We’ve produced several posts on what USAA has to offer, both the good and the bad. To make things a bit easier, we’ve decided to compile everything in one giant article for your reading convenience. Here’s everything you need to know about USAA Federal Savings Bank.
If you’ve read any of our previous articles on USAA, you know it didn’t start out as a bank, but rather a car insurance company. USAA started out with 25 army officers who wanted car insurance but couldn’t get anyone to insure them. And that’s how USAA got its start. Originally, the plan was to only insure officers—sorry to all the enlisted folks. Good news though they started to expand to everyone serving at the time. Today, they insure even more people than that. They’ve extended their services to family members of those serving and veterans. Of course, this can be seen as a bad thing because USAA might be getting too big to serve everyone they’re making promises too—which might be resulting in all the complaints we’re seeing lately (we’ll get more into that shortly).
USAA Car Insurance
Today, USAA is probably one of the best-known providers of car insurance, home insurance, banking and investment needs for military members and our veterans. So, we probably don’t have to mention they’re pro-military and looking to give you some of the best discounts available—at least that’s how they frame themselves.
From personal experience, they love bundling, and the more you have, the more you save. The nice thing, unlike cable, your bundle won’t end up costing you more next year. I’ve saved so much money over the years by banking through USAA, having my personal property insurance through them, my homeowner’s insurance, my car insurance, and my investment through them. Every time I ask about adding something, it seems like I save another $5 and my fees go down instead of up.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t bundling or you don’t bank through them, the other services might cost you more than you’d expect. Even so, the above will depend on what you’re bundling, how much, where you live, your credit, etc. But, it’s a good option if you want everything in one spot.
- They have excellent customer service
- They offer huge discounts, especially if you can bundle
- Free payment plan available
- Car replacement assistance available
- Military Installation discount, if you store your car on base while deployed (must be more than 30 days)
- Geico is a cheaper option, in most cases
- Driver training discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or NY
- Safe Driver’s discount isn’t available in HI
- Storage discount isn’t available in HI, NC, or VA
- New vehicle discount isn’t available in NY
USAA Roadside Assistance
Imagine yourself stranded on the side of the road because you were an idiot and didn’t fill up in the last town you drove through—you know, because you know your car. Or maybe you have a flat, got mad and threw your keys into the lake—yeah they’re gone forever—or your battery finally died; if you have USAA roadside assistance, there shouldn’t be much to fret about.
USAA has 24-hour online roadside assistance. Below are some of the things you should consider before electing USAA as your roadside assistance provider.
24-Hour Online Roadside Assistance
Contrary to what some may say, USAA roadside assistance isn’t free. Roadside assistance is an add-on. You might get a little discount for the addition, but in some way, you are paying for it. There are also some policies which include the service, but again, it’s included at an additional charge.
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 or that you can use it anywhere. 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. This is in part because USAA does not affiliate with every tow company, locksmith, etc., and the nearest one might be 60 miles away from where you find yourself needing help.
Now imagine you’re asking for that service at an unreasonable hour; you’ll have to wait on the notification to go through, for that person to get ready—because they aren’t at work, just on call—and then make the drive to wherever you are. You might be sitting stranded for longer than a few minutes.
Of course, if you happen to be calling from your driveway, have another source of transportation, or you aren’t in a hurry, maybe this isn’t a big deal. But that one time you aren’t stranded in your driveway, that’s when you might be wondering if you should have shopped around a little more.
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.
USAA will send a representative to come out and tow your vehicle, but only if you’re stranded on or near a public roadway.
If you don’t have a spare tire 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. But, if you’re calling about a lost key, your policy will not cover the cost of a new one.
Gas delivery services do not cover the price of gasoline. They’ll pay for the delivery of the goods, but not the goods themselves.
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 – but it might take a while if you’re not close to a USAA approved company to provide those services.
Submit a Claim
Most of USAA’s complaints come from their car insurance and claims departments. However, submitting a claim is not a hard process. You can file your claim via the claims center online, over the phone, or through the USAA Mobile App.
