Merrill Edge Review

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Merrill Edge is a part of Bank of America’s retail banking division, Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Anyone can open an account with Merrill Edge, but those who already have a Bank of America account will be able to link to Merrill Edge for free and view all accounts from a single screen.

Stock Trading Fee
$0
Option Trade Fee
$0.65 per contract
Customer Satisfaction Score
3 / 5 circles
SimpleScore
4.2 / 5.0
close
SimpleScore Merrill Edge 4.2
Mobile App 4
Products 5
Resources 5
Support Channels 4
Customer Satisfaction 3

Merrill Edge also offers a Preferred Rewards Program in which customers can qualify for free monthly trades – a feature that none of the other online stock brokers offer. Through the program, customers can get up to 30 free equity trades if their balance totals at least $50,000 after a three-month average (per quarter), or 100 free trades if their balance totals $100,000 after a three-month average.

Merrill Edge isn’t the best option for experienced traders, but an intriguing one for beginner investors, especially if you already bank with Bank of America. In terms of price point, Merrill Edge is only beaten by OptionsHouse and Ally Invest, but it lacks a few things seasoned investors might consider important, like advanced trading platform features and commission-free ETFs.

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In this article

    Merrill Edge Details

    Price – Stock Trades$6.95
    Costs & FeesOptions: $6.95 + $0.75 contract
    Mutual Fund Trades: $19.95
    Broker Assisted Trades: $29.95
    Account Fee: $0
    Inactivity Fee: $0
    Misc. FeesBond Trade Fee – N/A
    Treasury Trade Fee – N/A
    CD Trade Fee – $0
    IVR Trade Fee – $29.95
    IRA Annual Fee – $0
    IRA Closure Fee – $49.95
    Forced Margin Sellout Fee – N/A
    Returned ACH Fee – $30
    Returned Wire Fee – $0
    Stock Certificate Processing Fee – $25.00
    Stock Certificate Delivery Fee – N/A
    Paper Statement Fee – $5
    Paper Confirmation Fee – $3
    Domestic Wire Fee – $24.95
    International Wire Fee – $24.95
    Minimum DepositNone
    Account TypesFull service
    No forex trading
    No futures trading
    Best ForBank of America customers
    Beginner investors
    Commission-free trades
    Customers who can keep a high balance (50-100K)
    Customer Service
    Penny stocks
    Not ForSeasoned investors
    Forex/futures traders
    Platform-conscious traders
    Traders who want commission-free ETFs
    Margins8.63% Under $24,999.99
    7.50% $25,000.00 to 49,999.99
    7.50% $50,000.00 to $99,999.99
    6.13% $100,000.00 to $249,999.99
    6.13% $250,000.00 to $499,999.99
    5.88% $500,000.00 to $999,999.99
    5.25% Above $1,000,000.00
    Services24/7 support: phone, e-mail, live chat
    PlatformMerrill Edge Market Pro
    Web
    Mobile trading
    Platform FeaturesCharting – Display Corporate Events
    28 Charting & Drawing Tools
    Charting – Notes
    Level 2 Quotes – Stocks
    Level 2 Quotes – Options
    Option Chains – Streaming Real-time
    Option Analysis – P&L Charts
    Stock Alerts Delivery – e-mail, sound (but no text)
    Streaming Time & Sales
    Watchlists – Streaming Real-time Quotes
    EducationStocks
    ETFs
    Options
    Mutual Funds
    Fixed Income
    Investor Dictionary
    Videos
    ResearchETFs
    Mutual Funds
    Fixed Income
    1 Research Reports – Equity Research
    ETF Research – Top 10 Holdings
    Mutual Fund Research – Fees Breakdown
    Mutual Fund Research – Performance Analysis
    Mutual Fund Research – Top 10 Holdings
    Screener – Stocks
    Screener – ETFs
    Screener – Mutual Funds
    Screener – Options
    Screener – Bonds
      
    AwardsBest for Long-Term Investing – Barron’s
    Outstanding Customer Service – J.D. Power
    One of the “Best Online Brokers” – Kiplinger’s
    Excellence in Customer Service – International Service Excellence Awards
    • Learning curve: Signing up is super easy, especially if you have a Bank of America account – it can be linked to a Merrill Edge account in a couple of quick and easy steps.
    • The platforms: Merrill Edge provides an active trading platform called Merrill Edge MarketPro (MEMP), which is available online and via a mobile app. The platform is easy to use and customizable, with streaming quotes and heat mapping.
    • Research: Solid research from Merrill Lynch Global Research combined with several third-party research providers like Lipper (for mutual fund research), Morningstar, Recognia, and S&P Capital IQ. Most of the other online brokers use either Morningstar or Lipper, so it’s great that Merrill Edge contains both, as well as the other third-party providers.
    • Customer service: It’s stellar. Bank of America isn’t going anywhere, so customers will have this corporate giant’s customer service department available 24/7 (or by email or live chat). Its customer service is award-winning, and most reviews of Merrill Edge mention Bank of America’s customer service as an outstanding feature.

    Merrill Edge’s Claim

    Merrill Edge offers a median price within the industry among the big brands and it makes it easy for Bank of America customers to begin trading from their regular bank accounts. It provides award-winning on customer service, too.

    Is it True?

    Yes. Merrill Edge has median industry prices and the broker makes it super easy for current Bank of America customers to link their bank accounts to a trading account if they want to begin trading. Prices come in at $6.95 per trade, $6.95+0.75/contract for options trades, and no additional charges for stocks less than $1.00 per share – a great feature for investors looking to trade penny stocks.

