What is a customer-owned bank?
Customer-owned banks, also called mutual banks, are any bank that provides consumer banking services such as credit cards, home loans or personal loans, savings accounts, and term deposits, but is owned by its members.
Members have voting rights on constitutional matters affecting the customer-owned bank. Profits are reinvested back into the products and services offered by the institution rather than being distributed in shareholder dividends.
In 2017, Canstar researched and rated several customer-owned financial institutions for the Customer-Owned Institution of the Year Award. Within this sector, Canstar has researched what’s on offer from customer-owned banks (a.k.a. mutual banks), credit unions, and building societies.
In this article, we have prepared a list of customer-owned banks or mutual banks, credit unions, and building societies that you can choose from.
To compare what’s on offer from customer-owned banking institutions, visit our website to compare the product of your choice – or compare institutions’ offerings as a whole on our mutual banking page:
You can find out more trends in customer-owned banking in 2017 by reading this year’s award report:
Who are the Mutual Banks in Australia?
So where can you find the customer-owned banks? Listed alphabetically, Canstar researches and rates the following Mutual Banks…
Australian Military Bank
Australia’s longest-serving financial institution for Defence personnel, the Australian Military Bank was founded in 1959 as the Navy (Civil Staff) Co-op Ltd. They were known as the Australian Defence Credit Union (ADCU) from 1983 to 2015, when they became Australian Military Bank. They specialise in providing banking services to Defence personnel, their families, and the broader Defence community, but anyone can join.
Formerly Wide Bay Australia, Auswide Bank has been around for over 50 years under various names. It took on the name of Auswide Bank in 2015, after a merger between Mackay Permanent Building Society Ltd and Wide Bay Capricorn Building Society 7 years prior in 2008.
As Australia’s first mutual bank, Bank Australia (formerly known as bankmecu) represents the amalgamation of 56 credit unions. Bank Australia is based in Kew, Victoria. Compare Bank Australia home loans here.
Bank First, formerly known as Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank, began life as a credit union set up specifically to provide for the financial needs of those working in education. They are based in Melbourne, Victoria.
Police Financial Services Limited, trading as BankVic, is one of the ‘youngest’ mutual banks on the block, having transformed from Police Credit in June 2013. They are not a new institution though, having been established in 1974 to offer financial services to specific sectors of the community.
Beyond Bank Australia
Beyond Bank Australia began life as one of Australia’s largest credit unions prior to becoming a bank. It is based in South Australia, the ACT, WA, and NSW. Compare Beyond Bank home loans here.
A division of Police Bank, Border Bank holds a proud heritage of servicing employees of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. They are based in NSW, ACT, and VIC.
Headquartered in Newcastle, Greater Bank is a mutual institution which has been serving customers throughout NSW and South East QLD for more than 70 years. The bank boasts over 250,000 customers and more than $6 billion in assets under management.
G&C Mutual Bank
Formerly known as SGE Credit Union, G&C Mutual Bank adopted its new name in late 2014. From humble beginnings in 1959 as the Public Works Department Staff Cooperative, G&C has since become a mutual bank with over 36,000 members.
In 1981 the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society and the Darling Downs Building Society merged to become Heritage Building Society. Based in Toowoomba, Queensland, the organisation renamed as Heritage Bank in late 2011. Heritage Bank was currently the largest customer-owned bank in Australia at the time of writing. Compare Heritage Bank home loans here.
Originated out of the Albury-Wodonga region 60 years ago as the Hume Co-operative Building & Investment Society. It officially became a bank in July 2014 after seeking approval from its customers and the governing body APRA in 2013. Hume Bank has 19 branches and 47 ATMs, and serves more than 58,000 customers.
Established as the Illawarra Mutual Building Society approximately 135 years ago, IMB Bank became a mutual bank in August 2015. IMB Bank has branches in 44 locations across every state and territory in Australia and serves around 180,000 members, with AUD$5 billion in assets. Compare IMB Bank credit cards here.
