USAA, a diversified financial services organization, is the leading provider of competitively priced financial planning, insurance, investments, and banking products to members of the U.S.
Take any negative experiences you may have had purchasing a car in the States, and erase them from memory. It's a hassle any time your car breaks down, but getting stranded in a severe winter storm can be deadly — especially if you're not prepared.
Disclosure: USAA flew me to San Antonio for a three day conference from November 6-8, 2013, put me up in a hotel room, and fed me all on their dime. For a long time, I was very leery of moving to a bank that didn’t have branches right next door. Furthermore, I can use my USAA debit card to withdraw cash at any domestic ATM, and they’ll refund my ATM fee.
Speaking of bill pay, their bill pay service is free, so you can use them to pay all of your bills.
If you have other bank accounts, you can use USAA to transfer funds freely from one bank to another. Were I not a long time Mint user, I’d use USAA’s functionality, since it’s embedded with my primary bank, and for people who are new to budgeting and are USAA members, I recommend they use the USAA platform.
As I mentioned in the previous article, using USAA’s insurance is what truly gets you into “the club.” You’re a full-blown USAA member, with access to everything they have to offer if you have an insurance plan with them.
We have automobile policies, a renter’s policy, term life insurance, and landlord policies with them.
I’ve occasionally shopped around to compare, and in one case, which I’ll document in the last article in the series, I’ve been forced to use another insurer. I have a friend who is a marketing executive at a large car dealership, and this car buying service is her nightmare.
Again, your results may vary, but you should at least take a look at their car buying service when you’re in the market for your next car.
We have used USAA for finding a real estate agent, closing on a house, and moving into the house.
USAA vets their real estate agents and closing agents to provide an equivalent level of service that USAA employees provide to members who call. They also have an active discussion board about places to live where you can find insider information from fellow members.


They also have a price monitoring service available for one house and will soon be rolling out a service that helps you identify and mitigate risks to your home, such as wildfire mitigation.
If you need more coverage than just Medicare (and you probably do), then USAA offers plans that seem competitive against what else you can get in the marketplace. USAA has several active communities, including military spouses, veterans, and financial advice. You can read the first part (are you eligible for membership?) here and the third part (the not so good) here. I see too many people missing out on eligibility opportunities to not write about the topic. We use USAA for almost every aspect of our financial lives and, for the most part, have been very happy with our experiences.
Transfer money from your working checking account into the bill pay account and then pay the bill.
I’m spooked to death of skimmers at gas stations, so I wouldn’t use a debit card there (or online) in a million years. I use Mint for this purpose, but USAA has similar functionality, including the ability to aggregate accounts from multiple banks. We also have an umbrella liability insurance policy and a valuable personal property insurance policy with them. Their negotiating power and deals with certain car manufacturers prevent you from dealing with an informational disadvantage at the car dealer. They make very little profit when a USAA customer comes in to buy a new car, which is rarely the case when Joe Blow comes in off the street.
We had a very professional real estate agent and a reasonably priced closing attorney when we used USAA. They were competitively priced against other mortgages that we looked at, though do not take for granted that USAA will offer the lowest mortgage deal for you. Most of the advice is good, but, as is the case with any online community, you have to take what you read with a slight grain of salt. Rated among the highest among financial services companies for customer advocacy in a Forrester Research survey, USAA provides convenient and accessible financial products to its more than 9 million members. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends assembling the following items for your kit.


In the next article, I’ll outline the areas where I think USAA falls short of being a complete and comprehensive one-stop shop for all of your personal financial needs – assuming you’re eligible. Since we budget based on paychecks that arrive twice each month and withdraw money twice, we’ve never come close to hitting this limit.
We get free checks as well, which is useful since the IRS isn’t particularly good at handling bill pay checks. Since I was once an employee, I still get a higher money market interest rate, so we use it for that purpose. However, I have spoken with them many times on the phone, such as when we moved (see “Can You Both a Renter and a Landlord Be?” for more on our decision) to Fort Worth, Texas (yes, I am a Fort Worth financial planner…shameless Google plug).
They were very competitive, but through a slight stroke of luck, we found a super sweetheart deal.
You tell USAA what you want, and they provide you with a sheet that you can use at their chosen dealer.
They designed their user experience with mobile first in mind and then expanded to tablets and finally the website itself, and it shows.
Transferring cash back and forth (usually in one direction) is a snap, and transfers into USAA from another bank are instantly available for withdrawal. Every interaction with them has been courteous and professional and I’ve never played “guess the phone tree number to get to a live human” with USAA. It’s probably not the best credit card rewards program out there, but it’s not bad, and it’s super convenient to have the credit card and the checking account linked together. I’m the type who prefers self-service either on the Internet or by phone, so when I need to speak with someone who can fog a mirror on the other side of the line, I don’t want to go through the phone maze. I used to manage the phone maze at Capital One; I know what a good one is like, and USAA has a very easy, intuitive phone system to use, and their representatives are exceptionally professional.



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Rubric: Business Emergency Preparedness



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