Usaa checking fees

USAA iPhone scanning for Checks

There is a big dilemma out there of many who are iPhone users and dislike going to the bank. Us non-military people have no way of getting an account with USAA. That is until just a few months ago they had not opened their checking and savings to non-military personnel. The catch is that you cannot use your iPhone with these accounts because as they claim you cannot qualify because you do not qualify for USAA casualty and property insurance. If you do not qualify for these insurances you cannot do the special iPhone Mobile Banking that USAA has been flaunting in the media.

These accounts with the iPhone benefits require you to be a military personnel or be in the family of one which is not too hard to do but it sure leaves a lot of people out in the cold. Mostly their trust is with their military customers but I am sure that will open up to government and other types of teachers unions in the future. But keep in mind the name of the credit union is USAA which stands for United States Automobile Association, a strange name for a institution offering so many things. They offer banking, home and life insurance, and investing. You will also find low interest credit cards on the site.

Benefits on the USAA checking accounts include interest with amounts over $1,000 and ATM fees that are paid up to $15 a month on the first 10 ATM charges. This does not compare to the service from E*Trade who offers a much better advantage with completely free ATM reimbursements. Compared to other government and military credit unions it is a winner with Pentagon FCU and Navy Federal Everyday checking charging fees. Wells Fargo and Bank of America will also hit you with other fees at other ATM’s according to their comparison.

The mobile banking happens at where you can get on your iPhone or cell phone for your money needs. The USAA Deposit at Home and the Deposit Mobile with the iPhone are free services for qualifying members (military mostly).

They offer free rewards on Debit card purchases without an annual fee. This is not all that exciting because they only give you 1 point per every $2 you charge which does not compare to what you could get from an American Express Card.

It is free checking with no monthly service fees. The Pentagon FCU and Bank of America MyAccess Checking charge these fees unless you have direct deposit. This is a problem you will have with most banks. You will also find that you will enjoy comparative interest and free checks which are nice benefits of being a member of the USAA.

A CD compared to Chase as of February 2010 has USAA at 2.15% APY and Chase at only 1.01% APY. This is a great rate for a 2-year CD and will take some people away from the big banks.

If you like branch-less banking and are in the Military this is the bank to go with. If you like to be able to pull into your drive-thru at your local Chase or Bank of America then you might just stay at your current banker.

Checking accounts 101: Benefits and selection factors

Thanks to USAA for sponsoring this post

It may seem that checks are obsolete with options like one-click shopping and a plethora of payment apps. Checks may no longer be used as often, but a checking account is still an essential asset. has partnered with USAA and their product management director, Melanie Thompson, to share the benefits of a checking account and how to select the right one…

We all love pay-day and getting our money as fast as possible. Almost all employers (including the military) utilize direct deposit. This option deposits money into a bank account without having to cut a physical check. This saves time, allowing instant access to the money without having to make a stop at the bank.

You may no longer have to cut a physical check with apps like Venmo and Apple Pay, but you’ll still need an account to draft the money from. Savings accounts typically have a low limit of allowed withdrawals, so a checking account is the best option. You can still connect your checking account to all those apps that make life so much simpler.

There’s no need to pay high interest on credit card purchases you didn’t need to make in the first place. “Credit cards are great if you use them responsibly, but it’s easy to overspend,” Thompson says. If you stick to a checking account, you’ll learn to spend only what you have.

Sold on checking? Learn how to select the best checking account for you. Everyone’s needs are different, so here are a few factors to consider:

If you are constantly on the go and attached to your phone, a good mobile banking app may be extremely important for you. Top mobile apps allow you to not only check your account status, but transfer money, deposit checks and transfer funds.

Cutting useless spending is the first step to financial health. Avoiding checking fees is a great way to save a few bucks. Many banks will waive fees for keeping a minimum balance or setting up direct deposit. Look into the specifics of the account and see if there’s a way to cut the fee. USAA offers a free checking account with no monthly service fees or minimum balances.

Having a checking account comes with the responsibility of being fiscally responsible. But, occasionally things happen and you might overspend what’s in your account. That’s where overdraft protection comes in. Often, the overdraft protection fee is significantly less than the NSF (non-sufficient funds) fee.

Most banks will not charge a fee when you use their own ATM, but that’s not always convenient. “When you’re tied to a physical branch, you’re often tied to ATMs,” Thompson says. If you are on the go a lot, look for a bank that has ample locations and ATM’s near your frequented places, or find one that refunds you for using external ATMs. The USAA checking account offers free use of 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs nationwide. Plus, if you have to use another ATM, they will refund the other banks’ ATM fees.

