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2023 USAA Personal Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Personal loan rating: 4.2/5
  • Accessibility: 3.8/5
  • Rates and terms: 4.8/5
  • Repayment experience: 4/5
Personal loan details
  • APR range: Up to 18.51%
  • Loan terms: 12 to 84 months
  • Loan amount: $2,500– $100,000
  • Minimum credit score: Not specified
 Our verdict: USAA Bank offers personal loans exclusively to those who have military ties. If you fit this criteria and have good credit, you may be able to access personal loans with competitive APRs, long loan terms and flexible loan amounts.

USAA has a unique origin story. In 1922, 25 Army officers founded the company when working together to insure one another’s vehicles. Since then, USAA has gone on to serve military members, veterans and their families with various financial products and services, including personal loans ranging from $2,500 to $100,000.

  • Competitive APR: USAA’s annual percentage rate (APR) only goes as high as 18.51% — much lower than the cap of 36% that some lenders offer.
  • Flexible loan terms: Borrowers can take out loans with repayment terms as short as 12 months or as long as 84 months; however, your repayment terms will depend on the amount you borrow and your creditworthiness.
  • Large range of loan amounts: USAA members can borrow as little as $2,500 and up to $100,000. This loan range is much more flexible than what some other lenders offer.
  • Only serves those with military ties: If you want to get a loan through USAA, you’ll need to be a member of the military, veteran or be a family member of someone in the military. You must become a member of USAA before you can get a personal loan. But because of this exclusivity, you’ll access particularly quick funding and loan flexibility.
  • No debt consolidation loans: This lender does not offer debt consolidation loans in which you can roll all your debts into a single loan then use the funds from that loan to pay off your former creditors.
  • No application fees: USAA does not charge any application fees. USAA also does not charge prepayment penalties, so you can repay your personal loan without incurring extra fees.

USAA pros and cons

While USAA isn’t perfect for everyone, it offers great personal loans to those who qualify.

ProsCons

  Offers flexible loan amounts and terms

  APR only goes up to 18.51%

  Quick funding

  Only serves those with military ties

  Doesn’t offer debt consolidation loans

  Requires USAA membership

USAA can provide money to borrowers within 24 hours of closing on the loan contract, which is good news to consumers looking for fast funding. Aside from its flexible loan amounts ($2,500 to $100,000) and numerous repayment-term options (12 to 84 months), USAA also offers competitive APR. This lender’s APR only goes as high as 18.51%. For context, APRs below 36% are generally considered the most affordable among personal loans.

You need to become a USAA member to get a personal loan, and you must have a military tie to be approved for membership. USAA also doesn’t offer debt consolidation loans, so if you’re looking for a loan for this purpose, you may be better off exploring other options.

USAA civil penalty

In March 2022, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) declared a $140 million penalty against USAA Federal Savings Bank — which operates under USAA — for violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) also issued a $60 million penalty for related violations.

In 2020, the OCC also issued an $85 million penalty against USAA Federal Savings Bank for a failing to create and follow competent compliance risk management program and an information technology risk governance program that are required under the the Military Lending Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

While this isn’t directly related to personal loans, this may impact your decision as to whether to use this lender.

USAA requirements

While USAA does provide guidance on how to become a member, the lender doesn’t offer much insight into its personal loan requirements. Here’s what we know:

Minimum credit scoreNot specified
Membership eligibilityTo become a USAA member, you must be one of the following:
  • Active duty, guard or reserve
  • Veterans
  • Cadets or midshipmen
  • Spouses, widows, unremarried former spouses and children of USAA members

If you meet the basic membership requirements above, you may need to disclose how you plan to use your personal loan. While USAA does allow borrowers to use its funding for a variety of purposes, there are certain expenses you cannot put the money toward.

USAA loans CAN be used for…USAA loans CANNOT be used for…
  • Paying off bills
  • Home improvement projects
  • Emergency expenses
  • Building a pool
  • Other major expenses
  • Postsecondary education expenses

If USAA’s loan options won’t work for your borrowing needs, shop around for a lender that helps you meet your financial goals and can offer you the best-fitting rates, terms and amounts.

