USAA opinions. Worth it?

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jkushne1
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USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by jkushne1 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:34 am

Current PGY-3 resident and just found out that I am eligible for USAA due to family in the military. I have yet to compare prices for insurance or any of the other services, but I was wondering what experiences people have had with them in the past?

-How are their auto or homeowner's insurance rates compared to other options?

-What is their service and track record like compared to some of their competitors?

-What other services do you take advantage of other than their insurance offerings?

I've heard really good things about the company overall and since they are nationwide and I'll be moving after residency, that seems promising. I'm ok paying a little more for better service (as long as it isn't too much of a difference) and the ability to not have to recompare rates every 1-2 years. Thanks!

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Cloudy
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Cloudy » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:03 am

We've had their auto and home insurance for quite a while. I'm sure there are cheaper options, but the service has been excellent the few times we needed it and as such we haven't felt the need to change.

We used to have our IRAs with them but the fees were higher than Vanguard so we switched.

Still happy to use their savings account, and the 2.5% cash back credit card (requires direct deposit)

Edit: forgot we also keep a 529 with USAA.

Dude2
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Dude2 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:19 am

Use the little search box to the right of where it says Bogleheads.org. Type in USAA. Opinions vary.

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djpeteski
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by djpeteski » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:26 am

The insurance is top notch. You may be able to find cheaper in a given year, however, most of those will raise rates in the subsequent years. Plus USAA is a mutual company. You will have a "subscriber savings account" which will have deposits made into it each year, that is technically yours if you leave but you don't really have access to it. You will also get a dividend "check" just about every year, making the insurance even less expensive.

Calling into USAA is a total pain in the rear end, they have been hit with identity fraud quite a bit. Their systems have gotten better, but it is still a pain. Fortunately, you can do almost all of your insurance stuff online. This would include doing what-if scenarios on your bill. I recently purchased a car and was able to change the coverage at the dealership (drop one car and add another).

The banking got quite horrible for a while. I did all my banking through for well over 20 years, but was forced to end my relationship with them due to identity theft. They gave one person access to my account who did a money gram in the exact amount that was the maximum allowed. This person changed the username, password, and did the money gram on a Saturday. Never in the previous 20 years had I done a money gram. None of this raised a "red flag" in their system, and then tried to blame it on my wife. It took about 4 weeks to resolve.

During that time I was hit two more times with identity theft, by unauthorized people gaining access to the account.

Once I got my money back, I attempted to close the existing checking account, and open a new one. I had to agree to a disclaimer that they were authorized to sell my info to third parties on the checking account, I would not agree, thus no new account. It took me a total of 17 phone calls to attempt to close the old checking account. That was a lot of frustrating work.

The long and short of it is, I will never bank with them again.

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marti038
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by marti038 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:28 am

We use them for basically all of our non-health/non-dental insurance (life, auto, property, etc.) and have done so for 18 years (prior to that I was a minor and my parents used them since before I was born). I've never had any reason to complain, but I've also only had to file one claim for a small fender bender (wife's fault) a year or two ago. When we bought our house, their homeowner's rates were the lowest by a considerable margin (they are a non-profit, so you know...).

We used them for our IRAs for several years until I started watching fees. Their products were expensive, and while I could buy low cost VG funds through them it was expensive to make adjustments to my AA. We decided to move all of our retirement/brokerage assets to VG several years ago and haven't really regretted it. Investments just aren't their bread and butter.

I've never done any banking with them, but we have a credit card that we rarely use (not the 2.5% one that some special people were invited to use).

In summary, we like them for insurance and that's pretty much it.

cranzel
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by cranzel » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:37 am

Been a USAA member for over 45 years. I like their insurance coverage for the service. The rates can be beaten, but they are not astronomical and they return a portion based on their fiscal performance yearly. I have never compared the reduced rate after receiving the check so it compares more favorably, but I haven't done the math.

Have priced their home owners as well many times over the last 19 years of home ownership, but it was too expensive to sway me. My Mom has it and the service is very good.

I like their banking website. They seem to be early adopters of technology and had online before other banks I have accounts with and had deposit from home with a scanner and mobile sooner as well. This was important because there is/or at least was no brick and mortar convenient to me. Not as much now as everyone seems to have caught up.

Banking is hit or miss on product rates. They do return the first X (don't remember limit, try to use their machines) dollars of ATM fees by others to you monthly. Worth max about $6 a month to me, but I find the gesture very large. I used to use a lot more cash, their machines weren't convenient, and I have never figured out why it costs $2-$3 to produce a transaction from an unmanned machine to get my money (paying for the machine, I guess.)

I also looked at their mortgage and investment options, but didn't go with them as they were not the least expensive. I have an anecdotal story from a former CFP employed there who stated they push funds that are not the cheapest - she now works for Vanguard. I had already made my decision that they were too expensive, so it was positive reinforcement for me.

They would have to fall apart to lose the business I conduct there.

chinto
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by chinto » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:11 am

If you have standard insurance needs they are very good, they are very, very rigid however. I have not tried it in a long time but they refused to do an umbrella policy with me. They simply said they do not do that and suggested a couple of companies to me. They also told me I had to resign on the board of directors I was on for a non-profit because meetings were held on my property or the non-profit had to buy liability insurance and furnish proof of insurance....so I ended up resigning from the non-profit (that way back in 2000).

