Members of the military have unique financial needs. They are on the move, both across the United States and around the World.
To meet their unique needs, USAA promises to provide best-in-class financial products and customer service to their members. Does USAA Federal Savings Bank deliver?
We think so, because USAA offers one of the best free checking account products out there - but you do have to be in the military or a qualifying dependent.
We also list USAA as one of the best checking accounts for military members.
Read more in our USAA Federal Savings Bank review below.
- Free checking, savings, and CD accounts
- Open to military members and their families
- Sub-par yields on savings products
USAA Classic Checking
Min Opening Deposit
Nationwide via Reimbursement
Who Is USAA?
USAA has one of the best track records for keeping customers over the long haul. Their best-in-class customer service, leading edge security, and ability to meet all their customer’s financial needs makes it an obvious choice for military members.
What Does USAA Federal Savings Bank Offer?
When you look objectively at the financial products that USAA offers, you’ll see that they aren’t necessarily the best at anything. But it’s the package as a whole that keeps customer satisfied. Below, we break down their various account options.
One of USAA’s standout financial products are their checking accounts. All of them have no monthly maintenance fees and no minimum balance. You need just $25 to open up the account. Here's a quick look at their three checking account options.
- Classic Checking: Get up to $15 in fees charged by third-party ATM providers refunded each month and earn 0.01% APY on balances above $1,000.
- Rewards Checking: Earn 10¢ for each qualified debit card purchase. This account does not reimburse ATM fees that are charged by providers that are outside of their preferred network and it doesn't earn interest.
- Youth Spending: Teach your kids (under age 18) about money by giving them access to a debit card with spending limits that are set by you, the parent.
USAA helps you get access to your money for free. You can withdraw your money from one of USAA’s network of 60,000 Nationwide ATMs. Members get 10 free withdrawals per month. After that, USAA charges $2 per withdrawal, even for ATMs that are part of its preferred network.
The USAA savings accounts aren’t exciting. Here's what their three options are earning right now:
- USAA Savings: 0.01% APY on all balances
- USAA Performance First Savings:
- Below $10,000: 0.01% APY
- $10,000 to $49,9999: 0.05% APY
- $50,000 to $99,999.99: 0.06 APY
- $100,000 to $249,999.99: 0.08% APY
- $250,000 to $499,999.99: 0.11% APY
- 500,000 and above: 0.20% APY
- USAA Youth Savings: 0.01% APY on all balances
Whie the rates are low to mediocre, the savings accounts do have a few helpful features. Most obviously, USAA members can keep their checking and savings account at the same bank.
USAA also has a cool technology that helps members create savings goals and track their progress towards the goal. Not seeing the type of traction you want? USAA’s online platform will also help you analyze and set your budget.
If you struggle to stay motivated with a savings goal, the goals feature could help you move in the right direction.
See our list of the best online savings accounts here to find the best places to park your cash.
CD ladders can help you prepare for ongoing cash flow needs. Unfortunately, the CDs at USAA offer lame interest rates as well that top out a measly 0.04% APY. USAA also offers adjustable rate and variable rate CDs with even lower interest rates.
Right now, other banks offer CDs with rates up to 0.55% APY. It doesn’t make sense to settle for USAA’s extremely low interest rates.
Check out the best bank CD rates here.
On top of that, USAA members can expect reasonable interest rates on mortgages, auto loans, personal loans and credit cards.
If you’re a military investor, you can also choose to house your investments at USAA. Their expense ratios tend to run higher than the industry standard though, so investing through USAA isn’t always the right choice.
Still, anyone who values having all their financial services under one roof can rest easy that USAA will bend over backwards to offer them what they need. Since it’s a membership association, most of the fees are reasonable, even if they aren’t world-class.
Are There Any Fees?
This is one of USAA's strength. The bank doesn't charge monthly maintenance fees on any of its accounts. It also doesn't charge any fees for overdrafts, although it will charge a $29 non-sufficient funds (NSF) if it declines a transaction or it is returned unpaid.
The one area where USAA checking accounts fall short is in their capabilities abroad, which is a bit surprising for a bank that caters to the military community. USAA charges a 1% foreign transaction fee and they don’t have ATMs abroad. That said, for Classic Checking customer, USAA will still refund up to $15 in ATM fees if you use an ATM in a foreign country.
How Does USAA Federal Saving Bank Compare?
USAA is really best for members of the military community who want the simplicity and convenience of having all of their financial accounts under the same roof. It could also be solid youth banking option.
But if you're looking for the highest yield on your savings or the best rewards on your debit card transactions, you'll want to look at one of the best online banks instead. Here's a quick look at how USAA's banking compares.
Top Non-CD APY
Military members and their families
Open to anyone
Open to anyone
How Do I Join?
USAA membership is generally only open to active and retired military veterans. However, certain family members are eligible to open an account as well, including spouses, kids, widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members.
To join as the child of a military member, your parent must be living. Siblings of military members are not eligible for membership, however. If you meet these requirements, you join USAA online in minutes by starting here.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes, USAA Federal Savings Bank is a member FDIC bank which means that all of its accounts receive up to $250,00 of FDIC insurance per depositor. The bank's site is encrypted and customers can further protect their accounts by setting up multi-factor authentication.
How Do I Contact USAA?
Customers can access USAA support at 210-531-USAA (8722). Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM (CT) .
USAA's customer service has historically enjoyed a good reputation. However, the bank has recently received a rash of bad reviews on Trustpilot and is currently rated just 1.3/5. It still has an A+ rating on Better Business Bureau (BBB) though.
Is It Worth It?
For military members and their families, USAA offers a quality financial experience. Their members can expect great customer service and fair pricing on all their products. For young military members, the checking account and easy access to a savings account make a lot of sense.
If you’ve got a straightforward financial life, it can make sense to buy all your financial products through USAA. Once you start getting into investing and buying more insurance products, it pays to shop around. When it comes to banking, loyalty only makes sense for so long. Eventually, you need to find the best deals.
USAA Federal Savings Bank FAQs
Here are some of the most common questions that people ask about USAA Federal Savings Bank:
Are USAA Bank's financial centers open?
No, USAA's financial centers have been closed since March 16, 2020 to protect employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, customers who live near USAA's San Antonio location can still access drive-thru teller services.
Is USAA a credit union?
No, USAA is a group of financial service companies that can only be utilized by its members. It's banking products are provided through USAA Savings Bank or USAA Federal Savings Bank, both of which are FDIC-insured.
What does USAA stand for?
"USAA" is an acronym for United Services Automobile Association. The association began in the 1920s as a mutual self-insurance alliance for military members who often struggled to obtain auto insurance from traditional insurers.
Does USAA have business bank accounts?
No, USAA doesn't currently have any business checking or savings account options for its members.
USAA Federal Savings Bank Features
Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) Fee
Foreign Transaction Fee
Four branches in four states
Mobile Check Deposits
Early Direct Deposit
Yes, at least one business day before payday
60,000+ fee-free ATMs that are part of the PNC Bank, MoneyPass® and Allpoint® networks
Customer Service Number
Customer Service Hours
Mon-Fri, 8 AM to 5 PM (CT)
Mobile App Availability
iOS and Android
Web/Desktop Account Access
USAA Federal Savings Bank Review
USAA Free Checking
USAA Federal Savings Bank offers truly free bank accounts for military members and their families. The also offer a variety of products, including checking, savings, CDs, and even insurance.
- No monthly maintenance fees
- Offers rewards checking and youth banking
- Has been known for great customer service
- Savings APY is not competitive
- Only open to the military community
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor