Could Your Next Stockbroker Be a Credit Union?

By Rich Smith, The Motley Fool

Can a not-for-profit credit union give you the same level of service as a for-profit commercial bank? On many fronts, the answer is a resounding yes.

As I’ve previously written, credit unions have plenty of features that make them an attractive alternative to America’s big commercial banks:

  • Good rates on loans: As a general rule, credit unions are run for the benefit of their members rather than for the benefit of owner-shareholders. As a result, they’re often able to offer low interest rates on credit cards and other loans that few of their for-profit banking peers are able to match.
  • Competitive interest rates on deposits: Credit unions are often able to easily trump the national average of 0.1% interest paid on savings and money market accounts,despite having less loan interest revenue to work with.
  • Lower fees: And not for nothing, the majority of America’s bigger credit unions have maintained the benefit of “free checking,” when very few of America’s big commercial banks still offer the service.

But for investors, there’s still one big hole in the credit union story: stock trading.

In the competitive, complex world of banking services, it’s a reasonable question: Do credit unions offer online brokerage accounts? Is there a credit union out there where you can — as at many big banks — open a checking account at a decent interest rate, sign up for a credit card, take out a car loan, and trade stocks, all in one shop?

As it turns out, there is. Or rather, there are. Quite a few of them, in fact.

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