First Choice Credit Union urges community to be mindful of Moneylenders & Credit Card debt this Christmas

Irish consumers traditionally throw caution to the wind and spend more in the month of December than in any other month of the year. In 2018, Retail Ireland estimated that each household was spending an average of €2,690 in December alone, which represented a 3% increase on the previous year. Will that increase in 2019? We’ll just have to wait and see.

While an increase in Christmas spend is a welcome boost for retailers, it can often put household finances under strain, and the impact can last for weeks or months after the festive season.

First Choice Credit Union encourages people to avoid the pressure to overspend this year. If the household budget is tight, it may be tempting to fund festive spending by availing of high interest rate borrowings. Many households are forced to rely on Credit Card debt, and the most financially vulnerable may seek out moneylender borrowings at this time of year. Moneylender products charge APR rates of up to 288%*, placing an additional unnecessary strain on the family budget.

In contrast, the maximum interest a credit union can charge by law is 12% for short term personal unsecured borrowings, with many credit unions charging interest rates less than this.

Speaking about the ethical lending approach of First Choice Credit Union, Michael Boland, Lending & Business Development Manager said: “We advise all consumers in the Mayo area who need to borrow to do so prudently this Christmas and to avoid getting into a vicious cycle of debt by using moneylenders and credit cards.

At First Choice Credit Union, we offer a Christmas Loan with an interest rate of 11.95% (12.69% APR)**. Loans are usually approved within 24 hours and terms are straightforward and transparent. Our staff are happy to work with members to come to a repayment schedule that works best for their individual circumstances. Our aim is to ensure that all of our members enjoy a stress-free Christmas, and that they don’t spend an undue amount of time paying off a Christmas loan in 2020.”

Borrow €1,000 from only €20.43 per week.

First Choice also reminds people that credit union staff are on hand to provide guidance with budgeting and prudent spending. Michael continued: “One of the keys to spending within your means at Christmas time is to stick to a budget that you’ve set yourself. Do your research before you make a purchase and ensure that you are getting the best price possible. Don’t forget to shop local, as you can often find some great bargains and some unique gifts in your local stores. As always, First Choice Credit Union staff are more than happy to help with tips for budgeting.

Our Christmas Loan is available to everyone in our catchment, but particularly to low income individuals and households in receipt of social welfare. The aim of our Christmas Loan is to help combat the grip of moneylenders on the most vulnerable in our local communities, especially during this costliest time of year.

First Choice Credit Union would encourage anyone in receipt of social welfare payments to contact us in the first instance to enquire about a loan instead of approaching a moneylender.”

Michael concluded: “Providing access to credit for those most in need is at the heart of what we do at First Choice Credit Union. We would be more than happy to chat with anyone who is worried about coping with the cost of Christmas, and especially those who feel their only option is a moneylender or a Credit Card at this time of year.”

*Central Bank of Ireland Moneylending Register, November 2019. Rate includes moneylender’s collection charge.

** For a €1,000, 1 year variable interest rate loan, with 52 weekly repayments of €20.43, an interest rate of 11.95%, a representative APR of 12.66%; the total amount payable by the member is €1,061.80. Representative example as at 14/11/2019.

First Choice Credit Union Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. For further information please contact 094 9022969, email us at or drop into any of our branches in Achill, Balla, Ballyhaunis and Castlebar.