USAA Mortgage Review 2022

Good for: military members and their relatives who are interested in a VA loan.
Jan 4, 2022

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Our Take

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

USAA specializes in VA loans and offers a variety of online conveniences, but its website doesn't provide customized rate quotes.

USAA
USAA: NMLS#8722
Min. credit score
640
Min. down payment
0%
Loan types and products
Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, VA

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • VA loans are the bulk of USAA's business, so it knows the ins and outs of eligibility.
  • Has lots of experience assisting first-time home buyers.
  • You can submit loan documents online.

Cons

  • Doesn't offer FHA or USDA loans, or second mortgages.
  • Limited mortgage rate information is on the USAA website, none of it customized. You'll have to call.

Compare to Other Lenders

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

620

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Min. down payment

3%

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Home Equity, Reverse, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA, USDA

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA, VA

Loan types and products

Purchase, Refinance, Jumbo, Fixed, Adjustable, FHA

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Full Review

Tap to learn how COVID-19 has affected mortgage shopping

The coronavirus pandemic introduced some new challenges to getting a mortgage. Many lenders facing high loan demand and staffing issues increased their fees, adjusted minimum required credit scores or temporarily suspended certain loan products. While some products and business practices have returned to pre-pandemic levels, you might still find delays and limited options. If you can’t pay your current home loan, refer to our mortgage assistance resource. For information on how to cope with financial stress during this pandemic, see NerdWallet’s financial guide to COVID-19.

USAA at a glance

USAA is a financial services firm open to current and honorably discharged military members and their spouses and children. The firm offers mortgages through USAA Federal Savings Bank and specializes in VA loans for military-connected borrowers. USAA charges no fees on VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans, and is competitive on rates and fees for all other loans, too. It serves all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but not through a network of local offices; USAA is "100% consumer direct," meaning most business is conducted over the phone or online.

Here’s a breakdown of USAA's overall score:

  • Variety of loan types: 3 of 5 stars

  • Ease of application: 5 of 5 stars

  • Rates and fees: 3 of 5 stars

  • Rate transparency: 3 of 5 stars

USAA mortgage loan types

Loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs are USAA's sweet spot. In fact, about three-quarters of USAA mortgages are VA loans.

"While we offer many mortgage options to our entire membership base, USAA has traditionally specialized in VA loans," Mark Burrage, a USAA mortgage executive, said in an email. The lender's average home loan size is $270,642, according to 2020 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data.

Given USAA's military membership, VA loans with 0% down are its core offering for first-time home buyers. USAA doesn't offer FHA or USDA loans.

Home equity loans and lines of credit are also unavailable at USAA.

USAA ease of application

Because USAA's membership has traditionally relied on a long-distance relationship rather than a brick-and-mortar local presence, technology is key.

"We provide a robust digital mortgage experience," Burrage said. "From the ability to apply online, import your bank statements, electronic document uploads and e-sign loan documents. We prefill a large part of the mortgage application based on information in the member's profile — which reduces needless keystrokes and speeds up the process."

When a user receives an official loan estimate, the data for the loan is rendered in real time as an explanatory video, breaking down all of the information contained in the estimate.

Loan officers are typically available by phone Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Central time for new loans and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central for loans in process. There is a single point of contact through the initial loan stage.

USAA mortgage rates and fees

One of the most important considerations when choosing a mortgage lender is understanding what the loan will cost. In order to provide consumers with a general sense of what a lender might charge, NerdWallet scores lenders on two factors regarding fees and mortgage rates, according to the most recently available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data:

  • USAA earns 2 of 5 stars for average origination fee.

  • USAA earns 3 of 5 stars for offered mortgage rates compared with the best available rates on comparable loans.

USAA's VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or VA IRRRL, has no origination fee, and the lender says it covers the appraisal, title and VA funding fee.

Borrowers should consider the balance between lender fees and mortgage rates. While it's not always the case, paying upfront fees can lower your mortgage interest rate. Some lenders will charge higher upfront fees to lower their advertised interest rate and make it more attractive. Some lenders just charge higher upfront fees.

You can decide to buy discount points — a fee paid with your closing costs — to reduce your mortgage rate.

Deciding whether to pay higher upfront fees is a matter of considering how long you plan to live in your home and how much cash you have to apply toward closing costs when you sign the loan paperwork.

USAA mortgage rate transparency

USAA mortgage rates are available online but are not customized by a user's credit score, location or loan details. The USAA rate webpage shows purchase and refinance mortgage rates, and makes it fairly easy to see if discount points have been applied to lower the displayed rate. To get a customized rate quote, you'll need to contact a USAA loan officer or start an online application.

More from NerdWallet

Methodology

NerdWallet’s overall ratings for mortgage lenders are evaluated based on four major categories: variety of loan types (purchase, refinance, fixed and adjustable, for example), ease of application, rates and fees and rate transparency. Among the factors we consider when scoring these categories are options to apply for and track loans online, the level of detail about mortgage rates on lender websites and our analysis of the rates and fees lenders reported in the latest available Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. These scores generate ratings from 1 star (poor) to 5 stars (excellent).