While on the way home yesterday, I happened to hear a radio commercial stating the USAA has open its enrollment eligibility to "former officers and enlisted personnel who separated on or after 01/01/1996". This opens all kinds of financial benefits for us "one term" veterans. Previously, you had to be either active duty or retired military to join.

I signed up as soon as I arrived at home, and promptly applied for their Platinum Mastercard. Within 60 seconds I was approved, with an APR more than 5% lower and a credit limit 6 times higher than my current Chase Platinum. Which immediately alters my debt ratio on my credit score for any balance carried. Yeah me!

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Next, I will be moving my oldest son's savings account from Washington Mutual to USAA's Teen Checking, and setting up a prepaid account for my youngest's allowances.

United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a Fortune 500 financial services company focused on providing banking, investing, and insurance to people and families that serve, or served, in the United States military.

Some benefits of Membership

  • Free Checking – Free worldwide ATM use, free checks, interest earning, rewards, and more. They even reimburse you for other banks ATM fees.
  • LOW Credit Card Rates – APR lower than all options reported at BankRate.com
  • Teen Checking – 100% free Checking account with debit card. They even have their own website to logon to to maintain their account.
  • Insurance – Automobile, homeowners, renters, life, annuities, and more!
  • Free Prepaid Mastercards – Great way to manage allowances for kids. The next cheapest that I've found is PayJR for $5 month.
  • Loans – Competitive mortgage, auto, personal, and home equity loans.
  • Investments – USAA provides a limited discount brokerage service and a family of no-load mutual funds.
  • Financial Planning – USAA also offers limited free Financial Planning advice, as well as a more thorough flat-fee or hourly-rate financial planning service.
  • Discounts – Car Rentals, travel, and more.

If you were a single term soldier, sailor, or airman (who discharged after 1995), I highly recommend exploring your benefits and options now available to you as USAA. Also, keep in mind, as a USAA member your spouse and children (adult children too) are eligible for membership as long as you are.

Click here to Join

Image: annia316 [via Flickr]