USAA Review

Sarah BadaniBySarah BadaniAug. 13, 2019

In a Nutshell

USAA offers home purchase and refinance loans tailored for veterans and servicemen and women as well as to conventional first time home buyers and homeowners

pros

  • VA loan expert
  • Low fees

cons

  • Members Only
  • Poor FAQ

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USAA Bank at a Glance

Loan Types
Home purchase and refinance
Featured Loans
VA, jumbo, conventional
Repayment Terms  
10, 15, 20, or 30 years, 5/1 VA ARM
Down Payment
0-5% minimums
Credit Score
620+
Best for
Military and veteran families

Overview

USAA Bank offers home loans to all membership eligible first-time buyers, repeat buyers, and to existing homeowners who want to refinance their home, but its emphasis is firmly on military service members, veterans and their family. USAA Bank provides a full range of home purchase and refinance loans, including IRRRL loans, VA jumbo loans, VA adjustable-rate mortgage and fixed rate VA loans with terms that range from 10 to 30 years. For non-VA eligible members, USAA Bank offers a unique product for first-time homebuyers requiring only 3% down, along with a full range of conventional mortgages for all types of borrowers with terms ranging from 10-30 years. USAA Bank provides top-notch servicing for the life of the loan, so USAA Bank members will continue to receive the level of service that they're used to even after the loan closes.  

  • Most homes are eligible for USAA Bank loans
  • No origination fees for some loans
  • Down payment as little as 0%

Best for?

Although USAA Bank also offers conventional loans, its expertise in serving members of the US military makes it ideal for active personnel from all branches of the military. Military borrowers can find every type of home purchase and refinance loan including jumbo VA loans, making it easier to buy a new home or refinance an existing one across the country. The focus on lending to military, veterans, and their eligible family members, along with the speed and ease of using an online mortgage platform makes USAA Bank a good choice for every military homeowner and would-be homeowner.

Loan Features

USAA Bank offers a large range of VA loans, backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs including jumbo VA loans of up to $3 million so that military members can purchase their dream home. VA loans come with no PMI or down payment required while conventional loans have no VA funding fee and can be used to finance up to 97% of the loan amount. For VA refinance (IRRRL) loans, USAA Bank doesn’t charge any title fee, funding fee or appraisal fee and there’s no origination fee either. Currently USAA Bank is offering to waive the origination fee for all VA loans as an added bonus. USAA Bank offers significant expertise to help military homeowners and would-be homeowners find the best deal for them across their unique options. The online direct lending platform speeds up the loan approval process with the initial pre-approval taking just minutes.

Highlights:

  • VA and conventional jumbo loans up to $3 million
  • No down payment or PMI for VA loans
  • First-time homebuyer loan with a minimum of 3% down payment
  • Limited offer of no origination fee for VA loans
  • Fast pre-approval process
  • USAA Bank pays the title, funding fee, and appraisal fee for IRRRL refinance loans

The Application Process

Membership is only for active and US service men and women who have received a discharge type of "Honorable" and their direct dependents. You can open membership and then apply for a loan immediately, or if you are already a member of USAA Bank you can use your existing account information to automatically complete the application.

USAA Bank's online pre-approval takes just a few minutes once you’ve answered some questions about the purpose of your loan, how much you want to borrow, and your service history. Loan applications are completed over the phone with one dedicated loan officer and borrowers can upload documents online and use e-sign to sign the loan documents. For refinances, USAA Bank offers a mobile closing service in most states where a notary can meet you at your home, office, or other place of your choosing, even outside of business hours. 

Deep Dive into Pros and Cons

The biggest pro to taking out a home loan through USAA Bank is that the company is fully focused on supporting US military, veterans and their families. VA-backed loans make up 65% of its loans and come with very competitive rates and features like no PMI and no down payment. USAA Bank charges only 1% origination fees (waived for some loan types), and no extra fees like underwriting or documentation fees. USAA Bank’s IRRRL refinance loan comes with no fees at all. Added to this is the huge range of loans that members can access, including jumbo loans and ARMs. The fast phone or online streamlined pre-approval process is another pro, making it quicker to get approval and easier to submit and sign documents.

On the flip side, USAA Bank's loans aren’t open to anyone who isn’t a USAA member. While USAA Bank does offer many home loans, there is no HELOC or home equity loan available and no FHA or USDA loans. The website has a very thin FAQ section, making it hard to find answers to specific questions without getting in touch with a person. Most people who want to have a face-to-face consultation will be disappointed, since USAA Bank only takes applications over the phone or online. 

Loan Terms- The Bare Basics

USAA Bank offers VA-backed home loans, jumbo home loans of up to $3 million, and adjustable-rate home loans. A VA loan doesn’t require any down payment or PMI. USAA Bank also offers conventional jumbo and first-time homeowner loans. Its Conventional 97 home purchase loan requires only a 3% down payment and doesn’t require any VA funding fee. USAA Bank’s refinance loans are highly popular, especially the VA-backed IRRRL loan which is available without any fees at all.

To borrow through USAA Bank you need to be a USAA member, have a minimum credit score of 620 for most loan types, and borrow at least $50,000.

  • Minimum credit score of 620 for most loan types
  • Borrow between $50,000 and $3 million
  • Buying or refinancing a residential, owner-occupied home or 2nd/investor home

Help & Support

USAA Bank’s online FAQ section isn’t very extensive or helpful and there is no live chat. However, USAA Bank customer representatives are available by phone and email and it's easy to find the right customer support number for your issue.

All of USAA Bank’s customer service numbers can be found online, or you can call its main helpline at 800-231-9944.

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So, Should you Borrow with USAA Bank?

Overall, USAA Bank is a formidable lender for active and former US servicemen and women. The range of VA-backed loans on offer is impressive, even though there is no HELOC or home equity option, and the low fees make the loans very attractive. The online and telephone application process is far faster than in-person alternatives. USAA Bank is somewhat let down by patchy customer support and a poor FAQ section, but the good loan options still make it a great choice for military homeowners.

Physical Address

9800 Fredericksburg Road

San Antonio, TX 78288 

Use of the term “member” or “membership” refers to membership in USAA Membership Services and does not convey any legal or ownership rights in USAA. Restrictions apply and are subject to change. To join USAA, separated military personnel must have received a discharge type of “Honorable.” Eligible former dependents of USAA members may join USAA.

Bank products provided by USAA Federal Savings Bank, Member FDIC.

Sarah BadaniBySarah BadaniOct. 07, 2019
Sarah Badani has extensive research and review experience in the finance industry. With a degree in psychology and education, she brings a level of depth and understanding to her writing along with her own flavor to spice up each topic in a unique and inviting way.
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