Category Archives: Blog

Best AR-15 Triggers | 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Let’s face it, the market is completely flooded with AR-15 triggers so it’s hard to know where to start.  In the world of marksmanship your trigger pull/squeeze is incredibly important and having a good trigger will help ensure you accurately put rounds on target.  The purpose of this guide is to give you a few things to think about when shopping around for a trigger.

If you’re looking for the long and the short of it we strongly recommend replacing your AR-15’s stock trigger.  Replacing the trigger is arguably more important than getting an upgraded barrel, bolt carrier group or other enhanced parts because it’s such a huge piece to good marksmanship.

How we Rate the Triggers

When setting out to find the best AR-15 Trigger we wanted to create a few pieces of criteria.


It’s easy to overspend on trigger upgrades and a lot of companies out there are pumping out some pretty mediocre triggers at super higher price points.  In the trigger world cost does NOT always equal quality.


Triggers take some serious abuse, so it’s important to spend your money on one that will hold up.  Trigger wells often get caked in dust, moisture, carbon and other debris that can keep the trigger from properly functioning; this is really important if you’re using the trigger in a duty AR-15.

Ease of Installation

Installing an AR-15 trigger can be a serious pain so we wanted to put this on our rating scale.  Many triggers are now drop-in triggers and can be installed in minutes while others take some advanced tooling.  It’s important to roll this into your cost because if you can’t install a trigger on your own you will need to hire a gunsmith to do it for you.

Interested in adding a red dot sight to your AR-15, check out our blog, Best Red Dot Sights| 2019 Buyers’ Guide

Overall Trigger Pull

The overall trigger pull is very important when deciding what trigger you’d like to purchase.  The pull should be smooth with a crisp sear break and a rapid reset.  The amount of play/creep in a trigger is also a deciding factor.  Some shooters prefer some slack when pulling the trigger while others want no slack at all.

Need new targets to test your trigger on? Check out our blog, The Best Rifle Targets for your next Range Day 

Trigger Pull Weight

We personally prefer triggers with variable trigger weights.  This allows the shooter to adjust the trigger weight to meet their shooting needs.  While lower trigger weights are enticing they can also be dangerous for unskilled shooters.  A lighter trigger can sometimes lead to negligent discharges.

Types of AR-15 Triggers

Mil-Spec Trigger

Mil-Spec is one of those terms that’s thrown around a lot but doesn’t really mean much.  There is no actual Mil-Spec on triggers or really anything for that matter so if you see the term being used to justify a product’s quality make sure you proceed cautiously.  In the world of triggers, Mil-Spec triggers tend to be stock triggers that come with most off-the-shelf AR-15s.  These triggers tend to have a heavier, less consistent trigger pull with a lot of slack or creep.  Most Mil-spec AR-15 triggers have around a 6-9lb trigger pull.

Best Mil-Spec Triggers

ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) Trigger

The ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) trigger is a very standard trigger with very standard features.  It’s a curved trigger with a 6.5lb trigger pull which is fairly normal for the Mil-Spec range.  The trigger itself is a non-adjustable single-stage trigger that won’t give you many options to tailor it to your specific shooting needs.  That being said it offers a fairly solid trigger pull for a basic trigger.

Price: $49

Trigger pull weight: 6.5lbs

Link to buy:

AR Gold Adjustable Trigger (curved or flat)

AR Gold is an adjustable trigger, both the curved and flat, coming in at .375 lbs. and only a 3.5 trigger pull weight. The trigger is also a drop in module, making it an easy installation. The AR Gold was intended to work as a military, LE, competition and hunting trigger according to American Trigger. Their triggers are also made in the USA, which you know we like.

Price: $279

Trigger pull weight: 3.5 lbs

Trigger weight: .375 lbs.

Link to buy:

FailZero Mil-Spec Single Stage EXO

FailZero has made a trigger intended to replace that stock mil –spec triggers that came in your AR. Assembled according to AS9100 aerospace standards, this trigger is meant to be reliable, in some of the harshest environments. This is a single-stage trigger with a short reset and a trigger pull of only 3. 5 lbs. However, while it fits most AR-style platforms, it is not intended for use in a Sig MPX.

Price: $169.97-$184.99

Trigger weight: 2.6 oz.

Link to buy:

Best 1 Stage Triggers

Hiperfire Hipertouch® Reflex

Intended for the everyman (or woman) shooter, this trigger is adjustable from 2.5-3.5 lbs. Of course, made in the USA, this trigger has a positive reset you can both feel and hear. It also has a crisp and clean trigger break per HiperFire and was created with a Cam-Over Toggle Engine™.

Price: $225

Trigger pull weight: 2.5-3.5 lbs

Link to buy:

Lantac CMC E-CT1

Built on the original Super Match concept, this drop-in trigger group was made for control and accuracy—keep in mind, a good trigger won’t fix bad shooting habits—it was also intended to stand up to the rugged shooting life and reliability you’d expect in a quality trigger. This trigger comes at a pre-set of 3 to 3.5 lbs of trigger pull weight. Also, it’s made in the USA.

Price: $210

Trigger pull weight: 3-3.5 lbs

Link to buy:

Rise Armament Super Sporting

Yet another trigger intended to replace your factory mil-spec, this trigger comes with a 3.5 lb. trigger pull. This trigger is made from high quality, heat-treated tool steel and aluminum per the company and is a precision CNC machined drop in trigger.

Price: $129

Trigger weight: 2.6 oz

Link to buy:

Best 2 Stage Triggers

LMT Defense 2 Stage Trigger

If you’re looking for a two-stage trigger, this one has been in development for over 20 years. Each of the triggers is individually tested before they make it to your front steps. They are tested at the 2lb first stage and 5 lb. second stage.

Price: $129

Trigger pull weight: 7 lbs.

Link to buy:

CMC AR-15 2-Stage Trigger Curved

A little pricier than some triggers out there—you can find it on various sites for cheaper—but still a quality trigger. This trigger comes with an initial pull weight of 1 lb, followed by a second pull weight of 3 lbs., for a total pull weight of 4 lbs. It’s also in accordance with mil-spec and comes as a drop-in for easy installation.

Price: $180-$225

Trigger pull weight: 4 lbs.

Link to buy:

LaRu Tactical MBT-2S Trigger

On the much cheaper end, but not in terms of quality is the LaRu Tactical MBT-2S Trigger. This trigger is made out of solid S7 tool steel plate. It has a 4.5 lb. trigger pull with 2.5 lbs. in the first stage and 2 lbs. in the second stage. You also have the option of increasing your pull weight to 6 lbs. with an additional (included if purchased through LaRu) trigger spring.

Price: $87

Trigger pull weight: 4.5 lbs.

Link to buy:

Best Drop-In Triggers

Elftmann ELF-SE

This trigger is non-adjustable, but it is made of an ultra-light housing unit, coming in at only 2.3 oz. It was created to be drop safe with a double double wound hammer spring. The trigger is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and hardened steel. And, it’s made completely in America with a lifetime guarantee when you purchase it through Elftmann.

Price: $153-$169

Trigger Pull weight: 3.5 lbs.

Trigger weight: 2.30 oz.

Link to buy:

Timney Solid Shoe

Made with an aluminum alloy housing and intended to be used in a small-pin AR, this single stage trigger requires nothing more than a simple drop-in install. You can choose between a 3, 4 and 4.5 lb. trigger pull weight without compromising reliability. Made in the USA.

Price: $203.99

Trigger pull weight:  3-4.5 lbs.

Link to buy:

KE Arms SLT-1

This single stage drop-in trigger that’s intended to improve safety and reliability was created to stand the test of time. The makers claim an ultra-crisp break, an improved tactile reset, reduced split times and of course an easy install. This trigger is not compatible with the Combloc 7.62x39mm Ammo, Sig Sauer MCX with Firing Pin Safety Features, and some .22 Rimfire AR15s and conversions.

Price: $199.95

Trigger pull weight: 4.5 lbs.

Link to buy:

Best Competition Triggers

Triggertech Competitive AR Primary Trigger

This particular trigger is non-adjustable, can be purchased as a curved or straight trigger and comes as a short two-stage action. It is intended to stand up to the harsh environments of 3 Gun, competition, high-speed shooting, long range hunting, precision shooting, target shooting, and varmint hunting.

Price: $214.99-$224.99

Trigger pull weight: 3.5 lbs.

Link to buy:

CMC Triggers-Competition Trigger

CMC triggers, created by a competitive shooter for competitive shooters. These triggers are intended to maintain a consistent trigger pull weight. You’ll find the triggers come with oversized center pins. This will help prevent wear, reduce friction and prevent trigger wobble.

Price: $195.99

Trigger pull weight: 2.5 lbs

Link to buy:

Elfman 3-Gun

This particular trigger was made not only to be easily installed as a drop-in unit but also to be easily adjusted. You can adjust it from a 4 lb. trigger pull to 2.75 lbs. without removing it from your lower receiver. Made with aircraft-grade aluminum and hardened steel, this 2 oz. trigger is built with a full power hammer spring and double double wound hammer spring.

Price: $269-$279

Trigger pull weight: 2.75-4 lbs.

Trigger weight: 2 oz.

Link to buy:

Best AR-15 Trigger for the Money

The best AR-15 trigger for your money will depend on what you’re looking for. If you’re competing, the Triggertech is great in the long run, and the material is meant to last against wear. If you’re planning on going into combat, the ALG Defense Quality Mil-Spec (QMS) Trigger for only $49 would be a good choice. Keep in mind, the amount you spend doesn’t always equal quality of the product. Sometimes you’re paying for the name. So, when you’re looking to upgrade your trigger, first decide how you plan to use your weapon, how often you’ll be using it and if you have a preference in one or two-stage triggers. You want a trigger that not only does its job, but one that won’t fall apart or break after a few hundred pulls.

