Frequent Contributor



I have been with USAA for a long time and thought it had the best costumer service of any bank in the US. Boy, was I totally wrong and clueless!

On July 6th, 2017 I called USAA to send an outgoing international wire transfer for $1,500 to my son in Germany to pay for his college tuition and living expenses. I gave the wire specialist all the information requested for the transfer. Per USAA´s protocol I repeated and spelled all the information given to make sure everything was correct, especially the information on the IBAN number which is the key single piece of information for any money transfer to a bank account in Europe. I had done this transaction several times before with USAA and other banks so I knew what information I had to provide.

From previous experiences with USAA I knew this bank transaction would take between three and five business days so I waited. Passed that time, I checked several times with my son in Germany and he replied the money had not been deposited to his Deutsche Bank account. I then wrote USAA´s customer service inquiring about the transfer. They replied that they don't handle wire transfer issues and that I had to call the wire department which I did. Upon verifying my identity the wire specialist said that it takes up to 15 calendar days for an international wire to post and that I had to wait that time for them to do anything on my case. I told him a wait of 15 days was outrageous for a wire transfer and that something was wrong based on my previous international wire transfers. In fact, most main US banks take from three to five business days for an outgoing international wire transfer to post. If 3 to 5 working days is the US banks´s standard, who gave the right to USAA to use 15 calendar days?

When I realized USAA was not going to help me find out what was going on with my money and that my son was running out of time to pay for his expenses, I decided to send him money from my account at Banco General of Costa Rica. Guess what? I gave them the exact information - online - which I gave USAA and it took them just three business days to complete the transfer! Also, on July 26th I tried for the first time the services of TransferWise to send $1,400 to my son in Germany. It took them three business days to deposit the funds and I paid less than $14 versus the fee of $45 most US banks charge. Just amazing!

For several days I kept on calling and writing USAA, checking my account online and with my son to find out if the funds were deposited. I never received any communication on the delay from USAA.

Around July 22nd I noticed a wire in on my checking account for $1,410 and dated July 18th. USAA had deducted $90 for a failed wire transfer without a single explanation why. I wrote customer service asking what happened to which once again they responded apologizing for the inconvenience caused, that they did not handle wire transfer issues and that I to call the wire department.

I called the wire department and the person who the took call said he could not see anything wrong with the information I provided, not even a note on why the transfer was returned. I told him I had noticed that the information displayed online on the Wire Transfer Details had an incomplete IBAN number. It missed the last seven digits. He then transferred me to a resolution specialist who explained the missing information was the account number and that is was done for security reasons. She then said that reason the wire transfer was returned was because I gave the bank an incomplete IBAN number. I replied this was not my first time doing an outgoing international wire transfer with USAA and that I wanted to hear the audio recording on this transaction. She replied that was not possible. I wanted to hear the instructions I gave. I then requested a transcript on the conversation and the answer was the same: no.

After insisting several times in writing and over the phone I received the following message on USAA's web site:

USAA Message to Member 07/26/2017 04:29 PM -


Per your request, the call from the wire done on 07/06/2017 for the amount of $1500.00 has been completed. We
have determined that this was not a bank error, the wire was sent as you instructed. Please contact our wire
specialists with any questions or concerns at 1-800-531-USAA (8722) ext. 78570. Our wire department is available
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CT.

We value your business and the opportunity to serve all your financial needs.

As you can see, there is no explanation on the "error" USAA claims I made on the information provided requesting the wire transfer. Did I give the wrong information? Did I omit any information? I don't know since I don't have the right to hear my own conversation and don't have the right to a transcript either. And then, if I gave a wrong or incomplete information to USAA, why was I never contacted to rectify it?

It is more than obvious that I will never again use USAA´s wire services at least for the following basic reasons:

1. It has an outrageous time frame for delivering a wire: 15 calendar days!
2. They don't have a template online - like most main US banks do - to enter the data required. If there is a mistake made, it is on me.
3. The information required is gathered verbally over the phone. This is a system prone to errors since I as a costumer have no idea what information is entered into the system.
4. USAA will not release any vital information such as the audio recording so a customer can listen the instructions given on the transfer request. It is all the customer's fault, never the bank´s.

5. And forget about a refund on a failed transaction. USAA will not do it.

Bottom line, don't send wire transfers with USAA. Save yourself a headache and don´t waste your time. You will regret it if anything goes wrong. They will not assist you at all, you will not know what is going on and any blame is on you. They just don´t care. Beware!


Cachitoman, I have received your message & reviewed the multiple correspondence regarding the failed wire transfer. I understand you have been assisted by both telephone and email specialists regarding this matter. I will forward this message to a subject matter expert who will review your feedback. ~ Lori

Thank you Lori for your prompt reply. I hope I can get this issue resolved with your assistance. It has been a nightmare.

Thanks for the warning. The only thing they did well was to place the blame elsewhere and stiff you with the bill. :-( Seems a lot of that has been happening lately. I'll remember not to use USAA when I need to wire money to my parents in Europe. Hope your son was able to take care of school.

Thank you Sir for your concern.


Yes, I used another bank and the services of TransferWise to send money to my son. No BS at all. 


One of the main reasons my son needed the funds in his account was to renew - on a deadline - his college student visa for which he had to show sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses. That is why I am so angry with USAA on how it handled my plea for help.


Kind regards,



How did you even set up a TransferWise account using USAA? The first thing TransferWise asks for is the IBAN number. Or, did you simply use your Costa Rica bank's IBAN number to set up TransferWise?


After servicing US military members for many decades in almost every country in the world -- the USA is a global military empire after all -- why doesn't USAA have an IBAN number? Why isn't USAA the most sophisticated US bank for dealing with international transactions for consumer banking?


At least 20 years ago when I lived overseas USAA had a toll-free phone number in every single country I went to -- that was very handy. Why isn't the same true for international transfers and other banking services like foreign exchange at USAA?



Logan Flatt - We appreciate your feedback. USAA offers toll-free numbers online for every country. You may also find instructions at for international wire transfers. Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation. - Tricia

Where are the instructions?  I can't find them anywhere.  When I do a search for "international wire transfer" it only comes up with a "domestic" wire instructions.

Hello @Sullyaf, on search for 'International Wire Transfer'. Under send a domestic wire transfer select 'learn how'. You will be prompted to select domestic or international, selecting international will provide further instructions. I hope this is helpful, have a good evening. -Emily

just finding the international wire transfer instructions is a NIGHTMARE. Why doesn't USAA show the instructions for international?? Why are they HIDDEN behind domestic transfer?? Why does usaa give itself the most OUTRAGEOUS 15 days to process when everyone else does in 3 days max?? Why don't have have a FORM to fill on-line to avoid MISTAKES?? The wire transfer people at USAA ALWAYS make mistakes for my transfer requests and because of the hassle of doing everything over the phone takes over an hour to set-up I stopped using USAA for transfers. Now I will move my money to another bank that has more reasonable wire transfer procedures, since I have to make such transfers often.