It is very, very hard to get them to be reasonable about property valuations and high deductibles. For example my home is worth on the market 130-150K, USAA has it valued at 340K,it was a major deal to have the coverage cap stop at 270K. I do not want the house rebuilt, in the recent of a loss just write me a check.I'd settle for 150K basic limits with at 20% clean-up debris removal. I have the highest deductible they allow it is either 10K or 10% I can't remember which. Given my druthers I would like something like 25-30K deductible.

I do not know if other companies now go with this, but they endlessly hassle you with insurance reviews by a third party to make sure they have you propriety assessed correctly. Each in every year I have to tell them how my house is constructed, square footage, number of rooms, floor covering, wall finishes....it is ridiculous, as that is not going to change. They also charge you based the age of your roof and water heater, so you better know when the last time those were replaced were.

But hey do pay their claims via public adjustors(i.e. non-captive adjustors). I use to be an insurance adjustor for Farmers and there are some companies I would not ever buy insurance from like Allstate. USAA is a top notch outfit, they just are arrogant as heck (but State Farm is mush worse on that accord).

The other thing is USAA treats their employees very, very well...to me that matters.
Last edited by chinto on Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dbr
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by dbr » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:17 am

There would be no reason to own USAA mutual funds. It might be perfectly reasonable to buy and hold investments there, Vanguard ETFs for example.

They do have a 2.5% cash back credit card now. That might interest some people. Note that depending on your class of membership that there is a subscriber savings account that amounts to a return of premium. More and more of that comes back when you are older.

I am a 48 year USAA member from commissioned military service. I have not found cause to take my business away from them.

blueman457
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by blueman457 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:37 am

I currently have banking/insurance with them.

-Banking: a few checking accounts, pretty typical interface. Nothing significant. I've always had good customer service unlike Bank of America, Chase, etc... HOWEVER, I still keep a checking account with Chase money orders, significant cash deposits, notary public/certifying bank signature.
-Credit card: 2.5% cash back, great cashback.
-Insurance: I have auto/renters/umbrella insurance (the auto/umbrella purchased within 2 months): rates were fair, clean driving record. Had a claim as a renter years ago and it went smoothly.

Not sure it's "worth it" for checking/savings, but the credit card and insurance are worthwhile pursuits.

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BanditKing
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by BanditKing » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:52 am

I was with USAA for over 30 years, but finally gave up on them two years ago. Even with multiple insurance products (vehicle, homeowners, umbrella), my rate were over twice what I could get at GEICO or American Family. Sure their service is great, but it just wasn't worth it.

I think the thing that bummed me more than anything is that when I called to cancel, nobody batted an eye. You'd think with a 30-year customer would rate at least someone saying "how can we keep your business" or a followup phone call wanting to know why one of their best customers left.

Maybe as a new member, you can get better rates, but lifetime members seem to get shoved in a forgotten drawer.

mhalley
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by mhalley » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:43 pm

No personal experience. I am eligible and checked their prices and it was much higher for me. Wouldn't hurt to get a quote to see. Clark Howard continually sites them as being best for customer service, and that insurance is sometimes better to pay more and have a good co that will pay your claims without a big hassle than cheap out and get the runaround when something happens.
He also highly recommends Amica, again not cheap but high in customer satisfaction, so if you are shopping you might get a quote from them also.

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prudent
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by prudent » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:48 pm

USAA insurance saved my father a lot; however, my quote was higher than what I'm paying now. You have to get a quote. They have multiple insurance companies under the USAA umbrella, rates probably depend on which one they assign you to. I have read that not every customer qualifies for a "subscriber savings account" but I don't know the details.

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flamesabers
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by flamesabers » Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:30 pm

I think perhaps the best reason to become a USAA member now is to get access to their Limitless Visa 2.5% Cashback rewards card.

Customer service seems to be a real hit or miss. Sometimes they're a real big help to me, other times it seems they just give me an unhelpful canned response.

Here are the list of USAA products I use:

Limitless™ Cashback Rewards Visa Signature® Card-The one catch is having to do a monthly $1k deposit into your USAA checking account. I do an ACH from my Vanguard MM account to fulfill this requirement.

Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card-You get 5% cashback on the first $3k you spend at gas stations/military bases.

USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card-First credit card I got with USAA. It has a 1% cashback rate.

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card-I don't use this card very much. I opened it because I wanted a backup card for my Visa Signature card.

USAA Cashback Rewards Checking-I opened this account to qualify for the Limitless Visa card. One nice thing about USAA checking is I get my army reserve pay from DFAS about a day earlier then I did with my other bank account. Haven't had any monthly fees or the like. You get can $0.10 cashback for every debit card purchase of $1 or more, but I don't use debit cards. I can also order free checks for this account, but I haven't because I have plenty of checks with my other checking accounts.

Auto/Renters/Umbrella Insurance-I never had to file a claim, so I can't comment on the claims process. Last year when I got a notice that my auto insurance was going up, I did some shopping around to see if I could find a better deal. The independent agent I spoke to said she couldn't get me better rates then what USAA is offering.

Wild Willie
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Wild Willie » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:25 pm

prudent wrote:USAA insurance saved my father a lot; however, my quote was higher than what I'm paying now. You have to get a quote. They have multiple insurance companies under the USAA umbrella, rates probably depend on which one they assign you to. I have read that not every customer qualifies for a "subscriber savings account" but I don't know the details.

