According to the FDIC, there’s over 5,900 FDIC Insured Institutions in the United States. My review today is about one of them, my bank, The United Services Automobile Association, or commonly referred to as USAA.
USAA hasn’t always been my bank. My first bank, circa 2001, was Washington Mutual. Nothing fancy about it — then again, most of the banks during that time weren’t either. Their online banking interface, if they offered one, was minimal. We didn’t have smartphones that gave us immediate access to our bank information. After some time, I got tired of Washington Mutual’s limited banking hours, the long queues in the branch, and the new fees they continued to add, and switched to BankAtlantic, which really was South Florida’s More Convenient Bank. I really enjoyed banking with BankAtlantic, and even referred a few friends to them that switched from Washington Mutual.
In 2010, I was granted the ability (through my parents) on opening a checking account with USAA. USAA serves military personnel, and their family. To be able to have an account with them, one must either serve, have served, or had a parent who served. Immediately after opening a checking account, I was hooked. USAA is, and will forever be, my primary banking institute.
Their online customer portal, which to many of us is the most important aspect of banking with any bank, as it places our funds “in our hands” is top notch. In this aspect, USAA is really a forward thinking bank. Their online portal allows me to add all my external accounts (credit cards, saving accounts, retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, etc) to the portal, so when I log into my USAA account, I can see my entire financial situation in one place. Think of it as similar to Mint.com (a great service, by the way). Between their top-notch online portal and their budget tracker, I have essentially replaced Mint.com with USAA’s portal and I’m loving it. Not to mention that when I log into USAA, they have added “tiles” to the right side of the screen, providing snippet of information. My tiles include my FICO credit score, and my projected checking account balance.
Their iPhone app is just as intuitive as their online portal. Looking at the preview images of other banking apps in iTunes, I will go on the limb and say that USAA’s app is far more advanced than any of the other banking apps. From their app, I can also see all my external accounts, use Bill Pay, access the budget tracker, and block and unlock my ATM card. The last feature is big to me. I do not feel safe with my ATM card, and since it serves as a credit card, and although I never use it in that form, I’m always nervous that someone can somehow get my number and then have immediate access to my funds. As such, I keep the ATM card “blocked” at all times, only unlocking it from the iPhone app once I approach the ATM machine.
One of the best features of the iPhone app is the Deposit@Mobile feature, which allows me to deposit checks and money orders from my phone without mailing them in. I know that nearly all banks now offer this feature from their app as well, but what I find that sets USAA apart is that USAA “rewards” their customers for “good” banking practices. Since I am a (what I consider to be) a “good” customer — no NSF, always maintain a sufficient cash balance, – they make my funds available to me immediately plus they recently upped my deposit limit to $100,000 per day. I will never have to send in a check or money order again! I have never had a check or money order not be accepted through their system, either.
For cash deposits, and access to large sums of money (ATM limit for USAA for me is $3,000 per day), I do maintain a local bank account with TD Bank. I believe it’s always a good idea to have a secondary bank account with another bank, in the event your account is restricted you still have access to some funds from the secondary account.
Their customer service is top notch. They have community forums where you can post a question and a representative will contact you, or you can call their customer service line at any time. I’ve only had to call their customer service line once, and they were able to show me how to do what I was requesting right on the website.
Finally, their top notch security. USAA employs the latest security measures to ensure that my account is safe. From two-factor authentication (SMS code before logging in), to a randomly generated code that I must provide when speaking with their customer service, I know that my account with USAA is safe.
Overall, I’d give USAA 5 Stars out of 5 Stars. Every time I have to deal with another banking institution, I’m more and more thankful for USAA and their premium level of customer service.
If you have the opportunity to bank with USAA, I highly recommend you make the switch; you won’t be sorry!
Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement. I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review. This is an honest review of my experience with USAA.