Navy Federal vs USAA [What Are the Differences? Which Is Better?]

Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA Credit Union are both military-focused financial institutions. Both give special opportunities to those who served their country or are currently serving their country and their families. Let’s take a close look at the difference between Navy Federal vs USAA so you can choose the right financial institution for you.

Navy Federal Credit Union, founded in 1933, has various accounts to offer for their customer’s banking needs, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit.

USAA (United Services Automobile Association), founded in 1920, is an insurance company with insurance banking, retirement planning, and investment planning.

Below is a chart that shows show who can be members at Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA and what finance options they have to offer:

NFCUUSAA
Membership ServicesBank accounts, loans, mortgages, retirement services, investment servicesBank accounts, insurance, loans, mortgages, retirement services, investment services
Bank AccountsBasic Savings, Various Checking Accounts, Education Checking Accounts, Money Market AccountsBasic Savings, Various Checking Accounts, 529 College Savings Plan
FeesNo fees for almost all accounts. $10 monthly fee for Flagship CheckingNo fees for some accounts. $10 monthly fee for 529 College Savings Plan
Rates0.25% APY for basic savings with no maintaining balance, 0.05% APY for checking account, 2% interest rate for CPs0.05% APY for basic savings, higher for accounts with $5000 maintaining balance, 0.01% APY for checking accounts

Read on to find out more about Navy Federal vs USAA and what each has to offer.

Navy Federal vs USAA

navy federal vs usaa

Navy Federal and USAA Credit Union are two solid options for retired and active-duty military men and women.

Here’s a list of what both have to offer and who can actually qualify for each institution:

1. Who Can Avail These Programs?

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU)  is a credit union, and these financial institutions are more exclusive than banks.

NFCU Eligible Members

  • Active-Duty Service member: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard and, Army and Air National Guard
  • Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
  • Department of Defense Officer Candidate / ROTC
  • Department of Defense Reservists
  • Veterans, retirees, and annuitants of all the above departments

Moreover, you can also avail this program if you’re an eligible member’s:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Spouse
  • Children (including adopted and stepchildren)
  • Siblings
  • Grandchildren
  • Household Members

If you’re not sure if you qualify, you can contact Navy Federal Credit Union and ask about your eligibility.

USAA Bank Eligible Members

  • Active-Duty Service members including U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy.
  • Retired Service members
  • Separated Service members (with an honorable discharge from service)
  • Cadets and midshipmen, including those at U.S service academies
  • Advanced ROTC and on ROTC scholarship

Lastly, they will also extend services to the following relations of their clients:

  • Spouse
  • Widows
  • Widowers and un-remarried former spouses
  • Children
  • Stepchildren

2. Accounts Features

Both institutions offer many various accounts, including the basic savings account and the basic checking account.

NFCU has 5 kinds of accounts under their Education Savings Account (ESA) options. Moreover, this lets you open one or multiple accounts geared towards saving for educational expenses.

On the other hand, USAA has a 529 College Savings Plan that lets you save and pay for educational expenses.

Between the two, only NFCU offers a money market account with a higher interest rate than a regular savings account.

Both NFCU and USAA have customer service support available 24/7. Both have online, and mobile banking features with websites and phone apps. Moreover, the two have limited branches all over the U.S, but Navy Federal has a bit wider reach compared to USAA, both in the U.S and in other countries.

3. Fees

Navy Federal Credit Union has zero account monthly fees for almost all kinds of accounts. Moreover, the only account with a service fee is their NFCU Flagship Checking Account with a $10 monthly fee. The fee is charged only if your average daily balance is less than $1500.

USAA also has several available accounts that do not charge fees. They charge a fee for the 529 College Savings Plan account, but it’s a very minimal fee of $10.00 annually.

USAA’s stocks and options have a commission rate of $5.95 per trade. They do not have an annual account or inactivity fees. There is also no minimum deposit required, making it easy for military people who do not have enough to start with but want to save. Additionally, USAA does not charge fees for maintenance, account transfers, and after-hours trading.

Both Navy Federal and USAA give you access to thousands of ATMs nationwide, making it easy to withdraw anytime, anywhere.

4. Rates

Navy Federal Credit Union has excellent rates for most of their accounts. For a basic savings account with NFCU, you earn a 0.25% annual percentage yield, regardless of how much you have in your account, with no maintaining balance.

Navy Federal has a whopping 2% on a long-term certificate of deposit accounts. Thus, this makes it worthwhile to put away your money for the long term. All their checking accounts have a 0.05% annual percentage yield. The only one with a different rate is the Flagship Checking Account which gives you a 0.35% annual percentage yield.

