Who’s it For?
Among the largest wealth management firms in the U.S., Merrill Lynch’s Merrill Edge Brokerage platform excels in providing a launch-point for new or occasional investors. The service deals in all of the traditional online investment vehicles:
- Mutual Funds
- Options Contracts
Commodity and currency traders should look elsewhere as Merrill Edge, like many large online brokerages, does not have any futures or forex trading options.
I use Merrill Edge (because of those free trades). I manage a large number of taxable and retirement accounts for myself, my wife and my four sons.
I don’t have any terribly big complaints about Merrill Edge. They certainly haven’t been problem free. But I doubt another brokerage would either. I haven’t had an ordinary online brokerage other than Merrill Edge in a LONG time. ~ Customer Review from – Reddit user jsf67:
Bank of America Customers
Customers with Bank of America, the parent company behind Merrill Lynch, should also keep Merrill Edge on their radar. BofA account holders can look forward to some added perks like instant account transfers between BofA and Merrill Edge accounts and investing support at more than 2,000 BofA locations.
Those with a mild interest in mixing up their savings or retirement portfolio will appreciate the level of assistance on-hand in the form of guided and self-directed investing options and a 24/7 customer support phone number. The service is loaded with helpful tools, calculators, and tutorials to aid even the greenest investor.
Penny Stock and Large Account Traders
For certain types of traders more familiar with the market, Merrill Edge is an absolutely viable option. For penny stock traders, there are no surcharges for stocks that trade under a dollar. Large account investors ($25,000+) can look forward to free access to Merrill Edge’s Market Pro premium research and trading platform as well as up to 30 free trades every month.
However, for the average day trader, Merrill Edge might bear more critical consideration. While on-par with most brokerages in terms of fees, other minor stumbling blocks, like the lack of no-fee ETFs and a sluggish user interface, could frustrate those expecting a seamless trading platform.
FEES AND COMMISSION
Merrill Edge is in line with most brokerages in terms of fees, with a $6.95 per trade commission on all stock and ETF trades. However, this comes with two caveats, one pro, and one con.
First, the good news — at least for some. Merrill Edge has a rolling offer for 30 commission-free stock or ETF trades a month for those with more than $25,000 between their Merrill Edge trading or Bank of America deposit accounts.
The bad news is that Merrill Edge, unlike many other brokerages, does not offer any no-fee ETFs. This may be a deal breaker for many thrifty traders.
Edge does have the benefit of no minimum balance or inactivity fee, which, again, is great for those just starting out.
Finally, as for options contract fees, Merrill Edge again lands within the range of other brokers by charging $0.75 on each contract in addition to the standard fee.
|Standard Pricing||$6.95 per trade|
|Automated Phone Trades||$6.95 per trade|
|Representative Assisted Trades||$29.95 per trade|
|30 Free online stock and ETF trades per month||Must have $25,000 or more in combined balances of BOA accounts|
|100 FREE online stock and ETF trades per month as a Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors client||Active Bank of America personal checking account + 3month average of $50,000 for Platinum tier or $100,000 for Platinum Honors tier|
|Online Trades||$6.95 per trade + $0.75 per contract|
|Representative Assisted Trades||$6.95 per trade + $0.75 cents per contract|
|Exercised/Assigned **||$6.95 per trade|
|Online Trades||$0 per transaction|
|No load, no transaction fee funds – NTFs||$0 per transaction
$39.95 short-term redemption fee applies if the fund is held less than 90 days
|No load, transaction fee funds – TFs||$19.95 per online transaction
$29.95 representative assisted transaction
PLATFORM AND TOOLS
For most investors, Merrill Edge, the core trading platform is a solid and easily accessible option for those looking to manage their savings portfolio with the benefit of solid research tools and advice from Merrill Lynch financial advisers. Edge users can also use the platform on the go with dedicates Apple and Android apps.
Merrill Edge also has a premium “Market Pro” service with streaming quotes and interactive charting tools, indicators and alerts. Market Pro can be gotten fairly easily for more active traders or those with large cash accounts, those who make at least 15 trades a quarter or have a total of $25,000 in their Merrill Edge or Bank of America cash accounts.
However, for hardcore traders and those expecting a seamless user experience, Merrill Edge’s Market Pro might pose some headaches. For one, Market Pro is a browser-based platform that runs off of Java programming, which limits its ability to or run quite as swiftly as a dedicated software program.
Additionally, placing market orders within the software can be cumbersome as the most recent quotes on a stock are not applied immediately to the order page. This means you’ll need to refresh the page to get an up-to-the-second update on a price before placing an order.
Level II quotes are gated for Market Pro members who make at least 30 trade each quarter or maintain at least a $1 million balance in their Merrill Edge and Bank of America cash accounts
If there is one trader-centric positive in Merrill Edge’s corner, it is the breadth and quality of the research it provides. In addition to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch’s proprietary Global Research and ETF recommendations, Merrill Edge also boasts equity research from Morningstar, CFRA, S&P Capital IQ and Recognia as well as mutual fund reports from Morningstar and Lipper.
One area that Merrill Edge shines is in its attention to its customers, particularly those seeking guidance or insight into the basics of trading.
Merrill Edge 24 hour customer support call center has received high regard from users, and the amount of step-by-step educational and financial planning resources provided to Edge users is likely the best you will find anywhere.
$6.95. Customers who maintain combined balances of $25,000 or more in Bank of America deposit accounts or combined balances of $25,000 or more in Merrill Edge self-directed accounts can qualify for up to 30 commission-free trades per month.
- Commission-free trading
- Bank of America customers
- High-balance customers
- Investors who value customer service
- Penny stock traders.
Excellent customer care and low barriers to entry make Edge great for new traders or causal investors.
The monthly offer for 30 commission-free trades should sway those who can meet the criteria, but more active traders may dislike the lack of fee-free ETFs.
Merrill Edge’s trading interface is solid, but it’s premium platform’s clunky UI might fall short for dedicated traders.
Use Merrill Edge if
- You plan on making less than 30 trades
- You have a Bank of America Account
- You like trading Penny Stocks
Avoid Merrill Edge if
- You plan on making more than 30 trades monthly
- You want an extremely user friendly platform