How an AR-15 Trigger Works

AR-15 triggers come in a variety of options. Single-stage or two-stage, curved or flat—also known as straight—drop-in or assembly required. How you select the trigger for you will depend on the intended use. For instance, if you’re planning to compete in long range, you might select a flat, two-stage trigger with a light trigger pull weight. Or if you were competing for time, a single-stage trigger might work best.

However, no matter which option you select, they all pretty much work the same way. The biggest difference is how much trigger pull is needed and if there will be any resistance in your pull. When you pull the trigger, the hammer is released, it then strikes the firing pin, which strikes the primer. The type of trigger you select will determine how much effort you have to put into pulling the trigger, which puts into motion the movement of your round. If you select one needing more trigger pull, you’ll need to place more weight on the trigger before your rifle goes off. If you select a dual-stage trigger, you’ll have some resistance before you hit the second stage and your rifle goes off.

Single-Stage vs Dual-Stage Triggers

The stage of your trigger refers to the resistance between trigger weight. If your trigger is a single-stage, there is no resistance, you simply pull the trigger and it will smoothy pull to the rear. However, if you have a dual-stage, also known as a two-stage trigger, there will be some resistance in your pull. For example, the first stage may take 2 lbs. of trigger pull weight, then you’ll feel a slight resistance, followed by a second stage, which might be 2.5 lbs of trigger pull weight.

Want to improve your marksmanship with your new trigger? Check out our blog, 5 Gun Targets to Increase your Marksmanship

The Best AR-15 Trigger for YOU

Something to keep in mind, while there are triggers out there made of better quality, better price, better anything, what makes it best is how you work with it. Everyone will have a “best for me” trigger. So, while the above is our list, know that it will vary from person to person. Make sure you test some of these—in the field—if possible before you buy. Some triggers are better for combat, some competition, and others just everyday use. So, select a trigger that works best for your weapon’s use and how well you can work with the tool given.

USCCA Insurance

You asked, and we delivered. Here’s an entire article dedicated to everything USCCA; a concealed carry insurance, also commonly shortened to CCW insurance, to make sure you’re covered in the case of a lawsuit after using your firearm. USCCA stands for United States Concealed Carry Association. An association not only dedicated to protecting its members but also educating anyone who will listen on how to properly carry and conceal their weapons. This article was specifically created to point out what USCCA has to offer its members, potential members, and other resources they have available to non-members. So, member or not here’s a full review of USCCA, a CCW insurance provider.

USCCA Membership

USCCA offers three different membership levels, gold, platinum, and elite. All of them come with the Concealed Carry magazine, educational resources, training, and legal protection. However, how much you get of each of those will depend on which membership you select.

USCCA Gold Membership

Gold membership is your cheapest option at $22/month or $247/year. It includes a year subscription to online back issues to the Concealed Carry magazine and a print and digital subscription—because not all of us are on board with digital books and magazines just yet.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To 1 Year of Back Issues


  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 15 Lifesaving Guides & eBooks


  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)

Legal Protection

  • $500,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $100,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Gold Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners

USCCA Platinum Membership

Platinum membership is your middle of the road option. It will cost you either $30/month or $347/annually. The differences between this membership and gold is, you get access to the interactive “ask an attorney” monthly webinar, access to situational awareness videos, more money for legal protection, and advanced show entry into the USCCA Concealed Carry Expo.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To 5 Years of Back Issues 


  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 30 Lifesaving Guides & eBooks
  • Interactive “Ask An Attorney” Monthly Webinar 


  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)
    • Situational Awareness Video 

Legal Protection

  • $1,000,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $150,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo
    • Advanced Show Entry

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Platinum Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners

USCCA Elite Membership

Elite membership is your most expensive option. You’ll pay $47/month or $497 annually. The difference between the elite and platinum membership is your lifetime access to the Concealed Carry magazine’s back issues, an archive to the interactive “ask an attorney” webinar, more training videos, more money for legal protection, an elite VIP experience for the Concealed Carry Expo, and access to the elite concierge line.

Concealed Carry Magazine

  • Complete Print + Digital Subscription (8 issues per Year)
  • Complete Online Access To Lifetime Archive of Back Issues


  • CCW Reciprocity Map With Permit Expiration Reminders
  • Member-Only USCCA App Features
    • CCW Alerts When Crossing State Lines
    • Attorney Locator
    • Quick Access To Attorney Contact Info
  • Weekly updates on news, changing laws, and gear reviews
  • 10 Lifesaving Checklists
  • Digital Access to 70+ Lifesaving Guides & eBooks
  • Interactive “Ask An Attorney” Monthly Webinar + Complete Archive


  • Weekly Training Drills
  • Live Training Broadcasts With Industry Experts (3 Times per Year)
  • Access to Nationwide USCCA Certified Instructor Network
  • Member-Only Online Video Library
    • Proving Ground Scenario-Based Training Series (Over 30 Videos)
    • Situational Awareness Video
    • When To Use Deadly Force Video
  • 10+ Hours in eLearning Training Systems ($344 Value)
    • Concealed Carry & Home Defense Fundamentals
    • Emergency First Aid Fundamentals 

Legal Protection

  • $2,000,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Civil Defense & Damages
  • $250,000 in Self-Defense SHIELD Protection For Criminal Defense, Bail Bond Funding & Attorney Retainer
  • 24/7/365 Critical Response Team
  • Your Choice of Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Up-Front Funding For Criminal Defense & Bail Bonds
  • Protection For Use Of ALL Legal Weapons

USCCA Community

  • USCCA Community Giving Program – Provides Free Training and Resources To Your Community
  • 24/7 Access to Expert Member Services Team
  • Free Daily Entry to Annual USCCA Concealed Carry Expo
    • Advanced Show Entry
    • Elite VIP Experience

Member Perks

  • Exclusive Discount on Elite Spouse Membership
  • Carry Confidence™ Kit Mailed Within 1 Business Day
  • Member-Only Discounts on USCCA Training & Gear
  • Early Bird Access to Newly Released Training & Gear
  • Huge Discounts from Trusted Industry Partners
  • Elite Concierge Line (Priority Non-Emergency Phone Service)


If you’re interested in joining USCCA, it’s not difficult, and you’ll have same-day protection. Simply decide which membership option you want and select the “Join Now” button under your plan. Type in your email and then fill out some basic shipping, billing, and payment information, and you’ll be good to go. Once you join, you can take advantage of more than just legal protection. Below are some of the resources you can take advantage of.

Concealed Carry Magazine

As a member of USCCA, you’ll get 8 copies of the Concealed Carry magazine. That also includes a year of digital access, for those who’d rather read it on a screen. Magazines include things like drills and training scenarios, as well as gun and gear reviews—like any good gun magazine.


USCCA offers a ton of educational resources. Whether you’re looking to improve your shooting technique or improve your confidence, USCCA has something for you. You can take advantage of more with an upgraded membership.

Membership Training

If you’re interested in becoming an instructor for USCCA, you most certainly can. This might be something you don’t see on the main page of other CCW insurance sites. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. You can become a certified instructor or training counselor—we’ll elaborate on those further down the article.

Legal Protection

Legal protection includes self-defense shield, which is civil and criminal defense, damage protection, bail bond funding, and attorney retainer. You will also get a 24/7 critical response team, which works 365 days a year, your choice of a criminal defense attorney—most CCW insurers make you use theirs—upfront funding for criminal defense and bail bonds, and of course protection for use of all legal weapons.

USCCA Community

Under USCCA Community, you’ll see a giving program, 24/7 access to expert member services, and free daily entry to USCCA Concealed Carry Expo. However, when it comes to your show entry, only platinum and elite members get advanced show entry, and only elite members get the elite VIP experience.

Member Perks

Membership perks include a discount membership for your spouse, a Carry Confidence kit, member-only discounts on USCCA Training and gear they sell, early-bird access to new training and gear being offered, and according to them, huge discounts from industry partners. Each of these are available at every membership level. However, the elite concierge line is only available to elite members.

USCCA Training

USCCA offers class all over the US. Whether you’re looking to take a concealed carry class or become a trained instructor, USCCA has a class. They offer classes from training teachers how to deal with mass shooter threats to defensive shooting and emergency and first aid classes. They also offer a women’s only handgun and self-defense fundamentals class.

Certified Instructor

If you’re interested in becoming a certified instructor, USCCA will provide you materials and an endorsement through them. It will cost you $250 and they’ll send you your eLearning and instructor toolkit. If you want to sign-up for this course, you’ll have to physically call them—sorry, no online sign-up. Simply call 877-577-4800.

After you’ve completed the course and training, you’ll need an actual class with a USCCA training counselor. This will cost you $347 but is paid directory to your counselor. And that’s it. After, you’ll receive your credentials in the mail with a toolkit to use in your classes.

Training counselor

If you’re interested in more of a “train the trainer” type of environment, becoming a training counselor might be right for you. You can become a USCCA training counselor by first being a USCCA certified instructor. After that is done and you’ve signed up for a counselor’s course, you’ll find yourself in West Bend, WI, where you’ll do a little role-playing in the classroom and range environment.

Sometime this year, USCCA is expected to extend their classes out to a nationwide program, but for now, you’re going to WI. But, after that, you’re done. Unlike becoming a certified instructor, you may apply for this position online. Just be prepared to answer a few questions about your strengths and goals for growth as an instructor.

USCCA Resources

One thing USCCA doesn’t do is slack on resources. Considering you’re paying a pretty penny for coverage, you’d probably hope to get something else out of your membership. Because let’s face it, we all know the likelihood of needing to use them. It’s more of a safety net. In fact, you’re more likely to need your life insurance, car insurance, your home insurance, and pretty much any other form of insurance you pay for before needing to utilize CCW insurance. With that being the case, USCCA does a good job of providing a lot of extras.

