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USAA Classic Checking account review September 2018

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The checking account with full online access and limited fees

USAA Bank has been serving customers since 1922, and the entire institution is online. Services are paper-free, and the company handles a majority of business over email and phone. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can start a checking account from anywhere nationwide. You must qualify for USAA membership to open an account, and eligibility requirements are somewhat specific. Membership requires you to be affiliated with the military in one of USAA’s qualifying ways.

An interest-bearing free checking account for members of the military

USAA’s free checking account is for people affiliated with the military and is ideal for those who want an experience with full online access and limited fees. You can apply completely online, and opening a checking account only requires a minimum deposit of $25. You don’t have to worry about monthly service fees to maintain the account, and there is no minimum account balance requirement. Balances of at least $1,000 earn a 0.01% APY. As an account member, you can also utilize more than 60,000 preferred ATMs nationwide for free, and USAA offers services to all states. Though USAA does not have a lot of major military installations, you can complete transactions by phone or email.

What is the USAA Classic Checking account?

The free Classic Checking account is issued by USAA Bank. It does not require monthly service fees, and it’s designed to fit the needs of military families. The checking account offers free direct deposits, transfers and bill payments. And USAA Bank’s helpful mobile app lets you pay bills, send money and more in a snap.

You can set up a USAA Classic Checking account in less than five minutes through a user-friendly online application. The checking account is linked to a Visa debit card.

While a bank account balance of $1 to $999.99 garners no interest, any balance above $1,000 results in a 0.01% APY.

Benefits of the USAA free checking account

  • No monthly fees. You don’t have to worry about monthly service fees to maintain your USAA checking account.
  • Low minimum deposit. Open an account with just $25.
  • ATMs nationwide. Gain free access to 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs nationwide for up to 10 domestic transactions a month (after that it’s $2 for each transaction). And if you use a non-preferred ATM, USAA bank may refund your fee — up to $15 a month.
  • No minimum balance requirements. This account is helpful if you are struggling financially because you don’t have to keep a certain amount of money in your account at all times.
  • Free transfers. Both transfers and bill payments are free. You also won’t be charged any fees for direct deposits.
  • Easy deposits. Deposits are convenient with the checking account. You can deposit checks through deposit-capable ATMS, set up direct deposit with your paycheck or deposit right from your phone through the Deposit@Mobile app.
  • Secure. USAA Bank’s online security tools protect your accounts with the utmost level of security


With the USAA Classic Checking account, you’ll enjoy no monthly service fees, free transfers and free bill payments. Plus deposits are a breeze: simply snap a picture of your check with your phone using USAA’s free app. USAA Bank also gives you the option to easily set up your checking account with free direct deposit using its pre-filled forms.

The free checking account is designed to be simple and convenient. You can view all balances and activity online and even set up a spending plan. With this plan, you’ll receive an email alert if you go outside of your set spending goals.

The account also offers overdraft protection, special benefits for military recruits and the Money Manager Tool to help you track your spending and the following features:

  • Online application. You can open a checking account in less than five minutes. The entire process can be done online from anywhere in the nation.
  • Free payment tools. As an account member, you have access to a variety of free online tools. You can pay and manage your bills with Web BillPay, and send money from your phone to anyone through a mobile number or email address. You can also use the account to pay with Apple Pay or Android Pay.
  • Mobile app. USAA offers a mobile app that lets you manage your checking account from your phone. It offers in-app assistance, and is secure. Among many other features, you can choose to pay bills and transfer funds with the mobile app.
  • Budgeting. You can set up a spending plan to prevent overspending and going off budget. The account lets you utilize overdraft protection, and you can choose to receive alerts about your spending.
  • Secure. USAA uses online security tools to make sure your information is safe and protected.
  • APY. With a daily balance of at least $1,000, you will receive a .01% APY.
  • Accessibility. It is free to use any of the 60,000 USAA-preferred ATMs across the nation. If you have to use another ATM, you will be refunded up to $15 worth of the other bank’s ATM fees per month. You may not be eligible for a refund if the ATM is outside the US. It is free to withdraw from a non-USAA ATM the first 10 times in a monthly statement cycle. Past the initial 10, you will have to pay a $2 USAA fee per withdrawal.
  • Fees. To open an account, you are required to make a minimum deposit of $25. If deposits are returned for any reason, you will acquire a $5 fee for each. The fee for both stopped payments, and insufficient funds is $29. Foreign transaction fees are 1% of the transaction amount.
  • Debit card. The free checking account includes a debit card.

What to watch out for

  • High overdraft and NSF fees. Overdraft fees are $25 each time you overdraw, though the bank kindly limits these fees to two a day. You’ll pay $29 for every check or withdrawal returned unpaid.
  • Limited centers. You can go to a financial center, but there are only 17 nationwide.
  • Strict eligibility. You need military ties to be eligible for an account.

How do I apply for the USAA Classic Checking account?

First, you’ll need to qualify for USAA membership and sign up for a checking account online. Once approved, you’ll receive a Visa card that you can use at one of USAA Bank’s 60,000 free preferred ATMs. You can also send money or pay bills with a helpful free mobile app.
USAA Free Checking Account BankingUSAA Free Checking Account Homepage BankingUSAA Homepage Bank Account

How to apply for an account

Applying for a checking account requires applicants to meet at least ONE of the following:

Eligibility criteria:

  • USAA member
  • In the U.S military or received honorable discharge
  • Joining the military
  • Parent had, or currently has, a USAA account
  • Spouse had, or currently has, a USAA account
  • Spouse served in the U.S. military

Required documents & information:

  • Full name
  • Residential address
  • Marital status
  • Birthdate
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Proof of employment and income amount

If you are affiliated with the military and looking for a checking account with no monthly fees, the USAA Classic Checking account could be an ideal solution. Before choosing to go with this account, make sure to check out other bank accounts similar to it.

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Megan Horner

As the assistant publisher of credit cards at, Megan is passionate about helping you compare and find the best credit cards for your situation, whether that is earning great rewards or improving your credit score. In her previous position, Megan worked as an assigning editor at Credit Karma, where she focused on editing and publishing educational articles on credit cards. Megan started her career as a writer at a comparison website, so she has a longstanding background in surfacing the best deals and helping people make decisions. In her spare time, Megan likes to hike, camp, surf, and read.

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