Born in Western Australia in 1990 as Police & Nurses Credit Society and is now WA’s largest locally owned and managed bank. Owned by its members, P&N Bank offers a full suite of retail banking products available via internet, phone, and mobile, with 17 branches in WA, a network of over 3,500 ATMs Australia-wide, and a Perth-based contact centre.
Based in Sydney NSW, Police Bank started life as the NSW Police Credit Union in 1964, starting out with just 60 members. It officially relaunched as Police Bank in December 2012.
QPCU Limited, trading as QBANK since 2016, has been providing financial assistance to the families of Queensland police and emergency services personnel since June 1964. QBANK specialises in helping those who protect and serve Queenslanders.
Founded as Qantas Credit Union in 1959, Qudos Bank has been in banking for 55 years at the time of writing. In 2012, they launched the Visa Platinum Credit Card with Qantas Frequent Flyer Points. Qudos Bank held assets of $3.35 billion as of 2016.
Regional Australia Bank
Community Mutual Ltd, trading as Regional Australia Bank, has its roots in regional NSW with a head office in NSW, and its head office is in Armidale. Founded in 1969, Regional Bank Australia has been providing financial help to regional Australians for more than 45 years, and it pledges 5% of its profits to grassroots community initiatives.
Teachers Mutual Bank
Began business as the Hornsby Teachers Association Credit Union in 1966, with 29 members and $644 in deposits. They became Teachers Mutual Bank in April 2012.
Unity Bank is a customer-owned institution originally formed in 1970 as the Waterside Workers’ of Australia Credit Union. The institution has since expanded to encompass members in the mining and power industries, their families and members of the local community.
The following table displays a snapshot of products from these mutual banks in Canstar’s databse with links to providers’ websites. The results and products shown are sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) and are based on principal and interest, owner-occpuier home loans in NSW for a loan amount of $350,000.
Who are the credit unions in Australia?
Like mutual banks, credit unions are financial institutions that are owned by their members, and every member has an equal vote on constitutional matters. Many people prefer credit unions because they do not operate for profit, but are run to ensure financial benefits for their members.
There are a large number of credit unions in Australia, of which Canstar researches and rates the following:
BCU (formerly known as Bananacoast Community Credit Union) began early in the 1970s as the Nambucca Banana Growers’ Federation Members Credit Union. A small group of banana-growing business owners pooled their money together to offer business loans to their friends and colleagues. BCU now spans from Port Macquarie to the Sunshine Coast, and its total assets by the end of 2016 totalled $1.52 billion.
Catalyst Money was initially named The University of New South Wales Staff Credit Union Limited in 1963, before changing its name to the much shorter Catalyst Money. Catalyst offers a full range of financial products, including home loans, personal loans, and everyday banking accounts.
Community First Credit Union
Community First Credit Union was founded in 1959 in Sydney as the Sydney Water Board Credit Union, and today it has over a dozen branches and 3,000 ATMs nation-wide. Community First CU is a fervent supporter of the McGrath Foundation, donating half of its credit card annual fees to this foundation.
Credit Union SA
Formed in 2009, Credit Union SA is based in Adelaide and now serves more than 50,000 members across Australia. It is South Australia’s 3rd-largest credit union, with five branches and more than $1 billion in assets under management.
CUA (Credit Union Australia Ltd), founded in 1946, is Australia’s largest customer-owned financial services provider. Its motto is ‘Life Rich Banking’, and CUA has already won a host of Canstar awards in 2017 for their home loans. Compare CUA health insurance here, or compare CUA credit cards here.
Easy Street is a division of Community First Credit Union (above), and unlike many other credit unions and mutual banks in this list, it has no branches or stores. Instead, all of Easy Street’s products are available online only, enabling them to be fast and flexible.
ECU is the brainchild of a group of Cairns Electricity Board employees, and was founded in 1973 with the intention of providing competitive finance options for its members.
Endeavour Mutual Bank
Endeavour Mutual Bank has been providing banking services to its community for over 60 years, when it was initially called Transport Credit Union. In 2016, it was named Select Encompass Credit Union before changing its name to Endeavour Mutual Bank in 2018.
