USAA Classic Checking account review
An interest-bearing, free checking account for members of the military and eligible family members.
finder.com’s rating: 4.3 / 5.0
USAA’s free checking account is for people affiliated with the military and is ideal for those who want an account with no monthly fees and access to more than 60,000 preferred ATMs nationwide for free. But you need to keep at least $1,000 in the account to earn the low 0.01% APY.
$0 per month
Minimum deposit to open
|APY||0.01% on balances of $1,000+|
|Fee||$0 per month|
|Minimum deposit to open||$25|
|ATMs||Free at 60,000 ATMs nationwide (USAA, Allpoint, MoneyPass, PNC)|
|ATM transaction fee||$0|
|ATM fee rebates||Up to $15 in other US banks' ATM usage fees; not applicable for the month in which the account is closed|
|Out-of-network ATM fee||$2|
|Foreign transaction fee||1%|
|Nonsufficient funds fee||$29|
Megan Horner is the banking and credit cards Group Publisher at Finder. She's passionate about helping you find the best credit cards and bank accounts to meet your financial needs — whether that's earning great rewards or improving your credit score. Megan's expertise has been spotlighted on Lifehacker, CreditCards.com, American Banker and featured on news broadcasts across the country. Before working at Finder, Megan worked at Credit Karma and QuinStreet.
If you’re affiliated with the military and looking for a checking account with no monthly fees, the USAA Classic Checking account could be an ideal solution. It offers easy access, the ability to earn interest, personal budgeting tools and a number of other features that make it a great everyday account.
But it has limited branches and puts a long hold on deposits.
How do I open a USAA Classic Checking account?
You can apply for the USAA Classic Checking account online or by phone.
- Go to the provider’s site and follow the steps to apply.
- From the USAA website, click Products, then Checking Accounts under the banking column.
- Select your state and click Continue.
- Click Get Started under USAA Classic Checking.
- Log in to your current account or click Join Online to sign up for a new USAA account if you’re not already a member.
- Enter all personal information, then continue to funding.
- Read and verify all information, then sign the tax document and confirm the account.
If you don’t have a reliable Internet connection or would rather speak to someone, you can apply by phone at 800-531-8722.
Applying for a checking account requires applicants to meet at least ONE of the following:
- USAA member
- Active, retired or honorably discharged personnel of the US military
- Cadet or midshipman
- Joining the military
- Parent had, or currently has, a USAA account
- Spouse had, or currently has, a USAA account
- Spouse served in the US military
Have this information on hand when you sign up for the USAA Classic Checking account:
- Full name
- Residential address
- Marital status
- Birth date
- Phone number
- Email address
- Social Security number or tax identification number
- Proof of employment and income amount
Benefits of the USAA Classic Checking account
In addition to being a secure, interest-earning account with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, a USAA Classic Checking account also offers:
- Free transfers. Bill payments and direct deposits are free as well.
- Low minimum deposit. Open an account with just $25. This minimum is waived for new military recruits.
- Quick deposits. Deposit checks at ATMs, through the Deposit@Mobile app or by setting up direct deposit.
- Easy access. Manage your account from anywhere using the mobile app or USAA website. Plus, get access to 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs.
- Personal budgeting tools. View balances and statements, get alerts about your spending, set up a spending plan and more.
- Multiple ways to send money. Choose from bill pay, Zelle, Mobile Wallets and other options.
- Overdraft protection. Link another account to ensure your balance never falls below $0.
USAA ATM network and fees
Members of USAA get free access to a nationwide ATM network that includes more than 65,000 Allpoint, MoneyPass and PNC Bank ATMs. Plus, USAA will refund up to $15 per month in usage fees when customers use other banks’ ATMs. However, there are some fees to be aware of:
- Withdrawals: The first 10 transactions are free, then $2 per subsequent transaction, regardless of which ATM is used.
- Foreign transactions: You’ll pay 1% for debit card or ATM transactions at a merchant or ATM in a foreign country, which is cheap compared to other banks and credit unions.
What to watch out for
In addition to needing military ties to be eligible for an account, you’ll want to be aware of a few other potential limitations:
- Overdraft and NSF fees. Overdraft fees are lower than they are at other institutions, but you’ll still pay $29 each time you overdraw — up to two times a day. You’ll pay $29 for every check or withdrawal returned unpaid.
- High requirement to earn interest. You’ll need to maintain a minimum $1,000 balance to earn the subpar 0.01% APY advertised for this account.
- Long holds on deposits. Deposits made by Deposit Mobile, Deposit Home and Easy Deposit may be held for up to seven days.
- Withdrawal fees. Customers can make 10 free withdrawals per month, but will be charged $2 per transaction after that.
- Limited branch locations. If you prefer banking face to face, you can visit a financial center, but there are only five nationwide. Those USAA locations include:
- Colorado Springs, CO
- West Point, NY
- Highland Falls, NY
- Annapolis, MD
- San Antonio, TX
If you aren’t affiliated with the military and want an account with more perks, you’ll want to keep looking. As always, compare your options when choosing a checking account.
Compare USAA Classic Checking with other checking accounts
How do I deposit and withdraw money?
There are several ways to access money in your USAA Classic Checking account:
- Cash or check at ATM
- Direct deposit
- Transfer from another bank account
- By check via mail
- Wire transfer
- At an ATM
- Check addressed to yourself
- Transfers to other accounts
- Mobile payment
- Bill pay
- Wire transfer
- Cash back from merchants and retailers
How do I contact USAA customer service?
USAA makes it easy to get a hold of customer service:
- Phone: 210-498-2722 (Available 24/7)
- Twitter: @USAA_Help
- Online message: Log in to your account and visit the contact and support center
- Chat: Click “Help” to chat with a virtual agent
What other checking options does USAA offer?
Just starting out with your finances? Have a child who you’re trying to get started on the right foot? Consider these other USAA products.
- USAA Youth Spending account. A free youth checking account that offers mobile access, the ability to set ATM and debit limits, a 0.01% APY and more.
Frequently asked questions about the USAA Classic Checking account
How do I increase my daily ATM withdrawal limit with USAA?
You can’t increase your daily ATM withdrawal limit for your debit card. But if you have a USAA credit card, you can request a credit card limit increase in three steps:
- Visit your USAA credit card account page.
- Select Services from the Account Services menu.
- Choose Change Credit Limit.
Note that you can only request a credit limit increase on USAA Rewards, Cash Rewards, Cashback Rewards, Rate Advantage or a military affiliate credit cards.
How can I pay bills or buy goods with my checking account?
Use your debit card, the USAA Mobile Banking app or your Mobile Wallet, which lets you pay through Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay.
What can I do with the mobile app?
Use the mobile app to send money and access your balances. You can also set up bill pay and enjoy special offers and discounts with the Mobile Wallet.
Are there withdrawal limits on this account?
Yes. You’ll be limited to $600 per day for ATM cash withdrawals, $1,000 per day for debit card cash advances, $3,000 per day for signature-based purchases on your debit card and $3,000 per day for PIN-based purchases on your debit card.
What is the routing number for USAA?
USAA Federal Savings Bank’s routing number is 314074269.
How do I sign up for overdraft protection?
Log in to your online account and visit the overdraft protection service page for details on how to enroll.
How can I fund my account?
You can fund the initial deposit using a checking, savings, Visa or Mastercard account.
Checking account ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
We analyze top checking accounts and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include: monthly fees, the ease at which monthly fees can be waived, the breadth of ATM access, ATM and overdraft fees, and customer service.