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USAA vs. Navy Federal: Which Is Better for You?

Written by Jessica Merritt | Edited by Ali Cybulski | Published on 5/31/2024


USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union serve essentially the same customer base: military members, veterans and their families. If you’re linked to the military and seek a place to keep your money, you may find what you need from either institution.

Though similar, the two institutions are not the same. For one, USAA is a bank, and Navy Federal is a credit union.

Each has distinct products and benefits you can compare to figure out whether USAA or Navy Federal is better for you. Look at account options, rates and ratings for customer service and mobile apps to choose between these financial institutions.

On this page:

Eligibility for USAA vs. Navy Federal

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for USAA or Navy Federal Credit Union.

Both target service members and their families, but Navy Federal has a slightly broader reach. Navy Federal products and services are open not only to current and former members of the armed forces and their families but also to Department of Defense civilian employees.

Current or former military members and their spouses and children are also eligible for USAA products and services.

USAA vs. Navy Federal at a glance

USAA and Navy Federal Credit Union offer checking and savings accounts with no monthly service fees. Both have CDs — called share certificates at credit unions — but you’ll find slightly higher rates at Navy Federal.

If you prefer in-person banking, Navy Federal has more than 350 branches worldwide compared with just a handful of USAA branches. However, USAA has a much larger network of 100,000 fee-free ATMs than Navy Federal’s 30,000-plus machines.

Here’s how USAA and Navy Federal stack up in key areas.

Key areas USAA Navy Federal
Products and services
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • Youth accounts
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Share certificates
  • Money market accounts
  • Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
Branches Only a handful More than 350
ATMs 100,000 More than 30,000
  • Savings: 0.01% to 1.60% based on daily balance
  • CDs: 0.05% to 4.90% for terms from 30 days to seven years ($1,000 minimum deposit)
  • Savings: 0.25% to 0.40%
  • Money market account: 0% to 2.25%
  • Certificates: 2.75% to 5.30% for terms from three months to seven years
Monthly service fees None May apply only to Flagship Checking
Features and benefits Large ATM network, no monthly fees, one-stop shopping for banking, investing and insurance needs Hundreds of branches, competitive CD rates, no monthly fees

Rates as of May 20, 2024

USAA vs. Navy Federal checking accounts

USAA offers one checking account, while Navy Federal provides a choice of several based on your needs.

USAA’s Classic Checking requires a $25 initial deposit and does not charge a monthly service fee. The account earns an annual percentage yield (APY) of 0.01% with a daily ledger balance — your checking account balance at the beginning of each day — of at least $1,000. It also offers access to a mobile app and early direct deposit, allowing you to receive your paycheck up to two days sooner.

Navy Federal offers a Free EveryDay Checking account with no monthly fee, no opening deposit and no minimum balance requirement. The account also earns an APY of 0.01%.

Here’s more about how these two products compare:

Checking accounts USAA Navy Federal
Initial deposit $25 $0
Monthly service fee No monthly service fee No monthly service fee
APY 0.01% with a daily balance of $1,000 or more 0.01% APY; 0.01% dividend rate
Bonus or special offer None None
Features and benefits Early direct deposit, large ATM network and up to $10 per statement in out-of-network ATM fee refunds Free personalized checks, interest dividends

Rates as of May 20, 2024

USAA vs. Navy Federal savings accounts

Savers have two choices of accounts from USAA and a slightly broader selection from Navy Federal.

USAA has a basic savings account and a higher-earning Performance First Savings account that requires a $10,000 minimum deposit. At Navy Federal, you’ll find basic savings, money market and education savings accounts as well as several types of share certificates. The money market account requires a minimum balance of $2,500 to earn interest dividends.

Here’s how the two basic accounts compare.

Savings accounts USAA Navy Federal
APY 0.01% 0.25%
Initial deposit $25 $5
Monthly fee $0 $0
Features and benefits ATM card available upon request, free budgeting and savings tools, automatic fraud alerts Requires only a $5 balance to earn dividends, several account options for minors

Rates as of May 20, 2024

USAA vs. Navy Federal CDs

USAA requires a minimum $1,000 deposit for CDs, but you can get started with Navy Federal for as little as $5. Navy Federal rates are higher than USAA rates for all CD terms as of May 20, 2024.