There’s no need to ever forget a bill with online bill pay. Look for a bank that provides free tools around this service. A good online bill pay will allow you to pay directly from your account and manage all bills in in one place. USAA offers a fantastic set of extensive personal budgeting tools, like online bill pay.

USAA is dedicated to serving military members and their families by offering more benefits than any other financial service provider. Their free checking account offers free ATMs, direct deposit, personal budgeting tools, online bill pay and more!

How To Get A USAA Cashier’s Check

Usaa checking feesIt seemed like such a simple question: “How do I get a USAA Cashier’s Check in a city where I don’t have a bank account?”

Our daughter’s well into her plans to move off-campus. She’s done a great job of house hunting & budgeting, and if her new roommates stick to their commitment then she’ll save a lot of money on the college’s room & board fees. (Yes, she will share in the savings.) They’ve signed an apartment lease and they’re moving just before graduation. Her immediate payback is that she’ll have a place to stay for summer school (

They’ve signed an apartment lease and they’re moving just before graduation. Her immediate payback is that she’ll have a place to stay for summer school (instead of being stashed in temporary summer dorm housing) and she’ll have a place to stash her stuff during NROTC summer training (instead of in a storage pod). Now all they need is furniture.

Now all they need is furniture.

Of course, off-campus living comes with its own set of logistics challenges. Public transportation is not a good option and she’s not buying into the “urban bicycle” lifestyle. She’ll spend a lot of time commuting in the dark (NROTC morning workouts & evening projects) and her college town has unbelievable rain showers as well as muggy summer heat. In a couple of years, she’s going to graduate and she’ll need a car to drive to her first homeport, so it makes sense to get one now and ensure that it’s reliable.

In a couple of years, she’s going to graduate and she’ll need a car to drive to her first homeport, so it makes sense to get one now and ensure that it’s reliable.

My spouse and I have bought & sold used cars for three decades, and we think we’re getting pretty proficient at it. (It was a big boost in gaining our financial independence.) Technology has made it a lot easier for buyers & sellers to connect.

Web sites like Craigslist, CarFax, Consumer Reports, Kelly Blue Book, and Edmunds have taken all the thrill and suspense out of finding a good used car. Seller photos mean that you don’t have to drive all over town just to get an idea of what you’re looking at.

Companies like CarMax have also taken a lot of the “excitement” out of visiting the used-car dealers in the strip just outside the base gate. Our daughter has read our “Parental Guide to Buying a Good Used Car” along with a bunch of website links. She’s been window-shopping and thinking about her budget. For purposes of this post, she’s planning to spend about $5000– although it could vary a few thousand on either side.

Then we thought about transferring that $5000 from buyer to seller.

It’s very easy at a retail operation like CarMax. In fact, that might turn out to be one of the convenience reasons to spend more at a used-car dealer.

But military families can face this banking challenge with every transfer, so I thought I’d look into it. How do you buy a cashier’s check when you’re new in town?

Cashier’s checks work great with private sellers. They probably won’t take a credit card, and I don’t think many people would hand over an envelope with $5000 in cash. (More importantly, I don’t think most parents would suggest such an idea to their young-adult children.) Theft is always a concern, of course, but I’d be just as concerned about absent-mindedly leaving the envelope on a coffeeshop table or accidentally dropping it down a storm drain. No, I don’t want to talk about how I learned that.

Our daughter has financial accounts with USAA, Fidelity, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, and Navy Federal Credit Union. They’ll serve her well during her military career, but they just don’t happen to offer any banking services in her college town. She can use her NFCU and USAA cards at various ATMs for no-fee access to cash, but the reality is that most of her daily financial transactions are done with credit cards or her student account. She doesn’t need to carry much cash and she doesn’t need to have a local checking account just to be able to get her hands on some $20s.

At first, I thought the answer was going to be the usual hassle: establish a bank account with a local branch in that town, wire the cash to the new account from one of your existing accounts, and hope that they’ll issue the cashier’s check on the spot. She could do that in an afternoon, and come back another day (after the wire transfer clears) to buy the cashier’s check.

I wondered if there was a faster electronic way. USAA wouldn’t do it with her credit card, but they offered an interesting idea: could she do it with a NFCU debit card?