That has been my experience also. When I first started utilizing USAA (about a year ago), they were much cheaper than what my independent agent could provide, but when my daughter recently got a quote, it was much higher than what she was quoted through her independent agent. She guessed that since she was not ex-military, her rates were higher, but I don't know if that is true or not.

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flamesabers
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by flamesabers » Fri Jun 16, 2017 4:27 pm

Wild Willie wrote:
prudent wrote:USAA insurance saved my father a lot; however, my quote was higher than what I'm paying now. You have to get a quote. They have multiple insurance companies under the USAA umbrella, rates probably depend on which one they assign you to. I have read that not every customer qualifies for a "subscriber savings account" but I don't know the details.

That has been my experience also. When I first started utilizing USAA (about a year ago), they were much cheaper than what my independent agent could provide, but when my daughter recently got a quote, it was much higher than what she was quoted through her independent agent. She guessed that since she was not ex-military, her rates were higher, but I don't know if that is true or not.
I would have to double check my auto policy, but I believe service members (not sure if it also applies to veterans) do get a military discount.

Edit: I do get a discount for military service.
Last edited by flamesabers on Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Helo80
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Helo80 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:12 pm

Wild Willie wrote:That has been my experience also. When I first started utilizing USAA (about a year ago), they were much cheaper than what my independent agent could provide, but when my daughter recently got a quote, it was much higher than what she was quoted through her independent agent. She guessed that since she was not ex-military, her rates were higher, but I don't know if that is true or not.
From my understanding, there are different tiers of membership based upon how an individual qualifies for membership. If your daughter commissioned tomorrow, her rates would be different from if she enlisted, from her status as a dependent.

That being said, my experience with USAA claims was a bit of a roller coaster. Eventually, things turned out okay, but the whole experience would not want to relive from a customer standpoint. Words that should scare the S*** out of anyone, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help..." now also is, ""I'm from USAA, and I'm here to help..."

Also, for all you military folk --- maybe some of you are San Antonio residents ---- their HQ is half a mile long. The inside is constantly being renovated. That whole building and the annual 10-18% employee salary bonuses was not built on barely breaking even on auto and house claims.

Helo80
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Helo80 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:23 pm

flamesabers wrote: Customer service seems to be a real hit or miss. Sometimes they're a real big help to me, other times it seems they just give me an unhelpful canned response.

Unfortunately, the CSRs get treated like C*** by the company.

On one hand.... USAA is a very good company for them as they do tuition assistance and have a decent benefits package (8% 401k match). On the other.... the phone CSRs are watched like mice from their supervisors (hawks). The company is *very* metric focused on those roles. You know how USAA was ahead of its time with the Depost@mobile technology? They have patents on their phone system, call balancing, and stuff like that.

So, turnover in the CSR dept can be high as the full-time USAA employees feel trapped as sometimes it's d*** near impossible to get out of that dept. Plus, they use more contractors than they would like to admit to fill in the gaps on the phone support.

Overall, USAA is a good company --- depending on where you're at, but it's so big and large now it's become just as corporate as any other insurance firm its size. For some of you older officers that have had USAA for 40-60+ years, unfortunately it's not the same company you signed up for when you first commissioned.

Hockey10
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Hockey10 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:28 pm

I have been with USAA for over 33 years. My experience has been good the entire time. I have had to file a few claims (auto, homeowners, and flood) during that time and they were each handled quickly and fairly. I once had a contractor tell me that they preferred handling claims of USAA customers as USAA pays them a lot faster than other insurance companies do.

Helo80
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Helo80 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:31 pm

jkushne1 wrote:-How are their auto or homeowner's insurance rates compared to other options?
As with any product, shop around for the best rates. It's a consumer driven market now. You see all of the insurers fighting for your business.

There was once a point in time where USAA had ZERO national TV advertisements.
jkushne1 wrote: -What is their service and track record like compared to some of their competitors?
Generally speaking, people are pleased with USAA and feel like it's the best.
jkushne1 wrote: -What other services do you take advantage of other than their insurance offerings?
I like their Amex rewards for 5% cashback on gas and post/base purchases.

Also, their Nasdaq 100 fund has been tearing it up lately (though it was heavily stacked with bigtech so it probably has had a rough week lately). Historically, USAA mutual funds have had high fees for marginal performance. My only investments with USAA are indvl stock equities purely for convenience, but their trade fees ($9; at least for me) suck being that it's 2017. Other than that, I'm a Vanguard chump when it comes to actually preparing for my eventual retirement.

bayview
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by bayview » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:35 pm

I've been a member for 40 or so years now. My eligibility was through my father, who was an Army officer and had USAA insurance on his own. (I know that this affects what category I wound up in.)

My experience:

Insurance is great. We have them for auto, homeowner, and rental (landlord) insurance. Always prompt and professional service, exactly as expected and advertised.

Good online banking account. No problems with automatic deposits and moving money from Point A to Point B. I haven't had a brick-and-mortar bank in decades. I've never laid eyes on my USAA bank (in San Antonio), and I never expect to do so. I have a debit card that I use solely for printing out cash (no security issues so far.) USAA writes off ATM fees and what-nots up to a certain limit, which I have never hit.

Credit cards have generous limits but weak benefits. I find myself putting a few monthly recurring payments on them to keep them alive, just to keep the credit line. I am irritably waiting for their new great cash back card to be offered in my state, at which point I will use it as my sole USAA card and close the others.

