USAA Lets You Remotely Deposit Checks

We got a flier in our recent USAA bill announcing they’re now letting customers deposit checks from home. Just sign and scan your checks and send it in through the USAA website. As far as we know, USAA is the only bank to offer this service to consumers.

USAA members, go to USAA.com, keyword: deposit@home or call 800-531-2265. (USAA is only open to members of the armed forces or their families). Use of the check service may require IE.

We’re putting “open a USAA checking account” on our next action list! — BEN POPKEN

USAA [Official Site]
Remote Deposit [Wikipedia entry]

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/usaacooldeposit-thumb.jpg?w=522&h=543

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  1. WindowSeat says:

    Too bad USAA is only available to military personnel and their families.

  2. Napthali says:

    USAA is great; I’ve been using them for a while. They’re also a good insurance company, and it’s convenient to have all that stuff in one place at the end of the month.

    The one big drawback is there’s no way to deposit cash in your accounts.

  3. Dan. says:

    it also requires some java software. who wants to buy me a scanner so i can test it out?

  4. Mackenziep99 says:

    Not true! USAA has been open to the general public for years. I signed up around 2000 with no military affiliation asked nor given. And I love this bank, the only minor negative being that I had to mail deposits to San Antonio.

  5. notlazyjustdontcare says:

    This became available in Texas a few months ago. I couldn’t get it to work with Firefox, but it works great in IE, even with my $20 scanner.

    The money shows up in your account immediately. It sure beats mailing the checks in, which was previously the only way to get caveman checks into USAA accounts. There’s something a little creepy about holding the original, endorsed check in your hand after it’s already been deposited, though.

  6. D says:

    this technology/option has actually long been available for commercial customers. nice to see it possibly being expanded to retail users as well.

  7. RumorsDaily says:

    USAA? Which one of ‘us’ is in the military?

  8. misskaz says:

    I was just trying this out for the first time this morning and couldn’t get it to work – but I was using Firefox. I didn’t think to try with IE because the error I was getting didn’t seem like a browser related error… But maybe I should give it another go.

  9. Ben Popken says:

    I have a family member who was.

  10. misskaz says:

    Nope, didn’t work with IE either. I’m sure it has something to do with my old multifunction Canon piece of crap.

  11. pedacter says:

    Anybody can get a USAA banking account. The biggest benefit really is that they will refund ATM charges that other banks charge you. I use my USAA account as my “travel” ATM card for when I can’t find a branch of my normal bank.

    USAA only requires a military connection for their other services like car insurance. So go grab a USAA account for fun and profit.

  12. fizzer fits says:

    B

  13. fizzer fits says:

    Och; sorry about the previous post – what I meant is:

    I’ve been using this for weeks. It is the coolest damn thing I’ve seen in years.

    It does work better in IE than firefox, but sweet Jesus it makes you want to fly down to San Antonio to hug every USAA person for allowing this to happen.

    Scan the check and it is instantly in your bank account. Simple. As. That. I’ve been kind of bummed lately (on a number of levels) that no one gives me checks anymore and I can’t use it as it’s just so darn nifty.

    Very much needed as well, because if you’re not in Texas, you *had* to mail all of your checks and wait for them to process (a couple of days, but still).

  14. poser says:

    I have been using it for about 3 weeks now. It is glitchy now and again, but for the most part it works fairly well. Also, the best part about it is the fact that a deposit you enter in the middle of the night even on a weekend becomes immediately available.