Most banks can read a debit card. Although NFCU’s ATM card has a debit-card feature, it limits debit transactions to $1000. When I called NFCU, they said that they could raise the debit limit for specific purchases. However buying a cashier’s check consists of a “cash advance”, not a “debit”, which means that it’s subject to their ATM limit of $600/day.

NFCU had an interesting idea: what about wiring the money to Western Union? So they transferred me over to their financial transactions branch.

That turned out to be a pain. NFCU expects a customer to walk into a Western Union franchise, fax a request to NFCU (for the customer signature), and then essentially wait a few hours for a wire transfer to be processed. Once the funds were at WU then she’d be able to purchase their version of a cashier’s check.

When’s the last time you used a fax machine, outside of an office? If you’re a Millennial, when’s the last time you’ve even seen a fax machine?

So I asked about arranging the WU transfer in advance over NFCU’s website. Same problem– only this time the e-mail request, despite being sent over their secure website, would have to include an image of the customer’s signature. Or, once again, we’d have to fax a letter request to their office. It’s all about having the customer’s signature on file with the request.

I understand that banks have to know their customers. I understand that fraud is rampant and that cashier’s checks are widely forged. Yet every day I read about the latest chip&PIN credit card or mobile-phone payments or Google Wallet. USAA has even implemented peer-to-peer payments for iPhones. I don’t think any of those companies are worried about faxes or signature images, and they’re probably making revenue off the transactions.

It feels as if these banking procedures– not the technology but the bureaucracy– haven’t changed much since 1935. Back then $5000 was a lot of money, but today it’s only the equivalent of about $300. I’m pretty sure I cost more than $300 just to have all of these banking staff employees explain their second-millennium requirements to me.

By this point I’d been on the phone for an hour, I was tired of navigating the customer-service mazes, and I was out of ideas. It reminded me of being stationed overseas in the early 1980s.

That sparked a train of thought. American Express was a big deal overseas back then. I have an American Express card through Fidelity, so I called them. It turns out that Amex is delighted to offer cash advances for cashier’s checks up to the card’s credit limit– for a 4% fee. Walk into just about any bank, flash the card, and run the charge. A $5000 cashier’s check would cost a whopping $200, but that’s apparently today’s price of convenience.

So will she really do that?

Hopefully not. When our daughter’s standing in the seller’s driveway to close the deal, she’ll be able to show a student ID, a military ID, and a Hawaii driver’s license. The seller will know who she is, where she lives, and how to find her. For a $5000 transaction from someone who looks totally trustworthy, I think she’ll be able to talk them into a personal check. If they were reluctant, she could explain all of our new knowledge about the hassle of a certified check– and offer to split the $200 savings with the seller. I think she’d be able to persuade them. Especially if I stay in my rental car and don’t scare them off.

Who knows– she might find a good deal at CarMax, too, and they’ll give her a warranty.

I’m really optimistic about the next few years of improvements in peer-to-peer payment. USAA’s iPhone P2P app looks like a great way to break through the logjam, and even now all it takes is a PayPal account.

I’m looking forward to the day when cashier’s checks have followed fax machines into oblivion.

So what car will she get? I hope we know the answer next week…

Does this post help? Sign up for more free military retirement tips by e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter!

Search Results for: Free Checking Accounts No Monthly Fees Free Atms Usaa

Personal Secure Checking Accounts From Usaa Bank Are Tailored To Your Individual Needs Enjoy No Monthly Fees Nationwide Atms Mobile Deposits If You Qualify

Usaa Teen Savings And Checking Accounts Help Put Your Teen On The Path To Financial Responsibility From Free Atms To Online Banking Your Teen Will Begin To Gain

Compare Checking Accounts With Wallethubs Free Tool And Read Ratings And Reviews From Other Consumers Find The Best Account For You And Apply Online

Compare Free And Lowfee Checking Accounts From Hundreds Of Banks And Credit Unions Nationwide Find The Best Checking Account For You And Open An Account Today

Discover Your Options For Interest Earning Or Free Checking Accounts In The Table Below Article Continues Below Table

13 Banks Offering Free Checking With No Minimum Balance The Best Free Checking Accounts Also Come With Free Debit Cards And Free Atms

So What Does Free Checking Actually Entail The Term Free Is Debatable Since Most Checking Accounts Reserve The Right To Charge Fees For Certain