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 – requesting a reimbursement does not mean you’ll get approved.
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 or talked to anyone who has.
USAA Roadside Assistance Contact Information
Contact Number: 800-531-8555
USAA Renters Insurance
Whether you’re living in an apartment or base housing, chances are pretty high you’ve been required to get renters insurance. The good news, renters insurance doesn’t typically 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.
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 too. 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:
- Click on “Products” at the top of the page
- When the menu drops down, click on “Renters Insurance” on the far left-hand side under “Insurance”
- Click “Get A Quote”
- Fill out the renter’s location form
- Get your rental insurance offer
Proof of Renters Insurance
Access your proof of insurance by first logging into your USAA account and clicking on “my documents.” You can have it mailed, emailed, or sent to the landlord requesting proof. Keep in mind while USAA is pretty fast about getting this out in the mail, downloading it online and emailing it to your soon to be apartment complex is a much faster option.
USAA Renters Insurance Claim Process
If you ever have to use your renters insurance, filing a claim through USAA isn’t very difficult. All you have to do is file your claim through the claim center. You have the option of calling the claims center, filing online, or filing through the USAA Mobile App.
What USAA Covers
- Military Equipment
- Fine Art
- Sports Equipment
- China or Crystal
- Music Equipment
- Hearing Aids
When USAA Coverage Applies
- Fire and lightning
- Flood and Water
- Windstorm or hail
- Collapse of building
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- 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 and how much of it you want. Your deductible will also determine how much your coverage will cost.
USAA Renters Insurance Quote
As of this article, 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 and tell you if you qualify for any discounts.
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. Simply call USAA and tell them you want to cancel. They’ll probably ask why to ensure you’re going to be covered in your new circumstances.
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.
USAA Renters Insurance Phone Number
210-531-USAA (or 210-531-8722)
800-531-USAA (or 800-531-8722)
USAA Student Loans
We are only covering this topic because so many people are still asking questions about USAA student loans. Unfortunately, this is a thing of the past. USAA announced it was no longer giving its 25% discount to USAA members who got a student loan through Wells Fargo back in 2016.
With that being said, it does not mean they aren’t working to continue helping poor college-age students. If that’s you or you created one of these needy spawns, keep reading.
What to do if you have a USAA Student Loan
So, here you are now in the middle of paying off your USAA 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? We can’t answer any of these questions, but Wells Fargo can. Give them your loan number and they’ll be happy to help, or at least we hope so.
Last we checked, your questions can be answered by calling Wells Fargo at this number: (877) 336-1316
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. USAA just got you the discount. Which means, you can still refinance your loan through Wells Fargo, just not with USAA’s blessing.
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.
Start a USAA College Savings Fund
USAA may not offer student loan services, but they do offer 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
Set your kid up for success in the financial world by opening up a USAA College Checking or Saving Account. You can 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.
When they turn 18, USAA will automatically convert the account to a free classic checking account, and you’ll be given the option to continue your joint account or let the little birdy leave the nest and make 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.
How to Apply for College Financial Aid
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 classes.
USAA Debt Management
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.
USAA Education and Training
If you 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, you can start looking at what steps can be taken to save for college and securing financial assistance when the time comes.
With the sale of the USAA Investment Services to Charles Schwab, USAA no longer offers investment services through their bank. USAA and Schwab still offer all their services below, but you’ll have to go through Charles Schwab and set up your account with them. If you’re wanting help understanding what each of the products Schwab will offer, read the blog attached above.
Disclaimer: Never invest if you’re not in a position to do so. Make sure you have an emergency fund saved up, you are paying all your bills on time, and make sure if you have debt that it’s manageable.
USAA Mutual Funds
You can open a mutual fund for $50/month after you’ve invested an initial $50 when opening the account. You also have the option of simply opening an account with $500, without the $50/month.
Minimum investments range anywhere from $50 to $3000, depending on what type of mutual fund you open, which will depend on how much risk you’re willing to take.
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 are 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.