  15. ValEl says:

    I worked at USAA federal savings bank for 2 years from 2002 to 2004. I was fired for not making the grade. The lady in HR was nice and supplied me with tissues and a security guard escort to the parking garage. That day I drove to the park where I took my first girlfriend and sat at the park bench for a while. That day it was dark and cloudy and miserable. I don’t hate USAA for firing me. They could’nt give me a specific reason. I did’t grab a female co-workers bum or send a chain email via the intranet. I was always on time…had over 125 hours of vacation and sick time available because I never called in even when I should have. My breaks were always down to the second because I had a stop watch and would be back “online” at my desk within 14 min. and 59 seconds. That day going home and having to tell my father that I was let go was the hardest for me. My parents were so proud that I got a job with USAA which had gained an almost “el dorado”-type of status around the san antonio community. I worked my ass off but in the end I think it was my fault. Every day we had “members” (not “customers” in the traditional sense) who would call in and expect world class customer service yet there were those who would be abusive and downright vindictive. NSF fees? “Sorry sir but there’s no money left in your account”. The next day after calling to several execs and higher ups the NSF fees would be reversed. USAA would give a 500 “Buffer” on debit cards and once this factoid got out it was exploited like a bearded lady in a travelling circus. People would (swear to god) overdraw their accounts up to 300.00 and face ALL those penalties up to 500.00. To them it was a fact of life. I would review these accounts and not see anything legit. Just alot of charges at Wal-mart and starbucks. Ridiculous. But when USAA pulled the “buffer” people would call in frantic because they had 100.00 but would try to buy something for 105.00 and be declined. Screaming and crying would ensue. Threats on our jobs if we did’nt let the charge go thru. A quick xfer to the supervisor would allow them to buy those DVDs and CDs.
    Towards the end it got worse. I’m a consumerist at heart. I think and belive that Consumerist found ME and not the other way around. I believe in fairness and doing what is right even if it’s not going to satisfy EVERYONE. My workplace became a call center. Period. We were told to mind our business and never ask questions. If you went to a Spurs game you were expected to cover your USAA logo on your golf shirf if you drank a beer. You were expected to not talk to the media. When they began hiring workers from india and the news vans would track them migrating up and down fredericksburg road you were expected to not even THINK about giving a comment. When the layoffs occured and people working for 20 years were released you DAMN sure were expected to avoid the media.
    My downfall was the password feature.
    I’ll bring this to a close soon. If ben and co. boot me from the site then so be it. USAA was and is the easiest bank to defraud. Check kiting was the norm due to our geographic location and lack of outside regional branches. It’s all here in San Antonio. A con artist would open an account online and mail in a deposit check and have the debit card fedexed. Drain the account….disappear. USAA was losing over half a million dollars a month because of this. USAA tried their best to curb this but it was hard. My absolute irritation was the password feature mentioned above. Example: Sarah Smith from Halifax calls in. She gives me her member number. I verify her last four of SSN and DOB. I give the last charges on her checking account. Sarah wants a “password”. USAA demanded at one time to have the request in writing. The bush family has accounts there. David Robinson, formerlly of the Spurs, has multiple accounts there. These are celebrities that demand more security. But then again they have people to do this for them. Sarah Smith would normally have to * mail * in a notarized letter explaining the need for a password and her password request. But alas, USAA wants to make everyone happy so they eliminate this and allow members to verbally TELL us the password they wanted. We would enter it and when Sarah Smith called back she would’nt have to go thru all the “trouble” of giving us her member number AND verify info. She could just call in and say her member number and “blueberry” as her password. I would ask management what if I don’t think its Sarah Smith on the other line. Answer: Don’t worry about it. If Sarah Smith forgets her password then that’s alright. Just give us your DOB and SSN. Okay, now you want “apple” as your password now? Done. This was so RIPE for cracking and you would think they would see this but they did’nt. In the end I became frustrated. I can play devil’s advocate really well and could and would see the folly of letting this happen. People would call in and get mad when I asked for their password and they forgot it. We would ask them to call back but they persisted…so we would verify other info and give them all account information. If they called and hated verifying the last four of SSN I would suggest putting a note on their file to alert the other reps to ask for special info like their childs birthdate or middle name….stuff not found by dumpster diving. I would place this on the file only to have another lazy rep tell them it was’nt necessary and to put a password instead. It was insanity and just plain wrong. I did’nt mind the old timers and eldery military wives. They earned respect and they got it from me in abundance. But alas, USAA wanted the young gen-x’ers and would bend and curve to their demands. If I offered to send a check register for free….I was being “rude”. People did’nt know how to monitor their accounts and keep an eye on the bottom line. If we didn’t KNOW how much their Pending direct deposit was going to be then we are being “difficult”. In fact, that feature was a closely guarded secret and USAA had mandatory policies in place to NEVER release this information to the public because we were’nt liable for the information given. One rep gave this information out and that member would tell another. One rep would try to be extra nice and reveal this “cool” secret. The proverbial feline was out of the bag and running wild. What if the “pending” amount is different from the actual deposit? This would be a HUGE time waster and tie up the phone lines as people would actually *question* us when we told them that the pending deposit was, say, 1099.98 and different from last week when it was 1110.96. “Are your computers down?” or “are you new?…can I speak with someone who knows?” was a common inquiry when we could’nt answer their question. Verbal abuse was comonplace. I can actually name several members who became so infamous for their daily call-in verbal ramblings and insults that to get slammed by them was almost an initation. Because they had money USAA never shut them down.
    In the end, there was soul searching. Over the year I gained a love that was lost. I lost weight. I tried being a salesman. I got a new job. I am gratefull to people like Ben Popken who constantly question authority and won’t accept quick and dis-honest results. I’m always on the lookout for injustices and hate seeing them unresolved. All of us here are *expected* to never let large companies jerk us around. We are expected to do the right thing. USAA never did the right thing by me and for that I am eternally grateful. I was fired for being different. Period. The “logans run” type environment never suited my ethics. Being a part of the corporate culture so meticulously maintained by the soil of USAA was and never will be my bag, baby. And it never will be.