USAA has lower rates with their basic savings account, earning only 0.05% annual percentage yield. To earn higher than 0.05%, you’ll need to have at least $5,000 in your account.

They have a bit higher interest rate for their Performance First Savings Account, but it requires that you have at least $10,000 to open that certain account. Checking accounts with USAA also yields a lower interest rate at only 0.01% annual percentage yield.

5. Investment Options

Both Navy Federal Credit Union and USAA allow their members to have investment accounts for retirement or general brokerage. They both also open the opportunity for stock and bond trading and mutual funds.

Navy Federal has a variety of Individual Retirement Accounts that you can choose from. USAA has more options for asset classes, so if you want to get in forex trading or trade in futures, check out what they have in store for you.

USAA also has a bit better investment features for the simple fact that their website is more accessible. They have become popular for their award-winning customizable mutual funds.

About Navy Federal Credit Union

navy federal credit union vs usaa

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has been serving families in the military and defense space since 1933. They started with just seven members, building up their membership until it now has over 9 million clientele. Their members are active-duty and retired military service members and their immediate and extended family members.

NFCU has various accounts to offer for their customer’s banking needs. Furthermore, they have to check accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit.

Once you’re a member of NFCU, applying for a loan is easier. They have many loan options, and because they are a credit union, interest rates are usually lower and more flexible than with traditional banks. Among the loans you can apply for are the following:

  • Mortgages,
  • Auto, motorcycle, and RV loans,
  • Home equity credit lines,
  • Student loans,
  • Personal loans,
  • IRAs,
  • ERAs, and
  • Business credit cards.

Navy Federal Credit Union is a good option for you if you are in the military, from a military family, or work in the defense industry. It’s a good choice if you want a no-frills savings and checking account and a high-earning certificate of deposit.

About USAA

USAA stands for United Services Automobile Association. It’s an insurance company with insurance banking, retirement planning, investment planning that serves members of the U.S. Military and members of their families. USAA started in 1920 when 25 army officers wanted to insure their cars and had a hard time because military men were considered high-risk.

From there, it has grown and expanded to be a financial institution with 8 million members. USAA has headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.

Military men and women who are members of USAA will enjoy a wide range of insurance and financial products. These include the following:

  • Automobile insurance,
  • Home insurance, renters insurance, health insurance, life insurance, small business insurance, banking services, investment services, real estate search insurance, retirement planning, and mortgages.

USAA is a financially sound institution with very competitive insurance rates, a broad range of financial services, and investment products and services for the U.S. Military. They also have a solid backup for their mobile services that lets you perform many banking duties 24/7.

USAA vs NFCU – Which Should You Choose?

usaa vs navy federal

Both USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union promise high-quality services with many retirements and investment options to the Armed Forces and their families. Navy Federal was first founded for Navy members, so there is better accessibility to service members of the Navy who reside on Navy bases. However, Navy Federal serves all branches of the military – including Army, Navy, and Airforce.

Navy Federal Credit Union is good for military members who want to invest but do not regularly track their investment. NFCU has financial investors who can do account maintenance for you. USAA tends to be more for military people who want to be more active in investment tracking.

If you’re looking for good customer service support, USAA has very well-rated customer service compared to NFCU’s, which has accessibility problems. USAA has 24/7 customer service that is easily accessible.

With USAA, withdrawals are available anytime but only at ATMs, and to deposit into a checking account, and their members must use the internet or phone banking. NFCU lets you withdraw and deposit from any of their ATMs nationwide.

NFCU is, again, a credit union, so it’s different from a bank. As such, they have better rates compared to any bank. If you’re eligible to be a Navy Federal Credit Union member, it would be a waste for you not to join.

USAA is a good choice for insurance needs if you are serving in the military. They offer one-stop shopping for financial and investment needs.

To sum it up, both NFCU and USAA are excellent choices for military people and their families for setting up credit and investments. To meet your personal needs, it is best to talk to a financial adviser from both companies.

Conclusion: Navy Federal Credit Union vs USAA

Navy Federal Credit Union, founded in 1933, has various accounts to offer for their customer’s banking needs, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit. Meanwhile, USAA (United Services Automobile Association), founded in 1920, is an insurance company with insurance banking, retirement planning, and investment planning.

NFCU is good for military members who want to invest but do not regularly track their investments. NFCU has financial investors who can do account maintenance for you. On the other hand, USAA tends to be more for military people who want to be more active in investment tracking.