You might think, all these extras are what make the prices so high. Maybe. But, the companies that provide only coverage are basically only taking your money for nothing. Instead, you’ll keep paying until you die, and you’ll probably never even pull your weapon.

With that being said, resources outside of legal defense include plenty of video training, lots of eLearning tools, a concealed carry expo, a terminology guide, federal gun law references, and plenty of advice on traveling with a firearm. Because we all know the first time you decide to fly with a firearm, the anxiety kicks in on what to do, how to do it, and how not to get in trouble doing it. The last thing any of us want is to have our weaponry confiscated, get the overly intrusive pat down, and miss our flight.

CCW Reciprocity & Gun Laws

If you’re going to carry a weapon, you should know the laws. It’s never wise to just carry and hope the 2nd amendment has you covered. Every state and even big cities within states have their own regulations. USCCA has an interactive map you can use to find out the concealed carry laws for your area. They also list any updates they make to the states, what they are, and when they made them under the map, so you can know how updated the information is.

We still advise you look at the actual regulation for your state, but this is a good place to start—especially if you’re traveling outside of your area of expertise.

Concealed Carry Expo

The Concealed Carry Expo is yet another educational resource provided by USCCA. If you’re a member, you get in at a discounted rate, you also get discounts on some of the extra priced seminars—don’t worry, there’s a lot of free ones too. And it lasts an entire weekend. If you’re reading this now, it’s probably too late for most of you to sign-up for this year’s expo, but there’s always next year—unless of course, you live in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, though, some of the classes are already sold-out at May’s expo.


USCCA’s blog is a great place to add a little more education to your arsenal. And you don’t even have to be a member to access it. The following are some of the categories you can find in their blog.

  • Self-Defense & Home Defense
  • Women & Guns
  • Guns & Gear
  • True Stories
  • Legal & Second Amendment
  • News & Current Events


USCCA, of course, also has its own product shop. You can pick from a variety of categories. Add more training materials, gifts, and apparel—you know, so everyone knows you’re a USCCA supporter—What kind of CCW insurer would they be if you couldn’t buy a hat with their logo on it?

Products include:

  • Books & DVDs
  • Digital Products
  • Range Accessories
  • Training Products
  • Home Safety
  • Gifts and Novelty

Interested in other CCW insurers? Read our blog, U.S. Law Shield Review

Why do I need CCW insurance?

You might be asking yourself, why do I need a CCW insurance if the likelihood of me using it is so slim? This is a valid question, and we aren’t attempting to shame anyone into going out and getting coverage. However, there are advantages, if you select the right provider.

Sadly, active shooters are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society, and so is your chance of needing to be that Good Samaritan. It’s not just about carrying or even carrying wisely. It’s about having someone to help represent you without paying the ridiculous fees after someone sued you for protecting their son. Yes, we know, the price of a lawyer will vary based on where you live and the actual circumstance itself. That’s why it’s wise to weigh the cost of CCW insurance and how much it would cost if you needed but didn’t have any coverage.

It’s also important to keep in mind, the more you carry, the greater your odds of having to use the weapon on your person. We, of course, hope that no one actually gets put in a position of self-defense. But, if you are placed in that type of scenario, it’s the aftermath you have to worry about.

Again, we’re not telling you to run out and get CCW insurance. What we’re saying is be smart. Do your research. Just because a company says they’ll support you doesn’t mean they will. Read the fine print in their policies. Look for reviews of people who’ve actually had to use the company their insured under, not the, “I’m so glad I got CCW insurance after I saw what my neighbor went through!” You want real-life stories of people who’ve utilized their CCW insurance to the fullest extent.

Some companies are just out there to make money. Find someone who will let you pick your own defense attorney too. And remember, you’re getting what you pay for. So, while there’s plenty of really cheap service out there not providing all the bells and whistles like USCCA, there might be a lot of necessities they’re leaving out too. Simply put, do a lot of research on the company you’re interested in.

U.S. Law Shield Review

If you’re going to conceal carry, you should do it properly. Most do it with the intent of knowing if they had to defend themselves or someone else, they could. However, just because you’re acting in defense doesn’t mean you won’t get sued for your actions. This is why it’s a smart idea to have CCW insurance such as that of U.S. Law Shield—they’re actually more than that, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

This way, you have someone to defend you when everyone else is against you. You could save a small child from being murdered and we can promise you, someone out there will have something negative to say about you intervening and stopping the killer. That’s why you get CCW insurance. Because even when you’re doing the most good, some will think otherwise. And the next thing you know, you’re stuck in prison because you didn’t have the legal knowledge or support to defend your actions properly.

U.S. Law Shield is a legal defense for self-defense. Their services stretch out to the hunter’s environment as well. So, if something happens, but you’re carrying a legal shotgun, or maybe a rifle, they’ll be there to back you up. So, with all that being said, let’s get into our U.S. Law Shield review so you can make the best choice about your CCW insurance for you and your family.

About U.S. Law Shield

Most CCW insurers provide just that, but U.S. Law Shield is so much more. They’ll defend you in any case of self-defense, not just when you’re carrying concealed. If you’re using a firearm, so long as it’s a legal weapon, you’re covered. If you had to use a bat or shovel for self-defense, you’re covered then too. Their goal is to protect those in cases where they might not otherwise be able.

Let’s face it, the legal system is like trudging through mud. So, why not let the experts do the trudging for you. Better yet, win your case. Instead of risking the chance of conviction after legally defending yourself because you don’t know how to state your case, U.S. Law Shield will do it for you,

U.S. Law Shield Coverage

If you’re going for basic coverage, the below are included in your membership. There are additional services you can add to your membership for extra fees—we’ll talk about that shortly—but the following is available for every member in the states U.S. Law Shield services.

Single and Two-Adult Memberships 

  • 24/7/365 access to Attorney-Answered Emergency Hotline
  • Member perks with special offers and discounts on LTC classes, firearms, optics, gunsmithing services, tactical training classes, range time, and more!
  • You pay zero attorneys’ fees for covered events
  • There are no caps, no hourly limits, and no deductibles
  • Legal representation for both Criminal and Civil proceedings
  • Member seminars with face-to-face time with experienced attorneys, instructors, and experts in self-defense law 

Coverage Options

One of the questions you might be asking prior to selecting coverage through U.S. Law Shield is whether or not they’ll represent you in a case where you don’t have a state-issued handgun carry permit. Again, coverage is available in any case where a legal firearm was used. Therefore, if you don’t have a carry permit, you’re still covered. And if you select their multi-state protection, you’ll have representation in all 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Legal Protection

If you need legal help, whether criminal or civil, you will be represented. If you’ve used a firearm that doesn’t belong to you, you’ll also have representation—so long as it was a legal weapon. This includes the use of any legal firearm to protect yourself, your family, your life, and even your property.

Attorney-Answered Emergency Hotline

If you’re in an emergency situation and call the emergency hotline, you won’t be talking to a receptionist who refers you to an attorney who calls you back in 2-4 business days. Instead, you’ll call and the person on the other end will be an actual attorney. You can call this line 24/7, 365 days a year. Yes, even on Christmas you’ll talk to an attorney.

Independent Program Attorneys

If you don’t have a pressing issue, meaning it’s not an emergency, you can call a non-emergency line. That doesn’t mean you won’t talk to an attorney. You’ll still talk to one, they’ll be through a local independent program.

What’s not covered?

While U.S. Law Shield has amazing coverage, there are still things that aren’t included in your membership. For instance, unless you live in Oklahoma, Texas or Pennsylvania, expert witness fees and bail bonds aren’t included. Government fees, identity theft, stolen firearms, and investigation fees aren’t covered either.

Interested in other CCW insurance providers? Check out our blog, Best Concealed Carry Insurance

Optional Member Coverage

If the basic coverage through U.S. Law Shield isn’t enough, they have a few additional options, from hunter’s protection to including your children on your membership. They’ll even represent you in cases where your identity is stolen.

Gun Owner Identity Theft 

Theft of your legal weapon(s) or ID are not included in your membership cost. However, it is an optional addition. This means if someone were to steal your firearm and use it (or not), or your ID, you’ll have representation. The cost of this addition is either $6.95/month or $83.49 for the entire year.

Multi-State Protection

If you have basic membership, you are only covered in the state you sign-up under. However, with multi-state protection you receive criminal and civil defense in all 50 states, to include D.C. and Puerto Rico This will cost $2.95/month or $35.40/year for each member.

Minor Children

If you have a minor living at home and intentional or accidental use of a firearm occurs, U.S. Law Shield offers coverage. The child will receive the exact same representation as their parent(s). Keep in mind, this is only coverage for minors. If you have an adult child living at home, they will need their own adult membership or you will need to get the “two adults membership.” Minor coverage will cost you $2/month or $24/year.


Guns aren’t just used for home protection. A lot of us spend a considerable amount of time in the woods hunting. U.S. Law Shield will follow you there too because accidents and self-defense don’t just happen at home. If you shoot your hunting partner unintentionally—maybe you should practice better hunter’s safety—or you’ve violated game and fishing laws, you’ll be represented. The cost of this additional service is $2.95/month or $35.40/year.

*Bail Bond and Expert Witness

Unfortunately, this service is not available in every state. But, for those of you who qualify, it includes up to $25,000 and covers expert witness fees. This will cost you $2.95/month or $35.40/year.

*Only available in Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania

U.S. Law Shield Perks

Additional to your membership, a variety of perks will be available to you. Discounts from shooting ranges, tactical stores, and so much more. You’ll have over 100 perks to select from, which you can see after signing up.

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U.S. Law Shield Seminars

U.S. Law Shield offers more than legal defense for self-defense. They also offer plenty of seminars, located all over the good ol’ US of A. You can attend seminars such as, “Surviving a Shooting,” “Gun Law” seminars, and “First Aid for Gunshot Wounds.” They offer even more seminars than that, but the list is a bit too long to include here. You can check them all out on their seminar page.

