Since we’ve gotten a bunch of questions about USAA, particularly about eligibility and its Deposit@Home service, I got in touch with one of the people from USAA who’d commented on an earlier post. Katie Spring is the VP, Public Communications for USAA, and she was kind enough to write up some answers to questions I’ve heard abut USAA. You’ll see that not all of the answers are complete, nor will they satisfy all the people who have asked me about the bank, but I thought they would still be well worth posting. USAA continues to win awards for customer service, and that’s worth paying some attention to. I’ll list my questions with Katie’s answers.
Who is eligible for USAA banking? Did the requirements for USAA Federal Savings Bank recently change, and if so, what is behind the change? What does USAA recommend for people who are not eligible to join? Do you plan to make banking available to more people over time?
“USAA is committed to providing financial security to members of the military and their families. We offer financial planning, insurance, banking, investments, and life insurance. We strive to offer the most competitive prices and the best service — period. Regarding membership in USAA…as you know, we serve a niche market – members of the military and their families. By focusing on this group we can provide the very best service and offerings. If you or your parents served in the military, you’re likely eligible for USAA. And since membership is passed through generations, if your parents had USAA, you’re eligible, too (even if they – or you – didn’t serve). Readers can take less than a minute to check out if they’re eligible to join USAA by visiting usaa.com – it’s very quick and easy.”
What’s driving Deposit@Home, the UPS Store deal, and so on? Are these services primarily used by members stationed overseas, or are they used extensively within the US as well? What has been the reaction to the Deposit@Home service?
“You asked about Deposit@Home. Have you ever had a paper check and thought it was inconvenient to deposit? Well, now USAA members can take those checks, go to usaa.com, scan the check, and your account will be credited in about one minute. Yes, one minute. Try it. Just void the check when you’re done – you don’t need to send it to us – since you’re our member, we trust you!”
It seems like remote accounts (where the account holder does not have a local branch office) are going to become a lot easier to use because of Internet banking — are there other things we can expect to see to make remote banking more convenient? (For instance, one question I get is how to deal with cash deposits for USAA accounts. Have you thought about partnering with Western Union or a similar service to accept cash deposits remotely?)
[No direct answer on this one, but later in the email she mentioned one thing worth noting:]
“Later this year, we’ll roll out our mobile banking program, which will allow members to access accounts from their cell phones and elect to receive cell phone alerts regarding the status of their accounts.”
Was the UPS Store service not used, or was it removed for other reasons? (Assuming I have it right that the service is no longer offered.)
“Regarding QuickPost – the service that allowed members to make deposits at UPS stores – that’s been discontinued and replaced with this even more convenient Deposit@Home.”
What about USAA’s business makes it different than other banks? Do you believe that it’s simply a matter of investing more in better customer service representatives, or does your membership structure enable you to offer a level of service that would be impractical otherwise?
“What makes USAA different from other banks? For starters – it’s more than just a bank. USAA is the only financial partner that’s a true one-stop-shop, where we look at you and your family’s WHOLE financial picture and give you free, objective advice about everything from budgeting to planning for your retirement. While some folks remember us as an auto insurer, today we are much, much more.”
I very much appreciate Katie’s answers — while I didn’t get every question answered, I’m glad to have something definitive on some of these points at least. Since cash deposits remain the most frequent question I get, hopefully my Western Union suggestion will make it to the product developers!