Founded in 1922 as a way for a group of Army officers to insure each other’s automobiles, USAA Bank has grown to become one of the top fully integrated financial services organizations in America. From the beginning USAA has worked to meet its customers’ needs, and it has consistently been highly ranked in customer satisfaction. USAA’s banking is only available to those who have served in the military and their spouses and children. This comprehensive review can help you decide if USAA is the right bank for you.
- Pros & Cons
- Company Overview
No monthly fee checking and savings accounts
Generous rules over ATM fees
Accessible mobile app
Only five branches in the U.S.
Not available to those unaffiliated with the military
Higher APYs elsewhere
- Year Founded 1922
- Official Website www.usaa.com
- Banking Products Offered Savings, checking, CDs, credit cards
- Customer Support Phone line: six to seven days a week, hours and phone number vary by department.
- No monthly fee checking and savings accounts – All of the USAA checking and savings account options have no monthly fees, no minimum balance requirements, and no overdraft transfer fees if you opt for overdraft protection.
- Generous rules over ATM fees – Your first 10 withdrawals at any of the 60,000 USAA affiliated ATMs are free each month, and all transactions made with any of the 1,200 USAA branded ATMs are also free. In addition, the bank refunds up to $15 per month in other banks’ ATM usage fees for transactions at ATMs in the United States.
- Accessible mobile app – USAA Mobile app available on Google Play (4.7 stars, 154,770) and App Store (4.8 stars, 1,027,912 ratings), offers the basics you'd expect from a mobile banking app, including bill pay, mobile check deposit, money transfers, and the ability to monitor your balances. But the app also offers voice commands, making it more accessible for visually impaired users. And for those with their insurance or investments on the USAA platform, the app offers some unique features for assisting with those accounts.
- Only five branches in the U.S. – USAA has made its reputation on being a bank that serves military members and can handle the peripatetic nature of military life. The downside of this is the fact that USAA only boasts five physical locations in the U.S. Customers needing support will generally have to get it online or over the phone.
- Not available to those unaffiliated with the military – Though civilians may take advantage of some of USAA’s insurance policies, banking is reserved for military members and their direct family (spouses and children).
- Higher APYs elsewhere – While USAA offers competitive terms and annual percentage yields (APYs), customers looking for the biggest bang for their buck will find higher rates at other institutions.
Who Is USAA Bank Best For?
USAA will be a good fit for military members and their families who are looking for convenient banking options. You may be an especially good fit if you:
- Handle the majority of your banking via mobile app or online
- Want excellent customer service
- Need fee-free checking and savings accounts
- Are looking for interest-bearing checking with low balance requirements
- Want up to 10 free ATM withdrawals per month
- Need a robust and well-designed mobile app
What Does USAA Bank Offer?
USAA has an extensive menu of products and services for its members. These include:
- Savings accounts
- Checking accounts
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- Credit cards
The basic USAA Savings Account has an APY of 0.05% and a minimum opening deposit of $25. There are no fees whatsoever associated with this account, making it a decent place to stash some extra cash, as well as a good option for a linked account for overdraft protection.
USAA allows for mobile check deposit and automatic transfers into this savings account, making it easy to add to your balance. In the past, the account had a tiered APY, but as of July 15, 2020, the APY is fixed at 0.05% no matter how big your balance.
USAA offers a number of tools to help customers reach their savings goals. These include:
- A text savings tool that analyzes your checking account to identify an amount between $1 and $9 that can be transferred to your savings account
- An ATM rebates tool that places your ATM fee reimbursements into your savings account rather than your checking account
- A tax refund tool that automatically transfers a preset portion of your annual tax refund into your savings account
USAA Performance First Savings Account is USAA’s high-yield savings account, and it has a minimum opening deposit of $10,000. However, there is no minimum balance required, which means you will not be penalized if you need to reduce your balance below the $10,000 level. Like the general savings account, there are no fees with this account, and it allows for mobile check deposit and automatic transfers. You may also use this account as your linked account for overdraft protection. It offers a tiered APY.
|USAA Performance First Savings Account APY|
|Daily Balance||Annual Percentage Yield (APY)|
|$0 to $24,999||0.05%|
|$25,000 to $49,999||0.10%|
|$50,000 to $99,999||0.15%|
|$100,000 to $249,999||0.20%|
|$250,000 to $499,999||0.25%|
|$500,000 to $999,999||0.55%|
|$1,000,000 or more||0.58%|
Customers with the USAA Performance First Savings Account also have access to the savings tools listed above, making savings easy.
|USAA Savings Accounts|
|Account||Minimum Opening Deposit||Fee||APY|
|USAA Savings Account||$25||None||0.05%|
|USAA Performance First Savings Account||$10,000||None||0.05% to 0.58%|
One thing that makes USAA stand out is the fact that two of its three checking accounts bear interest. Provided you keep a daily balance of $1,000 or more in your USAA Classic Checking account, you will earn a 0.01% APY on that balance. While that’s a relatively low rate for an interest-bearing checking account, the account makes up for it somewhat by being free of most fees and minimum balance requirements.
This account is set up to be as convenient and inexpensive as possible. You can open a Classic Checking account with just a $25 deposit. If you opt in to overdraft protection and link a USAA credit card or another checking or savings account, USAA will transfer money to cover your overdraft in $100 increments for free. Otherwise, you can expect an overdraft fee or non-sufficient funds fee of $29.