Self-Defense Educational Resources

You can also find plenty of educational resources outside of the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and seminars. There are book series, a video library, and even a newsletter you can take advantage of.

Self-Defense Law Forums

For those of you who have questions about the intricacies of self-defense laws, there’s also a self-defense law forum you can utilize. You can ask general firearms law questions, see what’s going on in the news as it pertains to firearms, you can ask a lawyer without actually calling them on the phone, and of course, you can discuss guns and gun accessories.

Membership Cost

Membership cost will depend on a few things. You get a small discount for signing two adults up for a year. Also, there are plenty of additional options you can select from. A standard membership for one adult is $10.95/month or $131.40/year. If you have two adults it will cost you $21.90/month or $240 for the entire year. There’s also a one-time start-up fee for each member, which is $19.95.

Law Enforcement Program

U.S. Law Shield also offers law enforcement representation. This service is extended out to both on and off duty cops who engage in use of force. Similar to the other services, there is 24/7 access to a real lawyer. Coverage includes all expenses, such as attorney travel, expert witness, officer’s share of arbitration expenses. The only fee you’ll pay up front is for your membership.

Your membership can include an optional spouse, minors, multistate coverage, employer/employee relations coverage. And no matter your status, active, reserve or retired, as a current or past officer of the law, you’ll get the representation you deserve.

6 Reasons to get Life Insurance

Maybe you’re thinking you don’t need life insurance. You haven’t exactly grown up talking about it. And it’s just another expense you don’t want to worry about, right? Wrong, not worrying about it now ensures your family will have to worry about it later. Of course, if you don’t love your family, feel free to leave them hanging—no, don’t do that. If you were the breadwinner, your passing will only be that much harder on them financially. If you care, get life insurance. If you don’t know why you should care, here are the top 6 reasons to get life insurance.

Top 6 Reasons to get Life Insurance

Life insurance is one of those things a lot of people don’t think about until it’s too late. You always hear those stories about the wealthy dying after taking out a life insurance policy, only because their spouse killed them for the benefits. Maybe that has you running away from ever considering life insurance. Fortunately, this isn’t something that happens all of the time, and when it’s done it’s typically after taking out a million dollar policy. Of course, you could do that too—the policy amount, not the killing, we advise against this.

Cover Burial Expenses

Whether you come to your untimely death as a result of a greedy spouse or natural causes, funerals cost a lot, and the life insurance policy you take out can cover it. You might not have to worry about it when you pass, heck you could be thrown in the lake for all you care. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. And unless you definitely want your spouse accused of murder, finding you washed up on a bank somewhere might not be the best idea.

Instead, get some life insurance, just to pay for that, unless you have money saved up and a will stating what the money should be used for. If you don’t need life insurance for anything else, paying for your funeral at a minimum might be worth it.

If you don’t have any outstanding debt and everyone is retired with no extra expenses, you might think you don’t need life insurance. If you have money saved up to cover funeral expenses and anything else, you might not need life insurance either. However, if you don’t have the money saved up, getting life insurance for the cost of your funeral might be a good idea.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo/st Lt. Daniel I Johnson

Pay off Debt

Debt happens. You will acquire debt for a number of reasons; because you just bought a new car, a house, student loans, credit cards, personal loans, you name it. If you pass, these things still need to be paid for. Unfortunately, your family might have a hard time getting out of the debt you created together, especially if you were the one making the most money or your family was getting by only because there were two incomes.

Estate Taxes

You’ve paid off your house, you don’t have a car payment, all your kids have grown and moved away, and student loans are a thing of the past. You’ve retired and have social security coming in every month for both you and your spouse. However, you pass away and one social security check isn’t going to pay for your property taxes. Fortunately, something called life insurance can help cover those costs. Only another reason life insurance might be a good idea.

We do however understand that not everyone has to worry about this. Maybe you have a hearty retirement check coming in every month or your spouse has 100% VA disability and everything can be paid for with that. Or maybe your family saved up enough that no one will ever have to worry. If this is you, then life insurance might not be right for you. But, if your passing will make it hard for something like property taxes to be paid, you might want to think twice about not having life insurance.

Replace Lost Income 

Unfortunately, you’ll never know when it’s your time. Sometimes it will be when you’ve lived a fulfilling life and made it to old age. Other times, it might be when you’re young. If you pass when you’re young this could leave a larger burden on your family. Especially if you were the only one making income or you were living on a dual income. Suddenly your spouse and kids go from living an easily affordable life, to budgeting how much gas you can use each week.

By electing to have life insurance while you’re young, you’ll most likely be in better health and your rates will be cheaper. And in the case that something does happen to you, life insurance can replace the income you were bringing into the household before your untimely death.

Build Cash Value

Building cash value is something you can do if you elect to have whole life insurance, also known as permanent life insurance. Unlike term life, which you will keep renewing, whole life could last anywhere up to 120 years of age, in many cases. There are some benefits to whole life over term, but in most cases, it’s advised you to stick with term life.

Typically, if you do choose whole over term life insurance, you might find yourself paying penalty fees if you needed to access that money. Also, you’ll be paying more for your insurance so you won’t be saving all that much.  You’ll pay an interest rate on anything you take out until you pay it back, if you become ill and need accelerated benefits, you’ll probably have to pay more fees then too.

To Cover Children’s Expenses

Children are expensive. And if you pass while your kids are still in the home, it could leave the spouse you left behind in a hard spot. But, if you have life insurance, the money can go toward school, clothes, food, medical care, etc., which will lift the financial stress off their shoulders.

Interested in life insurance? Check out our blog, What is VGLI: Life Insurance after the Military

Why get life insurance now?

Getting life insurance is optional. No one will force you to get it, though it may feel like it with the military’s SGLI—you can deny it, but we would never advise this. But, if you never served or you’re out of the military now, you might be thinking why is life insurance important—we covered that above. But, have you thought about why you should get it right now? Probably not, which is okay, because we’ve got your six. Below are only a few reasons why you should get life insurance right now. Again, life insurance is a personal choice. Only you know if you need it or not. Part of it will depend on bills you’ll leave behind and the people you were supporting before you pass.

You do some stupid stuff

Yes, you read that right. People are stupid. One day you decide it’s a bright idea to try and be Evil Knievel—you aren’t, but you try anyway—and you end up falling to your death. Now, we aren’t trying to scare you. But, life happens, people take chances, and sometimes those stupid chances catch up to you. So if you’re living life on the edge, always testing your limits, or maybe you’re not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to safety, then you should consider taking out a life insurance policy. Don’t wait until it’s too late, because there’s literally no coming back from it.

Your loved ones still need to be provided for

Just because there’s one less mouth to feed—yours—doesn’t mean your family will be better off financially. You’ve left behind a family who relied on your share of finances to help pay for food, medical bills, clothes, schools, cars, mortgages, etc. If you pass away, your family will still be left paying those bills, and they might still need to be provided for. With life insurance, you can make sure that continues to happen even after you’re gone.

Need more information? Check out our blog: Top Life Insurance Companies for Veterans

You never know when your time is up

Unfortunately, the adage, “life is too short” is all too accurate. You never know when the worst might happen. And the worst typically happens when you least expect it. You might be sitting there reading this and thinking, “I’m only 24, why would I need life insurance? I’m not going anywhere.” But you don’t know that. Car accidents ending in death happen all of the time. People get diseases or sicknesses out of nowhere and the next thing you know, your best friend from high school actually died from the flu, she was only 32. You might not think these things could happen to you, or maybe you think you’re too young to die from something like the flu or pneumonia, but it’s not impossible.

Life insurance is cheaper when you’re young

The younger you are, the cheaper your life insurance is going to be. This is generally the case because younger people are healthier. If you wait until you’re 50 to get life insurance, chances are your health isn’t at its peak. And even if it is, the insurance company will hike up your rate because of your age.

Term life insurance is super cheap

Term life insurance isn’t very costly, especially if you’re young and in good health. If you don’t smoke, that’s even more money you can save. Term life insurance is also cheaper than whole life or permanent life insurance. So if you’re looking for life insurance, get it while you’re young so you can take advantage of the lower rates.

USAA Review: Some People Hate USAA, Here’s Why

Believe it or not, it’s true; there are people out there who really hate USAA. Hate may seem like a strong word, but if you were to talk to the individuals feeling this particular way, you might use the word too. At first, we thought, NO, there’s no way USAA has this many “haters,” but they really do.

Originally, this was going to be an article about how much people love USAA and how awesome they are. Because in an office full of individuals using their banking and insurance services, there wasn’t too much negativity in the room. However, a quick review outside of this office and we found out that people really do have a disdain for USAA, at least for their car insurance. We do have one individual who said they switched their car insurance to Progressive and saved a few hundred dollars.

So, with the sad news, we’d be doing you a disservice not to let you know what’s going on with USAA, because like any company, they do have their problems. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t have good things going for them. But, you already know the good stuff, so this article is going to uncover the less popular opinions in a fully disclosed USAA review.

Top Reasons People Hate USAA

  • Car insurance is too expensive
  • Claims center doesn’t know what they’re doing
  • It takes too long to get through to a representative
  • You will get the runaround with your claim
  • Getting USAA to pay out is near impossible
  • Some discounts aren’t available in all states
  • USAA doesn’t call their customers back
  • Concerns go unanswered, and members don’t get updated
  • USAA has been known to close accounts and open old accounts without authorization
  • Customer service is rude
  • USAA doesn’t have answers for their mistakes
  • Unless you’re actively serving, you don’t get as many benefits

For those of you who really love USAA, don’t get too upset. We’ve written plenty of articles about all the good things USAA’s doing, which you can read about here.

Now the above list will be hit or miss with some people—thankfully this isn’t an issue everyone is facing. However, as of lately the complaints in these areas above have been skyrocketing. If you do a simple search online for USAA reviews, you might be surprised to see all the negativity, especially if you haven’t actually experienced it yourself.

