The USAA iPhone app does a lot of nifty stuff. Apart from letting users manage their USAA accounts, pay bills, and deposit checks remotely, the app also provides many benefits for drivers, including roadside assistance and a handy checklist for folks who've been in accidents. And starting next month, folks with USAA accounts can also use the app to buy a car.
Actually, it'll do more than that. The USAA app will allow users to research cars, browse local inventory, and secure financing for the purchase. It'll even set up auto insurance. USAA hasn't posted official details about the app just yet, but published reports make it sound as if buyers only need to mosey into the dealership, sign a paper or two, and drive the car off the lot.
Our take? We knew it was just a matter of time before auto financing came to the iPhone. Securing loans is already common practice on laptops, so shifting to a mobile platform isn't a terribly big deal -- except, of course, for the fact that most people leave their laptops at home when they head out for a night on the town. iPhone users who tend to get tipsy and drunk-dial old flames should probably avoid this app altogether. (That goes double if the app's new real estate search feature adds mortgages to the mix.)
Apart from that caveat, though, this sounds like a big win for USAA and America's military families. For some time now, members of the U.S. armed forces have been the target of predatory lenders; USAA, however, has a strong reputation in the financial marketplace, a consistently high credit rating, and, of course, a long history of serving active-duty military personnel, veterans, and their families. We'd recommend that serious shoppers check out financing options with their dealer, just to make sure that there aren't more favorable terms available, but be careful -- not every dealer is ethical.
For full details about the new and improved USAA app for iPhone, we suggest becoming a fan of the USAA on Facebook. The updated app is expected to drop around August 4.