Savings (regular savings and CD's) are abysmal in terms of rates, but easy transfers between my savings accounts and checking accounts. Useful as a temporary parking lot with pretty much 0% interest. I wouldn't bother with a CD.

Forget the brokerage. They have the same overpriced products as everyone else, although I will say that they do not pressure and harass you, which is nice.

edit to add per lkt's excellent post below: I am in the USAA-CIC tier.
Last edited by bayview on Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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danaht
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by danaht » Fri Jun 16, 2017 6:43 pm

USAA insurance is very good - but their investment/ banking products (mutual funds, CDs, etc) are more expensive than others (Ally, Vanguard). So, I would choose USAA for insurance needs only.

lkt102
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by lkt102 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:00 pm

I had USAA auto insurance for 18 years before recently switching to GEICO since the insurance premium was about 50% cheaper. Personally the higher rates were not worth the purported superior customer service.

Below is a response from an USAA rep about the different tiers of membership:

Since we are eligibility based we had decide many years ago to separate into multiple companies of placement for insurance rating. Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (GAR) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the USAA Casualty Insurance Company. Garrison is the company of placement that you qualify for.

The USAA Property and Casualty Group consists of the following:

United Services Automobile Association (USAA) applies to: officers, pre commission officers
USAA Casualty Insurance Company (CIC) applies to: enlisted, ex-dependents of USAA eligible members
USAA General Indemnity Company (GIC) applies to: enlisted w/out a sponsor
Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (GAR) applies to: Adult children or ex-spouse of CIC/GIC/GAR sponsor
USAA County Mutual Insurance Company
USAA Texas Lloyd's Company
USAA Limited (Europe)


With each of these company structures comes a wealth of different policy experiences and rating history. Traditionally but not always USAA rating carries the most preferred rate.
Last edited by lkt102 on Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

spooky105
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by spooky105 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:25 am

lkt102 wrote:I had USAA auto insurance for 18 years and before recently switching to GEICO since the insurance premium was about 50% cheaper. Personally the higher rates were not worth the purported superior customer service.

Below is a response from an USAA rep about the different tiers of membership:

Since we are eligibility based we had decide many years ago to separate into multiple companies of placement for insurance rating. Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (GAR) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the USAA Casualty Insurance Company. Garrison is the company of placement that you qualify for.

The USAA Property and Casualty Group consists of the following:

United Services Automobile Association (USAA) applies to: officers, pre commission officers
USAA Casualty Insurance Company (CIC) applies to: enlisted, ex-dependents of USAA eligible members
USAA General Indemnity Company (GIC) applies to: enlisted w/out a sponsor
Garrison Property and Casualty Insurance Company (GAR) applies to: Adult children or ex-spouse of CIC/GIC/GAR sponsor
USAA County Mutual Insurance Company
USAA Texas Lloyd's Company
USAA Limited (Europe)


With each of these company structures comes a wealth of different policy experiences and rating history. Traditionally but not always USAA rating carries the most preferred rate.
The above is generally not well understood, likely leading to the mixed reviews you will find that range from "USAA is the best & cheapest" to "I don't understand why anyone uses USAA, their rates were X times Company XYZ".

I am an active duty officer, and we have used USAA for Auto, Renters, Umbrella, and now Home Insurance. Periodic spot checks have shown other insurers to be uncompetitive compared to the rates we get from USAA. Interactions with customer service and claims have always been exemplary. Finally, they are our primary bank (checking only, use separate online savings accounts with higher APRs) and the 2.5% Limitless Cashback is a recent mainstay for our credit card rewards strategy. However, I don't see any value in their investment products -- Vanguard is simply better.

dbr
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by dbr » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:53 am

Regarding investment products: One should not confuse what one holds with where one holds it. Whether or not USAA brokerage is a good place to hold things is an individual choice and may or may not depend on what you are holding.

hudson
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by hudson » Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:00 am

jkushne1 wrote:Current PGY-3 resident and just found out that I am eligible for USAA due to family in the military. I have yet to compare prices for insurance or any of the other services, but I was wondering what experiences people have had with them in the past?

-How are their auto or homeowner's insurance rates compared to other options?

-What is their service and track record like compared to some of their competitors?

-What other services do you take advantage of other than their insurance offerings?

I've heard really good things about the company overall and since they are nationwide and I'll be moving after residency, that seems promising. I'm ok paying a little more for better service (as long as it isn't too much of a difference) and the ability to not have to recompare rates every 1-2 years. Thanks!
I'm a long time USAA member. I used their insurance until I found a better deal. I still use their credit cards when the rewards are the best. I like their website...especially their security! I don't see that their products or claims service are better than the rest. I believe that it pays to shop around...at least every year or two.

MrsBDG
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by MrsBDG » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:00 pm

The retired military officer in the family is now dead, they told us then that the subscriber savings is ONLY for him, none of us who qualified as dependents will have one.

Interesting about the tiers, that makes sense, when they began taking enlisted people a few years ago, I encouraged my parents to join and my siblings were unimpressed with the rates, whereas we have always found the auto insurance to be, at least, competitive.

I've always liked the convenience of having so much online with USAA, me, kids, parents, that does make thing simple. But their homeowners is very changeable, when the Oakland hills fires hit, NorCal premiums went through the roof, I think their pools for homeowners are small. Sometimes we use them, sometimes we don't. Same for investments, it's easy to hold MFs there, but no sense paying higher fund costs than Vanguard. It's not like you need super service on a MF, not like an insurance claim.