USAA Complaints

Unfortunately, we can’t explain why some representatives know what’s going on and others don’t (maybe they’re new). But in regards to insurance costs, they do vary based on age, gender, driving record, and even credit score. Some companies will charge more for a bad driving record than others, while credit score could be the reason your premium is hiked with a different provider.  We’re not saying USAA is the cheapest, but depending on what your life looks like USAA could be the cheapest or most expensive option.

If for some reason your rate is high and you can’t figure out why; talk with your representative and ask what’s making your payments higher than others. Ask to see what record they’re looking at and then do some comparison-shopping based on your record. This might seem like a lot of work, but if you have something negative, such as a DUI you’re going to pay a lot more, and some insurance companies will charge more than others on this fault alone.

USAA Reviews

According to online reviews from fellow military members, veterans and their families, USAA has really gone downhill. And they’re getting a significant amount of complaints, very recent complaints that is. Complaints yesterday type recent. Pretty much if you have to deal with USAA’s claims department and you aren’t a USAA member, they will drag out the process, but some members also claim the same happens to them, and by some, we mean a LOT! Reports about them not returning phone calls, not answering emails, and even handwritten letters—yes, that’s still a thing—keep flowing in.

We’ve gone through thousands of reviews, ranging from 1 to 5 stars and we were a little surprised at how many 1 star reviews were out there. At first, you think, these people were probably just trying to play the system or something. But, honestly, there are too many negative reviews about the same things for that to be an accurate assumption.

USAA also lost to two lawsuits back in January—yes, only a few months ago! You can review them yourself on the Better Business Bureau’s website. Which by the way, in case you didn’t know, USAA is not accredited with the BBB, and they have a C+ rating with only 1.5 stars.

USAA: Military, Veterans and their Families

USAA used to be known for being the best option for military members, veterans and their families. Unfortunately, they seem to be lacking in the department of caring for this particular group of people. The complaints mostly used to be about the high loan rates, how hard it was to get a loan, and occasionally car insurance rates. However, over the past several years, USAA has had a decline in appreciation for their customer service.

There are reviews upon reviews about how customer service doesn’t call you back, they have an attitude problem, and they often don’t have answers for the mistakes the bank is making. Of course, this isn’t everyone’s experience, but the complaints are becoming more regular and for the same things. We can only hope they get their act together soon. Maybe that lawsuits will help them come to their senses, at least that’s what we’d hope. Unfortunately, that happened back in January, and as of May, the complaints about customer service are rolling in at an exceeding speed, with no mercy.

It’s honestly sad to see where USAA is going. Some say they should go back to their roots, and only work with officers because they’ve gotten too big to offer the quality service they used to. Others say officers should take the place over again because they will know how to run the joint. And some even say that USAA should be completely shut down because other companies can give you the same terrible service for a better price.

Now, no one here can personally attest to anything negative. But, honestly, the negative reviews outside of this office are too plentiful it’s nearly unbelievable. So, while the person writing the article hasn’t had a bad experience yet, we understand that it’s not impossible, that it could happen or happens to others out there. The point of this article is to bring awareness. We talk USAA up so much because they do offer a lot. But, you should be aware of what your fellow service members and veterans are saying about the company. Many have completely left, taking their banking with them along with things like renters and car insurance.

We just want to make sure you’re well aware or well informed before you make any choices about who you want to bank with, invest with, or be insured under.

USAA Departments Reviewed

Most recently, we’ve been hearing a lot of negative stuff about the actual banking side of USAA. Complaints such as not depositing checks, accepting checks and then denying them several days later with an added fee for the declined deposit, and so many more—all within the last 30 days.

Sadly, that’s not their only problem area. Below are some of the major concerns fellow service members and veterans are having with USAA.

USAA Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance is third-party through USAA. Really all that means is, you get an extra discount by going through USAA. But, who’s to say you can’t just tell the other company you’re military and still get the same thing? Also, USAA uses after-market parts, so if you’re looking for better quality replacement parts for your motorcycle or car, you might want to consider elsewhere.

USAA Car Insurance

The cost of car insurance is hit or miss. Depending on your driving record, how long you’ve been with USAA, and if you have any other products through them will alter your premium. Even your credit score could prevent you from getting a good deal—this is with most insurance providers. However, these things seem to hit a little harder when getting a good deal through USAA (in many cases, but not all). So, shop around before you make your choice.

USAA Roadside Assistance

Auto insurance policies also come with the option of adding on roadside assistance. But, beware, there isn’t much of a difference between getting it with USAA and just about anyone else. Some places like AAA offer other discounts with it and you might get significantly faster service as well. It really depends on where you live or breakdown.

USAA Home and Personal Loans

Loans are not the easiest thing to get through USAA. And if you get approved, their rates are typically higher than most banks. This is the case for home, car and personal loans. Even if you have a good credit score, you’re looking at some pretty high interest rates. Personally, they told me I couldn’t get a VA loan through them because my civilian job wasn’t related to what I did while I was in the military—first time I’ve heard that.

USAA Investments 

Investing your money is a smart move. You need to save up for retirement, emergencies, and just everyday life. But who you invest with, how you invest, and the rate at which you invest are all just as important. USAA does a good job of advising their members on how to do each of these. However, they do not always have the best return rates (not always the case, but just shows you should shop around before you invest).

USAA Banking

USAA does a great job of offering more than just a bank. They offer a lot of products that other banks don’t. What might be attractive with USAA is how much you can get in one place. It’s convenient to bank, invest, pay loans, and get insured all under the same company. But, that doesn’t mean it’s financially the best choice. If you’re looking to save money, it might be wise to get these products from different providers. Of course, in many cases, bundling with USAA does save you money. But, not always, so shop around.

USAA High Intrest Savings Account

We would like to address a rumor about USAA not offering a high-interest savings account. This might be making its rounds on the Internet because USAA calls it something different, “Performance First Savings Account.” This is typically for people who have $10,000 or more in savings. It simply means you have a higher return each month than you would in a normal savings account, if this is where you choose to place your hard earned money. There really isn’t much of a difference between USAA and other banks in this aspect. If you have more than $10,000 you typically don’t have any account fees, just like with USAA, but you might get better return rates elsewhere. Again, another reason to shop around first.

USAA Auto Insurance Policies

People seem to be pretty upset about USAA policy prices. If you’re only getting car insurance through USAA you will pay more. Your best option is to bundle, this is how you save.  Also, the longer you’re with USAA, the more you’ll save. Unfortunately, If you have a low credit score, you might end up paying more than a low credit score with other insurers.

USAA Discounts

Unfortunately, the best discounts are for the people still serving. Yes, it’s sad that veterans don’t get equally as good discounts since you’ve already served your time. However, the discounts you’re missing out on are things like, vehicle storage during a deployment, so don’t get too upset. If you’re a family member, your discounts won’t be as good either—sorry.

Overall, bundling is where you’re really going to save money. You have the option of bundling home insurance, renters insurance, car insurance, personal property insurance, and if you have a savings/checking account you might be able to save even more. Unlike other car insurance companies, USAA also offers a banking option. And since USAA can see that you’re making money, it makes you a better investment for them, which might lead to some further discounting opportunities other insurers just can’t give you.

USAA Student Loans

USAA used to get you a 25% discounted rate for getting your student loan with Wells Fargo through them. But, guess what, they don’t do it anymore. And it’s not just the discount, it’s the entire partnership. Of course, you can go with plenty of other student loan lenders out there, but the convenience of doing it through USAA plus the discount made it a nice option.

Recommendations to USAA

USAA needs a lot of work. It’s clear they are slowly declining. So, we decided to ask around about potential solutions to the problem. One recommendation we got was to start handing out gift cards to Chick-Fil-A. It was clearly a joke, but actually, that’s not a bad idea. USAA, if you’re listening, I’ll take a number 2 with a sweet tea, and maybe throw in one of those freshly baked cookies. It won’t fix anything, except maybe our hunger pains, but we’ll take it.

In all seriousness though, USAA was supposed to submit a plan of action by late March. Hopefully, they’ve actually done that and started implementing those plans by now. Which we’d like to think means, we’ll start seeing a drastic improvement in how they handle customer complaints. Unfortunately, that’s only a start to fixing the vast number of problems the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) found during their investigation. Again, we can only hope things will change for the better from here on out.

Unfortunately, no company is perfect, and this includes USAA. And the bigger a company gets, the further away from perfect they’ll go. In USAA’s case, this could be because they’ve started accepting family members of the military. There used to be a time when they only accepted officers, then enlisted, then veterans, and today family members too. This means USAA is getting big, maybe too big, and they’re falling short of the vision they originally had for the company.

USAA Summary

We really hate reporting facts like this, considering so many of us here use and loved being taken care of by USAA. But, we want to be transparent about everything here, so it’d be a shame to only list the good stuff.

If you’re looking for the good stuff about USAA, know that they aren’t a bad company and they do cater to military life. They offer military discounts, deployment discounts, bundling discounts, banking, insurances, financial advice, and investment opportunities. Yes, USAA needs to make a lot of major improvements, but so do a lot of other financial institutions.

Top 5 Marine Movies

We do a lot of joking around here about how hard our job is. But, it might actually be true this time, as this was the most difficult top 5 we’ve put together. In case you didn’t know, there are a lot of really good movies out there about our Marines. This office itself got into a friendly debate about what should and shouldn’t be on the list, and then the order in which they should go. So to alleviate as much heartache as possible, the following are our top 5, in no particular order.

Feel free to add to our list in the comments below

Check out our list of the Top 5 Navy Seal Movies

Top Marine Corps Movies

Full Metal Jacket

Watch Now

A Few Good Men

Watch Now

Heartbreak Ridge

Watch Now

Generation Kill

Watch Now

Check out our list of the Top 5 Army Movies


Watch Now

Okay, so maybe there are more than 5 on the list. We can in fact count, we just couldn’t narrow it down to only 5. So, here are 3 more.