USAA also does not charge fees for your first 10 ATM transactions per month within its 60,000 preferred-ATM network. After that, the fee is $2 per transaction. (Transactions at any of the 1,200 USAA-branded ATMs are always free.) In addition, USAA will reimburse up to $15 per month in ATM fees levied by other banks.
USAA also offers a checking account specifically geared to minors under the age of 18. The USAA Youth Spending account is almost identical to the Classic Checking account. It has a $25 minimum initial deposit, offers a 0.01% APY on daily balances of $1,000 or more, and there are no fees or minimum balances.
Parents who are already members of USAA can set up a Youth Spending account for their minor children. Parental controls allow parents to:
- Give the child access to the mobile app and online portal
- Decide whether or not the child can make transfers, deposits, and withdrawals
- Select which accounts and statements the child can view online
- Sign up for text alerts, including low balance or spending alerts
Parents can decide whether or not to request a debit card with this account. It does not come standard as it does with the Classic Checking account. As with the regular checking account, Youth Spending allows you to opt into free overdraft protection with a linked credit card or savings account. You can also expect the same generous ATM fee policies with Youth Spending. When your child turns 18, the Youth Spending account automatically becomes a Classic Checking account.
USAA Cash Back Rewards Checking is the only USAA checking account that does not earn interest. Instead, it allows you to earn cash back through debit card transactions. You get 10 cents on each qualified purchase, and the amount is added to your rewards balance within one to two business days. There is no limit to the amount of cash back you can get, and you can redeem your rewards at any time, in whole dollar increments, provided that your account is in good standing.
The ATM policy is not quite as generous with this account. The 10 free withdrawals from 60,000 preferred ATMs remain the same, as does the $2 per-transaction fee after that, but there is no reimbursement for fees levied by other banks. There are still no monthly service fees and minimum balance requirements, and you can open an account with just a $25 deposit. It offers the same overdraft protection as the other two checking accounts.
The USAA Cash Back Rewards Checking account is only available to those who live in 28 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. USAA says that it expects the account to be available in additional states at a later date.
|USAA Checking Accounts|
|Account||Minimum Opening Deposit||Monthly Fee||APY|
|Cash Back Rewards Checking||$25||None||None|
USAA offers three CD tiers: standard CDs, which require a minimum deposit of $1,000 or more; jumbo CDs, for deposits of at least $95,000; and super jumbo CDs, for deposits of $175,000 or higher. You can purchase these CDs in terms ranging from 30 days to seven years, although some of the shorter terms are not available for the standard CDs.
|USAA Standard CD Rates|
|Term||Annual Percentage Yield (APY)|
|USAA Jumbo and Super Jumbo CD Rates|
|Term||Annual Percentage Yield (APY)|
USAA has a number of credit cards on offer, with a variety of perks to meet the needs of its customers. USAA has both American Express and Visa cards. Whether you are looking for rewards cards offering points (plus bonuses), cash-back cards, or a card with an annual percentage rate (APR) starting at 6.90%, USAA has a card for you.
Rewards Points Cards
- USAA Rewards American Express Card
- USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card
- USAA Military Affiliate Visa Signature Card
- USAA Military Affiliate American Express Card
Low Rate Card
- USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum Card
Other Financial Products Offered by USAA
In addition to the above banking products, USAA has a large menu of products and services for its members. These include:
- Car loans
- Personal loans
- Purchase mortgages
- Refinance mortgages
- Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit (HELOCs)
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
- Self-directed trading
- Managed investment portfolios
- Financial Advisors
USAA Customer Service
Excellent customer service has long been what USAA is known for. You can reach a customer service agent by phone at least six and in some cases seven days a week; the specific days and hours vary depending on which department of USAA you need to contact. The website also offers online chat with a virtual agent anytime you need help.
As a financial institution serving a transient population, USAA has always been on the cutting edge of financial technology. It was one of the first adopters of mobile check deposit, allowing customers to deposit checks via iPhone as of 2009, as reported in the New York Times. However, some users find the app to be somewhat buggy, which can be a problem when the mobile app is one of the only ways to access your account.
How to Bank With USAA
Members of the military and their families can open an account online. However, you will need to become a member of USAA first. You will need the following items to join:
- Date of birth
- Contact information
- Social Security number
- Qualifying military service details (yours or your immediate family member’s)
- Passport (if you are a U.S. citizen)
- Permanent Resident Card (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
Once you have joined, you can open a checking account or basic savings account with a $25 deposit. As noted earlier, because there are only five branches of USAA in the U.S., you can expect to handle the majority of your banking chores and transactions via the online portal or with the mobile app.
USAA is a fine bank for those who qualify to access it. With monthly fee-free checking and savings accounts, generous ATM fee policies, an APY coming standard with every checking account, and many tools and programs created to help customers avoid overdrafts and meet their financial goals, USAA offers a complete package of good banking practices. When you add in the fact that the institution also handles nearly every type of banking and financial need you might have, it’s clear that this is an excellent one-stop-shop for banking.
Unfortunately, USAA is not available to everyone. Civilians cannot access the excellent products and customer service—and that includes parents of military members. With membership restricted to military and their immediate family (which only includes spouse and children), USAA is out of reach for many people.
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Google Play. USAA Mobile app. Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.
App Store. USAA Mobile app. Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.