Banking

Banking with USAA: The Pros and the Cons

About

Based in San Antonio, the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) has been a banking go-to for many military families. They offer banking, investing, and insurance services to about 12.5 million members. Their banking service has existed since the end of 1983, growing to over $62.5 billion dollars in 2015. However, their benefits are a bit exclusive, offered only to military and their immediate family.  

Pros

Low cost

Opening an account with USAA only requires a $25 initial deposit – not applicable to new recruits – , and that money is still all yours. After that, there are no minimum balance fees, so you don’t need to worry about keeping a certain amount in your account at all times. Additionally, there are absolutely no service fees, ever. There won’t even be overdraft fees if you’re using an USAA savings account or credit card as protection on your account. 

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Ample ATM access

Because USAA only has one physical bank, most ATMs are available for all USAA checking account withdrawals. There are over 60,000 available on a list of USAA-preferred ATMs. They will also refund service fees associated with your ATM usage if you have a classic checking account.

Easy online banking

Pay your bills easily online with no service fees, check your balance, transfer money, and chat with representatives all on your mobile devices with the free USAA app. It allows you to have your banking right in your pocket, ensuring you won’t ever be stuck without access. You can use Apple, Google, or Samsung pay with your USAA account on your phone as well. Its mobile check deposit feature also makes putting money in your account easy-peasy. 

Checking account options

Source: USAA.com

USAA Classic Checking

This classic checking account is suggested for those who require ATM fee refunds often; it will give up to $15 a month back. It’s also a good choice if you keep a large sum of money in your checking account at all times, as it generates interest on balances $1,000+. It has all of the pros listed throughout this article.

USAA Cashback Rewards Checking

The main difference between this and the Classic Checking account is that, instead of ATM refunds and interest building, it offers ten cents back on all debit card purchases, plus unlimited rewards. It also has all of the other pros that come with having an USAA checking account. 

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Source: USAA.com

Savings accounts

You can open an USAA Savings Account with $25, or an USAA Performance First Savings Account with a much higher amount of $10,000. Like the checking account, this also has no minimum balance or monthly fees. It can also be used as protection in the case of your checking account not having enough money to cover a cost. Also included is fraud protection, automatic transfers, and goal planning features. 

Credit Cards

USAA Rewards American Express Card

This card offers:

  • Three times points on eating out
  • Two times points on groceries
  • One times points on all other purchases
  • 2,500 points just for your first purchase
  • Card designs
  • 11.40% to 27.40% APR
  • No annual fee

USAA Rewards Visa Signature Card

This card offers:

  • Two times points on eating out and gas
  • One times points on all other purchases
  • 2,500 points for just the first purchase
  • Card designs
  • 11.40% to 27.40% APR
  • No annual fee
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Youth accounts

USAA’s offer of its services to immediate family allows for youth accounts for your children – either spending or savings accounts. It will automatically convert to a full, regular USAA checking account once they turn 18, This is an excellent way to allow your child to learn financial responsibility in a way that you can help facilitate and protect them through, as this account allows you to have direct access to transfer money in and out of. 

Fast depositing

Most members report getting access to deposited money instantly. There are also cases of individuals having automatic paychecks deposited into their checking accounts earlier than coworkers, as USAA is known to process things quickly. Transferring funds between accounts is usually as close to instant as it gets as well. This makes your access to your money much more open and reliable. 

Combine banking and insurance

USAA offers insurance for auto, homeowners, and renters. This makes it easy on you if you want to have your insurance and banking needs in one place. Depending on where you live and other factors, having your insurance through USAA is going to be cheaper and have more benefits than other insurance companies. It can’t hurt to take a look and see what you could save by handling everything through USAA. It also makes it easy to manage your insurance through their app, meaning you can handle your insurance problems online or over the phone. This can also be a con, however, if you’re someone who prefers speaking with someone in person. However, this also gives you better access to that service virtually.

Cons

One physical bank

Unfortunately, USAA only has one physical place for your banking needs in San Antonio, TX. With members all over the world, a trip here isn’t always possible. However, they do offer excellent customer service over the phone and on chat at all times.

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Source: USAA.com

Only available for military families

If you’re a military family, you’re in luck. If not, there’s no way to partake of the benefits USAA has to offer – unless you enlist! 

There can be miscommunications

Because the bank is so mainly virtual, there are cases, like with most other banks, where there are miscommunications, false information, or changing facts among different agents. It’s hard to have perfect coordination when service is only done over the phone or online, and it can sometimes be frustrating when you feel you keep getting turned in circles or not having your needs properly met. 

The verdict

Overall, this bank has quite a few advantages with only a few shortcomings. If you’re a military family and don’t mind doing banking online, USAA is an excellent option, as it is a low cost bank with a lot of financial security. 

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