Rules of Engagement

Watch Now

The Pacific

Watch Now

Major Payne

Watch Now

Check out our list of the Top 15 Military Movies

USAA Roadside Assistance

Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road. You have no gas, a flat tire, you either lost or locked the keys in the car, your battery died—hopefully not all at once—whatever the reason, if you have USAA roadside assistance, there shouldn’t be much to fret about. USAA has 24-hour online roadside assistance, and we’re here to give you both the good and the bad.

24-Hour Online Roadside Assistance 

Contrary to what some may say, USAA roadside assistance isn’t free. Yes, it comes with some policies, but it’s not an automatic addition to your car insurance policy with USAA. You can add the service if what you elected to pay for doesn’t come with it. But, either way, it isn’t free. In some cases, you might get discounts for the addition, but it’s just that, an add-on. In my case, it came as a part of my policy. You can choose not to have it, just the same as you can choose to keep it.

Either way, if you want roadside assistance, it’s easy to get, and you can take advantage of it 24-hours a day—from your driveway even. Now the bad news. Just because you can use roadside assistance any time of day or night does not mean it’s a speedy service. Yes, in some cases you can call and a USAA approved mechanic or the likes will come out to you in a reasonable time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

USAA has an approved list of people they call for tows, jump starts, lockouts, etc. Sometimes those people are not close to you. Some might be 45 minutes away. Add on the fact that the individual first has to get notified, then has to get ready—especially if it’s at an unreasonable hour—you’re looking at a lengthy wait time (as if the military didn’t make you do that enough). Now, if you’re calling from your driveway, have another source of transportation, or you aren’t in a hurry, maybe this isn’t a big deal. But, it is something you might want to consider when looking for a roadside service.

Roadside Assistance (If it’s NOT an Accident)

USAA provides roadside assistance for pretty much any problem that might leave you stranded. However, these are services rendered when you haven’t been in an accident. Also, there are a few caveats to their services, so keep reading.

Tow your Vehicle

If you’re stranded on the side of the road because your car died from an electrical failure or any reason that’s not an accident, USAA will send a representative to come out and tow your vehicle. However, they’ll only come if you’re stranded on or near a public roadway. This means, if you decided to go on a week-long camping trip in the middle of the forest in West Virginia and come back to find your car won’t start and need a tow, you’ll also come to find that USAA won’t be there to help you—unless of course you parked on a public road and hiked 20 miles to your camping destination (probably not the smartest idea).

Change your Flat Tire

It is true; USAA will send someone out to change your flat tire. The bad news, if you don’t have a spare available, it’s pretty much pointless to call USAA. If you want someone to change the tire, you better have a tire to replace it with. The tire must also be in good condition—because changing a flat with a flat doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

Unlock your Vehicle 

USAA will send out a locksmith to come open your car door for you. Be advised, if you are calling them because you lost a key, you’re going to have to pay more for it. This means, your coverage does not cover the cost of a new key. And if you have a fancy key for your fancy car, you’re going to pay some fancy prices that USAA won’t reimburse you for.

Deliver Gasoline

Yes, USAA will deliver gas for you. However, it does not cover the price of gasoline. They’ll pay for the delivery of the goods, but not the goods themselves. So, that means filling up with the most expensive gas on the market just because USAA is bringing it, doesn’t mean they’ll actually cover it—sorry, we didn’t make the policy.

Jump Start your Battery

USAA will send a representative out to jump start your vehicle. So, if you’re parked at the local mall, come out to find your battery is dead; someone will be there to help you.

Submit a Claim

Submitting a claim isn’t hard. You can go online to the claims center, call the claims center, or use the USAA Mobile App. The process is typically pretty smooth, from personal experience. But, in some cases, others have not had the same experience. So, if you need any of the services listed above as a result of an accident, filing a claim is your next step. Again, USAA typically does a decent job helping their clients out, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fall short sometimes—most of USAA’s complaints come from their car insurance and claims departments.

Request Reimbursement 

If for some reason, you did not use USAA to get a tow truck out to you or you were towed to an unapproved location, you can request a reimbursement. Simply keep a copy of your receipt for the tow and send it in for a USAA representative to look over and consider.

Roadside Assistance Outside of the United States/Canada

If you breakdown on the side of the road in a foreign country, USAA might have services you can take advantage of. However, this requires you to go through their international contact directory. Unfortunately, we can’t promise the services elsewhere will be the same as what you’ll get here in the US and Canada, as we haven’t actually used roadside assistance outside of this great country.

USAA Roadside Assistance FAQs

People are asking a lot of questions about USAA roadside assistance. Below are the top questions people are asking Google.

What is USAA roadside assistance?

USAA roadside assistance is exactly what it sounds like. You need assistance because your car broke down, your battery died, you ran out of fuel, you got a flat, etc. USAA roadside assistance will be there to help you. However, keep in mind not all services are completely paid for as a part of your premium. You’ll be stuck with the cost of fuel, the cost of a new key that was lost or stolen, and you might not get the fastest assistance on the planet, because everything comes from a USAA preferred provider. 

What is covered under USAA roadside assistance?

  • Changing flat tires
  • Jump start your battery
  • Emergency gasoline delivery (The price of gas isn’t covered)
  • Lost keys and lockouts (The cost of the key isn’t covered)
  • Towing when stuck on or by a public roadway
  • Towing disabled vehicle to the nearest repair facility

How much does USAA roadside assistance cost?

The price of USAA roadside assistance will vary based on location, current policy, discounts from bundling, etc. But generally speaking, you’re looking at paying $12-$15/year for this service.

How do I know if I have USAA roadside assistance? 

Your best bet in knowing if you have USAA roadside assistance is to look at your policy. If your policy is confusing—let’s face it, they’re never written in plain English—then you can call the phone number on the back of your car insurance card and ask a representative. They will let you know if you have this service. If you don’t, they can help you add it.

How to add USAA roadside assistance

Adding USAA roadside assistance to your policy is easy. Simply call the number on the back of your car insurance policy card and speak with a representative. They can add roadside assistance and explain what the policy entails. They’ll also go over when you can and can’t use the assistance and how paying for the cost of the gas, an extra key, filing a claim, and what to do if you’re not stranded on a public road.

How to use USAA roadside assistance 

Using roadside assistance is about as easy as adding it to your policy. You can use the USAA Mobile App, go online, or call USAA directly and they will get a representative out to you.

I called USAA after being stranded on the interstate at 2 in the morning, and they were going to get a tow truck out to me “as soon as possible.” However, there is a downside. Just because USAA was willing to send a tow truck out to me, they were not willing to send the closest one available and I was going to have to wait quite some time for assistance. Luckily, the state trooper got me a tow that was much closer and took less time—which at 2 o’clock in the morning seemed like a necessity. Yes, I had to pay for the tow, but for me, at the time, it was worth it. If this is you, you can request a reimbursement from USAA—this, however, does not mean they will provide you said reimbursement, as it’s based on each individual’s particular situation.


When it comes to roadside assistance, one of USAA’s competitors is AAA, so we’d be doing you a disservice not to mention this. AAA basically offers the same stuff. The biggest difference is what comes with a AAA membership vs a USAA membership. Yes, USAA has all of your banking needs and plenty of discounts if you bundle. However, AAA gives you discounts at places like hotels, on flights, rental cars, whereas USAA typically doesn’t.

If you’re not much of a traveler, this probably won’t make much of a difference. And if you’re still in the military, you can often take advantage of government rates. USAA does have AAA beat in the customer service realm as well, but again, they’re travel discounts aren’t as significant.

AAA also offers extrication/winching services, which USAA does not and the option to upgrade to a free fuel delivery with free fuel included.

USAA Roadside Assistance Contact Information

Contact Number: 800-531-8555

International Contact Directory

USAA Renters Insurance

USAA hasn’t always been who we know them as today, which is more than a bank, more than a car insurance provider, more than a financial advisor. Today USAA offers renters insurance, something almost everyone in the military will need at one point or another—even if you live in base housing. That’s why we’ve decided to put together everything you need to know about USAA renters insurance policies.

About USAA

USAA started out with 25 army officers who wanted car insurance. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any. In turn, they decided they’d do their own thing and insure each other. And that’s how USAA got started. Originally, the plan was to only insure active duty service members but they started to expand, taking on veterans too. Today, they insure even more people than that. While, USAA stays within the walls of the military family—those in relations to a military member or veteran—they didn’t use to. And we must say, we’re pretty happy that changed.


USAA Renters Insurance

You might be thinking, I don’t really need insurance. Do I? Well, if you’re living in an apartment complex, they’ll pretty much force you to have proof of renters insurance before you move in. The real difference is in the amount of coverage you are asked to get. Some apartment complexes will ask that you get a minimum amount of coverage, while others do not list an amount. Either way, you’re getting renters insurance if you want to live there. What you need to do is find out who you’ll be getting it through. In most cases, renters insurance isn’t going to break the bank, but the type of coverage you get and your payments will depend on who you get it through. So, while you might save a few cents here and there with one insurer, you might not get the same type of coverage.

Want to comparison shop? Read our blog, USAA vs Geico Renters Insurance for Service Members/Veterans.

Who is USAA Renters Insurance for?

Despite USAA exclusive membership, you might be surprised to know a lot of people qualify. You either need to be currently serving as active duty or a reservist/guardsman, be a veteran or be related to one through marriage. If you are the child of a former or current service member, you also qualify. And that’s it, that’s the only requirement to be a part of USAA’s club. Not only can you set up a bank account, but you can take advantage of their insurance policies, such as renters insurance.