FCCS is a credit union that prides itself on exceptional customer service, and celebrated its 40th birthday back in 2014. FCCS has grown and prospered since then, and now offers a range of competitive rates and products to its members.
First Option is a credit union that specialises in providing financial services to workers and businesses in the gaming, hospitality, telecommunications, and energy industries. With over 50 years of service, First Option has a wealth of experience and knowledge to offers its members.
Launching over 60 years ago, Gateway Bank has more than 30,000 members and more than $1 billion in assets at the time of writing; quite the change from humble beginnings. To help its members achieve their financial goal, Gateway offers premium home loan packages, flexible insurance policies, as well as low rates and fees on many of its products.
As a 100% customer-owned business, Holiday Coast Credit Union focuses on meeting the needs and expectations of its customers.
Founded in 1964, Horizon now offers home loans, personal loans, savings account, insurance policies, and more.
Providing home loans, credit cards, investment products, and much more, Hunter United has over 50 years of experience as a customer-owned institution and has a network of over 3,000 ATMs.
Illawarra Credit Union NSW has been serving the Illawarra region for over 44 years. It offers a product suite of home loans, personal loans, savings accounts, and term deposits to its valued members.
Macquarie Credit Union has over 6,000 members and nearly $90 million in assets at the time of writing, and offers a comprehensive range of financial products to its members as a credit union.
MOVE initially started as Railways Credit Union in 1968, to help railway workers build stable futures for their families. It renamed itself to MOVE in 2016, to better reflect its commitment to serving the transport and logistics industry. It now has 22,000 members and holds more than $600 million in assets. Compare MOVE home loans here.
My Credit Union’s aim is to be big enough to provide competitive services while still retaining that small business mentality: that the customer comes first. As well as offering a wide range of financial products and services, MCU also sponsors a huge number of charity activities and community initiatives.
Northern Inland Credit Union has over 40 years of experience in providing financial services. It was formed through the combination of 3 separate credit unions: Namoi Credit Union Ltd, Oxley Mutual Credit Union Ltd, and Tamworth Community Credit Union Ltd.
With almost 350,000 members and 43 branches across 5 states and territories at the time of writing, People’s Choice Credit Union is one of Australia’s largest credit unions. People’s Choice Credit Union dates all the way back to 1949, and now has $9.6 billion in funds under its management.
100% Australian and owned by its customers, Queenslanders Credit Union has over 50 years of banking experience. It was initially founded in Ipswich to serve the coal mining industry.
Queensland Country Credit Union (QCCU)
QCCU was born in Mt Isa back in 1971 as the Isa Mine Employee’s Credit Union, and has since expanded its vision to serve all country Queensland residents. On 1 April 2018, QCCU merged with Queenslanders Credit Union to form the 2nd-largest credit union in Queensland, with more than $2 billion in assets under management.
SCU stands for Sydney Credit Union, and it offers products such as loans and bank accounts. Since founding in 1963, SCU has merged with a variety of different credit unions, including the Allied Members Credit Union, Blue Mountains Credit Union, Sutherland Shire Council Employees Credit Union, Parkes District Credit Union, Pinnacle Credit Union, and more.
In 1997, Tweed Byron Credit Union was changed to Southern Cross Credit Union. The business has been established since 1966, and it focused primarily on providing financial services to the Northern Rivers community; it has 9 branches in this area.
Summerland Credit Union defines itself on its mutuality; everything it does is for the benefit of its customers. Summerland’s values can be abbreviated to SCORE – sustainability, community, ownership, respect, and ethics.
The Capricornian is the only local customer-owned financial institution in Central Queensland, and it has 6 local branches in this area. It started in 1959 in Rockhampton, and strives to provide local residents with the best service it can.
The Mac was founded by local miners and truck drivers in 1971, in the Macarthur community. In the 45 years since they launched, the company has grown to include more than 13,000 members and $240+ million in assets at the time of writing.