  16. Trae says:

    Wow. Something just seems terribly insecure about this… Watch the photoshopping of checks begin!

  17. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    @misskaz:

    You might consider giving Canon another chance. I have one of their late model LED scanners and know a couple of people who have similar ones. They are powered through the USB bus and require no external power adapter. I’ve been very impressed with them–and the newest ones are even faster than the one I have.

    I’ve also been happy with their printers–the fixed printheads don’t clog up like Epson’s do, and they don’t put any fancy gadgetry in the cartridge to keep you from using a generic cartridge–it’s just an ink-filled sponge in a plastic container, and the generic cartridges I get are between $2-3 for a single color tank. Even if you buy Canon’s ink, their cost per page is lower than most other printers.

    More on-topic: I don’t think I’m eligible for USAA membership.

  18. VA_White says:

    Hubby is active-duty and we have been USAA members for 15 years. They are awesome and I can’t say enough good things about their customer service.

    We don’t pay ATM fees, we don’t pay for bill-pay, we can print our insurance ID cards online, we earn 3.2% on a regular savins account – this rate starts at a 5$ balance!

    When you call, you get a human being on the phone who actually knows what they’re talking about. When my battery died and I needed to call roadside assistance, they were polite, thorough, and had someone at my house TWENTY MINUTES from when I called.

    If you are eligible for USAA and you’re not a member, you’re crazy. Anyone who is active duty has to join before retirement or you can’t join at all. If you have kids, get them their own USAA numbers and they will be members for life.

    USAA rawks.

  19. OrtizDupri says:

    I have USAA as my primary checking and savings accounts (active duty military), as well as for my car and renter’s insurance. They’ve been great with the insurance – when my old car was totaled, they paid more than the value of the car, and just recently my computer was fried due to unknown reasons and they gave me $100 more than what CompUSA said the computer was worth in an estimate (I pay extra for computer insurance).

    This is great news to me, because I opened up a checking account at a local bank just so I could pay the rent on time – mailing in checks and waiting the 4-5 days from the time I put them in the mailbox to actually see the money was a huge pain. I’ll have to try this next time I need to deposit money. It’s especially good news to any of my buddies in further away places – Japan, Korea, or even deployed to the Middle East.

  20. mojohealy says:

    Can anyone explain to me why Americans still use cheques? I’m always reading on this site ant on personal finance blogs about writing cheques and posting them to pay your bills. I live in New Zealand, and since the advent of internet banking I haven’t used a single cheque.

    My bank’s website has a bill pay section in which a drop down menu contains all the major institutions that people might need to pay money to. Or I can deposit money into any bank account, private or commercial, in the country by manually entering the account number.

