The Catholic Thrift and Loan Co-operative Ltd was formed on 4 October 1946 to serve the Catholic people of the Archdiocese of Sydney.  Initially business was carried out from the Catholic United Services Auxiliary House at 175 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

On 29 April 1948 the Catholic Thrift and Loan Co-operative was re-named Universal Credit Union Co-operative.  Universal is often considered to be the first 'true' credit union in Australia as it drew its income solely from members, was autonomous and saw its role as developing credit unions as part of the broader co-operative movement. Although it should be noted that it was not the first registered credit union.

Universal grew steadily between 1947 (46 members) and 1970 (1684 members). During this same period the total loans granted was over $1,600,000.

From 1 July 1969 Universal Credit Union became the first community-type credit union to process its member's accounts by computer.  A full-time Field Representative was appointed in 1970 to promote Universal in parishes, parents’ organisations in Catholic schools and related groups.

Unfortunately by 1972 the credit union was sustaining losses.  A review of all aspects of its operations took place.  One limiting factor was the size of its client base. The operational model was changed to a mutual credit union expanding membership to various industry groups while still maintaining its community character.  Within a year 40 industry groups participated in payroll deductions.

However, the accumulated deficit reached $445,135 by the end of October, 1976 and at the Annual General Meeting of 21 December 1976 the members passed a special resolution "That Universal Credit Union Limited transfers it's engagements to Central Mutual Credit Union Limited”.  The resolution took effect on 25th January 1977.  The amalgamation of the business of the two credit unions was completed during 1977.  The name Universal Credit Union Limited was struck from the register of credit unions on 4 September 1978.

Two prominent credit union pioneers were associated with the Universal Credit Union – they were Kevin Yates (he was responsible for the formation of the Catholic Thrift and Loan Co-operative in 1946, was a Board member and later an Honorary Life Director) and Tom Kelly (he joined the Credit Union in 1949, became a Director and by 1957 was Chairman).