What we like:
Personal member community
|Rates (APR)||8.99% – 18.0%|
|Loan Terms||1 – 7 years|
|Loan Amounts||$2,500 to $50,000|
|Fees||Origination fee: None|
Prepayment penalty: None
Late fee: 5% of payment amount
If you need money for an emergency, home improvement needs, or another type of large purchase, it can be an overwhelming feeling. Getting a personal loan is an option, but it can be difficult to decide which bank offers the best personal loan for your needs. With varying interest rates, extra fees, and other hidden costs, that personal loan can end up costing far more than you expected.
USAA is one bank that offers personal loans to past and present military personnel and their families. Founded as the United States Army Automobile Association in 1922 by a group of Army officers who wanted to create automobile insurance for themselves, the name changed to United Services Automobile Association in 1924. USAA Federal Savings Bank was formed in 1983 as a subsidiary; as of 2015, the bank held over $62.5 billion in deposits.
USAA seeks to serve those who serve in the military and their families, and its entire culture is built on that premise. It offers a full range of personal banking and loan products — including personal loans with some of the best terms for military members — as well as robust insurance options for home, auto, and more.
In this review:
- Applying for a USAA Personal Loan
- USAA Loan Rates, Terms, Fees, and Limits
- Benefits of a USAA Personal Loan
- Downsides of a USAA Personal Loan
Applying for a USAA Personal Loan
The first thing to understand is that to get a USAA loan, you’ll need to be a member. Membership is open to active military, veterans with an honorable discharge, spouses, un-remarried former spouses who joined during their marriage, and widows or widowers of military members.
In addition, cadets and midshipmen attending either a Reserve Officers Training Corps program in college or one of the service academies at West Point, the Naval Academy, or the Air Force Academy are also eligible.
Once you’re a member, the application process for a personal loan is simple. You can apply online with no application fees. After you complete the application, you can get an instant decision in most cases — there’s no waiting for approval. According to the USAA website, you can even get your funds the next business day.
After approval and disbursement, your monthly loan payment will be automatically deducted from your USAA bank account.
USAA Loan Rates, Terms, Fees, and Limits
Annual percentage rates on a USAA personal loan start at 8.99%, and with the exception of high-amount loans over $15,000 with a repayment period of more than 60 months, that’s the flat rate for any loan amount if you have excellent credit. Expect to see higher rates if your credit rating is less than stellar; you may also see smaller limits on the amount you can borrow with substandard credit.
If you need more than $15,000 or a six- or seven-year repayment term, you may see rates up to 10.99% APR. Keep in mind that loan rates can change; check with USAA for updated rates before applying.
The bank doesn’t advertise its personal loan limits, preferring to take loan applications on a case-by-case basis. Most USAA customers take out loans under $100,000, but there’s nothing on the USAA website that says it won’t lend more than that in a single loan.
Benefits of a USAA Personal Loan
USAA is a well-respected financial institution with a long history of excellent customer service. In the course of its decades helping to handle the finances of military members serving all over the world in a variety of conflicts and environments, USAA has built a reputation for being able to handle all kinds of situations and special customer needs.
Loan tools, budgeting help, and debt reduction plans are only a few things USAA offers its members; other benefits include discounts on everything from rental cars to shopping. USAA acts as a one-stop shop for military personnel and their families, and having a personal loan with them is no exception.
Before ever applying, you can check out rates, use online tools such as a loan calculator to find out how much you can afford to borrow, or even get an idea of what your monthly payment could be.
Another facet of USAA that sets it apart from other financial institutions is its member community. You can ask questions, get financial help and advice, and even make new connections among other USAA members. Since all USAA members are also connected to the military, it can be a great way to network for your military career or get advice from USAA personnel on your particular financial situation.
All of these benefits and more serve to make USAA an excellent choice for a personal loan if you meet the membership criteria.
Downsides of a USAA Personal Loan
Even a bank as solid as USAA has its drawbacks. Because its focus is serving a military population that is often overseas, USAA only has one full-service branch, located in San Antonio, Texas. Customers outside of the San Antonio area have direct deposit for their military pay; for additional deposits, you can either wire them in, transfer them from another bank, or use deposit slips by mail.
Although USAA provides checks and deposit slips for free, it can be incredibly inconvenient to have to mail in deposits, especially if you need to access the money right away.
USAA’s interest rates on personal loans are fairly competitive, but you’ll need excellent credit to get the lowest rate. For the average person with an average credit score, you can expect a much higher interest rate on your loan, in some cases well over 12% APR. That money can add up quickly on a sizeable loan. The good news, however, is you can see your rate before you accept any loan terms and decide if it’s something you can live with.
Although USAA has a great history and reputation for excellent customer service, not every customer is happy with their experience. Before taking out a loan with any financial institution, including USAA, make sure to check out personal loan reviews and user stories to find out anything you need to know about how it treats its customers.
Perhaps the most obvious drawback is that USAA membership is limited. Even personnel with other government agencies, who were once allowed to apply for membership, are no longer eligible, making USAA a somewhat exclusive community. The bank sees that exclusivity as one of the biggest reasons it can offer such a wide range of member services.
If you’re not military or the family member of someone who is, however, you won’t be able to get a personal loan with USAA at all.
USAA’s longevity and history show it to be a healthy company that seeks to truly help its customers in the U.S. armed forces. The list of benefits available to members, excellent online community, website interface, and overall product line mean there’s a good chance you’ll find financial services that can help you reach your financial goals.3.51 USAA Personal Loans
Author: Jeanette Perez
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