    I can transfer money between my accounts online, on the phone, or with a text message from my mobile. Why on earth would I ever need to write a cheque?

    I am actually planning on coming to the US in a year or two for graduate study. Are the online banking services I have described not available in the US?

  21. cjc says:

    Mojohealy, here’s an academic paper on this topic:
    http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2002/el

    Basically, one major part of the explanation is that it’s a chicken-and-egg problem, where not many people are using electronic funds transfers, so not many electronic funds transfer options are offered, so not many people are using electronic funds transfers, etc. I think another part of the explanation has to do with how the banking system was organized in the US until relatively recently, with banks being very regionally segmented and under the jurisdiction of overlapping state and federal laws. We only started to get banks that look like national entities relatively recently, and much of the IT work in the past decade has been devoted to bank consolidation rather than the expansion of these sorts of services.

    That said, most if not all American banks offer some sort of online banking services, where you can make payments through the website, and not actually write out checks yourself. Depending on the recipient, the payment may take the form of an electronic transfer, or may take the form of a check that’s mailed. Your electrical utility, for example, may get the funds through electronic transfer (because it’s a large enough entity to have the transfer information registered), whereas your landlord may get a paper check which he will then have to deposit (who may be a sole proprietor and doesn’t have his checking account number registered for this sort of thing anywhere).

  22. Paul D says:

    @windowseat

    Federal employees too. My old man works for the State Department; I’ve been a USAA member since birth.

    I have auto and renters’ insurance, a credit card (with a great APR), and a vehicle loan.

    And I hope to do some retirement planning with them in the near future.

  23. mojohealy says:

    thanks cjc:

    I have discovered that, due to a combination of our small population and modern economy, New Zealand makes an ideal test market for new technologies:

    “With a population of four million, New Zealand provides a well-defined test market of early technology adopters – compact but large enough to provide realistic results. Vodafone is just one of the international companies that has used New Zealand as a test bed, initially for the introduction of its world-leading GPRS network and subsequently for other new products and services.

    A highly wired banking sector also provides an ideal testing ground for advanced mobile commerce and mobile banking applications. New Zealand has a sophisticated electronic payments network and the world’s highest use of electronic transactions.”

    from http://www.marketnewzealand.com/MNZ/aboutNZ/sectors/14380/

  24. healthdog says:

    It works very well in IE, but I had problems with Firefox, too. Great service overall.

  25. 44 in a Row says:

    There are also a few specific instances where checks are pretty much required; they’re isolated circumstances, but they make having a checkbook necessary. For example, my monthly commuting cost is partially paid by a pre-tax deduction from my paycheck, for which I get vouchers, but the maximum deduction (I think it’s $110) is less than the total cost of my train ticket (about $170). I need to send everything in to the transit authority together, because otherwise something invariably gets lost, and so paper checks along with the physical vouchers is the only way to go.

  26. chpdookie says:

    I’ve been successfully using this since Christmas ($45 USB flatbed scanner in my stocking) and really enjoying not having to leave the house to deposit rebate checks or other paper dough…

  27. I was a Navy Civilian but did not qualify for USAA.

    However I love the article by ValEl. The inside of very consumer friendly businesses sometimes means that people exploit that for personal gain.

  28. drkkgt says:

    They also pay you back up to $150 for ATM fees each month. So if I go to the local BofA and use the ATM, I get charged $2.50 for the privilege of using their ATM. At the end of the month, that $2.50 reappears back in my account.

    I love USAA.

  29. FLConsumer says:

    Add one more vote for Canon printers & scanners. I carry one of their LED scanners in my laptop bag and have two different Canon multifunctions at my homes. VERY thrifty on ink and the ink is cheap. Quality’s great.

    Might be eligible for USAA, but Wachovia treats me too well to switch.

    As far as online banking goes, I’m painfully aware of how it works… The old apartment complex and their bullshit utility submetering company both claimed they never received my checks or claimed to receive them late. This, despite me sending them at least 10 days early. Granted, this sort of stuff could happen with me sending the checks, but traditionally I’d hand-deliver the checks. Wachovia did step up and started sending those checks certified, return receipt and mysteriously both the apartment complex and their contractors received every single check from that point forward. I finally solved the entire problem by buying a house in the same city as the apartment.

