There is a big dilemma out there of many who are iPhone users and dislike going to the bank. Us non-military people have no way of getting an account with USAA. That is until just a few months ago they had not opened their checking and savings to non-military personnel. The catch is that you cannot use your iPhone with these accounts because as they claim you cannot qualify because you do not qualify for USAA casualty and property insurance. If you do not qualify for these insurances you cannot do the special iPhone Mobile Banking that USAA has been flaunting in the media.
These accounts with the iPhone benefits require you to be a military personnel or be in the family of one which is not too hard to do but it sure leaves a lot of people out in the cold. Mostly their trust is with their military customers but I am sure that will open up to government and other types of teachers unions in the future. But keep in mind the name of the credit union is USAA which stands for United States Automobile Association, a strange name for a institution offering so many things. They offer banking, home and life insurance, and investing. You will also find low interest credit cards on the USAA.com site.
Benefits on the USAA checking accounts include interest with amounts over $1,000 and ATM fees that are paid up to $15 a month on the first 10 ATM charges. This does not compare to the service from E*Trade who offers a much better advantage with completely free ATM reimbursements. Compared to other government and military credit unions it is a winner with Pentagon FCU and Navy Federal Everyday checking charging fees. Wells Fargo and Bank of America will also hit you with other fees at other ATM’s according to their comparison.
The mobile banking happens at mobile.usaa.com where you can get on your iPhone or cell phone for your money needs. The USAA Deposit at Home and the Deposit Mobile with the iPhone are free services for qualifying members (military mostly).
They offer free rewards on Debit card purchases without an annual fee. This is not all that exciting because they only give you 1 point per every $2 you charge which does not compare to what you could get from an American Express Card.
It is free checking with no monthly service fees. The Pentagon FCU and Bank of America MyAccess Checking charge these fees unless you have direct deposit. This is a problem you will have with most banks. You will also find that you will enjoy comparative interest and free checks which are nice benefits of being a member of the USAA.
A CD compared to Chase as of February 2010 has USAA at 2.15% APY and Chase at only 1.01% APY. This is a great rate for a 2-year CD and will take some people away from the big banks.
If you like branch-less banking and are in the Military this is the bank to go with. If you like to be able to pull into your drive-thru at your local Chase or Bank of America then you might just stay at your current banker.