    Needless to say, Bank of America is a huge company and they have a robust customer service department that works around-the-clock. It has been awarded by a variety of organizations for its superb customer service, and it really shines on response times by phone and live chat. Like with many organizations, support e-mails take at least 1-3 business days for a response, and that is the same with Merrill Edge.

    Merrill Edge also does not require a minimum deposit to join. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, zero-minimum deposits should not be the only thing that sways potential investors toward signing up. All new customers are going to have to deposit something to begin trading, so realize the $0 minimum requirement is just something many of these brokers do to look attractive to new customers. It’s beneficial in the sense that customers can start trading with any amount they want, but it is likely new customers would need ~$2,000 to start making any sort of substantial investments.

    Merrill Edge MarketPro (MEMP)

    Merrill Edge’s active trading platform is easy to understand and navigate, but lacks some features that might be important to seasoned traders. Compared to other broker trading platforms, making trades through Merrill Edge MarketPro took the longest. Seasoned traders will also be disappointed that the platform does not allow ladder trading or real-time option chains. These won’t hinder the trading experience, but some seasoned traders look for these bells and whistles when they choose a new platform.

    Seasoned investors might be better off paying a little more for TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim, which is loaded with the research reports, complex options, and single-click trading missing from MarketPro. Beginner traders will do just fine with MarketPro, but they could pay less with Ally Invest – a similar platform to MEMP and slightly cheaper, though it may not make sense to do that if you already have a bank account with Bank of America.

    Now for some good news: MEMP’s research and education is solid. Bank of America provides all users with “Bank of America – Merrill Lynch Global Research,” combined with several third-party research providers like Lipper (for mutual fund research), Morningstar, Recognia, and S&P Capital IQ. The research spans everything: ETFs, mutual funds, pink sheets, fixed income, top 10 holdings, and all the screeners (stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, and ETFs). There are three equity research reports.

    In terms of educational resources, Merrill Edge offers everything all of the other brokers offer except client webinars and community forums. Nevertheless, customers will have to rely on broker assistance and customer service to make up for these absences. Aside from that, customers will find investor dictionaries, live seminars, videos, and a basic retirement calculator.

    Casual investors, and especially those who already do business with Bank of America, will find all of these offerings to be a good fit. They won’t need the bells and whistles seasoned investors will be looking for, and will appreciate the platform’s ease of use and reliable customer service.

    The Competition

    E*TRADE: $0 trade commissions; $0 account minimum. E*TRADE is largely recognized by its humorous television commercials, it markets to a large audience and therefore maintains a valuable customer-oriented presence.

    Ally Invest: $0 flat free trade plan; $0 minimum deposit. Ally Invest has gone through several evolutions since its formation in 2005. It has since emerged as a formidable competitor with affordable rates that are attractive to new investors.

    TD Ameritrade: $0 flat free trade plan; $0 minimum deposit. TD Ameritrade is known for being a well-rounded and affordable broker but also one of the more expensive brokers out there in terms of its trading fees.

    Merrill Edge charges a flat rate of $0 per stock trade, $0 + $0.65 for Options, and $19.95 for Mutual Fund for no load, transaction fee funds trades. If you are only looking at price point, Merrill Edge is only a couple of bucks more expensive than Ally Invest.

     Merrill EdgeOptionsHouseTD AmeritradeE*TRADEAlly Invest
    Stock fee$6.95$4.95$0 (Online)$0$4.95
    Options fee$6.95 + 0.75$4.95 + 0.50$0 + 0.65 (Online)$0$4.95 + 0.65
    Mutual Fund fee$19.95$20.00$0.00 (NTF)$19.99$9.95
    Broker Assisted$29.95$25.00$25.00 + $0.65 fee per contract$25.00$20.00
    Min. Deposit$0$0$0$0$0

    Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives

    No major brand name firm can beat Ally Invest on prices, although OptionsHouse comes close. Merrill Edge is just $2 more for per trade compared to these, although OptionsHouse has a better platform for experienced traders and Ally Invest has a great platform for beginners.

    What Others Are Saying

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that Merrill Edge will soon launch a Robo Adviser.
    • Investment News reported that Merrill eliminated the commission IRA business in response to a DOL fiduciary rule.
    • Fox Business reported about the new fees associated with Merrill retirement accounts.
    Please Note: Information about Ally Invest has been collected independently by TheSimpleDollar.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best stock trading platforms and brokerages of 2020.

     

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

    However, it’s also possible for brands to have multiple SimpleScores, as we measure each category individually with a separate set of criteria. For example, when we apply our methodology to Chase’s stock trading product, it scores a 3.6 out of 5. On the other hand, when we compare Chase checking accounts, it scores a 4.4 out of 5.

    Questions about our methodology?

    Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

    Mobile app rating

    We took an average of each stock brokerage’s iOS App Store and Google Play ratings and scored brands based on the result.

    Additional products

    Investing is not just about stocks. We rated brands based on their product variety including ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs and options. The more products means higher the score.

    Resources

    We rated brands based on how many educational and investing resources are available. This includes Morningstar reports, market trends, how-to guides and more.

    Customer support

    When you run into trouble with your stock investment account, how can you get in touch for support? We award brands with more channels of support with higher scores in this aspect.

    Customer satisfaction

    We leveraged J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study to rate each brand’s customer satisfaction. As always, a higher customer satisfaction rating means a higher SimpleScore.