Speaking of service, when USAA begin inviting enlisted people, the whole company dynamic changed, they are much less "small town" in feel and much more regimented and a PITA to deal with than before, I guess that comes from such huge growth so quickly.

Helo80
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Helo80 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:25 pm

MrsBDG wrote: Speaking of service, when USAA begin inviting enlisted people, the whole company dynamic changed, they are much less "small town" in feel and much more regimented and a PITA to deal with than before, I guess that comes from such huge growth so quickly.

The whole company is different from what it was 20 years ago, and I'm personally not sure if opening membership to the enlisted folks was the catalyst or a convenient scapegoat. USAA, top-down, has become much more of your typical Fortune 100 corporate environment. Overall, it's still a good place to work, but it's no longer such a "homely" feel as an employee that it used to have.

I would encourage anybody membership eligible to at least check out their auto/home quotes. Membership is still over all good to at least keep in your back pocket. But, the days when people were super excited about being eligible for USAA membership after commissioning ---- those are long gone.

MoonOrb
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by MoonOrb » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:33 pm

I've had only good experiences with USAA, and whatever is deducted from my bill each year because of the Subscriber Savings Account is a bonus. Their auto rates and homeowners rates have always been very competitive (in some cases way better than competitors in some cases not as good) and the customer service I've received from them has always been good to excellent.

One product that I haven't seen anyone mention yet is Mover's Advantage: https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/bank_m?akredirect=true

We used this when we bought both of our homes: you sign up for the program, they assign you a buyer's agent, and then you get a cash back bonus at the time you purchase the home, based on the home purchase price. This worked fine for us because in both cases the buyer's agents assigned to us were terrific. If you would rather work with a particular buyer's agent, this wouldn't work for you. But it was basically free money to us!

I've never used any of their banking services because I'm too happy with my credit union that I've had even longer, but I have always liked USAA. I can't think of any reason NOT to go with them, all else being equal. But I'd generally treat this like any other consumer decision. If you're getting better rates somewhere else, I'd choose the better rates. When comparing more or less equal products, I'd recommend USAA.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by blaugranamd » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:08 am

We have USAA for banking and insurance. But don't think because of the "exclusivity" of membership requirements there's much special about them. They have been very good from a customer service perspective. Otherwise they're not necessarily anything special.
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by THY4373 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:15 pm

As noted above USAA has different tiers and this can have a major impact on price. My dad got USAA access as a foreign service officer (one of the eligible group they no longer talk about which still exists) so he is a "full" officer member. As a legacy I have CIC tier. Now here is where things get a little interesting. I am going through a very amicable divorce, wife kept the house and refinanced/titled in her name. As part of the divorce USAA dropped her to USAA GAR (the tier below CIC). Her insurance policy with USAA on the exact same house with the exact same coverage and deductibles went up 40% with the drop to GAR. USAA was never particularly competitive on home insurance for us when married but it was nominal amount more than other highly rated companies so I kept them because on car insurance they were much cheaper for us. However with that raise she priced out Amica another highly rated company and they came in about the same on car insurance and for house insurance they were about 15% cheaper than the rate we got when married and about half her new rate. So a no brainer to move.

So really how competitive USAA will be will likely be based on which tier you are eligible for. I also add that a recent complex claim my dad (who is a full member) had with them was not particularly well handled.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by LifeOfRiley » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:34 pm

I've had a USAA auto policy for 30 years and have overall been satisfied with their customer service. I was satisfied with their rates until the past few years. The past two or three 6-month billing cycles have seen >10% increases with no changes in driving record. Yesterday I obtained a similar policy with GEICO for 40% of what USAA was charging. The USAA rep kept telling me it was impossible yet here I am with a contract from GEICO stating it.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by WanderingDoc » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:07 pm

THY4373 wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:15 pm
As noted above USAA has different tiers and this can have a major impact on price. My dad got USAA access as a foreign service officer (one of the eligible group they no longer talk about which still exists) so he is a "full" officer member. As a legacy I have CIC tier. Now here is where things get a little interesting. I am going through a very amicable divorce, wife kept the house and refinanced/titled in her name. As part of the divorce USAA dropped her to USAA GAR (the tier below CIC). Her insurance policy with USAA on the exact same house with the exact same coverage and deductibles went up 40% with the drop to GAR. USAA was never particularly competitive on home insurance for us when married but it was nominal amount more than other highly rated companies so I kept them because on car insurance they were much cheaper for us. However with that raise she priced out Amica another highly rated company and they came in about the same on car insurance and for house insurance they were about 15% cheaper than the rate we got when married and about half her new rate. So a no brainer to move.

So really how competitive USAA will be will likely be based on which tier you are eligible for. I also add that a recent complex claim my dad (who is a full member) had with them was not particularly well handled.
No divorce where you lose 50% of your assets is 'amicable'. Good on you for looking at it glass half full. But, lets call a spade a spade.
One day it suddenly dawned on me that I had won the real estate lottery.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by WanderingDoc » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:11 pm

flamesabers wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:30 pm
I think perhaps the best reason to become a USAA member now is to get access to their Limitless Visa 2.5% Cashback rewards card.

