How to Become a USAA Member Even If You Aren’t in the Military

USAA is a fantastic financial institution with so many upsides, such as outstanding customer service and an unparalleled online platform.

Unfortunately, USAA doesn’t do a stellar job of clarifying membership eligibility requirements. So I have taken the time to outline them here and provide my insight as a USAA member.

This is a follow-up post to How an Electronic Envelope System Helped Us Pay Off $150,000 in Debt which you can read here:

How an Electronic Envelope System Helped Us Pay Off Over $150,000 in Debt

So let’s begin by discussing a common myth about USAA membership:

USAA Membership is Only For Active/Former Military: FALSE

This is a common misconception. Even though USAA is marketing itself as proudly serving the U.S. military (see picture below), they have actually widened the eligibility requirements to include regular civilians who are immediate family members of service members…

But when you see ads like this online, it confuses the issue. This ad seems to indicate that USAA is only for “those who serve”, A.K.A. service members and “their family members”, A.K.A. service members’ spouse and children:

But it’s not the whole picture!

I’m a USAA Member and Neither My Wife nor I Served in the Military

Short and sweet:

1. My wife’s dad was in the military.
2. He became a USAA member AND got auto insurance
3. At this point, my wife became eligible for membership
4. 
My wife became a USAA member AND got auto insurance
5. After we got married, I became eligible for membership
6. Now that we have kids, they are eligible!

There Are Different Levels of Membership!

Yes! Not all USAA members qualify to have their spouse or children become USAA members.

To help explain this principle, I’m going to create two new terms here:

  • Level 1 USAA Member: a USAA Member with basic checking/savings
  • Level 2 USAA Member: a USAA Member (same as above), but who also holds USAA auto or property insurance.

If you are a Level 1 USAA Member, your children and spouse are not eligible to become a USAA member.

Once you become a Level 2 USAA Member, your children and spouse are now eligible to become a USAA member.

Another key point is that military status and history no longer matter once you gain Level 2 USAA Membership. Once you are a Level 2 USAA Member, the following apply:

  • Your spouse and children are eligible for USAA Membership
  • Your spouse and children can also become Level 2 USAA members
  • If your spouse and children become Level 2 USAA members, their spouses and children are also eligible, and on and on it goes…

Remember that I just made up the terms “Level 1” and “Level 2” to keep things separate. USAA doesn’t actually use these terms.

At Some Point, None of the Family needs to Have Served in the Military

From the USAA website, the following people are eligible:

  • Active, retired and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military.
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS).
  • Adult children (18+) of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.
  • Widows and widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy.

Notice the last two bullets which mention “children and widows of USAA members.” It doesn’t say “children of active/former military.”

“Active/Former Military” Does Not Equal “USAA Member”

Serving in the U.S. military does not make you an automatic USAA member. You actually have to sign up to become a USAA member.

So, if you have a parent or spouse who served or currently serves in the U.S. military, then you should encourage them to sign up!

As mentioned above…once they sign up, they are a only Level 1 USAA Member until they get auto or property insurance. At that point, they’ll be a full-fledged Level 2 USAA Member.

Thank You For Your Leadership and Your Sacrifice!

As I wrote this, I felt like I was saying, “See?! You don’t need to join the military!” So I thought it was important to say that I have so much respect and am so thankful for the people who serve our country.

I just want to make sure that everyone who has military (immediate) family members understands their eligibility because USAA is such a great bank.

I hope this was helpful for you!

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How an Electronic Envelope System Helped Us Pay Off Over $150,000 in Debt

You’ve most likely heard of the envelope system before. It’s a money management strategy that involves labeling physical envelopes according to major budget categories and putting the actual cash amounts into those envelopes.

The benefit to this system is the real-time feedback you get about how much money you have left in a specific category. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s very difficult to overspend if you follow this strategy.

But it can be high maintenance, and even risky, to keep all of your cash in physical envelopes inside your home, car, or wallet/purse.

Continue reading “How an Electronic Envelope System Helped Us Pay Off Over $150,000 in Debt”

Everything You Need to Know About the Equifax Data Breach

I run a cybersecurity operation for a multi-billion dollar financial institution. So, as you can guess, I spent a good portion of the last 24 hours researching and understanding the impact this breach had on our customers. I want to share (what I can) the results of that research with you. Most of which was confidential, and not pertinent to you, has been removed.

With that, please take a look and make sure to follow the instructions to check if you are impacted and to sign up for identity theft protection.

As a side note, if you are looking to protect yourself from a popular form of cyber-attack, please check out my other article on ransomware:

Continue reading “Everything You Need to Know About the Equifax Data Breach”

August 2017 Net Worth Update: $468,294 (+$25,749)

So glad you could join me for my monthly net worth update! Why do we track net worth anyway? It’s just one factor in the grand scheme of things.

In order to become financially independent (and that’s my goal, peeps), I know that I’ll need multiple streams of easily-scalable, passive income.

I’m going to start tracking my passive income growth through another series of posts so be sure to check that out later this week.

So let’s get into how things for August:

Continue reading “August 2017 Net Worth Update: $468,294 (+$25,749)”

Debt Free Geeks – Interview With Jane at Cash Fasting

This week, I am sharing a more relatable debt payoff story with you. Not everyone goes pedal to the metal or has an exceedingly high income in a city with low costs of living (elements of my story).

Jane from Cash Fasting paid off $35,000 in debt over a period of three years, most of which was paid while living in New York City. Not only did she accomplish this on a single income, but she did it while still taking some time to enjoy life.

If you have a debt payoff story you’d like to tell, awesome! Please shoot me an email at comment@debtfreegeek.org

Continue reading “Debt Free Geeks – Interview With Jane at Cash Fasting”