USAA Personal Loans Review

USAA offers competitive rates on personal loans for military members

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USAA

USAA

Investopedia’s Rating
3.3

USAA offers personal loans with competitive rates, but its loans aren’t for everyone. Only military members and eligible family members can apply, borrowing limits are relatively low, and a higher starting APR means the most creditworthy borrowers could find lower rates elsewhere. 

  • Pros & Cons
  • specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No origination fee or application fee

  • Fast access to funds

  • Rates won’t exceed 18.51%

Cons
  • Members-only product

  • No rate check

  • Cannot be used for higher education

specifications
APR Range
7.14% - 18.51%
Loan Amount
$2,500 - $20,000
Loan Terms
12 Months or 84 Months
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
660
Average Origination Fee
0.00% - 0.00%
Late Fee
5.00% - 5.00%
Why Trust Us Investopedia collected key data points from several lenders to identify the most important factors to borrowers. We used this data to review each lender for fees, accessibility, repayment terms, and other features to provide unbiased, comprehensive reviews to ensure our readers make the right borrowing decision for their needs. Read our Full Methodology
38 Lenders reviewed
40 Loan features considered
1,520 Data points analyzed
112 Primary data sources used

Pros Explained

  • No origination fee or application fee: USAA doesn’t charge fees for members to apply for a loan, so the amount you apply to borrow is the amount you’ll receive if approved. 
  • Fast access to funds: If you’re approved, your money will be deposited into your USAA bank account within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. 
  • Rates won’t exceed 18.51%: Rates can vary based on creditworthiness, but you’ll never pay more than 18.51% APR.

Cons Explained

  • Members-only product: To apply for a personal loan from USAA, you need to be a USAA member. And to be a USAA member, you must be an active-duty military member, veteran, or eligible family member.
  • No rate check: Unlike many other lenders, USAA doesn’t offer a prequalification tool on its website. To check your rate, you’ll need to formally apply, which will require a hard credit inquiry. 
  • Can’t be used for higher education: You won’t be able to use a USAA personal loan to cover college costs.

Introduction

USAA offers personal loans, which can be used for most purposes besides higher education expenses. Loan amounts range from $2,500 to $20,000. The starting APR is 7.14% with the autopay discount, which is higher than at some other lenders. Creditworthy borrowers may be able to find a lower rate elsewhere. 

That said, the rate for a USAA personal loan is capped at 18.51%, which is low compared to other lenders. If you have fair credit or good credit, you might be a good candidate for a personal loan from USAA. 

However, keep in mind that this lender only offers its personal loan products to USAA members. Therefore, a USAA personal loan is best for active-duty military members, veterans, and their eligible family members. 

USAA doesn’t allow you to pre-qualify with a soft credit check. It’s a good idea to check your rate with other lenders before applying for a loan from USAA. 

Company Overview

USAA was founded in 1922 and started with 25 army officers insuring each other’s vehicles. The company, which is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, now has more than 13 million members served by 36,000 employees. 

At the end of 2020, USAA had a net worth of $40 billion and $200 billion in total assets. The company made a $50 million, three-year commitment to nonprofit organizations in the fourth quarter of 2020.   

In addition to offering personal loans, USAA also offers insurance, investment, and banking products. 

Types of Personal Loans Offered by USAA

The only restriction on USAA’s personal loans is that they can’t be used to pay for higher education expenses. Otherwise, its loans are flexible and can be used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Paying off high-interest credit card debt
  • Remodeling or repairing your home
  • Paying for unplanned expenses such as medical bills

Time to Receive Funds

USAA delivers loan proceeds to borrowers relatively fast compared to its competitors. As soon as you’re approved, the money will be deposited into your USAA bank as soon as  24 hours later on weekdays. Some other popular lenders can take a few business days to distribute loan funds.

USAA Personal Loan Features

Autopay Discount

Borrowers who opt into autopay are eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point discount on their personal loan APRs. 

Membership Requirement

USAA requires all personal loan applicants to be members. This limits access to USAA personal loans to members of the military, veterans, and their eligible family members.

