Armed Forces Bank Questions

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by bpoythress, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. bpoythress

    bpoythress New Member

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    Hi there,

    Getting ready to head out to the Academy is a process full of decisions, and it seems every decision is one that will have a pretty significant impact on my life. Naturally, this means I'm trying to make them carefully. Among the scores of papers I need to send to the Academy is a card with my signature for the opening of an account with the Armed Services Bank so that I can receive pay during basic training. Having no experience with this bank, I went online to see what I could find out about it. To my dismay, I found pages from Consumer Reports and Consumer Rankings that gave it a pretty bad rap, most of which suggested opening an account with USAA as soon as I'm able. This leads me to a few questions:

    1. Is the Armed Services Bank really all that bad?
    2. If it is, at what point can I close my account/move to a better bank?
    3. Is USAA a better choice, and easy for a cadet to use?
    4. Should I get a credit card with the Armed Services Bank if I'm going to close my account with them as soon as I'm able? (Or even if I plan to keep my account - should I go on and get a card?)

    I know I'm a few steps ahead of the game and probably have other things to worry about, but when it comes to managing finances, I'm trying to do my best to make smart decisions right off the bat. I know how hard it can be to recover from bad financial decisions.

    Thank you for your help!
    BP
     
  2. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    For convenience sake, get the Armed Forces Bank account. It makes the inprocessing so much simpler.

    Reasons to fill out the card and get the bank account.

    1. It simplifies the inprocessing and your monthly pay.
    2. Your monthly pay for the first 2 years is almost insignificant. Banking needs will be very small.
    3. Once everything is established and you're out of basic training and actually a cadet taking classes, you can always change the bank where your money goes.

    For now, just do it. It simplifies everything. Change it later to USAA (Especially if you want the $35,000 loan when you're a Junior/Senior), or change it to you bank at home. It doesn't matter. But for now, use the Armed forces bank.
     
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  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Parent

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    DS has had USAA accounts since middle school but he still had to start with the Armed Services account at I Day. Sometime after A-Day he changed his direct deposit to USAA and dumped the other bank which he did not like.
     
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  4. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Armed Forces Bank is seriously awful. After BCT, open up a USAA checking account online, walk into Armed Forces Bank here, and close your account and route it all to your new USAA account. They're very used to having accounts closed so it's a painless process if you open your USAA account and have that information ready.
     
  5. baileydb

    baileydb Member

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    What is it that makes the Armed Forces Bank so bad? Just out of curiosity........
     
  6. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    I never had any particular problems with Armed Forces Bank. They just did not offer a lot of services that USAA does, and their ATM /non-fee ATM proliferation was pitiful.
     
  7. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Their online banking/phone customer service is really awful compared to USAA, and it doesn't have any of the good services USAA does, like raimius mentioned.
     
  8. nolifepilot

    nolifepilot USAFA Cadet

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    1. AFB isn't terrible, and there's a branch in Sijan so it's nice and close. I thought the same thing, "what makes AFB so bad that everyone switches?" It's not that it's extremely bad, it's just that USAA is amazingly better. Like seriously, light years better. Get the AFB account for basic, then switch to USAA once you're done with basic. There's ATMs on campus, and you can use them with USAA to get cash out without paying any fees.

    2. You can switch banks immediately after basic, once you get your computer. For both myself and my roommate, the online registration wouldn't work for some reason. We both called in to switch over. It took about ten minutes to set up an account, and they automatically transferred all my money over from AFB to USAA and closed down my account for me at AFB. Be sure to transfer your direct deposit over to USAA as well.

    3. See above. USAA is outstanding. Every single interaction I've had with them has been phenomenal. They're focused on service to military members and that's always a nice touch. Their mobile app is amazing, their website is very very easy to use and convenient, and their customer service is through the roof. They will help you with anything and everything banking and money related. Inside your laptop package, you'll get info for insuring your laptop through USAA and it's a great deal. I wouldn't know about car insurance for another year, but apparently their car insurance rates are great as well. Also, the Career Starter Loan you can take junior year can be taken through USAA. I also use USAA to keep track of my IRA and my other investments; they've got a great investment center in addition to banking services.

    4. Your choice on the card, but I don't know why you would get a card if you're going to close your account with AFB. I got a credit card through USAA when I made my account. I use it for buying airline tickets home, and there's no interest on it for the first year or something, I don't remember specifically how long. Also, there's F-22s on the front, so that's pretty cool...
     
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  9. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    What's the $35,000 loan for?

    Ok, I found the answer. Is that advised? My sons looking at the academy partially so he doesn't have student loans. Idk, just seems like a bad idea to start out your adult life already $35k in debt. Am I missing something?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
  10. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    I would read those threads you found on this topic. Those threads go into a very detailed discussion on pluses and minus of the loan. Also you don't have to take the whole 35K or whatever is offered that year. But like I said read the other threads on this.
     
  11. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    Will do thanks!
     
  12. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

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    USAA makes banking, insurance, and investing pretty easy. If you want a one-stop-shop, it is well designed for it.
    That said, when I got a car loan, a local FCU in C-springs had a better rate. Also, some of the USAA investment funds are not quite as high-performing as other places. So, it is GREAT at some things, but only average at others. So, I'd still recommend shopping around a little bit for large investment plans, loans, etc.

    The career starter loan (aka "cadet loan") is a very low interest loan. My class was at 1.5%, which was higher than average. Even so, I only needed to invest about 1/3rd of that in a mutual fund to make the total interest back in a year or two. With interest rates below inflation, the loan can easily pay for itself. It is good for things like starting investments, buying a used car, furnishing your apartment, and having an emergency/reserve fund. I'd definitely advise cadets to invest a large chunk of it.
     
  13. xray328

    xray328 Member

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    That's what I was thinking, sort of a forced investment plan. $35k invested with an 8% return over 35 years is $500,000 with no additional contributions. I guess it's a good credit building tool as well. Anyway, I don't want to hijack the thread but thanks for the info.
     
  14. TRdeeter

    TRdeeter Member

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    Is there any reason to NOT go ahead and open up a USAA account now also? Saves the cadet from worrying about it later? Then after basic, just switch the check deposits to USAA and close the other account? Just curious. We are trying to decide what to have our DS do.
     
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Parent

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    DS went to I-Day with his USAA account and debit card and then switched his direct deposit to it after A-Day. As you suggest, he then closed his AFB.
     

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