I Have A Usaa Checking Account And I Can Definitely Vouch For Their Awesomeness The Checking Account Does Earn Interest But Its A Very Piddly Amount

Free Checking Accounts Do Exist Often At Onlineonly Financial Institutions Here Are Some Of Our Favorites And Where They Shine

Its Not Universally Available But Usaa Bank Has Free Checking No Atm Fees From Them And They Reimburse Up To 15 A Month In Other Banks Atm Fees And Their Home

4 Banks where Checking Accounts & Debit Cards are Still Free

The large banks have started charging (or have increased) monthly fees for checking accounts and debit cards. They are begging to lose your business. I’ll highlight some banks and other alternatives that you can switch to in order to avoid the fees, but first I wanted to give a recap of why this is happening.

Bank of America ($5 monthly debit card fee) and CitiBank ($15 or $20 monthly checking account fee) started adding new fees to help replace billions of lost revenue that resulted from an amendment to the Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act that cuts debit card swipe fees by the banks 44 cents to 23.9 cents on an average transaction. This change, lobbied by merchants, was intended to lower the costs for merchants and ideally consumers. The change kicked in October 1.

The other, unspoken agenda in adding these fees is that these banks are hoping that those who use their debit cards will simply switch to a credit card, which will be more profitable for the bank if these customers end up paying interest on their debt.

Is this the start of a bigger fee-happy trend? Absolutely. Banks will look to increase their fees to replace the lost revenue, estimated to be around $1.3 billion per month. They threatened Congress prior to the passage of the legislation that they would retaliate by increasing fees and they have delivered.

Did you expect anything less? These greedy banks still get 23.9 cents per swipe, ATM fees, and the needed liquidity that you allowing them to hold your cash provides. And now they want to charge you to use your own money so that their executives can maintain the same ridiculous bonuses? NO. EFFING. WAY!

So where can you take your business?

You can protest by taking your business elsewhere. In the process, you might start wondering why you haven’t done so earlier. Reader, Sandi, writes to me in response to that post:

It’s for that reason that I plan on leaving Bank of America before the end of this year. The $5/mo debit card fee is the last straw. I’m looking into alternative banking options and am strongly considering Charles Schwab. What do you know about their checking accounts and do you recommend any others. I’ve been spoiled by Bank of America’s online bill pay, and most other banks aren’t as good. I’d love your input.

Awesome to see readers standing up for themselves. Fortunately, there are still plenty of alternatives out there for free checking accounts and debit cards. Offers with credit unions can vary, but the four banks that made the list all offer:

  • free debit cards
  • free checking accounts
  • no minimum balance to avoid fees
  • free online banking & bill pay

This was a late addition, but EverBank has perhaps the best offering right now with no fees, an interest bearing account, and reimbursed ATM fees!

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0
  • Debit Card Fee: $0
  • Opening Deposit: $5,000 deposit to open
  • Checks: free checks
  • ATM Fees: zero ATM fees
  • Interest: EverBank guarantees that you will earn interest that is in the top 5% of what all banks offer
  • Cashback Rewards on Debit Card: n/a

USAA offers financial services to active members of the military, veterans, or their family members (here is a list of parties that can become a USAA member). USAA’s free checking account offers:

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0
  • Debit Card Fee: $0
  • Opening Deposit: $0 deposit to open
  • Checks: free checks
  • ATM Fees: no charge on first 10 withdrawals and they’ll refund up to $15 per month that other banks charge.
  • Interest: you earn interest on your balance if over $1,000.
  • Cashback Rewards on Debit Card: n/a

I’m a big fan of Ally Bank because they don’t do business like other large, national banks. They create appealing products that don’t take advantage of their customers. Ally Bank Interest Checking offers:

  • Monthly Account Fee: $0
  • Debit Card Fee: $0
  • Opening Deposit: $0 deposit to open
  • Checks: free checks
  • ATM Fees: zero ATM fees – they actually pay for fees charged by other banks!
  • Interest: you earn interest on your balance.
  • Cashback Rewards on Debit Card: n/a

U.S. credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative, tax-exempt organizations. As decisions are not driven for profit and shareholders, credit unions typically offer members lower interest rates on their loans than banks while paying out higher interest rates on savings products. They also tend to have lower fees on their products. This is not always the case, but can often be. This usually includes free debit cards and free checking accounts.

To find credit unions in your area, do a Google Maps search for “credit union” or do a Google search for your state’s credit union league.