USAA’s standard CD rates range from 0.05% to 4.90%, depending on the term. If you choose a 91-day or seven-month CD, you’ll only earn 0.05%.

If you can keep your money tied up for 12 months, you’ll earn one of USAA’s best rates of 4.65%. However, the 182-day CD — that’s about six months — earns the highest rate of 4.90%.

With Navy Federal, a three-month certificate earns 2.75%, which is much more than USAA's three-month CD. As with USAA, the sweet spot is 12 months: You can get an APY of 4.80% on a regular certificate or choose a Special EasyStart Certificate with an APY of 5.30%.

Here’s more on CDs to help you compare your options.

USAA vs. Navy Federal
Standard CD Standard certificate
3 months 0.05% 2.75%
12 months 4.65% 4.80%
18 months 4.45% 4.50%
3 years 2.75% 4.00%
5 years 2.50% 3.80%
7 years 2.02% 3.80%
Minimum deposit $1,000 $1,000
Early withdrawal penalty Penalty is based on term; for terms of 30 days to 1 year, you’ll pay a penalty of 90 days of simple interest on the principal amount withdrawn. Penalty depends on your CD term; for terms of 1 year or less, you’ll lose up to the first 90 days of dividends earned on the amount of your withdrawal or all dividends earned since you opened or renewed the CD — whichever is less.

Rates as of May 20, 2024

USAA vs. Navy Federal customer service

If you prefer branch banking, Navy Federal may be the way to go. You’ll be able to access more than 350 locations worldwide for in-person service.

Navy Federal also offers 24/7 phone service at 888-842-6328. Alternatively, you can use online banking to send a secure message or start a live chat, or connect on social media.

If you prefer online banking, USAA may be a better fit. You can use online banking to pay bills, transfer funds, deposit checks, view statements, find ATMs and more. You can also download the USAA mobile app and view a few videos on the USAA website to see how to handle some common banking tasks on the go.

For live customer service, call USAA at 800-531-8722, or you can chat with a virtual assistant anytime.

Navy Federal tends to receive higher customer service ratings than USAA. One example: USAA receives a Trustpilot rating of 1.3 out of 5 stars based on nearly 2,700 reviews, which is considered a bad score. Navy Federal Credit Union has a Trustpilot rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars based on more than 29,000 reviews, which is considered an excellent score.

For more insights, you can also search for both institutions in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. It lists common types of complaints and responses to them.

USAA vs. Navy Federal mobile apps

If a great banking app is a must, take some time to check the reviews and features of USAA and Navy Federal mobile apps. Overall, both apps receive high marks on Google Play and the App Store.

USAA’s mobile app is rated 3.9 in the Google Play store and 4.8 in the App Store. You can use the app to pay bills, send funds with Zelle, deposit checks, transfer money and locate an ATM. The app also allows you to manage insurance you might have through USAA.

Navy Federal’s mobile app has a 4.2 Google Play rating and a 4.9 App Store rating. Use the app to view balances, move money between accounts, deposit checks, manage statements and more. You can also view rates and information on savings and loan products, estimate payments, and apply.

Should you choose USAA or Navy Federal?

Choosing between USAA or Navy Federal will depend on your needs and preferences. Either can be a good choice for service members, veterans and their families.

If you want to handle everything through one bank, USAA has banking, insurance and retirement solutions. It also has an extensive network of ATMs and a robust app.

But if you prefer to choose products based on the best rates, Navy Federal tends to come out ahead. The credit union also has more branches and better customer service ratings.

Choose USAA if you:

  • Prefer one-stop shopping for your financial needs
  • Want a large ATM network
  • Are comfortable with limited branch access

Select Navy Federal if you:

  • Prioritize yields on CDs and checking accounts
  • Need branch access
  • Seek a bank with high customer service ratings

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