Transport Mutual Credit Union was established first as Main Roads Staff Credit Union in 1964. The initial purpose was to support the financial needs of NSW Department of Main Roads staff, but it has grown substantially since, and offers a wide range of products to all kinds of members.
WAW Credit Union
WAW stands for Wangaratta And Wodonga, the two towns in northern Victoria where two societies – the Wangaratta Credit Co-operative and the Wodonga Credit Co-operative Society – merged in 1976 to form the current credit union. WAW has amalgamated several other local credit unions over the years, and now serves more than 30,000 customers both locally and around the nation.
Membership of this credit union is available only to employees of Woolworths Group companies and their families. With a deep understanding of the lifestyle needs of its employees, Woolworths Employees Credit Union gives quality flexible products with competitive rates, low fees and personalised service.
The following table displays a snapshot of products from these credit unions in Canstar’s databse with links to providers’ websites. The results and products shown are sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) and are based on principal and interest, owner-occpuier home loans in NSW for a loan amount of $350,000.
Other credit unions in Australia that are not currently researched and rated by Canstar are as follows (APRA):
- Bankstown City Credit Union Ltd
- CAPE Credit Union Limited
- Central Coast Credit Union Ltd
- Central Murray Credit Union Limited
- Central West Credit Union Limited
- Coastline Credit Union Limited
- Dnister Ukrainian Credit Co-operative Limited
- EECU Limited (trading as Nexus Mutual)
- Family First Credit Union Limited
- Fire Service Credit Union Limited
- Firefighters & Affiliates Credit Co-operative Limited
- First Choice Credit Union Ltd
- Goulburn Murray Credit Union Co-operative Limited
- Heritage Isle Credit Union Limited
- Laboratories Credit Union Limited
- Lithuanian Co-operative Credit Society “Talka” Limited
- Lysaght Credit Union Ltd
- MCU Ltd
- Nova Credit Union Limited
- Orange Credit Union Limited
- Police Credit Union Limited
- Pulse Credit Union Limited
- South West Slopes Credit Union Ltd
- South-West Credit Union Co-Operative Limited
- The Broken Hill Community Credit Union Ltd
- The Gympie Credit Union Ltd
- Traditional Credit Union Limited
- Warwick Credit Union Ltd
Who are the Building Societies in Australia?
Building societies, like mutual banks and credit unions, are financial institutions that are owned by their members and offer banking and financial services. In Australia, building societies are required to incorporate as limited companies.
At the time of writing, there are 4 building societies actively operating in Australia, and Canstar researches and rates all of them:
Bank of us
Bank of us, a Tasmanian institution, formed as a building society in 1870. In 2017, it became a mutual bank and changed its name from B&E Personal Banking to Bank of us.
Big Sky Building Society Ltd
Big Sky Building Society is a subsidiary of Australian Unity, and has been providing competitive products and services in finance for more than 40 years. These services are available to customers all over Australia, whether they’re regional, remote, or metropolitan.
The Mutual (Maitland Mutual Building Society Ltd)
Maitland Mutual Building Society, also known as The Mutual, has been serving residents of the Hunter Valley area since 1888. It has always been a strong supporter of the local community during this time, sponsoring a large number of community and charity initiatives, as well as running a school banking program that teaches kids about the value of money.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society
From humble beginnings, Newcastle Permanent now offers competitive fees and rates to 320,000 loyal customers, and lays claim to nearly $10 billion in assets as of 2016. Compare Newcastle Permanent home loans here.
How to choose a customer-owned banking institution
As you can see, there are lots of choices available when it comes to alternatives to the big banks in Australia.
Canstar can help you be sure of your decision about where to bank, by helping you compare what’s on offer from the various different customer-owned banking institutions in Australia.
It’s all about what products are most important to your current banking needs – which may mean comparing home loans, credit cards, savings accounts, term deposits, insurance products, and more. You can compare all these product categories and more using Canstar.
Source: Customer Owned Banking Association