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How Important are Other Services? There are plenty of other services being offered by brokers some of which you may want, others that you should pass up.

It is possible now to do everything that you typically use a bank for through a brokerage account. Banking features available include:

  • Money market sweeps
  • Checkwriting and bill payment
  • Visa cards
  • Direct deposit
  • ATM cards
If you are using your bank in a way that has you going to your local branch, it may not make sense for you to shift all of your banking to a brokerage account. Also, using broker-sponsored ATM cards at the local bank's machine may result in a pile of fees.

However, the higher rates that your cash will typically attract in a brokerage money market account versus the typical savings or checking account could make up some of that difference. Also, if you meet certain minimum account levels, some brokerages will reimburse you for ATM fees.

Some brokerages have research that you may be particularly fond of. Some of the offerings include analyst reports, real-time quotes, and detailed financial data. These offerings are marketed as a real plus, but, of course, there is tons and tons of data, tools, and free research available via the Internet. It is unlikely that any brokerage can offer you tools that significantly influence your choice.

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