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Goodbye Bank of America, Hello USAA

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If the title wasn't exactly clear, I'm changing my banks. This post is actually quite a bit overdue. I had been gradually doing it for a couple of years now. I would have written about it earlier, but I didn't realize it until recently. That's how gradual the change has been.

It's not that Bank of America has done anything in particular to lose me as a customer. I know many were upset by their announcement to charging fees on debit card purchases (though Bank of America changed its mind on the fees). I wouldn't have been affected by it since I rarely use my card as a debit card. It comes down to the fact that USAA is a better fit for me and my family.

What sets USAA Apart

The first thing that comes to mind is customer service. I know everyone has their favorite companies when it comes to customer service, but in almost every case it seems anecdotal. I could show you ten bloggers and each of them would have a favorite web hosting service - and a lot what they'd talk about would be the customer service. With USAA, it close to unanimous that their customer service is the best. What I like the most is that when I call I get the person's direct extension in case I need to call back or follow up.

The other thing that sets USAA apart is that they actually give you money back at the end of the year if they have any left over. I know that sounds odd. I don't have the full explanation unless it is this Wikipedia entry, but my wife has multiple times gotten a check back at the end of the year. (Since she is the sponsor of the account, more on this later, I don't have the full details of what they sent for the both of us. When it's money in my favor, I tend not to ask too many questions.)

It's taken me a little while to embrace USAA. When I first looked into it, I was curious about the brokerage accounts. I compared them to Zecco who had been offering free trades at the time. I didn't see their rates as being competitive. However, Zecco has since started to charge for most (if not all) trades now. The gap has closed to where the customer service and the ability to have my savings, checking, insurance, brokerage, and IRAs in one place far outweighs a couple of dollars a year I pay in putting my Roth IRA money to work in an ETF.

Recently, I was able to consolidate the 401ks from three old jobs into one Rollover IRA. I can't tell you how much simpler it is to be able to log into one web site and see it all.

Why I may keep Bank of America

While USAA is great for any number of reasons, I still see a need for my Bank of America account. It's not that I have any allegiance to Bank of America, but that I feel the need to have a bank in the real world - one with branches and people who I can talk to face-to-face. There are a couple times where this has come handy - usually when I need to have a certified check of some sort.

In some ways my banking has become a little microcosm of my business. It is 90% done through the Internet, but 10% done in the real world. I don't see that changing any time soon. USAA gives me a bank that has the online tools that match my business.

So Bank of America, this isn't really good bye like I said in the title. We can still be friends. I am just looking for more out of my banking relationship.

(Though it might seem that USAA sponsored this post. They have not. I just really like them and I think you will too. That is if you meet the eligibility requirements which typically require some military connection.)

Posted on January 27, 2012.

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2 Responses to “Goodbye Bank of America, Hello USAA”

  1. Michele says:

    I love USAA. By the way, their bank accounts are open to everyone even non-military.

    Back in the day you could only be with USAA if you were not only military, but were an officer as well. That changed about 5 years ago and they opened up to all retired or active duty military and their families. It used to piss me off when I would read a PF blog and people would rec USAA. I thought why rec something that was so unavailable to most people.

    My son wanted USAA insurance and his dad was retired army. But dad refused to help him join. (hes kinda a d**k, what can I say) so my dad was WWII vet and I joined with his connection, then my son was in by my referral so it can be done.

    Anyway, last October my dad died. USAA was outstanding helping me transfer accounts including car and home insurance, and they have a whole department for dealing with such losses. They actually offered me grief counseling. They sent me some thoughtful books on dealing with the loss of a parent and dealing with grief. They called a few weeks later to see how I was doing. Not to be a bank, or an insurance company, just to see how I was doing and could they offer any kind of help-non financial, put me in touch with agency kind of help. Seriously they are a cut above.

  2. Glen Caple says:

    My comments are not a slam on USAA. They are directed at BofA. I used to have USAA as my insurance co. for auto policies. In 2007, I lost my full-time job and could not afford auto insurance. After ten years with USAA, I asked them why I could not use some of the SSA amount (~$700) I had built up to pay for the insurance premium. They said no. I then closed the account. About 5 months later I received a check for the SSA amount, minus the Ins. premium pymt. Guess whose COMPANY CHECK and ACCOUNT it was written from? BANK OF AMERICA!!! YES! BANK OF AMERICA!!! I had perfect credit and no late payments for anything until 2008. I have never overdrawn on my checking account, EVER, in my life!!! I have ALWAYS paid off my loans, (vehicle, student loans, etc.) most ahead of time. To hell with Bank of UN-America!!! They are the ‘moral hazard’ and ‘systemic risk’ that is sapping the strength of this nation! I had a credit card that I had been using, and paid off monthly, for over 17 years. With a credit limit of $29,9xx.00, I carried a debt at the time of about $4K. Before I lost my job, I asked BofA for an aircraft loan, $120K, they said ‘No’. When I asked why, they would not give me an answer. I needed that plane for instructional and commercial use!!! Again, perfect credit, and the only other debt I had was about $25k, which was ‘aviation(student loan) related’. AND, all payments were up to date! To hell with all of them! I used to work in the operations center of a bank when I was in college. NEVER did anyone in that bank act like these greasy slime-buckets are “banking” today. They do not give a damn about people and their hard work. All they do is sit around in cubicles and push buttons. Well, this time they pushed the wrong one! All anyone has to do is go on Youtube and other places on the internet to see that there is something wrong with Bank of UN-America! God bless all of you :)

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