Interview with Katie Spring of USAA

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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!

5 Responses to “Interview with Katie Spring of USAA”

  1. Nathan Black Says:

    If I’m pressed for a cash deposit I’ll get a postal money order made out to myself and then send it in via a USAA prepaid deposit envelope. I tried using the Deposit@Home for this, but postal money orders are either in a strange format or are too busy graphically to be recognized by the Deposit@Home software.

    I use USAA as a one stop shop, and I really enjoy it. I’ve got my checking, savings, insurance and truck loan at USAA. My only complaint would be that they don’t offer a high interest savings option. The 3.25% rate ($1000 +) is good but I’m considering moving my meager savings since an extra few percent would add up over time.

  2. Denise Says:

    The rates on the savings accounts are actually quite competitive… I’ve only found one other bank that even comes close to USAA. If you have the liquid cash of $10K, I’d recommend open a USAA Performance First Index account. The yield is much higher and even if the account dips down to $25, the interest rate is better than the traditional savings account.

  3. Peter Poremski Says:

    I use USAA Banking, Insurance, Investment Management and Brokerage. It is totally convenient to transfer money between various type accounts. I manage two IRA’s combining USAA Mutual Funds, and Non-USAA Mutual Funds and ETF’s through USAA Brokerage Services.

    I have been very active recently trading within accounts and I share my thoughts on my Blog.

  4. Billy Says:

    Katie Spring states in her interview “If you or your parents served in the military, you’re likely eligible for USAA. ”

    I was in the military for four years on active duty and four three years in the reserves, but was discharged about 20 years ago. I only found out about USAA recently so I tried to join, but the website says I am not eligible. It seems you had to have been discharged “recently”, though the website doesn’t explain exactly what “recently” means.

  5. The (Financial) State Of The Union Address Says:

    […] Many consumers do not closely watch bank fees or they do not care. Two dollars here for an ATM fee or thirty dollars there for an insufficient funds fee (that one is obnoxious). Does this add up to more than one hundred dollars per year for you? Two hundred dollars per year? It’s time to tally your annual spending on bank fees and jump ship from your bank if the fees are excessive. The epiphany for me was when I went to cancel my local bank account I’d had from 1987 – 93. I’d allowed this bank to use my money to loan to its customers for six whole years and when I went to close it they did not give two hoots about me. I was appalled when the bank teller did not even say “thanks for banking with us for SIX YEARS” let alone a “is there anything we can do to keep your business?” would have been nice. After that experience, I learned that most banks do not care about you one iota. That is, except for one remarkably, phenomenal bank. I’ve banked with them since 1995 and will until I die. As will my kids and their kids and their kids. […]

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