and tax credits. Universal Credit (UC) will start to affect residents of Birmingham from 13th April 2015 and Solihull Borough from 18th May 2015. In order to receive UC you must have either a bank account or credit union account. We recommend that you open an account with us before applying for UC.

AdvanceCU already helps more than 2,000 of our members manage their benefits, here’s how we can help you manage your Universal Credit:

Pay the rent  – be sure the rent gets paid whether a private landlord or housing association

Visa Prepaid Card – balance of benefits paid onto a prepaid card; pay at the till, cash from ATM, can’t go overdrawn.

Bill Payments – make sure your essential bills get paid

Affordable Loans – subject to affordability

Regular Savings – build up a financial safety net (mandatory with our loans)

Christmas Club – 25th December every year – a little saved regularly reduces the Christmas stress

Internet banking – manage your money 24/7

Join online, at our Erdington office or one of our Community Collection Points.

Find out more about Universal Credit at Money Advice Service and how it could affect you.

Birmingham Council webpages on Universal Credit

Solihull Council has information on the Welfare Changes and provides Support to Success.

How Advance Credit Union can help private landlords and Housing Associations

Your Credit History

What is a credit rating?

Credit ratings are used by lenders including Advance Credit Union to calculate how likely you are to repay your loan. Your credit rating is based on a number of different factors including your previous dealings and financial habits. Lenders use credit ratings and credit scores to decide whether to lend you money and, if so, how much.

The main agencies are Equifax*, Experian and CallCredit. They assess your ‘creditworthiness’ by looking at factors such as your:

  • history of borrowing and repayment
  • financial assets and liabilities
  • electoral roll information
  • any County Court Judgments (CCJs) you have against you
  • Lenders do interpret your credit worthiness differently so you may be accepted by AdvanceCU even if rejected by another lender.
  • However applying to multiple lenders at the same time is likely to be considered a negative feature and may impact your rating.

Why are credit ratings important?

Lenders use your credit rating to work out whether to lend you money. This can also include landline and mobile phone providers, utility firms, landlords – they will also want to be reassured that you will be pay. If your credit rating isn’t so good then you may be charged more interest or on less favourable terms.

How to boost your credit rating without being in debt

There are a few things you can do to demonstrate that you are a stable and reliable member of society:

  • Register on the electoral roll. This will help confirm you identity, it is free and allows you to vote in national and local elections.
  • Stay at one address. Lenders like stability, so living at one address is regarded favourably.
  • Pay your rent and bills on time. Most housing associations,utilities firms and mail order catalogues will share repayment history with credit reference agencies.
  • Live with someone with a good credit rating – associated people affect your own credit rating.
  • Use a landline phone number on applications rather than your mobile – demonstrates your stability

How to check your credit rating

Wouldn’t you like to know what lenders know about you? You can obtain your Statutory Credit Report for a small £2 fee from the three credit rating agencies. You can also subscribe to their update service for about £10 per month, they usually have a free 30day trial period, but be sure to cancel this if you don’t intend to pay the monthly fee. Callcredit offer a free service called Noddle, plus ClearScore now offer free credit score and reports.

It is a good idea to check your credit report carefully; there may be mistakes which could be affecting your credit rating. You are entitled to request mistakes to be corrected by writing to your lender.

The credit rating agencies are:

Get your FREE Equifax Credit Report & Score. Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month.
experian_logo £2 Statutory Credit Report from Experian
Callcredit_logo  Your credit report from Callcredit
noddle_logo Your credit report & score,
Free For Life
ClearScore logo Your credit report & score free from ClearScore

How to improve your credit rating

If you know your credit history isn’t strong then there are things you can do to improve your credit score:

  • Register on the electoral roll. This will help confirm you identity, it is free and allows you to vote in national and local elections.
  • Close any unused credit cards – too much credit will deter other lenders.
  • Spread out applications for credit over a period of time.
  • Use your landline number on application forms – demonstrates you are at a settled address.
  • Avoid a County Court Judgement (CCJ), this will stay on your file for 6 years.
  • Avoid high-cost lenders – these are a poor feature to lenders.

How Advance Credit Union can help

Build your credit history. We share our member’s loan payment data with credit reference agencies, this is great news for the more than 2,200 members who repay their loans with us on time every month. Their good repayment history with AdvanceCU will boost their credit rating.

Missed Payments help. If you know that you’ve missed a loan repayment or are likely to then contact us as soon as possible – we will do what we can to help.

Affordable loan. We may be able to offer you a Credit-Builder loan to help you build up a good credit history. This will be a small, affordable loan over a short period of time so you can prove your ability to manage credit.

*Links marked with a * are affiliate links, that means the link is tracked to AdvanceCU. If you click on the link and purchase a product there may be a payment made to us, which helps to reduce our costs.