Merrill Edge Review

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    A Great Choice For Traders With Significant Money to Invest

    Just as its parent company, Bank of America, does, Merrill Edge seems to provide a high-quality balance of great customer service with affordable commissions, and based on the user reviews this platform might be useful for first-comers as well as low-volume traders.

    3.5/5
    $6.95 commissions on stock and ETF trades
    No commission-free ETFs
    Robust education and research options
    OPEN ACCOUNT *Risk is involved with all trading actions
    Pros
    • Industry-leading customer service
    • Robust education and research options
    • Substantial benefits for high-volume traders
    • Competitive fees and commissions
    • Bank of America integration
    Cons
    • Low-quality trading platform
    • No commission-free ETFs
    • Few incentives for low-balance traders
    • High account transfer fees
    Merrill Edge Highlights
    💰 Account Minimum $0
    💸 Commission Fees $0 for online equity and ETF trades; $0.65 per options contract; other fees may apply
    💼 Investment Options Stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, mutual funds, and more
    🤖 Robo-Advisor Merrill Edge Guided Investing offers a robo-advisory service with a minimum investment of $5,000 and an annual fee of 0.45% of your account balance
    📊 Research and Analysis Merrill Edge offers a range of research and analysis tools, including stock and fund screeners, market insights, third-party research reports, BofA Global Research, and more
    📱 Mobile App Merrill Edge mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices, offering trading, research, and account management features as well as access to your Bank of America accounts
    🏦 Retirement Accounts Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, rollover IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, and individual 401(k) with no minimum investment and no annual account fees
    🎓 IRA Accounts See above
    📈 Trading Platform Merrill Edge offers a web-based platform, as well as a mobile app, for trading and account management
    📞 Customer Service 24/7 phone support, live chat, email support, and more
    📚 Educational Resources Merrill Edge offers a range of educational resources, including articles, videos, webinars, and more
    🌕 Fractional Shares No
    🌱 Socially Responsible Merrill Edge offers a range of socially responsible investment options, including mutual funds and ETFs
    🌎 International Investing Merrill Edge offers access to international markets, including Canada, Japan, and more
    💳 Cash Management Merrill Edge offers a cash management account, which includes a debit card and ATM fee reimbursement
    🔍 Margin Trading Yes, margin trading is available with Merrill Edge. You need to have $2,000 in your account to start.
    ⚙️ Options Trading Merrill Edge offers options trading with $0 commission fees for online trades and $0.65 per options
    ₿ Cryptocurrency Trading Merrill Edge does not currently offer cryptocurrency trading
    🛡️ Account Security Merrill Edge uses industry-standard security measures, including two-factor authentication, encryption, and more
    💹 Leverage Margin trading allows for leverage
    ⚖ Regulation Merrill Edge is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and other regulatory bodies in the US.

    What are Merrill Edge’s Main Features?

    Merrill Edge is a high-quality entry-level online investment platform, and as such they supply traders with a trading platform that pretty much works as needed. The default platform, both on desktop and mobile, is serviceable but nothing special — you get basic features such as charting and account maintenance, but the services are much more robust and features-laden elsewhere.

    For Merrill Edge customers who have more than $50,000 in their balances, or make 15 or more trades per quarter, their advanced Merrill Edge MarketPro software is available, which offers a marked improvement in functionality. On it, you can see interactive charts, alerts, dashboards, and streaming market news.

    However, such a steep price point takes it out of the hands of most of their traders, which is an ongoing problem with Merrill Edge’s accessibility. Once you’re in, you’ve got access to tremendous features and deals, but once you’re just starting out there’s not as much to incentivize you to go with them in the first place.

    Despite not having a great trading platform, Merrill Edge compensates for that somewhat with a bevy of free research tools, which are quite extensive. In addition to their native research firm (BoA Merrill Lynch Global Research), they provide research from third-party providers like S&P Capital IQ and Morningstar.

    All of this research is laid out in streamlined lists of Merrill Edge Select ETFs and Funds, which makes trading all that much easier for traders who want top-level market research. In fact, Merrill Edge is the only company to use both Lipper and Morningstar as their chief research providers, where most other companies simply choose one.

    Traders can also educate themselves on the finer points of investing with courses, articles, webinars and more, all featured on Merrill Edge’s website. You can even try out Morningstar’s investing classroom, a must for new traders.

    One of their biggest features is an ongoing promotion in which customers with a balance of $25,000 or higher (in either their Bank of America accounts or dedicated Merrill Edge account) are allowed to make up to 30 commission-free trades every month. Some customers agree that the platform supports their investment goals.

    Further, customers with active BoA checking accounts and a combined balance of $100,00 among all of their BoA/Merrill Edge/Merrill Lynch accounts qualify for 100 commission-free online equity trades each month. The platform claims that there might be some discounts applied for accounts with larger amounts.

