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.


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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.

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

I hope this was helpful for you!

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

      1. Hey John, according to USAA’s site, if you are active, retired, or honorably separated, you’re eligible for USAA membership. Go for it!!

  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.

  3. Both of my sons are former military, my youngest is what you call a level 2 , also my father was a WWII vet but, not sure that there was USAA back then. Am I eligable?

    1. Machelle, your children cannot pass eligibility to you, but your father could. He’d have to have been a USAA member who held an auto or property insurance policy. It sounds like he didn’t, so in that case, you’d be out of luck. Sorry!

  4. I am the grandparent of a daughter and granddaughter that both
    Served honorably in the military. Does that make me eligible to
    Join?

    1. Carolyn, unfortunately, no it doesn’t. You would have to be the spouse or child of a USAA member who held auto or property insurance. I would encourage your daughter and grand daughter to sign up AND get auto or property insurance through USAA, though!

    1. Bill, your dad was eligible for USAA membership, but did he become a member? Unless your dad was a USAA member who held an auto or property insurance policy, you would not be eligible. I hope this helps.

    1. James, as I understand it, since you aren’t currently married to her, you cannot take advantage of the “spouse” rule. Also, she would have had to have been a USAA member who ALSO had auto or property insurance. Again, since she’s not your current spouse, it won’t matter. Sorry, man!

  5. I have heard of USAA allowing federal agents (FBI) (DEA) and other Federal law enforcement agencies personal that may not have been a military veteran, to join USAA? I wonder if that is true?
    Conn

    1. Conn, that’s a great question, and I would recommend you contacting USAA (800-531-8722) to find out for sure. Their website doesn’t mention allowing this, and I haven’t personally heard that this is true, but it’s worth a shot. Can you let us know what you find out?

    1. Hi Lana, I didn’t have to do this myself, but I can’t guarantee that USAA’s internal procedures haven’t changed since then. They’ll almost definitely require some form of documentation from you (like any financial institution), such as your social security number and driver’s license. From those documents, they should clearly see that you share a last name and address with your spouse. If something becomes unclear from those documents, let’s say you have different last names or don’t share the same primary address on your driver’s licenses, they could press for more documentation.

  6. I am a dependent spouse. My mother is looking for new auto insurance. Is there any way that she can get membership through me?

    1. Hi Emily, unfortunately, your mother cannot gain eligibility through you. She must gain eligibility from either her spouse or a parent who is a USAA member. Sorry about that!

    1. Angie, USAA’s website uses the term “children” of USAA members, when discussing eligibility. They don’t go into great detail on the definition of “children”, but I would highly recommend that your step dad go ahead and contact USAA and make a case for your eligibility. Good luck!

    1. Hi Lisa, sorry about this, but you cannot gain USAA membership through your children. It must come from your spouse or parents (and of course, they must be USAA members).

  7. I am a usaa member but only because my spouce is active military and a member, BUT if we get a divorce what does that mean for my account that I already have? Will it get cut off? Will I have to find a new bank? Or will I just be able to keep my account and continue use with Usaa

    1. “lnoby” – this is actually a GREAT question! I’m glad you asked.

      Once you become a legitimate USAA member (you’ll have a USAA member number and your own website login etc), you are a member for life! Unless you decide to call them and deactivate your accounts with them, of course. That’s always your right. But have no fear, you’re in for good. 🙂

      Great question, and I hope this helped someone else out there!

  8. I am a USAA member and a friend of mine was a honorable discharged veteran, and is deceased, not a USAA member can his son join under my membership ?

    1. Hi George, I am pretty sure that your friend’s son can only gain eligibility through his own parents. Unless you are his legal guardian, I can’t see this being worth calling to ask USAA, but you could sure try. Best of luck with this.

  9. My late husband was in the military. He didn’t have USAA insurance. I’m retired Homeland Security employee. I was an immigration officer. Am I eligible?

    1. Hi Elaine, I don’t think you’re eligible, based on USAA’s requirements. Homeland Security operates in the civilian sphere, as I understand it. You would need to be active or former military. Since your husband never became a USAA member, you cannot gain eligibility from him either. You might want to contact USAA to ask, though. Good luck!

  10. I have been with USAA now for 17 years and absolutely love them! I have auto insurance, an auto loan, their credit card, life insurance, investments and homeowners insurance.

    They are so professional to deal with, the rates are excellent and their customer service is exceptional. I do not bother shopping around for lower rates, there is absolutely nothing that can take me away from this company. If you have military in the family, see if you can join. You will be so glad you did.

    Here is an example of how they interact with the military – I was on deployment a lot. anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months at a time. Each and every time I left USAA discounted my 2 car insurance by 50%, saving me hundreds of dollars each year. As they told me, your wife and drive either car but she will not be driving both cars at the same time. So why pay insurance for two drivers when that is only one when I am deployed.

    With a claim that I filed for a piece of particle board that fell off a truck in front of me damaging the front left fender and light, USAA provided me a lit of authorized repair shops. I took the car in, there were two checks waiting at the shop. One for the repair to be done, the other for a rent-a-car that had been authorized and waiting for me. The process was so easy and painless. took a large weight off of my shoulders.

    USAA is the best, hands down.

    1. Hey George, I’m the exact same… I don’t shop around because USAA is just worth it. They’re quite comparable in price anyway! Love what they did for you guys when you went on deployments. That sounds like USAA all day long. Thanks for commenting and sharing.

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