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USAA auto loans: 2024 review

2024-01-01 06:00:00

At a glance

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
  • Customer Experience
    Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
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About USAA

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $5,000 and up

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score

    Not specified

  • Rates

    APR from

    5.19% (with autopay)

  • Funds available in

    Not specified

Best for military members and veterans 

USAA has a focus on offering financial products for military members, veterans and their families. It started in 1922 with 25 army officers insuring each other’s vehicles. USAA auto loans have perks designed for servicemembers and veterans. For instance, they allow you to take your financed car overseas when you deploy, travel overseas or move, unlike other lenders. There are also loans for adapted vehicles for people who have disabilities. 

USAA pros and cons

USAA boasts special discounts and rates for its members. Still, consider the cons before signing off.

Green circle with a checkmark inside


  • Autopay discount
  • No application or prepayment fees
  • Long shopping window
Red circle with an X inside


  • No prequalification
  • Missing loan details
  • Membership required

USAA is a Texas-based company that serves U.S. military members and veterans, pre-commissioned officers and spouses and children of either. Members can take out auto loans for new, used and leased vehicles and refinance existing ones. With competitive rates and dedicated customer service, USAA can be a great option for service members looking to finance their next vehicle purchase.

Do you qualify?

USAA does not disclose loan requirements other than membership. Those who can join USAA include:

  • Active duty, National Guard and reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces 
  • Contracted cadet or midshipmen
  • Officer or warrant officer candidates
  • Spouses, former spouses, widows and children of the above

With most lenders, to get the best rate, you will need to have very good to excellent credit — a score of at least 670.

USAA versus M&T Bank

With a lower minimum loan amount of $2,000, financing through M&T Bank is a great option for borrowers who are financing a less expensive vehicle. Additionally, the Buffalo-based bank offers discounts to its borrowers without a membership requirement, unlike USAA. If you do not meet the membership requirements imposed by USAA, consider M&T Bank for similar rates, terms and acceptance.  

See our full USAA vs. M&T Bank comparison

USAA versus Navy Federal

Like USAA, Navy Federal serves U.S. military members and veterans, though Navy Federal is a credit union rather than a financial services company. The two lenders offer competitive minimum interest rates and fast lending decisions. Navy Federal offers a couple of perks USAA doesn't, including a 96-month repayment term and access to car-buying services through TrueCar. 

What we like and what we don’t like

While you won't face prepayment penalties and you can shop for up to 45 days, there are some drawbacks to consider.

What we like

  • Autopay discount. Members benefit from a 0.25 percent discount when they sign up for autopay.
  • No application or prepayment fees. USAA doesn't charge application fees or prepayment penalties. 
  • Long shopping window. The loan offer you receive is good for 45 days. With many lenders, your offer expires in just 30. 

What we don’t like

  • No prequalification. USAA does not offer a way to see your rates without a hard credit check. 
  • Missing loan details. While minimum rates are disclosed, the maximum loan amount and maximum APR are not currently listed on USAA’s website. And it’s hard to judge your loan eligibility without applying, because USAA doesn’t list creditworthiness requirements either.
  • Membership required. You must have personal or family connections to the military in order to finance with USAA.

How to contact USAA

If you have questions regarding your loan application or prefer to communicate over the phone, USAA can be reached at 800-531-8722 or 210-531-8722 or via chat function directly on the site. Some complaints on Trustpilot mentioned most communications being digital and lacking a personal feel.

What someone who uses USAA has to say

One person on our team who uses USAA for their car loan had this to say about their experience:

“I have a 4-year auto loan with USAA. On top of USAA offering affordable rates to its loyal members, I benefitted from a very low rate from the post-Covid era. My dad is a co-signer on the loan since I did not have substantial credit history in college. After I got my job and started making all the loan payments myself, I called USAA to ask if I could remove my dad from the loan, but I couldn't do this without giving up my extremely low rate. Not that this information would've changed my decision, but I wish I had known this about the process before.”

— Bankrate staff

Auto loan types offered

USAA offers auto loans for drivers looking to finance a new or used vehicle or refinance their current loan. It also offers financing for lease buyouts but directs customers to call for more information. 

New and used auto loans

  • Amounts: $5,000 and up
  • Terms: 36-84 months 
  • APR: From 5.19%, new; 6.14%, used (with autopay)

Drivers can finance a vehicle directly from a dealer or through a private seller with terms up to 84 months, which is longer than many other lenders. However, USAA does carry some rules regarding vehicle age, cost and available terms. For 72-month terms, the financing amount must be $15,000 or greater. The 84-month term is only available for model years 2016-2024 and require financed amounts of $25,000 or greater.

Refinance loans

  • Amounts: $5,000 and up
  • Terms: 36-84 months 
  • APR: From 5.19%, new; 6.14%, used (with autopay)

One unusual perk that comes with USAA refi is the ability to take your vehicle overseas, ideal for those awaiting deployment. 

How to apply for a loan with USAA

The application process can be done fully online, with approval provided in minutes. Your loan offer will be good for 45 days so it is wise to shop around before signing off. According to USAA’s site, applying for a new or used auto loan can be done in three simple steps.

  1. Apply online. First, fill out the online application and undergo a credit check. You will need information about the loan you want, your income, employment and housing. You can only get your USAA auto loan rates by applying, as there is no prequalification process.  
  2. Sign your documents. Following approval, which should take minutes, you will sign off on the e-documents via the website.
  3. Get the loan. Finally, you will receive your funding and can purchase your vehicle. Payments will be made to USAA on a monthly basis.

Features and perks 

As with many lenders, you can get a 0.25 percent discount on USAA car loan rates for using autopay.   

Some lenders only focus on car loans or refinance. But USAA also offers auto insurance, so if you’d like your auto costs through one place, USAA may be the way to go.  

A final standout perk is payment relief after a natural disaster. It’s not something many borrowers think about, but it’s a nice feature to have in case the worst happens.     

Fees and penalties 

USAA does not have an application fee, nor does it assess an early pay-off penalty. Many lenders are moving away from these fees, but some competitors still charge them. 


How Bankrate rates USAA

Overall score 4
Availability 4.4 USAA offers loans in all 50 states but does not disclose maximum loan amounts.
Affordability 4.3 There are no hidden fees but USAA uses traditional underwriting criteria and has an average minimum APR.
Customer experience 5 The shopping window is longer than competitors and USAA 24/7 online chat support.
Transparency 2.5 USAA does not offer prequalification and only shares its minimum APR.


The Bankrate team assessed more than 35 auto lenders to find the best. Bankrate considered 18 criteria, such as acceptance criteria, loan amounts and APR range. These scores are broken into four categories.

  • Availability: Loan amounts, repayment options, dealership requirements and state availability all contribute to this category. Lenders that serve customers nationwide with flexible loan amounts rank higher.
  • Affordability: This section houses APR ranges, acceptance criteria, fees and discounts. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and most generous acceptance criteria receive higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at how easy it is for customers to apply for and manage their loans. Criteria include how long you have to shop, customer service hours, whether there’s an app and autopay availability.
  • Transparency: This includes prequalification and disclosure of rates and fees. We favored lenders that make it easy for customers to preview possible costs.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Writer, Auto Loans and Personal Loans
Rebecca Betterton, a Certified Financial Education Instructor℠, is a writer for Bankrate who has been reporting on auto loans since 2021.
Edited by Editor, Personal and Auto Loans