Is USAA’s Cashback Rewards program right for you?
(Photo: Pixabay)

USAA has been gradually rolling out a new checking product that offers rebates when you use your debit card to make purchases.  Called Cashback Rewards Checking, this product gives you a reward of ten cents with every debit card purchase.  Sounds great, right?  It might be perfect for you, depending on your spending patterns.  It has slightly different features from the USAA Classic Checking account.  Picking the right account can save you money!

What’s Good About Cashback Rewards Checking

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance
  • No USAA fees on first 10 non-USAA ATM withdrawals each month
  • Ten cents reward per purchase on debit card transactions
  • $25 minimum deposit, waived for new recruits

What’s Good About Classic Checking

  • No monthly service fees
  • No minimum balance
  • No USAA fees on the first 10 non-USAA ATM withdrawals each month
  • Rebate of up to $15 in other banks’ ATM usage fees each month
  • $25 minimum deposit, waived for new recruits
  • Pays interest when balance exceeds $1,000

Which Account Should You Pick?

That depends on your spending and ATM usage patterns.  I’ve highlighted the key difference between the accounts:  other banks’ ATM fee refunds vs. debit card rewards.  You’ll have to consider your typical debit/ATM card usage to figure out which one is right for you.

For example, I rarely use the debit feature on my bank card, but I do use the ATM to get cash 2-4 times per month.  There isn’t a USAA-branded ATM in my normal travels, so the Classic Checking account is a better choice for me because it refunds other banks’ ATM charges.  This might save me $6-15 per month.

My daughters, on the other hand, more frequently make debit transactions, and rarely use an ATM to get cash.  If the ATM most convenient to our house charges $2 per transaction and they use the ATM once a month, they would be better off with the Cashback Rewards checking account if they make more than 20 debit transactions each month.  The math changes if the ATM fees are higher, or they make fewer debit transactions each month.

In the case of my particular kids, they don’t make 20 debit transactions each month, so even they wouldn’t benefit from the Cashback Rewards checking.  But if you are using your debit card several times a day, and have easy access to a USAA-branded ATM, or almost never use an ATM, then the Cashback Rewards checking might be the best choice for you.

By Kate Horrell,

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