SAN ANTONIO - USAA Federal Savings Bank was designated "Best Bank in America" in the June issue of Money magazine.

The insurer-owned thrift, which has a "branchless" strategy and a majority of its $4.8 billion of assets in credit card loans, beat out 427 other depository institutions based on such criteria as safety, credit card rates, service fees, automated teller access, deposit account yields, and loan terms.

The magazine made special mention of USAA's "truly free" checking accounts and 13.04% MasterCard and Visa rates.

"We feel this accolade is a capstone to our tradition of customer- friendliness and our customer service," said Jack Antonini, president and chief executive of USAA Federal.

As of the fourth quarter of 1994, the unit of United Services Automobile Association ranked ninth in sales volume among standard credit card issuers and seventh among gold card issuers. It had more than two million credit card accounts and ranked 23d in bank card outstandings, at $3 billion.

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