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Old 08-04-2014, 10:13 AM   #21
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I've done some banking with USAA but have primarily used NFCU for the past 45 years or so. NFCU often had branches (and, later, ATMs) within easy access of place I was stationed, but not always. Since I've retired I've not lived anywhere within easy reach of NFCU branches or ATMs. Here's a couple of things I've done over the years so I could continue to use NFCU as my primary "bank" while not giving up local convenience. The same would apply no matter whether you use USAA, PenFed, etc.

- Check out the networks to which your institution belongs for ATM purposes. Often you can get reduced or free transactions if you use a local bank that's a member of the same network.

- Every time you move, open a savings account for nominal amount (I generally did $2,000) at a local bank that has convenient locations. Get an ATM card as well. If you run short of cash you can always do an ATM withdrawal locally (an likely for free). Then you can just write a check from your primary institution (USAA or whomever) and deposit it back into your local savings account. In effect, you've cashed a USAA check locally with no hassle.

Good luck and thank you for your service.

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Old 05-21-2015, 11:42 AM   #22
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My apologies for reviving an old thread. I wanted to post my experience for anyone who may find the thread and have similar questions or concerns.

Early Retirement forum is my "go to" place" for most financial related questions. I respect and appreciate many of the knowledgable members here who take the time to help others. I very much appreciate all who took the time to post to this thread.

My son's attempt to open a checking account at USAA was an absolute nightmare. He had orders to report for active duty on May 21st and on May 1st, at my recommendation, began the process of opening a USAA checking account. As of May 20th he still did not have access to the account - USAA maintained a hold on the account for a variety of reasons (residency verification, verification of his orders, etc) that they wouldn't inform him about until he called and inquired as to why he had no access. The representatives he spoke to when calling all sounded very young and were unknowledgeable. Most calls required several transfers with hold times of 15-30 minutes. It became a running joke in our home when calling USAA about the hold times and new issues keeping him from having access to the account.

On the day before he was to report for duty, and with no usable checking account, he stopped at a Navy Federal Credit Union branch near the Army bases main gate. In 45 minutes he walked out with a useable checking account, debit card for same, and a decent credit card (no annual fee, low interest rate that he will never pay , and rewards) that will be delivered to the NFCU branch so he can pick it up. As best I can tell Navy Federal offered all of the perks of USAA (ATM reimbursement, etc) with the added bonus of a physical branch at most military bases in the US and overseas.

Just an FYI.

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Old 05-21-2015, 06:44 PM   #23
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USAA for checking and PFCU for loans and mortgages.
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Old 05-22-2015, 12:51 PM   #24
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Nothing but positive things to say about USAA banking. And I am a whiner.
Insurance, you may find better deals.

I must say I have never had a young, un-knowledagble CS rep when I have talked to USAA. They all seem older, southern and almost motherly.
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Old 05-22-2015, 04:30 PM   #25
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Very happy with USAA banking. I've had accounts of all types with them for over 40 years, and practically no problems of any kind.

PenFed has had its unfortunate moments, but on the whole they have been wonderful for the last 30 years or so. I recently got a 2.5% mortgage with them on the condo we bought, and their servicing of it has been excellent.

Navy CU has been good, but they have had their rough spots as well. Lately they have obviously been trying harder, but they don't stand out in my mind as an order of magnitude better.
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Old 05-23-2015, 09:12 AM   #26
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I have been with USAA for 50 years. I would say it is a love/hate relationship. Like the little girl in the ferry tale, when they are good they are very, very, good, but when they are bad they are horrid!

As long as you color within their lines they are fine, but, when you get outside those lines i.e. off their script, they break down rapidly.

Latest example, for us, was when we built our house. We had a builders loan at a local bank, and used USAA as permanent financing. USAA wanted to call it a refi, and charge us a higher rate. It got so ridiculous they sent the loan papers to the house under construction when it was only a slab! Things got worse when it came time for the appraisal. In the end, and after a letter to the President of USAA, they closed the loan with no fees to make up for the hassle they caused.

I understand they went through a management shake up several years ago, and most of our problems were from the old management structure.
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Old 05-23-2015, 10:01 AM   #27
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We've been very happy with USAA bank, we've been with them for about 35 years. They have been good to deal with, and they have been accommodating of the many "complexities" of life in uniform. I'd rate their banking services as among the best service I receive from any company. Their mortgage business is "less good" than the other aspects of heir banking service, I think this is largely a result of their decision to outsource some of this to other companies that don't necessarily meet the standards USAA keeps.

Insurance: Also satisfied.

Investments: I started with USAA as a young pup, but they are not at the top of the heap.

The company is changing. As the %age of folks in uniform drops from the Cold War days, USAA has sought to avoid loosing ground by opening up membership to more and more people. One of the key things that made USAA special is the degree of mutual trust between their members and the company, and this was possible due to the nature of that membership pool. The changes are likely to decrease that special relationship.
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Old 05-23-2015, 11:50 AM   #28
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I'm truly glad that most have had an excellent experience with USAA. I don't know what caused my sons' experience to be so drastically different. I don't think there was anything about his circumstances that made him particularly outside the norm. Strange that our experience differed so drastically and was consistent with several customer service reps.
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:04 PM   #29
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Retired Coast Guard Reserve here, been with USAA since shortly after enlisting... We also have an account with a local bank for when something physical is required, but most stuff is with USAA...

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