Custody or Checkbook control, which is better for me?

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There are pros and cons of direct custody or bank control, usually related to how easy it is to enter and manage an investment.

The growth of checkbook control has given rise to the ability to have options.

Traditionally, the self-directed retirement investing world is for alternative investments and was only an option for the mega-rich with high opening costs and a complicated, extensive process. However, as the demand for more control over retirement funds grew, Rocket Dollar has aimed to open up the industry of self-directed retirement investing to a wider audience/average investor. With a quick, easy, and affordable process, anyone can have checkbook control.

How do I figure out what is right for me?

Direct Custody Overview

UPDATE: as of March 2022, Rocket Dollar has launched a Direct Custody IRA at our Silver price level. To learn more about our new direct custody product, click here


  • Easier for first-time or learning alternatives investors.
  • Initial setup is quicker than checkbook control.
  • A clear process for one investment or a very small number of investments.


  • Expenses and fees can rise sharply when you go over six investments.
  • All investments must be reviewed by the custodian. 
  • It can be challenging for complex, hard-to-value assets to get past deal reviews (startups, private loans, international, funds with no track record, new crypto projects).
  • Approved investment classes are at the whim of the custodian.

Direct Custody Flow V2 Black KB


Checkbook Control Overview

Rocket Dollars Self-Directed account options can be found on the homepage.


  • Recommended for sophisticated investors looking to invest in diverse asset classes
  • Once the longer setup is complete, easy to use (2-3 weeks minimum) 
  • More direct ownership of investments all through an LLC and bank account
  • No wait-times for custodial approval
  • Invest in asset classes not approved by a custodian (as long as it is not an IRS prohibited transaction)
  • Rocket Dollar creates the LLC and all necessary basic LLC registration for you.
  • Have control of a checkbook bank account, checks, and debit card to manage investments


  • Often more expensive and longer to initially set up
  • Requires active participation by the account holder
  • Some investors are not familiar with LLC titling and investment LLCs
  • California Investors are taxed on all LLCs, regardless of state by the California Franchise Tax Board (Rocket Dollar uses Colorado LLCs). 


California IRA Flow Multiple Investments Diagram (1)

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