    I am starting to see more of these transactions working electronically, but I think we’re still at least 20 years away from checks disappearing. I’m also thinking of many large business transactions where the transaction is guaranteed by a check, but another form of payment or different value payment is needed and the original check is destroyed (and not cashed).

  30. misskaz says:

    Thanks, segfault and FLConsumer. Maybe I just got a lemon or something with my old multifunction Canon MP390. The printer stinks – I guess we don’t use it often enough so the ink dries up and gets all gummed up in the cartridge head and the only way to fix it is to soak it in hot water for hours. I’m not sure what the problem was that I had with the scanner and the USAA website – it kept saying it couldn’t communicate with the device, although I updated the drivers and everything.

    Trae, I thought that it might be insecure too, but the only way you can do the scanned checks is through the USAA website and some java application that (assuming it works correctly) runs your scanner and scans the results directly to their website. You can’t use your own scanner software or just upload a file.

  31. kazoni says:

    I’ve been using USAA since near birth (’85 so my card claims) and I’ve been nothing but impressed. I can always reach a real person real easily and take care of whatever I need to. I’ve used the Deposit@Home and was real impressed with it. Getting a substantial check at Christmas time and being able to get it into the bank right away and not having to worry about it getting lost in the mail was nice. Even as a college student now, their rates are incredibly nice for people my age. I do all my banking and my car insurance through them.

  32. mcbarnicle says:

    I’ve been a member for several years and I’m impressed by deposit @ home and their Customer Service.

    The checking account alone is worth joining if you can – it pays interest, provides up to $15.00 back each month ($180/yr) on ATM fees and now with the Deposit @ Home (works well with IE 7 & HP Scanner) – which, by the way, *INSTANTLY* credits your account for check amounts up to $4,999 – why would i need to go to a bank?

    The credit card I have pays a cash rebate every January of 1.0%

    Their customer service is tip-top and very human. You can typically get a human on the line immediately.

  33. dxgiovanni706 says:

    From what I was told when I was speaking to one of USAA’s CSR’s a couple of weeks ago (an excellent lot of CSRs, by the way), you have to have a checking account and automobile insurance through USAA, or be pre-approved for a loan, or some such. I was disappointed, as I’m dying for this kind of convenience (without having to jump through more hoops). Love their banking products though.

  34. dwneylonsr says:

    The web site specifies the following under “you may be eligible”.
    * Active duty officers and enlisted personnel.
    * National Guard, Selected Reserve officers and enlisted personnel.
    * Officer candidates in commissioning programs.
    * Recently retired or separated military personnel.
    * Children of USAA members.
    * Former USAA members.


    Here’s what you’ll need for USAA Deposit@Home:

    * Become a USAA member.
    * Have a USAA checking or savings account.
    * Qualify for or have a USAA credit card or loan.

  35. Trae says:

    @ misskaz

    Well, the easiest way to do it is to:
    1. Scan the Check.
    2. Photoshop the the Check.
    3. Print the photoshopped check.
    4. Use the printout when using the software.

    But that’s just what I’d do.

  36. structurepolo says:

    Just FYI, I’m from SA where USAA is headquartered and they allow us to make deposits at any UPS Store as well, don’t know if this is available across country but its like having branches all over the place too, but the bottom line is that depositing checks from home is better than anything anyone has ever offered before and I have nothing but praise for the truly AMAZING customer service I have received from this bank as well as the best insurance (which even covers off site storage for no extra fee) and the best road side assistance as well. If you in the military or your parents were, SIGN UP!!! You wont regret it!

  37. kostia says:

    My credit union (affinityfcu.org) has a service with the same name where you do have to mail the checks in, but they’re credited to your account as soon as you enter them on the website. It’s super handy and doesn’t require going out to an ATM. Scanning the checks instead of putting them in an envelope is just a minor improvement.