Customer service seems to be a real hit or miss. Sometimes they're a real big help to me, other times it seems they just give me an unhelpful canned response.

Here are the list of USAA products I use:

Limitless™ Cashback Rewards Visa Signature® Card-The one catch is having to do a monthly $1k deposit into your USAA checking account. I do an ACH from my Vanguard MM account to fulfill this requirement.

Cashback Rewards Plus American Express® Card-You get 5% cashback on the first $3k you spend at gas stations/military bases.

USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card-First credit card I got with USAA. It has a 1% cashback rate.

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® Card-I don't use this card very much. I opened it because I wanted a backup card for my Visa Signature card.

USAA Cashback Rewards Checking-I opened this account to qualify for the Limitless Visa card. One nice thing about USAA checking is I get my army reserve pay from DFAS about a day earlier then I did with my other bank account. Haven't had any monthly fees or the like. You get can $0.10 cashback for every debit card purchase of $1 or more, but I don't use debit cards. I can also order free checks for this account, but I haven't because I have plenty of checks with my other checking accounts.

Auto/Renters/Umbrella Insurance-I never had to file a claim, so I can't comment on the claims process. Last year when I got a notice that my auto insurance was going up, I did some shopping around to see if I could find a better deal. The independent agent I spoke to said she couldn't get me better rates then what USAA is offering.
I just called them regarding the Limitless Cashback Rewards Card. I talked to three different departments and they were variably knowledgeable (or not at all). The lady in the credit card department knew nothing about the separate checking account you have to open to use the card. I was asking if you could just deposit $1000 into the account and take it out after as you wish - she had no clue. Because, $1000 per month is $12,000 per year, and pretty soon you will have $100,000 in a checking account you don't necessarily need, if you aren't able to take the money out after you put the required $1000 per month.
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by flamesabers » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:54 pm

WanderingDoc wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:11 pm
I just called them regarding the Limitless Cashback Rewards Card. I talked to three different departments and they were variably knowledgeable (or not at all). The lady in the credit card department knew nothing about the separate checking account you have to open to use the card. I was asking if you could just deposit $1000 into the account and take it out after as you wish - she had no clue. Because, $1000 per month is $12,000 per year, and pretty soon you will have $100,000 in a checking account you don't necessarily need, if you aren't able to take the money out after you put the required $1000 per month.
You don't have to let the money sit there, I spend the money paying my rent and credit card balances. If you going to get the card, why not use the $1k to pay off the Limitless Visa balance every month?

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by WanderingDoc » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:31 pm

flamesabers wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:54 pm
WanderingDoc wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:11 pm
I just called them regarding the Limitless Cashback Rewards Card. I talked to three different departments and they were variably knowledgeable (or not at all). The lady in the credit card department knew nothing about the separate checking account you have to open to use the card. I was asking if you could just deposit $1000 into the account and take it out after as you wish - she had no clue. Because, $1000 per month is $12,000 per year, and pretty soon you will have $100,000 in a checking account you don't necessarily need, if you aren't able to take the money out after you put the required $1000 per month.
You don't have to let the money sit there, I spend the money paying my rent and credit card balances. If you going to get the card, why not use the $1k to pay off the Limitless Visa balance every month?
Sounds like a plan. While the CC and checking/savings departments were open, apparently there is a separate "rewards checking" department, which was closed. Need to call them tomorrow on that.

So USAA does not let you switch from one credit card to another. I have never heard of this. It is very common among banks to let you transfer from one card (ie. with an annual fee) to another card by the same bank (ie. no annual fee). In order to avoid the likely credit hit you would have by closing a credit card account. Disappointed in USAA how adamantly they said "We don't do that".
One day it suddenly dawned on me that I had won the real estate lottery.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by rotorhead » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:12 am

jkushnel1, I have been a satisfied member of USAA for 51 years; and have had nothing but good experience with their homeowners and auto insurance. The few claims we've had have been handled in absolutely satisfactory manner.

However, the rates are not all that competitive anymore generally; but with my Senior Subscribers Account, the rates stay competitive for me. Since you were not active military service yourself, you will not qualify for that status. So long term insurance rates may not be competitive for you.

Additionally, if you are in Florida, or plan to move there at some point, USAA will not write "new" homeowners insurance. They decided some time ago that it was not worth the hassle dealing with the hurricane risk. We are "grandfathered" in our current home, but when we move in few years, as we will as we age, will have to find new insurer for hazard.

My opinion generally is, as USAA have grown exponentially over the years, and included "all" military personnel and dependents as members, they have grown far beyond their original charter; and trying to be too many things to too many people. If you are active military, the convenience of having a single source for most of your financial needs is good; but if not, there are just as good or better investment alternatives. I really hate to see them wasting all that money on TV advertising! Don't they know who their potential customers are?

I will be with them until I die, but for you starting out, you're probably better off with Vanguard, Fidelity, etc, for your financial services.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by navyitaly » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:34 am

USAA sells Fidelity funds for no fees...

