USAA’s Star-Spangled Online Banking Features

Secure website
Secure Checking is built for banking from anywhere in the world. KTSDESIGN / Getty Images

USAA is a customer favorite with attractive offerings. Like your local credit union, you need to qualify to be a member. If you are eligible to join (through a personal or family connection to military service), you’re likely to be pleased with USAA’s products and customer service.

Highlights of USAA Secure Checking

Free checking. You don’t need to keep a minimum amount on deposit to avoid maintenance charges.

This is truly free checking.

Access to ATMs: there are over 60,000 “preferred” ATMs nationwide. USAA does not charge a fee for your first 10 withdrawals from other ATMs, and you can get rebates of up to $15 in ATM fees.

Low minimum to open. For $25, you can get started. New recruits can start with even less.

Interest checking: earn interest on your money, even while it’s available for spending. Currently, rates are not too impressive, but every little bit helps.

Electronic tools: military families are not always located near major money centers. USAA makes it easy to manage your money online, and the mobile app has all of the features you’d expect. Deposit checks with your mobile device, use text and email alerts to stay up to date, and more.

More Details

USAA has maintained a reputable image as a military insurance provider with outstanding customer service and solid products for decades. Business Week consistently ranks the company as a customer service favorite, typically within the top 5 U.S. companies overall.

 The full-service firm has branched out from insurance products to investment management, college savings, and even a service to help members purchase the right car. USAA has created a whole new loyal base of fans: iPhone addicts and impatient mobile banking aficionados.

With a membership base primarily composed of current and former US service personnel (and their families), USAA has always been a solid choice for insurance products.

The words “technology” and USAA were rarely used in the same sentence.  But all that has changed.

Recently USAA has added online checking account features with a surprisingly tech-savvy vibe. Far from stodgy or traditional, mobile applications from USAA are downright cutting edge.  Combine that with some great freebies and online banking features, and USAA has created one great checking account.

USAA’s iPhone Application

Using the USAA iPhone application, banking customers can use the GPS coordinates generated by their iPhones to find the closest ATMs. A loan calculator generates a payment schedule on the spot. There’s even a checklist of steps to follow if you’re in a car accident. But it gets better. USAA features a digital deposit system which allows virtual check deposits for qualifying members initiated by a cell phone, sure to awe even the most jaded mobile banking customers.

How virtual check deposit works:

  • Use the iPhone application to take a clear photo of the check you wish to deposit, front and back, using your cell phone.
  • The images are digitally transmitted to USAA via the iPhone’s wireless internet
  • Banking account numbers are verified electronically, along with the details of your location and cell phone for security purposes.
  • Once verification completes, the application deposits the funds into your checking account without ever setting foot inside a bank.

The physical check never technically goes to the bank using the new remote deposit system. Electronic check verification has been utilized by bank branches for years, but the idea of transmitting images virtually creates a leap in innovation for consumers. Rather than waiting in line at a branch or waiting to deposit a check if a local branch isn’t available, instant banking gratification can be yours. 

A few caveats on the USAA virtual check deposit system:

  • The funds must pass security requirements and verification before reflecting as available in your account
  • Timing of deposits still must fall within normal banking hours. A 2am deposit won’t instantly post to an account. The bank would verify the information during normal banking hours

    Other Free Checking Account Features

    USAA hasn’t stopped at upgrading online banking. Several other features for checking accounts include everyone’s favorite word when it comes to banking, “free”:

    • First 10 ATM withdrawals a month are free, and up to $15 a month in outside ATM fees refunded
    • Unlimited transfers between US checking accounts, even those held at other banks, for free
    • Integrated online bill pay service lets you receive, view, pay and track bills in one place, for free
    • Financial planning software to manage all of your USAA deposit, investment, and retirement accounts in one place.