USAA Renters Insurance Application Process

Signing up for USAA renters insurance isn’t very hard. I personally did it over the phone, just because I like talking to people over using the internet. But, you can do it online if you want or through the mobile app. If you aren’t already a member of USAA, that will be your first step. If you have that knocked out, here’s what’s next:

  1. Sign-in
  2. Click on “Products” at the top of the page
  3. When the menu drops down, click on “Renters Insurance” on the far left-hand side under “Insurance”
  4. Click “Get A Quote”
  5. Fill out the renter’s location form
  6. Get your rental insurance offer

Proof of Renters Insurance

Getting proof of renters insurance is a straightforward process. There are several ways to go about it. You can access the documents under “my documents,” you can have it mailed to you, emailed to you or sent to the landlord requesting proof.

USAA Renters Insurance Claim Process

Filing a claim through USAA isn’t very difficult either. All you have to do is file your claim through the claim center. I personally just call USAA and talk with a representative in the claims department. They’ve always walked me through each step and explained everything in detail. Including how long it could take for the claim to process. If you don’t want to call USAA, you can also file a claim online or through their USAA Mobile App.

Need more tips on renters insurance and more? Read our blog, A Renter’s Guide for Service Members.

USAA Renters Insurance Coverage

USAA renters insurance covers more than you might think. Below is an entire list of what they cover.

What USAA Covers

  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Silverware
  • Phones
  • Military Equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Storage
  • Fine Art
  • Bicycles
  • Sports Equipment
  • Cameral
  • Liability
  • Coins
  • China or Crystal
  • Music Equipment
  • Guns
  • Furniture
  • Stamps
  • Antiques
  • Computers
  • Appliances
  • Furs
  • Hearing Aids

When USAA Coverage AppliesFire and lightning

  • Flood and Water
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Collapse of building
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquake
  • Smoke
  • Freezing
  • Falling objects
  • Explosion
  • Theft
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Vandalism and malicious mischief
  • Riot and civil commotion
  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current

How much is Renters Insurance

The price of your renters’ insurance will vary based on where you need coverage, the type of coverage you get, and how much of it you want. The amount you agree to be deducted in the case your insurance provider will pay out will also determine how much your coverage will cost.

USAA Renters Insurance Quote

As of this post, USAA provides basic coverage for $12/month. Again, this will depend on a lot of different variables. So, if you’re in the market for renters insurance, the best option is to talk with an actual representative who can let you know what you need and how much. Again, you can get a quote online by following our steps listed above. There won’t be any obligation to accept the quote, meaning there’s nothing to lose, except maybe a few minutes of your time.

How much coverage do you really need? 

How much renters insurance you need will depend on how much you have. Are you a huge stamp collector, do you have a lot of hi-tech equipment, clothes, antique clocks, china, etc.? If so, you probably want more coverage than an 18-year-old with less than $100 to his or her name.

With that being said, only you can determine how much renters insurance you need. But, keep in mind, most renters require a minimum amount of liability coverage, and you’re going to pay at least $12/month through USAA for that.

USAA doesn’t just offer renters insurance, they’ve also got your car covered. Read our blog, Is USAA Actually the best Car Insurance for Veterans.


Liability coverage is to help protect you from spending a bunch of money on an accident. It’s typically the minimum amount of coverage you’ll need to get approved for an apartment complex. Before you sign a lease, your leasing office should tell you how much liability you need. If they do not, talk with your insurance representative about your specific needs. USAA recommends these considerations when applying for liability:

  • How much your landlord requires
  • How much you have in assets or as your net worth
  • How much you’re at risk for being held liable for injury or damages. For example, you have dog or you live with roommates

Personal Items

According to USAA the average amount of coverage a person needs in a two-bedroom apartment starts at $20,000. They recommend you start by creating an inventory of your things to help figure out how much coverage you’ll need.

Your Stuff is worth more than you Realize

Believe it or not, you have more than you think you do. You’ll quickly realize this when you get ready to PCS and don’t have enough boxes to pack up the kitchen, let alone the entire house. Now, imagine all that stuff you didn’t have enough boxes for, yeah, it adds up. While you might not think it’s worth much because it’s old, USAA knows better. In fact, if you were to try and buy all the stuff you had again, and replace it with new things, we almost guarantee you’d start saying things like, “do I really need a new one of these?” Luckily, with USAA renters insurance, you don’t have to ask that question, because all your things will be replaced, even the old stuff

Personalized Renters Insurance

Because your things are worth more than you think, you probably won’t consider everything you have when looking for a renters insurance quote. But, if you call and talk with a representative, you might find out you have way more to consider than you thought. They will ask you about your computers, guns, jewelry, clothes, electronics, you name it. Simply tell them what you have. Don’t leave something out because it’s only worth a few dollars. All that stuff adds up, so USAA will give you a personalized quote on your insurance. You have different needs than other individuals. You have different things, at different costs, worth a different price (personal value) than what your neighbor has. USAA realizes this, which means your quote will be tailored to your needs, not your neighbors’.

USAA Renters Insurance Details

USAA renters insurance is competitively priced. On top of that, they have a lot of great representatives willing to help with any questions you have. Whether you are just looking around or need to file a claim, the representatives are extremely helpful. One individual even said that after filing a claim, she got a quote with a repair price. The cost ended up being less than what was quoted and USAA let her keep the remaining value.

Why get USAA Renters Insurance

  • Your stuff is safe and protected
  • You’re covered for flood
  • Earthquake coverage is standard
  • USAA replaces the old with the new
  • Move, take and store your stuff, worldwide

How to Cancel USAA Renters Insurance

If you’re looking to cancel your renters insurance because you’re moving or want to switch to another provider, simply call USAA. The process is smooth. Call USAA, tell them you wish to cancel. They’ll probably ask why to ensure you’re going to be covered under your new circumstances. But they won’t try to sell you a product just to keep you like some providers.

Despite how good USAA is—in most cases—they do make mistakes. Therefore, make sure after you cancel, your policy was actually canceled. If for some reason it wasn’t, USAA will back-pay you for the coverage you weren’t using but paid for. This comes from personal experience, so know, it does happen—while unfortunate; USAA typically does a good job righting any wrongs they’ve made.

Renters Insurance and Military Housing

If you’re still serving, you probably already know this. But if you got out before 2015 or came in after 2015, this might be news to you. Have you ever wondered why you haven’t been asked to get renters insurance when you move into base housing? Well, you never have because renters insurance used to be a part of your BAH. However, in 2015, the DoD decided to remove this from BAH.

Because of the changes, service members have gone from not needing renters insurance for base housing, to needing it. If you use USAA for banking and other insurance needs, you can get renters insurance for pretty cheap. I personally pay less than $2 a month for renters insurance, but that’s including a discount. Typically, starting out—no discount included—you’ll pay $12. However, this will depend on what you have, where you live, and how much coverage you want.

USAA Renters Insurance FAQs

You’ve got questions, USAA has answers. Below are some of the most asked questions people are wanting answers to about USAA and renters insurance.

Does USAA renters insurance cover mold?

USAA does cover mold damage. However, they do not cover damage that was caused strictly from the mold. They will cover mold due to water damage and will remove the mold, so you have a safe place to live.

Does USAA renters insurance cover lost jewelry?

If you accidentally lose your jewelry, USAA will not cover it. However, if your jewelry was lost due to a fire or other disaster, they will replace it.

Does USAA renters insurance cover water damage?

USAA does cover water damage. If there is a flood, you’re covered. If there’s a long-standing leak, however, they typically will not cover the damages.

Does USAA renters insurance cover food spoilage?

Yes, USAA does cover food spoilage as the result of a power outage. From personal experience, there was an outage for days in my area. USAA made a notice saying they would cover any spoiled food as a result of the outage.

Interested to find out what else USAA offers? Read our blog, USAA Student Loans.

Does USAA renters insurance cover natural disasters?

Yes, USAA covers natural disasters. Simply file a claim with USAA and tell them you were affected.

USAA Renters Insurance Phone Number

210-531-USAA (or 210-531-8722)

800-531-USAA (or 800-531-8722)

USAA Policy Disclaimers

The below comes directly from USAA’s webpage as of April 19, 2019:

  1. Countrywide average price for policyholders who have $2,500 personal property coverage, $100,000 liability coverage, and $5,000 medical payments coverage as of January 2017. Rates vary by location and risk. Rates are subject to change.
  2. With replacement cost coverage, at our option, subject to policy limits and policy deductible, if you actually replace the property we will pay you the lesser of our cost to restore, repair or replace the damaged property or the amount you actually spent to restore, repair or replace the property.
  3. For coverage to apply, property must be under a bill of lading or other professional shipping document before being shipped. Policy must be in force before goods are placed in transit. Breaking, and marring & scratching are excluded.
  4. Availability of renters insurance to residents of another country is limited to qualified members.

USAA Student Loans

You might be sitting there right now, getting ready to read this particular post and you’re thinking to yourself, why would I need a student loan?  You served in the military, you had Tuition Assistance (TA), and after 3 years, was able to take advantage of the GI Bill. But here’s the thing, not everyone takes advantage of TA while they’re in, then they get out, don’t have a degree, and have transferred their GI Bill to their child or spouse. Then one day, you apply for a job, you have all the experience, but you don’t have a degree and without it, you can’t get the particular position you’ve been eyeing.

Don’t worry; we aren’t saying education is the only way to get a job. Plenty of people have well-paying jobs, some even enjoy them, and guess what, they didn’t get a college degree to get it. Of course, if you want to be a Doctor or something like that, you’ll need a degree. But, in many cases, degrees get you promotions, not jobs.

College degree or not, you might find yourself sitting in an entry-level position. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue higher education. Or, maybe you’re not the one seeking a degree because you somehow obtained five degrees while you were still serving and used your GI Bill because you were never planning to get married and have kids anyway-sike! Or maybe you were only planning for one child, you sign over your GI Bill to him or her and there isn’t enough to go around because your family of three suddenly went to a family of 5.