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Wild Willie » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:22 pm

I just applied for the Unlimited Visa card and opened a checking account to make the deposits from my VG checking account. Seems like a no brainer since I can use the checking account to pay the Visa bill. Just a little extra to keep track of to make sure both accounts don't run out of "fuel" to keep this engine running.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by flamesabers » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:34 pm

WanderingDoc wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:31 pm
Sounds like a plan. While the CC and checking/savings departments were open, apparently there is a separate "rewards checking" department, which was closed. Need to call them tomorrow on that.
When possible, I prefer to communicate with USAA via online messaging instead of by phone so that I don't have to worry about talking with the correct department.
WanderingDoc wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:31 pm
So USAA does not let you switch from one credit card to another. I have never heard of this. It is very common among banks to let you transfer from one card (ie. with an annual fee) to another card by the same bank (ie. no annual fee). In order to avoid the likely credit hit you would have by closing a credit card account. Disappointed in USAA how adamantly they said "We don't do that".
I'm not sure why exactly USAA has this policy, but it should be noted that none of USAA's cards have an annual fee. Also, based on my own experience, USAA has no problem with issuing multiple different credit cards to a single customer.
Wild Willie wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:22 pm
I just applied for the Unlimited Visa card and opened a checking account to make the deposits from my VG checking account. Seems like a no brainer since I can use the checking account to pay the Visa bill. Just a little extra to keep track of to make sure both accounts don't run out of "fuel" to keep this engine running.
I've gotten into the habit of doing the monthly deposit during the first week of every month so I don't forget to do it.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by WanderingDoc » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:35 pm

Wild Willie wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:22 pm
I just applied for the Unlimited Visa card and opened a checking account to make the deposits from my VG checking account. Seems like a no brainer since I can use the checking account to pay the Visa bill. Just a little extra to keep track of to make sure both accounts don't run out of "fuel" to keep this engine running.
Sounds like a lot of work. On second thought, is it really worth it to keep track of extra account and that $1000 just to get 2.5% cash back? I've never really used a cash back card since all the best Travel/Flight miles cards are not cash back credit cards.
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by dbr » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:42 pm

WanderingDoc wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:35 pm
Wild Willie wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:22 pm
I just applied for the Unlimited Visa card and opened a checking account to make the deposits from my VG checking account. Seems like a no brainer since I can use the checking account to pay the Visa bill. Just a little extra to keep track of to make sure both accounts don't run out of "fuel" to keep this engine running.
Sounds like a lot of work. On second thought, is it really worth it to keep track of extra account and that $1000 just to get 2.5% cash back? I've never really used a cash back card since all the best Travel/Flight miles cards are not cash back credit cards.
As mentioned in another thread going on now 2.5% cash back is probably superior to holding airline credit cards except that the airline miles game is one of bonuses rather than one of credit card spend. The issue might be strongly affected by how much one travels.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by flamesabers » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:47 pm

WanderingDoc wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:35 pm
Wild Willie wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:22 pm
I just applied for the Unlimited Visa card and opened a checking account to make the deposits from my VG checking account. Seems like a no brainer since I can use the checking account to pay the Visa bill. Just a little extra to keep track of to make sure both accounts don't run out of "fuel" to keep this engine running.
Sounds like a lot of work. On second thought, is it really worth it to keep track of extra account and that $1000 just to get 2.5% cash back? I've never really used a cash back card since all the best Travel/Flight miles cards are not cash back credit cards.
You could always charge more then $1k per month on the Limitless Visa if you choose to do so. There currently is no restrictions on the amount of cashback you can get with this card. Also, you can redeem your cashback whenever you want and in increments as small as $1.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Engineer250 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:07 pm

USAA saved my bacon.

We bought our house right after the downturn and made some weird financial partnerships, one being our insurance from some Florida company with the same name as a major brokerage firm but no connection. Anyways, a few years back they must have done a drive by of my house and decided we had roof problems and they were no longer going to cover us (gee, thanks!). So I called around. Some of the bigger insurers were going to double or triple my insurance. Some of the more reasonable ones (Geico was one of them) wouldn't cover us because a) some just don't cover homeowner's in California (even though I have to hear their advertisements everywhere) and b) some wouldn't cover because at the time we had a wall heater instead of central air. My Mom reminded me she'd had USAA so I called them and they covered me at a quite reasonable rate. Several years later we've replaced the roof and gotten central air and heat. So USAA came through for me at a time when few other companies would and they've benefited from my home now having the features the other insurers' expected me to have immediately.

Have never done any of their investment stuff and will never, but mostly because I'm lazy and like Vanguard and like having all my accounts at one place, not because I have any objections to them in particular.
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by Nords » Sun Aug 27, 2017 5:27 pm

jkushne1 wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:34 am
Current PGY-3 resident and just found out that I am eligible for USAA due to family in the military. I have yet to compare prices for insurance or any of the other services, but I was wondering what experiences people have had with them in the past?

-How are their auto or homeowner's insurance rates compared to other options?

-What is their service and track record like compared to some of their competitors?

-What other services do you take advantage of other than their insurance offerings?

I've heard really good things about the company overall and since they are nationwide and I'll be moving after residency, that seems promising. I'm ok paying a little more for better service (as long as it isn't too much of a difference) and the ability to not have to recompare rates every 1-2 years. Thanks!
Auto and homeowner's are about the same or higher, with the understanding that they do not compete for market share but rather set premiums at their concentration risk for that ZIP code. In other words, if they're already insuring "too many" vehicles or homes in a certain area then they'll raise premiums as necessary to address the risk.

All USAA programs & services have to pay for themselves-- no loss leaders. You're paying more for customer service, trust, convenience, and affinity-- they understand that servicemembers (& families) might be calling at 3 AM from Afghanistan or Qatar.

