Editorial Review

USAA Personal Loans: 2019 Review

A good option for USAA members who want to consolidate high-interest debt, with low starting rates and no origination fee.

Steve NicastroAugust 15, 2019

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: Members of USAA can get competitive rates and terms on its unsecured personal loans.

USAA Personal Loan

USAA Personal Loan

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

8.99-18.00%

Loan Amount

$2,500-$50,000

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Low rates.

  • No origination fee.

  • Fast funding.

Cons
  • Hard credit pull.

  • Must be a USAA member.

Full Review

To review USAA, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives, and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.

USAA loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidationhome improvements, vacations and wedding expenses. You must be a member at USAA to apply for a personal loan.

Membership requirements:

  • All individuals serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard and Reserves.

  • Former military who have either retired or been honorably discharged.

  • Widows, widowers and former spouses (who have not remarried) of USAA members who had USAA auto or property insurance while married.

  • Individuals whose parents have or have had USAA auto or property insurance.

  • Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, and offer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.

Low rates and fees: Its loans carry no application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties. Personal loan terms range from 12 to 84 months, with annual percentage rates from 8.99% to 18% (which includes a 0.25% discount for automatic payments).

You must have excellent credit to qualify for its lowest rates or to get a loan with a repayment term that’s greater than 60 months.

Joint applications: The company does not allow co-signers on loans, but it does take joint applications in which both borrowers have access to the loan proceeds and are responsible for repaying the loan. Generally, having a co-applicant with a stronger credit profile can boost the odds of approval or get a lower rate.

Hard credit pull: Applicants should note that USAA does a hard credit pull on personal loan applications, which may result in a temporary hit to your credit score.

Debt protection program: USAA also offers an optional debt protection program for an extra fee that is based on the outstanding loan balance. Similar to credit insurance, it covers loan repayments in case of death, disability or involuntary unemployment.

The program has coverage limits and may not be necessary if you’re already covered under your life or disability insurance.

Loan example: For a borrower with excellent credit, a $20,000 personal loan with a repayment term of 36 months at 13.9% APR would carry monthly payments of $683, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator.

How USAA compares

Navy Federal is a credit union that offers a slightly lower starting APRs; customers with excellent credit may qualify for a 36-month term at 7.99% APR. Navy Federal also offers home improvement loans with repayment terms up to 15 years, although rates are higher, ranging from 15.09% to 18%.

Wells Fargo offers higher loan amounts — up to $100,000 — and a lower starting rate at 7.24% than Navy Federal or USAA. Its loans can be used to consolidate debt or finance costly projects. New customers must apply in person, while existing customers can apply and receive funds online.

How to apply for a USAA loan

USAA has limited branches, so members are encouraged to apply for loans online or over the phone, according to the company. To create an online account with USAA, you’ll need to provide your date of birth, contact information and Social Security number, and details about your or your family member’s military service.

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Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.