Service Academy & Beyond Banking Options


10-Year Member
Founding Member
Jun 9, 2006
Every year, about this time, folks start to learn of the different banking options of the newly appointed Service Academy young people. Can all who have experiences with these military banking institutions lend a few fingers to the key board to explain some plus & minus issues to help those with no military backgrounds know the options?
I'll begin with what I know of USAA & Naval Federal Credit Union as it pertains to USMMA Midshipmen.

During INDOC, the kids will open their NFCU accounts with a minimum of $5.00. There is a NFCU atm on academy grounds. There is a $2.00 charge for non-NFCU atm withdraws that can truly add up over a year's time. This account needs to be in place for any sea year pay that is direct deposited although my son was on three ships and they did not direct deposit. He doesn't use this account much but it is handy for sending a check for him to deposit when he calls begging funds after melting a running suit in the KP dryers.

USAA offers a good deal with their personal property insurance, covering laptops & class rings, ect. at about $130.00 a year. They also give back any atm fees world-wide if you use their debit card. You can only transfer funds into this account via on-line.

Both institutions offer excellent loans sometime during the end of Junior year & help them with investing (per that dang little fee). My son chose to go with USAA:

0.5% APR
Start paying 3 months after graduation on a 60 month plan
$552 a month.
If it's changed in the past three years I apologize...

Upon reporting to CGA you receive a Navy Federal Credit Union account. Your pay is direct deposited into that account. At the Academy, we had a NFCU ATM, so no ATM charges there. In the middle of our junior year we received $30,000.00 "car loans", at 1%. You were able to transfer the direct deposit to your new USAA account (to get the loan, you needed to be a member of USAA).

Eventually I closed my Navy Federal account...tired of accounting for it during tax time.

USAA will refund all of your ATM withdraw away, they'll give it back to you. I've been very happy with USAA as well, and I have my renters insurance with them. They always seem happy (like SouthWest Airlines operators), and they refer to you by your rank when you call (which I could do with out...they are my bank, not part of my unit).

I'm very happy with USAA.
LITS, so the boy needs to keep his NFCU account until after he's commissioned with the Coast Guard because they direct deposit? Then he can do away with it later?

The loan rates have changed for sure.
USCG direct deposits. You don't need to do it with USAA though, that's all worked out with your Yeoman.

He would need an account that his pay can be deposited in, that account can be Navy Federal, or anything else. One of my fellow JOs has another non-USAA and non-NFCU account.
I've been banking with Navy Fed for 17 years, and have had insurance with USAA for 20+ years.

Banking: Both USAA and Navy Fed have competitive interest rates, and both banks are very user friendly. For those sea service folks who are looking at doing some overseas stuff, Navy Fed does have branches at most major naval bases overseas, and being able to talk with someone face to face can be a life saver at times. USAA does refund your ATM fees where Navy Fed does not. If your use a Star ATM there are no fees, and one little secret with Navy Fed, most (not all) 7-11 ATM's are fee free.

For deposits, USAA has a program where you can scan a check and import the image into USAA's online banking web page, and the check will be deposited to the account within 24 hours.

I've looked at both banks pretty closely, and for now Navy Fed has what I need. Personal choice, but make sure to look at all the rates first.

Insurance: USAA can't be beat IMHO. The rates are good for auto and have been great for homeowners. The claims folks are outstanding, not that anyone should ever have to use them, but if you do they are on the ball and really make what is a bad situation that much easier.
are you sure that NFCU doesnt refund ATM fees? my online statement lists "ATM Rebate" under my account activity.
I'm positive. I just double checked my account, and I have no ATM fee refunds.