You can open an account for as little as $50 and make automatic investments of at least $50/month or do an initial investment of $250 and save yourself from having to do make that automatic $50/month contribution.
Automated Investing With Charles Schwab
Instead of dealing with an automated advisor that USAA used for many years, Charles Schwab offers a new way to invest without being as hands-on. Charles Schwab offers a Robo-Advisor to help you create a diverse investment portfolio. The Robo-Advisor diversifies your portfolio of ETFs across 20 asset classes for investment in college saving plans, retirement plans, and long-term stock investments. This feature will help guide you to ensure you don’t make drastic financial mistakes with your money and help build your portfolio for your future goals.
EFTs are an investment in diversified securities. If you want to invest in this, you’ll first need to open a brokerage account. You’ll also need a minimum of $3,000 to get yourself started. Unlike some of the other investment opportunities, this requires you to do the work. You have to give Charles Schwab your trade details and complete your own orders. ETFs will trade on a daily basis and be updated continually throughout the day, contrary to Mutual Funds. If you need a little help, don’t worry there’s something called Morningstar Investing Education, which has several virtual classrooms on everything you’ll need to start investing properly. You can learn about EFTs, mutual funds, and stocks through this resource.
If you’re not wanting to hold your money up in a retirement account, but still want to invest, you might want to consider a Certificates of Deposit or CD. With a much lower risk than dealing in the stock exchange, you can choose to deposit as little as $250 and let your money sit for days or years. Of course, the longer and larger your investment, the larger your APY.
USAA/Schwab IRA Options
IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. You have the option of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. Both are intended to help you save up for retirement. With an IRA you can choose to place your money in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and even a managed portfolio, for a financial expert to manage for you. Which IRA you choose will depend on a few things, such as your future tax bracket and when you want to pay taxes on the money you invest. In both cases, the following apply:
- If you withdraw money before you turn 59 1/2 you’ll risk a 10% tax penalty.
- You may invest a maximum of $6,000/year if you’re under 50 as of 2019
- You may invest a maximum of $7,000/year if you’re over 50 as of 2019
Traditional IRA accounts aren’t for everyone. But if you think your tax bracket will lower once you hit retirement, this could be a good option for you. It’s also great for people who would rather pay taxes once they start withdrawing money than right now. If you aren’t planning on taking out any money until you’re 71 1/2 this could be a beneficial investment. It’s also a good option for those who are still making taxable income up until age 71 1/2.
A Roth IRA is nearly the opposite of a Traditional IRA. It’s optimal for those who intend to stay or be placed in a higher tax bracket in retirement compared to their working years. It’s best for those who don’t want their tax benefits now and would rather wait until retirement. Do not mind paying taxes on their investment now, so they can make tax-free withdrawals once they’re retired. And it’s good for those who don’t want to worry about minimum distributions.
How to roll a TSP into a USAA IRA
Rolling your TSP over is pretty straightforward. It’s really a matter of transferring funds. Many banks will let you do this. If you’re a USAA member, simply sign on to your account and request to rollover your TSP into one of their IRA options.
- First, open an IRA account with USAA. You can do this online or over the phone with a representative.
- Select, “Rollover” for your funding source
- Download the form that applies to you: TSP-70 (full withdrawals) or TSP-77 (partial withdrawals)
- Mail, send via member message, or fax the completed form to 800-292-8177
USAA Review – What people don’t like
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 hate too. In fact, some of them used it themselves, keep reading to find out why.
Top Reasons People are Dissatisfied with 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
Motorcycle insurance is through a third party with USAA. This simply means 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 a better quality replacement on 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 USAA 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. So, shop around before you make your choice.
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.
USAA /Schwab 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 its 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 does a great job of offering more than just banking services. They offer a lot of products that other banks don’t. What might be attractive with USAA is how much you can get out of the company. It’s convenient to bank, invest, pay loans, and get insured all in the same place. 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 companies. Of course, in many cases, bundling these things with USAA does save you money. But, not always, so shop around.