USAA offers a wide range of financial products and services to help you through just about every aspect of your financial life, including banking, investing, insurance, lending (credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and other loans), and many more member services.
However, you do need to qualify for USAA membership, which is linked to military service.
You’re eligible to join USAA if you are a current or former military member, or if you are the adult child of a USAA member. You can check your USAA membership eligibility here.
In this USAA review, we’ll look at what makes USAA unique, as well the banking products and services the organization offers.
USAA Federal Savings Bank Review
Product Name: USAA Bank
Product Description: USAA offers members access to a wide range of financial products and services, including banking, investing, insurance, mortgages, loans, credit cards, and much more. USAA can cover just about any major financial need. There are two primary downsides: USAA does not have many physical branches, and their interest rates leave a lot to be desired. That said, they offer excellent customer service and an award-winning website and smartphone apps, making it easy to bank with USAA from anywhere. As for the interest rates, I recommend pairing your USAA account with a high-yield savings account that offers higher interest rates.
When it comes to Products & Services, USAA has plenty of options, including mortgages and insurance on top of checking and savings. However, USAA’s Interest Rates are subpar when compared to rates at online-only banks. This is probably the biggest drawback to a USAA account. On the other hand, USAA rates high when it comes to Fees & Charges, with no monthly maintenance fees on basic checking and savings accounts. In terms of Website/App accessibility, USAA offers more features than expected. The association has a reputation for decent Customer Service but it’s not 24/7.
USAA Federal Savings Bank Features
|Banking Account Types||Checking, Savings, CDs|
|Other Account Types||Credit Cards, Auto Loans, Home Loans, Insurance, IRAs, Investments|
|Minimum Required Deposit to Open Account||$0|
|Number of Branches||4|
|ATM Network Size||More than 60,000|
|ATM Reimbursements||Up to $15 per Month|
|App Availability||iOS, Android, and Mobile Optimized Website|
|Person to Person Money Transfers||Zelle|
|Money Transfers||ACH, Wire Transfers, Zelle|
|Customer Service Types||Phone, Email|
|Customer Service Hours||M-F 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CT|
|Member FDIC||FDIC Certificate #32188|
|Routing Number / ABA Number||Varies by State|
|Current Promotions||No Current Promotions|
- Remote Deposits. USAA offers two services to make remote check deposits easy. [email protected] lets you scan and deposit a check from your desktop computer, while [email protected] lets you snap a picture of your check and upload it to USAA with your cellphone.
- UPS Store Deposits. You can also make a secure check deposit from a UPS Store near you.
- Money Manager. USAA’s online personal finance app can help you keep track of your budgeting and saving.
- ATM Reimbursements. USAA will let you use a non-branded ATM for free up to 10 times per month. In addition, USAA will reimburse up to $15 per month for the other guys’ ATM fees.
What Is the USAA Federal Savings Bank?
Technically, USAA is not a bank but an association.
USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association, and its name offers clues about the association’s origin.
A group of 25 Army officers in San Antonio, Texas, started USAA back in 1922 to insure each other’s automobiles. At that time, cars were new on the American landscape; car insurance was even newer, and the Army officers couldn’t afford it.
Nearly a century has passed, and USAA’s membership has grown exponentially.
Now, USAA serves about 12.5 million members, the majority of whom are current or former military personnel and their families.
The association has also expanded beyond insurance.
In the 1970s, USAA added mutual funds to its offerings, and in 1983, the USAA Federal Savings Bank opened for business.
But USAA’s name hasn’t changed and neither has its core philosophy: USAA’s members still own the organization and share its costs and its profits.
How to Join USAA
In some ways, becoming a USAA member is similar to joining a credit union. There are certain eligibility requirements that must be met before you can join.
If you’re thinking about partnering with USAA Bank, you’ll first need to join USAA, which is open to anyone on active duty or anyone who has been honorably discharged from the armed services, along with their immediate family members.
Who can join USAA? USAA membership is open to former and active U.S. military members and their families. Members can access insurance, banking, and financial planning services. Check your eligibility at the USAA website.
USAA Federal Savings Bank Account Options
USAA Bank offers its members a basic free checking account, along with three specialized checking products:
- An account designed specifically for new military recruits that includes help filling out direct deposit paperwork.
- An account designed for children age 9 to 17 that allows parents to set spending limits.
- An account for college students that includes free bill-paying apps.
None of the options charge monthly service fees or require a minimum balance. They all offer features such as text alerts about large transactions or low balances along with free online and mobile banking.
USAA Bank’s mobile app features an easy-to-use graphic interface and quick syncing with Google, Apple, and Samsung Pay.
These kinds of features are a must when you’re deployed or on tour. Even if you’re retired or if you’re a military spouse who doesn’t live near a base, mobile banking can make life easier.
Still, it’s likely you’ll need an ATM to access cash, and unless you live near a base or a USAA financial center, you aren’t likely to come across one that features the USAA logo.
USAA Bank answers this need by giving members free access to other banks’ ATMs up to 10 times a month. The bank will also refund up to $15 in other banks’ ATM charges each month.
After you’ve surpassed those limits, expect to pay normal ATM fees, both from USAA and the bank that owns the machine.
Keep in mind that a 1% fee also applies to all international transactions.
USAA Savings Accounts
USAA members can open a basic savings account with a $25 minimum deposit or a Performance Savings that requires a $10,000 minimum deposit. USAA’s website offers helpful ways to redirect your pay into savings automatically.
The bank’s Performance account offers a higher savings rate than the basic account.
But if you’re serious about saving money and would like to earn more on your savings, you may want to take a closer look at using an online-only bank in conjunction with USAA or your current bank.
Online-only banks offer rates that are five times higher than USAA’s best rates and 10 times higher than its basic savings rate.
USAA Financial Planning & Investment Services
When you’re tired of simply surviving whatever financial situation you find yourself in, USAA offers financial planning and counseling to help members shape their financial futures.
Members can access general information on the association’s website and find helpful tools such as debt-control calculators. Members can also get personalized advice about investment tools such as:
- Mutual funds
USAA even offers its members its own robo advisor-style investment management system. You tell the system how aggressive you’d like to be, and its algorithms do the thinking (and the portfolio balancing) for you. USAA charges a 0.5% annual fee for this service.
Like the rest of its products, USAA’s digital investment advisor offers an easy-to-use mobile interface. But keep in mind you’ll need $2,000 to open a digital investment account.
USAA Pros & Cons
- Designed for Military Members and Their Families. USAA takes into account the unique needs of military families.
- No Monthly Fees or Balance Requirements. USAA’s basic checking and savings accounts don’t charge maintenance fees or require you to maintain a minimum balance.
- Online Budgeting Tools. Rather than signing up for a separate app such as Mint, you can do all of your personal finance tracking through USAA.
- Relatively Low Interest Rates. USAA’s interest rates are not the association’s strong point. You’ll find much better rates with an online-only bank.
- Limited Membership. Unless you’re a current or retired member of the military or an immediate family member of one, you won’t be able to open a USAA account.
- Few Branch Locations. USAA’s low interest rates are like those of brick-and-mortar banks. However, branch locations are few and far between.
Using USAA Bank makes the most sense if you’re already a USAA member for your car or life insurance. After all, as a member you own and profit from USAA’s entire line of products.
If not, you can find better options elsewhere for each of USAA’s banking products, especially if you have specific needs such as a high-yield savings account. If that’s the case, shop around until you find the product you’re looking for, even if you already have a USAA membership.