Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge

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You’ll only be the best trader you can possibly be if you find the most suitable trading partner for your style. Otherwise, you could miss big gains in the financial markets. To help you out, we’ve thoroughly reviewed two of the top trading providers. Our review compares the professional cutting-edge technology of Interactive Brokers to Merrill Edge’s casual trading platform.

Commissions

$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.

Commissions

$0.005 per share minimum $1 and maximum 0.5% of trade value; volume discount available

Best For
  • Commission-free trading
  • Bank of America customers
  • High-balance customers
  • Investors who value customer service
  • Penny stock traders.
Best For
  • Forex traders
  • Professional traders
  • Frequent traders with a thirst for different order types (63!)

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Overview

Who’s Interactive Brokers for?

If you’re a hardcore trading professional, you’ll enjoy Interactive Brokers. Its ultra-professional trading platform brims with a special dose of sophistication, which has all but gradually disappeared these days. Interactive Brokers also offers forex trading.

Its progressive fees also make this trading provider one of the best options if you’re an active trader.

Read Benzinga’s full Interactive Brokers Review

Who’s Merrill Edge for?

Merrill Edge is a classic investment provider. Its friendly service appeals to beginners, but at the same time, it’s well-supported for more advanced traders.

You’ll find Merrill Edge convenient if you are a Bank of America client, as can link to your bank account for an easy way to monitor everything in one place.

Read Benzinga’s full Merill Edge Review

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Platform and Tools

What Interactive Brokers Offers

Interactive Brokers’ trading platforms are suitable for all device types.

You’ll find the mobile platform of Interactive Brokers limited. But this is normal, as a mobile device can’t do the job of a four-monitor trading station. Interactive Brokers’ mobile app will give you access to a news feed and provide notifications in real-time. If you are a brand-new trader, you may like Interactive Brokers’ web-based platform. Its welcome interface makes it easy to navigate. Although the platform is basic, it still includes screeners and customizable charts.

Trader Workstation, or TWS, is Interactive Brokers’ full-package advanced trading solution and is where they showcase their potential. It is a good fit for full-stack trading professionals who like multitasking on multiple monitor trading screens.

Source: https://www.interactivebrokers.com/

Some of the available features under TWS are market alerts, risk management tools, market watch, historical data, advanced charting tools and many screeners.

What Merrill Edge Offers

The big trading solution of Merrill Edge is its MarketPro trading platform. It’s a web-based platform that contains a rich set of trading tools, including:

  • Streaming data
  • Custom charts
  • Market analysis in real time
  • Custom dashboard
  • Technical analysis streams

If you manage an account above $25,000 or you conduct more than 15 trades per quarter, MarketPro will unlock extra perks to facilitate your trading experience. Merrill Edge offers its clients a mobile application, too. This app is aimed at on-the-go traders and shares market information and notifications in real time.

Source: https://www.merrilledge.com/dashboard

Of course, the app is not as comprehensive as MarketPro, but it still includes heat maps and dashboards. The app runs on both Android and Apple devices. The app also runs on a smartwatch, where you can implement very basic trading operations.

Bottom Line

Trader Workstation is definitely the more comprehensive trading solution of the two, but MarketPro works well for traders of any level. Merrill Edge doesn’t offer a desktop platform, a big disadvantage.

Unfortunately, a web-based platform can hinder your order execution time. In our personalized Merrill Edge review, we noted MarketPro’s sluggishness.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Research Offerings

What Interactive Brokers Offers

Market research is not Interactive Brokers’ greatest strength. It streams main market insights in real time from providers like Thomson Reuters and Dow Jones. Many traders might consider the basic Interactive Brokers’ research to be minimal. Interactive Brokers allows traders to integrate third-party research sources. Some of these are free and others charge a subscription fee.

What Merrill Edge Offers

A big part of Merrill Edge’s market research comes from Bank of America. In addition, its clients also get access to many market insights, recommendations and reports from sources like CFRA, Recognia, Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ.

Bottom Line

Merrill Edge has a more extensive research section than Interactive Brokers. The main reason for this is that it contains data from Bank of America.

Interactive Brokers’ research power comes with the third-party integrations, which sometimes cost money but these integrations allow you to customize your market research.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Commission and Fees

Financial instrument Interactive Brokers Merrill Edge
Stocks $0.005 per share $6.95 per trade
Options $0.15 – $0.70 per contract $6.95 + $0.75 per trade
Mutual Funds 3% trade volume or $14.95 per trade $19.95

Bottom Line

The better cost here strongly depends on the traded amount. Interactive Brokers charges its clients based on the size of each trade, while Merrill Edge charges flat fees.

