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.

I highly recommend you check them out for investments, insurance, or banking in general.

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
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.

Go check them out to see if you qualify for services.

I hope this was helpful for you!

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5 Replies to “How to Become a USAA Member Even If You Aren’t in the Military”

  1. Wow, I never knew that Chris! My USAA story is… weird. Julia and I have a joint USAA account. Julia got one because her mom has an account. Julia’s mom has an account because her brother has an account.

    It’s interesting how you can “pass on” memberships, thanks for clarifying!

    1. Yeah, that is an odd story! I’ve seen them make some exceptions. Like, when our children were born, my mother-in-law called USAA, and they created member ID’s for both my kids. I thought that was kind of odd for them to authorize without our approval, etc.

  2. Pretty sure they will allow you to open an investment vehicle as well even if none of the prior applies, I am a member and called about my fiancée joining, she cant until married, but she can open a brokerage account they said.

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