The Atlantic profiled the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) this week, confirming what we already knew: the military-affiliated bank knows how to do business responsibly and sustainably. This strategy has done wonders for the bank and its members, which has been expanding through the crisis and is a customer and employee favorite.

In addition to boasting great rates and low fees for its members, Fortune named it the 20th best company to work for in 2012, reports The Atlantic. Navy Federal Credit Union and Capital One were the only other consumer-facing financial institutions that made the list, at 95 and 98, respectively. Goldman Sachs Bank USA, despite cutting back on bonuses this year, placed 33rd.

The bank, according to The Atlantic, has seen its net worth grow to $19.3 billion from $14.6 billion just three years ago. This, during the most painful recession in decades.

What The Atlantic doesn’t mention is that between 2009 and now, USAA made an interesting move.

Prior to 2009, USAA was for active and inactive military personnel and their families; in September of 2009 however, the bank invited civilians to join their ranks, opening up many of their banking products to non-military individuals. This could help explain, in part, their $5 billion growth since 2008. Civilians were thrilled to join the bank, for its top-notch customer service and $15 in ATM reimbursements a month.

The Atlantic points out that one source of USAA’s success is that it’s not a corporation, and it’s not publicly traded. There is no incentive to maximize shareholder value (or not maximize shareholder value by diluting the stock through outrageous compensation packages, or whatever), and so USAA focuses on delivering value to its members/customers, not faceless masses of people who make more money than you and are taxed at a lower rate.

According to our rankings, USAA is the fourth-best online bank in the nation, behind Ally, Charles Schwab and Bank of Internet. Some popular services offered by USAA include an absolutely free checking account and the highly demanded feature of remote deposit capture, which available by scanner or through native USAA mobile applications.

Check out their bank report card here to learn more about how USAA’s fees and rates compare to the national average.

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  • I’ll spare everyone the lengthy details of my rage-inspiring interactions with USAA, but I felt compelled by common decency to inform anyone considering opening or maintaining an account with them that they’re every bit as blood sucking and FUBAR as your next bank.

    Proudly putting it to military members and their families ought to be their new tagline!