What Is USAA Bank and What Does It Do?
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The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a bank and financial services organization that prides itself on their conservative approach to lending and managing their members’ money. USAA is highly successful, nicknamed America’s good bank for a reason.
USAA serves our country’s past and present military members including their families with checking and savings services, loans, retirement savings, investing services, insurance, and other benefits. In this article, we’ll provide a simple overview explaining memberships and eligibility. Then we’ll extensively cover the services provided by USAA. Let’s get started.
USAA Membership and Eligibility
The United States Automobile Association started when a group of military officer friends decided to provide each other with automobile insurance, and has grown in members and products ever since, adding loan options, banking services, and other benefits.
A USAA membership is free, and if you’re eligible you can sign up and start shopping products immediately. Members can use any and all of the products, services, and benefits offered by USAA. To be considered a full USAA member and to qualify for family membership benefits as well, you must meet membership eligibility requirements and hold one of the insurance policies from the organization.
Non-members can purchase select products, too. Investment services, life insurance, and some discount benefits are all available to non-members, but only members qualify for banking products, auto, property, and other insurance options.
Who Can Join USAA?
USAA serves current and former military members and their families, including:
- Active military members
- Cadets and midshipmen
- Family members, including widows, widowers, un-remarried former spouses of USAA members and individuals whose parents joined USAA
- Former military, individuals retired or separated with an honorable discharge
What Does USAA Do?
USAA is not a corporation, and it’s not publicly traded, it’s not a credit union or nonprofit either. And it is not operated by the Department of Defense (DoD). The members that make up the organization own the company’s assets and get a payout of the organization’s profits. Next, we’ll describe the products available to you with your USAA membership.
If you’re eligible, banking with USAA is probably going to be your best option out there. From free checking and savings accounts to college banking and building a credit history, there are the many benefits of banking with USAA.
- Zero ATM fees, including refunds up to $15 per month for other bank’s ATM fees
- No minimum balance fees
- Free checking and savings accounts
- Free checks
- Free rewards debit card
- Free overdraft protection
- Free web bill pay
- Military pay available in advance
- Competitive credit card rates and rewards programs
- Deposit checks with your phone or scanner
- Comprehensive online tools including free credit reports
While it’s always a good idea to shop your rates, USAA remains competitive. Some of your loan options include:
- Car and other vehicle loans
- Home equity loans
- Personal loans
- VA loans
USAA does not offer business loans or business checking, but you can learn about small business loans for veterans and military entrepreneurs in our article. To learn more and apply for a loan, visit the USAA products page.
Investing and Retirement Savings
USAA provides you with the opportunity to work with a salaried financial advisor; meaning your advisor doesn’t make a commission off you. They can set you up with investment options like:
- Brokerage accounts
- IRAs and other military retirement savings
- Mutual Funds
Your insurance options have to be one of your greatest benefits as a USAA member. While the organization’s name leads to believe automobile insurance is the only priority, the company has grown massively over the years, offering insurance options that cover pretty much everything in your life from health insurance to small business insurance. These are the options offered by USAA and some of their benefits:
- Automobile: multi-vehicle discounts, safe-driving rewards and accident forgiveness
- Boat: coverage for accidents, liability, and theft
- Health: competitive coverage for you and your family
- Home: protects your home, belongings, even military uniforms
- Life: protects your family’s financial future
- Motorcycle: includes ATVs, mopeds and scooters
- Pet: options to cover routine and emergency medical expenses
- RV: provides 24/7 roadside assistance, coverage for emergency expenses, and more
- Small business: covers your place of business, your employees, and your belongings
Members enjoy the best insurance premiums and coverage available to most people. But, depending on your situation, it still pays to shop around.
Special Services and Benefits
If you’ve ever dealt with bad customer service, you know it can make or break a service no matter what they’re offering. USAA consistently collects top customer services rankings and praise. Their online banking systems are even brag-worthy, being known as an organization that consistently keeps up on advancing technology.
It’s truly a business built by the people who needed it and running for the people it serves. But customer service is just one of the special services and benefits that USAA offers its members, others include:
- ADT home security and monitoring discounts
- Car buying discounts on new and used vehicles
- Exclusive discounts on shipping, moving, and storage
- Rental car discounts and savings
- Shopping rewards for hundreds of online stores
- Travel deals including price match and travel insurance
USAA is a bank for military members and their families, offering products and services to care for all your financial needs. If you qualify, be sure to get your membership today.
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Tylene is a freelancer in Boise, Idaho. She's a self-taught personal finance hacker with zero debt. She eats avocado toast for breakfast.
This post was updated June 7, 2018. It was originally published June 8, 2018.