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I recently found out that you can check a bank's CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) report at http://www.ffiec.gov/cracf/crarating/main.cfm

Using my bank, for example, you go to that home page, type in USAA in the bank name box, and a list of applicable banks appears. You can see the rating on that page, but another key piece of information is the regulatory agency for that particular bank. Following the links on the search page posted above, you can then click on the ratings page for the particular regulatory agency that applies to your bank.

So, for example, USAA Federal Savings Bank is regulated by the OTS, so you click on OTS Ratings page, then search for USAA again, click on its name, then you can read the report (located at http://www.ots.treas.gov/crasql/docs/CRAE_07975_20011105_60.RTF ).

Another example, USAA Savings Bank (the bank that issues credit cards), is regulated by the FDIC. So you go back to the original site, click on the link for the FDIC ratings page, then search for USAA, click on "PE" (performance evaluation) and you find the report located at http://www2.fdic.gov/dcacra/1999/34351_990907.pdf .

Not only do these reports provide information about the bank's efforts to meet the requirements of the CRA, it also provides background information about the bank. For example, I learned that 98% of USAA's credit card accounts belong to USAA members (military & dependents) while 2% belong to members of the general public.

An interesting line from the USAA FSB report is "The institution's system for delivering retail-banking services is second to none."

-z
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