    How Do You Open a Merrill Edge Account and What are the Requirements?

    When you want to open a Merrill Edge account, there are slightly different procedures to undertake depending on what kind of account you want to open. Right away, you can choose from online brokerage accounts; to trust and estate accounts; to retirement solutions such as rollover, Roth and traditional IRAs.

    In keeping with their Bank of America integration, the features highlighted on the platform may offer to open a bank account directly from the Merrill Edge website.

    For example, general investment and brokerage accounts are the easiest. All you need to do is go to the online form and submit your Social Security Number, date of birth, address and email, and your employment and overall financial info.

    Users mentioned that the process is straightforward and quick. There aren’t any steps that are too unreasonable for beginner investors, and the process is very similar to most other online trading applications out there.

    research

    What Are the Rules for Trading on Merrill Edge?

    As a Merrill Edge customer, traders are able to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options and ETFs. Most notable is their library of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, which number around 5,000. That’s comparable to most other trading platforms’ entire catalogs, so the fact that they charge no commission fees is nice.

    But Merrill Edge stumbles a bit by not having any commission-free ETFs. Many other outfits provide commission-free ETFs, and so traders looking to save on those investments might do well to avoid Merrill Edge. Even though their existing commissions are low, ETF investors inherently must pay more than they might elsewhere.

    Investors agree that the fee structure is relatively competitive. For stocks and options, Merrill Edge charges $6.95 per trade (plus $0.75 per contract for options trading), which is on par with most low-cost online trading platforms out there.

    What’s more, Merrill Edge offers a zero account balance minimum, which is always nice for those traders who want to have total control over the amount they want to invest. Granted, you get the most bang for your buck with a balance of $25,000 or higher, as Merrill Edge gives those accounts up to 30 commission-free trades every month.

    Overall, this set of trading rules creates an environment in which traders are given good incentives to achieve high balances in their Merrill Edge (and Bank of America) accounts, since that unlocks significant savings and features (like their top-tier trading platform) for them.

    What Kind of Trader is Merrill Edge Best For?

    Traders who want to get the most out of commission-free mutual fund would do well to work with Merrill Edge. The kind of trader Merrill Edge attracts most are high-balance traders who want to maintain large amounts in their investment profiles and receive the advantages they get as a result. That high balance gets you access to their better trading platform, plus those commission-free trades.

    Some say that the Bank of America account holders might get additional benefits when registering with Merill Edge. Given that they are a subsidiary of BoA, integration between your Merrill Edge and BoA accounts is incredibly easy, and it’s extremely convenient to get sound investment advice at their branch locations.

    Traders looking for customer service would do well to go with Merrill Edge, as their performance is well above a lot of their competition. While they have the normal 24/7 phone support, as well as live chat and email support, investors are also able to meet with Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisors at any of their local Bank of America locations.

    Other Good Products

    If you’re a high-volume trader and seek lower commission fees, Interactive Brokers offers similarly competitive commissions, and offers low closing fees and zero charges for inactivity. Plus, their resources for high-volume traders are simply more robust than Merrill Edge’s.

    If you want better commission fees than either of those, you can easily go to TradeKing or OptionsHouse, which offer $4.95 commissions. While they may not have the streamlined functionality of Merrill Edge (especially depending on what bank you have), they both provide low-cost solutions for traders who want a good deal without needing to commit to a BoA account.

    A Few Final Thoughts

    In the vast world of online trading, it can be hard to pick between competitors who seemingly have very little to set them apart. Merrill Edge, with its Bank of America integration, seems to work extremely well with specialized audiences — those who already have BoA accounts, or who want to take advantage of their high-balance qualifications for no-commission trades each month.

    Integrating with Bank of America, frankly, is one of Merrill Edge’s greatest selling points because BoA is already one of the biggest banks in the world. Its customers can then streamline their banking and investments. Even if their other features were lackluster (which they aren’t), that feature alone gives Merrill Edge a significant advantage over their competition.

    One of the biggest concerns for traders contemplating Merrill Edge should be the trading platform. While they make up for it with stellar customer service and research/education tools, depending on your investment style you may lament the lack of quality features and high learning curve their standard trading software provides.

    That said, even when you don’t qualify for these high-end features, Merrill Edge’s decently low commission fees and wealth of mutual funds, stocks and options make it a viable option for customers.

    Customers mentioned that the platform might be suitable for all investor levels. The platform also claims that some rewards might be applicable to large accounts.

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    StockHax strives to provide unbiased and reliable information on cryptocurrency, finance, trading, and stocks. However, we cannot provide financial advice and urge users to do their own research and due diligence.

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