We've had USAA vehicle insurance for over 35 years, and our premiums have stayed relatively flat ever since we dropped our collision & comprehensive insurance in the 1980s. Here's more perspective on why auto insurance premiums are going up everywhere for everyone:
http://the-military-guide.com/auto-insu ... -not-just/

For personal property & homeowner's insurance you might also want to check Armed Forces Insurance (AFI.org).

------------

For everyone: would you like to have your insurance question answered by a USAA exec or program manager?

Next month I'm returning to a USAA conference for military bloggers. (I've attended them since 2011 and, for some inexplicable reason, I have a reputation there as a hardcore personal-finance nerd.) One of the privileges of this conference is my opportunity to interrogate their execs on various programs, policies, and future projects. I might already know the answer to your USAA questions, but if I don't then I know how to find out.

The conference is 19-20 September and I'll blog about it (both before & after). Feel free to ask me your questions here on the thread, or in a PM, or by e-mail at NordsNords@Gmail.

Here's an example from last year's Digital MilEx:
http://the-military-guide.com/usaa-digi ... questions/
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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by LarryAllen » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:51 pm

Been with them over 30 years and been pleased with all regular car, house, etc.... They weren't good with rental properties though as that clearly was not their thing dealing with people with lots of properties. When I first signed up for their auto insurance 30 years ago they were about half what my previous large well known insurance company cost for car insurance. Was a no brainer to switch and never looked back. Had a few claims over the years and never had a problem.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by LarryAllen » Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:53 pm

djpeteski wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:26 am
The insurance is top notch. You may be able to find cheaper in a given year, however, most of those will raise rates in the subsequent years. Plus USAA is a mutual company. You will have a "subscriber savings account" which will have deposits made into it each year, that is technically yours if you leave but you don't really have access to it. You will also get a dividend "check" just about every year, making the insurance even less expensive.

....
Huh? What's the subscriber savings account? I have never heard of that. I get my little dividend check each year (or now credit toward premiums) but don't know about the subscriber savings account. You mean if I leave USAA I get a check? Never heard of that. After 30 years I might have really earned something!

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by tj » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:54 pm

For everyone: would you like to have your insurance question answered by a USAA exec or program manager?
Sure, how come the Garrison auto policies never pay out a dividend? :D

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by friar1610 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:08 am

Add me to the list of those who have been with USAA 40+ years. I have home, auto and an old whole life policy I bought 35 years ago. Also have a credit card and when I made my most recent move I took a HELOC on my old house to serve as a bridge loan since the old house didn't sell until after I paid cash for the new one. I've been very satisfied over the years; a minor glitch here or there but nothing that caused me to want to switch.

I priced auto with GEICO several years ago and found them to be cheaper. But GEICO doesn't have the Subscriber Savings account nor the Senior Bonus, so it was probably a wash. And I've heard that GEICO gives good quotes at the beginning to get market share but increases rates slowly but surely. (No personal experience with that, so it may or may not be true.)

At my age I will likely be with USAA for the duration unless something strange happens. USAA is on my list of "trusted financial institutions". Other ex-military folks may have similar lists: Navy Federal CU, Navy Mutual Aid Association, National Bank of Ft. Sam Houston (from my Army buddies) and, of course, Vanguard. One comment that seems consistent when people discuss these institutions on BHs: none of them are like they were in "the good old days" when they were smaller, targeted smaller markets, etc. They've all experienced growing pains as they've gotten larger. But back then none of them offered the large menus of services and products they do now, so I guess that's the price of progress.
Friar1610

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by THY4373 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:34 am

WanderingDoc wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:07 pm

No divorce where you lose 50% of your assets is 'amicable'. Good on you for looking at it glass half full. But, lets call a spade a spade.
Not to take the thread off at a tangent but wife earns and earned over the years pretty much the same that I do. With a few minor tweaks around the edges she took what she made and I took what I made as well as all my pre-marriage assets (she didn't have any to speak off). I did not lose 50% of my assets nor did she not even close. And trust me I do not look at this divorce or marriage in general with rose colored glasses. Essentially with the exception of my son, my life is pretty much where it would have been if I remained single. I will still hit financial independence when I planned long before I got married. While I won't say i enjoyed the process my life is on track and I am happy, its all good.

To bring the thread back on topic when Amica sent out somebody to check out the soon to be ex's house they determined that USAA had over estimated by a fair margin the cost to rebuild the house (I always suspected this since the estimate to rebuild the house was more than the house and land was estimated to be worth and the house wasn't that special, though it was a somewhat custom built 1980s house but nothing that special). So in the end Amica ended up being about a third cheaper overall than USAA. Amica estimated the cost of rebuilding right around the total estimate for house and land.

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Re: USAA opinions. Worth it?

Post by THY4373 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:03 am

LarryAllen wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 6:53 pm

Huh? What's the subscriber savings account? I have never heard of that. I get my little dividend check each year (or now credit toward premiums) but don't know about the subscriber savings account. You mean if I leave USAA I get a check? Never heard of that. After 30 years I might have really earned something!
It is only for "full members" of USAA for sure military officers though likely some others. My dad is a foreign service officer who qualified for full USAA because of that and he has a subscriber account so does my uncle who was a military officer. I am a legacy and I don't have that account. I would assume you are either a legacy or some group who qualifies directly but for a lesser tier.

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