No matter your reasoning, when TA and the GI Bill are all used up, you might find yourself seeking out a student loan. So, we’ve decided to put together a piece about USAA Student Loans—just don’t get too excited yet, the following isn’t exactly what you’re expecting to read.

USAA Student Loans

Okay, so, unfortunately, now is the time to break the bad news. USAA used to offer a partnered student loan with Wells Fargo. However, they no longer do that. They offer personal loans, car loans, home loans, but not student loans. So, you could get a personal loan through USAA and use that, but that might not be the best idea, in fact, we don’t advice it because typically, the interest rates will be through the roof compared to a student loan.

USAA announced it was no longer giving its 25% discount to USAA members who got a student loan through Wells Fargo, back in 2016. However, they have made strides in continuing to help those in need of a student loan get the information that they need, and they’ll help with smart investments and savings meant explicitely for that fancy piece of paper you get when crossing the stage.

So, while we’ve basically just written an entire article about something that doesn’t exist, don’t go too far. We’re here to give you information on what to do if you’ve used USAA student loans before and wanted to get a new student loan, what to do if you currently have a USAA Student Loan, and how to refinance said loan, and how USAA can continue helping you reach your educational goals financially.

What to do if you have a USAA Student Loan

Here you are, in the middle of paying off your USAA approved Wells Fargo Student Loan, or maybe payments haven’t actually kicked in yet, and you find out USAA is no longer participating in the student loan market. What is your next move? Have things changed? Will this somehow affect your current loan? Does this mean you lose your discount? All valid questions but nothing to fret over—unless of course, you were set on getting a second student loan through USAA. Then well, yeah, we don’t have any good news for you on that one. Honestly put, you’ll just have to search some other place for a student loan.

Bad news aside, here’s what to do if you currently have a USAA Student Loan, nothing. Continue making your payment on time, and really, nothing more. Of course, if you do have questions, feel free to ask them. But, go direct with Wells Fargo. For example, if you were thinking about refinancing for a better interest rate, then call up Wells Fargo, give them your loan number and they’ll be there to help you make the next move.

How to Refinance your USAA Student Loan

Back to our comment about refinancing your USAA Student loan: the bad news, you can’t refinance through USAA, the good news, you never could. In fact, USAA hasn’t actually been giving out the loans, it was really Wells Fargo. What USAA did was offer the discount by going through them to get to Wells Fargo. Which means, you can still refinance your loan through Wells Fargo, just not with USAA’s blessing or 25% discount.

If you’re lucky, Wells Fargo will come back with a better rate—if you’re refinancing with them. If you refinance with a new lender, Wells Fargo pays off your loan, and maybe, just maybe, you might get a better rate then too. Just make sure you check out the market and refinance only if it makes financial sense.

What to do if you need a new Student Loan 

If refinancing isn’t on the horizon, but instead an entirely new loan, you’ll have to look elsewhere besides the USAA/Wells Fargo partnership. However, before you start burying yourself in a new student loan, make sure you take the appropriate steps to get all the financial aid you need.

Look into FASFA, grants, other federally based loans, scholarships, and even work-studies through the school you’re planning to attend, or you’re planning to send your child/spouse through. You’d be surprised as to what’s out there and how much you can save by not having to finance everything through a student loan. There’s even free money to be found for book expenses, you just have to take the time and look for it.

And if student loans aren’t on your radar yet because you’re little guy—or gal—is still, well, little, then USAA has plenty of advice and options to help lessen the amount of stress you’ll be feeling 17 years from now while your child is applying for colleges. 

Start a USAA College Savings Fund 

This might not be a new concept to you. Hopefully growing up you were told to start saving money. And if you didn’t, hopefully, the wise folks around you advised you to start saving for your future child’s college education after you got married.

If they didn’t, let us be the wise old folks for you—this is not admittance to anyone here being old, just well aged—start saving now. Don’t bet on your child getting sports scholarships, or even scholarships for being a genius. You never know what kind of child you’ll bring into this world, and it’d be a shame if they broke a leg and weren’t very bright, drastically decreasing their chances of sports and educational scholarships.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t other scholarships out there. Or, that you can’t get grants and have them apply for FASFA. We’re just saying you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, because that’s when you developed a hole, all the eggs fall out and now you just have a bunch of cracked eggs on the floor—and do you really want to worry about that? We’d hope not.

So, how to prepare for this stage in your child’s life—because trust us, not everyone can join the military, asthma and eczema have made sure of that. Simple answer, you start saving. However, there are various options out there to help you save better and save more. So, while USAA may not offer student loan services, they will give you some great financial advice on how to start saving for a college education. We’ve taken the liberty of covering some of the ways they’ll help you do this below, so keep reading.

Apply for a Free USAA College Checking or Savings Account

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten, that 18-year-olds are kids—adult children we’ll say—and they need to learn some level of responsibility. While we know few 18-year-old adult children have the finances to support a full education, that doesn’t mean they are excluded from helping fund their party-school, ivy-league, out-of-state tuition.

So, while you might have been putting away money for the past 18-years, there’s nothing to say they can’t help out. Get them signed-up with a free college checking and/or savings account with USAA, that way they can take over the loans you co-signed on or signed for on your own. Either way, there’s no excuse as to why you have to pay for the 4 times they switched majors, to end up taking Russian Literature and drop out after they realized no one cares about Russian Lit anymore.

If you set your kid up for success by starting them early in the financial world of saving, you’ll be able to set debit/ATM card limits, choose if they can make transfers and even deposits, and get text alerts when your little angel spends too much and the account balance drops too low for your comfort.

Just know, when they turn 18, USAA will automatically convert the youth account to a free classic checking account. As the guardian, you’ll be given the option to continue your joint account or letting the little birdy leave the nest—making all the financial mistakes you’d hope they’d never fall victim to—completely up to you. Of course, failing at life can be the best lesson.

Education Costs: Community vs. University

Here’s something you’d probably never guess in a million years, your child is going to become a teenager, they’re going to want to fly the coop—not the case for all, but most teens—and they will want to go to a big fancy university, because that’s where all their friends are going. Trust us, don’t fall for those puppy dog eyes, they’ll be fine going to a community college to get their electives knocked out and it will save you a LOT of money! If, they can’t succumb to this—because we all know that the college you go to will be the difference between an entry level job and…an entry level job—then you’d be smart to let them pay their own way through college and apply for 30-years worth of student loans on their own.

Now, we aren’t telling you how to raise your kids, but teaching them how to manage their money before they actually have money will 1. Give them an appreciation for the cost of that community college education and 2. Prepare them for their future expenses and save them a lot of stupid financial mistakes, like signing up for 5 different credit cards the day after they drive off to college in the car you paid for, on the car insurance under your name.

How to Apply for College Financial Aid 

Paying for a college degree can seem like a daunting task. We’d like to compare it to drowning while being eaten alive by piranhas—okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But, seriously, college isn’t cheap. That’s why there are so many options out there to help cover the expensive costs that go with higher education.

USAA has an entire article on how to apply for something called FASFA. If you haven’t heard of it, it stands for Free Application for Student Federal Aid.

If you don’t qualify for federal financial aid, there are grants and student loans with discounted rates for those falling into a certain income bracket. There are even work-studies, which will let you basically work for your education. Typically, this is work on campus, with a schedule that works around your class schedule.

So, if you’re past the stage of saving for college and there just isn’t enough, consider applying for financial aid, because even if you only qualify for a small amount, every penny will count and you’ll thank yourself later. Or, your adult-child will thank you later for helping them through all the forms so they don’t have a 30-year student loan to pay back after they graduate.

USAA Debt Management

College is over; you (or your now older adult-child) are left with all this debt. There are student loans that need to be paid off, a monthly car payment, car insurance, rent, renters insurance, utilities, a cellphone bill, probably a credit card in the mix—because someone made questionable choices and couldn’t afford even a bologna sandwich. Oh, and someone thought it was a bright idea to get married during the college years and there’s a new baby on the way—coming with their own expenses, of course. So, what do you do? There’s all this debt, and someone has to pay it off. Luckily, you aren’t alone.

USAA might not have given you the student loan or all that other debt you’ve racked up, but they’re there to help you manage it. Simply talk to one of their advisers, tell them about your debt, let them build a debt payment plan, and help monitor your progress. You’ve made it this far, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the advice from the financial experts at your bank. And no, a degree in finances doesn’t mean you’re an expert, so just do yourself a favor and ask for help from people who’ve already been where you are and have more than a degree, but the experience to back up their advice.

529 Plan: Saving for College

In case you didn’t know, USAA can help you save for college with a 529 plan. A 529 is just one more way you can help prepare yourself or your child for their education. The difference between this account and other investment options is the tax benefits. If you have to withdraw from the account for any educational costs, including K-12 expenses, you won’t have to pay federal income tax on it.

Pro Tip: If you open a 529 account under the parent or parents’ name, it won’t affect financial aid as much as with other funds. Also, you can earn cash back if you’re enrolled in UPromise. And if that’s not enough, USAA will let you invite your friends and family to help contribute to the educational expense through something called Ugift.

You can open an account for as little as $50 and make automatic investments of at least $50/month or make an initial investment of $250 and save yourself from having to make that automatic $50/month contribution. 

USAA Education and Training

If you’re want to do a little more research on what USAA has to offer in regards to investing in your future—or your child’s—education, they have plenty of resources. If you visit their Education and Training page, here, you can start looking at what steps can be taken to save for college and securing financial assistance when the time comes.

Remember, not everyone needs a giant student loan to pay for their education. There are a lot of resources out there, a lot of scholarships, grants, other sources of financial aid. USAA can help you get in the right mindset of investing for college. So, reach out to them and get more details, because no one wants to pay more for college than they have to.