Apply for a USAA Personal Loan

It’s easy to apply online for a personal loan from USAA, but you’ll need to be a USAA member first. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Become a USAA Member: You’ll need to provide proof of your eligibility, which will include details about your service or your family member’s service in the military.
  2. Open a USAA Checking Account: You can open a free checking account with a minimum deposit of $25, which you can fund with a credit card or bank transfer. 
  3. Choose Your Loan Amount and Term: Decide how much you want to borrow and what monthly payment you can afford. 
  4. Apply for a USAA Personal Loan: Log into your account and fill out the necessary fields for the online application. Formally applying will result in a hard credit check, which may cause a small but temporary dip in your credit score. 
  5. Review Your Offer: If you’re happy with your APR, you can complete the application process by following the prompts to accept your offer. 
  6. Receive Your Funds: Your funds will be deposited into your USAA bank account within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. (The turnaround may be slightly longer if you apply on a weekend.)

Choose the shortest term with a monthly payment that you can afford using USAA’s Personal Loan Calculator. This could save you money on interest. 

Can You Refinance a Personal Loan with USAA?

USAA offers auto loan refinancing but does not offer personal loan refinancing at this time. However, USAA’s personal loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including paying off other bills. It’s possible to get a personal loan from USAA to pay off another personal loan with a higher interest rate. 

Customer Service

You can contact the USAA virtual agent for assistance anytime, and many services can be accessed online through your account. 

If you need to speak to a human, you can reach any department through the main phone number, which is 800-531-8722. Call on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT or Saturday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT. 

Customer Satisfaction

USAA has more than 1,200 customer reviews with Trustpilot, and 84% of them are bad, resulting in an average rating of only 1.3 out of 5 stars. Customers complain that banking with USAA has gotten worse over the years, with long wait times for customer service and incompetent staff. 

Customer reviews on ConsumerAffairs were more favorable, with 3.5/5 star rating, but some people still complained about deteriorating customer service. Be aware that if you run into issues with your personal loan, you may not receive the best customer service experience. Other personal loan lenders have more positive reviews from customers. 

Account Management

You can complete your personal loan application online, but USAA doesn’t specify which online account management features are available to borrowers. You’ll be able to set up automatic payments and view your payment activity, but making changes to your account may require a phone call. 

How USAA Compares to Other Personal Loan Companies

Compared to other personal loan lenders, USAA has strict eligibility requirements. You must be a USAA member to apply for a loan. 

USAA’s simple personal loan product doesn’t come with many features, such as unemployment protection, but it does have a lower maximum APR than what most other lenders offer. 

USAA vs Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loans

Like USAA, Navy Federal Credit Union only offers personal loans to members, and you must be a military member, veteran, or eligible family member to join. 

Both companies offer personal loans for a variety of purposes with a similar rate cap and neither offers a pre-qualification option. However, there are some key differences between these two lenders:

  • Navy Federal Credit Union offers loans secured by savings or certificates of deposit, while USAA does not.
  • Loans for most purposes have terms up to 60 months at Navy Federal Credit Union, compared to 84 months at USAA. But Navy Federal does offer a home improvement loan with a higher minimum principal and terms up to 180 months. 
  • Navy Federal Credit Union doesn’t offer an autopay discount on its personal loans, so starting rates are slightly higher than rates at USAA. 
  • Navy Federal Credit Union has much higher ratings on Trustpilot than USAA. 
  USAA Navy Federal Credit Union 
APR Range 7.14% to 18.51% 7.49% to 18% or 14.79% to 18% for terms longer than 36 months
Terms  12 months to 84 months  Up to 180 months 
Available Amounts  $2,500 to $100,000 $250 to $50,000 
Features  Autopay discount  Savings secured loans 
Trustpilot Rating  1.3 out of 5 stars  4.7 out of 5 stars

While USAA wins in terms of APR, if you need a smaller or larger loan, you may be better served by Navy Federal Credit Union. Just be aware that your APR will be higher if you choose a longer term from Navy Federal. 

Read our full Navy Federal Credit Union review for more details. 

Final Verdict

Borrowers with good credit who are USAA members will likely find competitive rates from USAA—especially if they enroll in autopay. The lack of origination fees or prepayment penalties keeps the cost of borrowing low. But amounts are relatively limited, and the company’s customer service reviews suggest that the quality of support has gone downhill over the years. 

Furthermore, since USAA doesn’t offer the lowest starting rates, it likely won’t be the best option for borrowers with excellent credit. If you’re a military member with good credit, it’s worth applying for a personal loan from USAA. But it’s best to check your rate with other lenders first, since USAA doesn’t have an option for pre-qualifying.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected over 25 data points across more than 50 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.  

Our full personal loans methodology, including our data collection process and weighted data points, is available for review. 

Article Sources

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  1. USAA. "Personal Loans." Accessed Jan. 30, 2022.