How to get a loan with USAA

In order to get a USAA personal loan, you’ll need to become a member first. Here’s what you need to know about the process:

Become a USAA member

If you’re not already a USAA member, you’ll need to first apply to become one before you can get a personal loan.

During this process, in addition to your contact information, you’ll need to report your experience in the U.S. Armed Forces, your military status, branch, rank and when you served.

Fill out an application

Once you’re approved to join USAA, you can apply for a personal loan.

USAA doesn’t offer soft credit inquiries to those applying for a loan, meaning you’ll have an impact on your credit score if you want to check your rates with USAA.

So, if you want to see whether you qualify, you’ll have to submit to a hard credit inquiry, which can cause your credit score to go down by up to five points. Because of this, you may want to check if you prequalify for a loan with any other lenders before applying with USAA.

Once you access your potential rates, terms and amounts you’re eligible for, you’ll need to choose what plan you want to go with.

During this process, you’ll also need to verify your personal information such as your income and identity through documentation such as pay stubs, W-2s and a government-issued ID.

Sign your contract

If you’re approved for a personal loan, you’ll need to sign your loan agreement and close on your loan. After you’ve completed this part of the process, USAA will send your funds to your USAA bank account within 24 hours.

If you’re not approved, you may want to consider tactics to increase your chances of qualifying for a loan. This can include raising your credit score by cutting down on your debt and paying your bills on time as well as checking your credit report for any errors.

How USAA compares to other personal loan companies

Even if you believe USAA aligns with what you’re looking for in a personal loan, it never hurts to shop around and compare other lenders. Here’s how USAA stacks up against similar personal loan lenders.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

LenderUSAASoFiLightStream
LendingTree’s rating4.2/54.6/54.5/5
Minimum credit scoreNot specified680Not specified
APRsUp to 18.51%7.99%-23.43%5.99%-23.99%
Loan amount$2,500- $100,000$5,000- $100,000$5,000- $100,000
Repayment term12 to 84 months24 to 84 months24 to 144 months
Origination feeNoneNoneNone
Funding timelineReceive funds in as soon as one business dayReceive funds the same business dayReceive funds the same business day
Bottom lineWhile USAA Bank has a slower funding timeline than SoFi and LightStream, it does have a lower maximum APR. It also has a lower minimum loan amount than either SoFi or LightStream.SoFi has faster funding and is more transparent around its eligibility requirements. Unlike USAA, it also allows consumers to prequalify. However, SoFi has a higher APR maximum.Similar to USAA, LightStream does not allow consumers to prequalify for a loan. While Lightstream has more flexible repayment terms, it has a higher maximum APR than USAA does.

How we rated USAA

To come up with our star rating for personal loan companies, LendingTree considered 22 data points across three categories:

  • Accessibility: We paid attention to whether lenders offered loans to nontraditional borrowers, as well as those without excellent credit scores. We also checked if lenders offered soft credit pulls, and whether they were transparent about eligibility criteria other than credit scores.
  • Rates and terms: We wanted to know if lender rates, terms, amounts and fees were not only transparent, but competitive.
  • Repayment experience: We based this category on lenders’ reputations, customer support availability and unique benefits.

The data points reflect every step of the process to shop and apply for, borrow and repay personal loans. A five-star lender, for instance, has flexible eligibility requirements, offers you the chance to prequalify without commitment and supports you in zeroing your balance.

The 22 data points, culled from the lenders themselves, determine the overall rating. We score lenders consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, so that you can make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping around.

LendingTree isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have control over their content. With our reviews and ratings, we aim to give our users the objective and exhaustive information they need to make the best possible decisions.

Frequently asked questions

The only people who can access a USAA personal loan are:

  • Active duty, guard or reserve
  • Veterans
  • Cadets or midshipmen
  • Spouses, widows, unremarried former spouses and children of USAA members

While reputable lenders all perform hard credit pulls at some point during the personal loan application process, many lenders allow you to check if you prequalify for a personal loan beforehand without any impact to your credit score.

USAA, however, doesn’t allow you to prequalify for a loan. If you want to see your potential rates and terms, you’ll have to submit to a hard credit check.

If you’re not a current or former member of the military (or a family member of someone who is) you won’t be able to get a personal loan from USAA. If you don’t fit into this criteria, you’ll need to find a personal loan lender elsewhere.

 

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