  38. Tonguetied says:

    Checks are slowly withering away. It will be a while before they are gone but I can foresee a day when they won’t be around anymore. In a way that’a a shame since I use carbons to keep records. It is much easier to misplace the receipt for the debit card use than to lose the entire checkbook.
    I switched over to USAA for insurance about 3 years ago and unless there are some major changes in the company I will NEVER switch back. They are great!

  39. ronw says:

    How much software has to be installed for this service to run? Once you scan your checks how do you get copies of those items? Does any scanner seem to work? Thanks, Ron W.

  40. EricU says:

    I work at USAA, not in banking but I can answer some of these questions.

    The only software is in Java on the website. You don’t have to download an actual application or set of software.

    Those of you who mentioned that you might be eligible but feel that you’re being treated well by your current bank REALLY need to check out USAA, as the information presented on this website is just the tip of the iceberg… lots of FREE services and IMHO the Best banking website available.

    To clarify the eligibility issue, you do have to meet eligibility requirements and USAA banking is no longer open to just anyone. This means you have to be active duty, recently retired, a child of a USAA member, or possibly an ex-spouse of a USAA member. Once you become eligible, you never lose eligibility.

    As far as the Deposit@Home service, you do have to have been approved for SOME TYPE of credit product to use this service. This can be a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, etc. Not sure if this will ever change.

    The only time I’ve had difficulty with the Deposit@Home is if the person that signed the check accidently dropped some part of their signature down into the routing numbers at the bottom. This apparently causes the imaging software to have some difficulty in reading the numbers on the scan.

  41. doomedtx says:

    Has anyone successfully used this with Firefox? I’m using FF 2.0.0.2 and Java 5 Update 11, and when I try using Deposit@Home with FF it partially loads the Java app but not enough to actually scan the check. Works fine with IE, but I hate having to use that browser for this one service. Wrote to USAA but they haven’t been very helpful. I like their customer service overall, but I’ve never had good luck getting a technical question answered with anything but canned responses that are based on keywords rather than what I actually asked.

  42. EricU says:

    doomedtx:

    I can tell you that USAA is aware of the issue that you mentioned. IE is probably your best bet for now, but in the future that may change. We are ALWAYS working to improve our members’ experience on the website.

  43. Elvisisdead says:

    I’ve been a member since around ’88 and worked there in the mid-90s in the training department.

    I can with 100% confidence say that USAA does not offer membership to all federal employees. They do offer membership to Federal law enforcement (FBI, DEA, USSS) and the State Department. Generally, if you have a clearance and somebody you work with carries a gun, you can probably be a member. it’s widely published within the State department, and it’s where a majority of consular officers bank – because USAA has the experience to handle deployed individuals without a hitch.

    It extends to direct dependents and grandchildren of existing members. This is true for the original military member only. My dad was Navy. I get membership, and my daughter gets membership. Right now, if I had a granddaughter, she wouldn’t. (She would because I was a Fed, but you get the point).

    However, once you leave the armed forces, the clock starts ticking. You only have a window to join, and then it closes forever. If anyone in your family was once a member of the armed forces, chances are that you’re out of luck.

    Uncle Joe was a midshipman in Korea? No dice. You dad was an LT in Desert Storm, but never became a member? Sorry. Your granddad went to west point and served in WW2? Nope. Your Aunt is active duty? Not a chance. Direct dependents and exes only.

    There was once a time when it was commissioned officers only. There was a huge stink when it was opened to NCOs, and a bigger stink when enlisteds were offered membership. The grandchildren thing is new, too.

    Bottom line is that it’s a great company. We do banking, investments, home, life and auto insurance with them. I mean, how many other companies issue refunds when they make too much money in a year? None that I know of.

  44. mlfinch says:

    I have solved the problem with deposit@home and Firefox. USAA says Adblock and IE Tabs Addons are known to cause problems. I uninstalled them with no improvement (I am sure they were part of the problem). I ended up uninstalling all Addons one at a time and retried deposit@home. It turns our the problem is Google Toolbar. If you uninstall it, deposit@home works correctly. No big loss to me not having the Google Toolbar since Firefox has the Google search window built in to the Navigation toolbar. Short answer, uninstall Google Toolbar and you can use deposit@home with Firefox 2.0.0.2.