United Services Automobile Association, or USAA, got its start back in 1922 when just 25 Army officers formed a group to insure each other's cars. By 1928, the company had grown to cover 8,000 active members. While that may seem small, at the time, there were only 38,000 people who were eligible for USAA membership, so in just six years, the company had retained 20 percent of its maximum potential membership. Today, membership requirements have relaxed so that more people — and their children — can take advantage of the services offered by USAA.
Active duty individuals who are serving in the armed forces, including the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, National Guard and Reserves are all eligible to become members of USAA. Former military, whether retired or separated, can also become members of USAA so long as they were honorably discharged.
USAA is also open to family members of people who have USAA membership. Family members include spouses and children, so USAA membership can be passed down from generation to generation. For example, if your grandfather served in the Army, he could be a USAA member. If your grandfather was a USAA member, his daughter — your mom — could be a USAA member because she was a member's child. Then, if your mom is a member, you could also be a member because you have a parent who is a USAA member, even though you're not the child of someone who directly served in the armed forces.
Widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members are also considered family and are eligible for USAA membership.
USAA also accepts cadets and midshipmen currently enrolled in a U.S. service academy, such as West Point, the Air Force Academy or the Naval Academy, for membership. If you are in advanced ROTC, on an ROTC scholarship, or an officer candidate who will be commissioned within 24 months, you can join USAA as well, even though you aren't in the military yet.
Documentation to Join
When you're ready to join USAA, you need to prove you're eligible for membership. To do so, you'll need to provide your birthday, contact information, and Social Security number. You'll also need to provide the details of the family member who served in the military, or your military service if you served. Finally, if you're a non-U.S. citizen, you'll need a passport or permanent residence card.