As for margin rates, Interactive Brokers holds more than twice the lower rate than Merrill Edge. Interactive Brokers is one of the best online brokerage agencies with regard to low margin rates.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Security

What Interactive Brokers Offers

Interactive Brokers complies with U.S. regulations. Interactive Brokers is a member of FINRA, SIPC and FDIC. Under SIPC, Interactive Brokers maintains insurance, which secures amounts up to $250,000. Under FDIC, Interactive Brokers offers additional insurance up to $2.5 million. In addition, Interactive Brokers is listed and publicly traded on a stock exchange.

What Merrill Edge Offers

Merrill Edge is also a U.S.-based company. It also maintains memberships with SIPC, FDIC and FINRA. SIPC insures up to $250,000 per client for Merrill Edge, and FDIC insures up to $250,000 per client per bank.

Bottom Line

Though Merrill Edge is not publicly traded, this does not mean it’s an insecure company. The guarantees under SIPC and FDIC are enough proof of responsibility and high security.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Customer Support

What Interactive Brokers Offers

Interactive Brokers provides decent customer support. Its email support is available 24/7 and phone support is available around the clock  Monday through Friday.

What Merrill Edge Offers

Merrill Edge offers 24/7 phone support, which is one of its best features. In addition, Merrill Edge also offers customer support via email.

Bottom Line

Merrill Edge’s constant phone support beats the competition.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Tradable Asset Classes

What Interactive Brokers Offers

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options contracts
  • Forex
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Metals
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Futures

What Merrill Edge Offers

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds

Bottom Line

Interactive Brokers is the winner here, as its database of tradable assets is way more extensive. Note that Interactive Brokers also offers forex, cryptocurrency, commodities and futures, which are missing from Merrill Edge’s list of offerings.

Interactive Brokers vs. Merrill Edge: Ease of Use

What Interactive Brokers Offers

We definitely can’t say that Interactive Brokers is an easy-to-use service. Its Trader Workstation platform is far away from easy to use. Its web and mobile platforms are more user-friendly, but many traders will find these insufficient in terms of tools and research.

What Merrill Edge Offers

Merrill Edge is a straightforward trading solution. Its MarketPro platform is well-structured and at the same time, is rich on market research and trading tools. It’s no surprise that beginners and advanced traders use MarketPro.

Bottom Line

Merrill is the most welcoming trading solution of the two, although sometimes, it’s a bit slow. If you’re looking for a highly professional multi-module platform, then the MarketPro platform will not make you happy. This is where TWS comes in handy.

Final Thoughts

Broker Best For Commissions Account Minimum Choose your platform
Interactive Brokers
  • Forex traders
  • Professional traders
  • Frequent traders with a thirst for different order types (63!)
$0.005 per share minimum $1 and maximum 0.5% of trade value; volume discount available $0
Get started securely through Interactive Brokers’s website
1 Minute Review

If you consider yourself a sure-footed professional trader, Interactive Brokers might be a major possibility for you, particularly if you’re adept at navigating tricky trading platforms (can you say 124 option indicators?) or have done more than just dipped your toe a “coupla times” into the complex world of international markets.

Pros
  • If you’re into trading on margin, you’re in luck. Interactive Brokers offers the lowest rates in the industry.
  • Low pay-per-share commissions on stock trades (up to 1,000 shares) and on options trades (up to 20 contracts)
  • Vast order types options for professional traders
Cons
  • Interactive Brokers charges account fees (including annual, transfer, closing an inactivity fees) and offers an extremely complex trading platform
Current Promotion

Lower minimum activity requirements ($3/month) and opening account minimum requirement ($3,000) for clients 25 and younger.

Merrill Edge
  • Commission-free trading
  • Bank of America customers
  • High-balance customers
  • Investors who value customer service
  • Penny stock traders.
$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. $0
Get started securely through Merrill Edge’s website
1 Minute Review

Merrill Edge is a great option for a casual trader and Bank of America customer. The customer is able to log in the their Bank of America account and view their invesments in one seamless step. Merrill Edge has one of the best customer support systems with 24/7 phone, live chat, e-mail support as weel as over 2,000 Bank of America locations.

Pros
  • Seamless integration with Bank of America
  • Self Directed investing options
  • No surcharges for stocks that trade under $1
Cons
  • Lacks no-fee ETFs
  • Dated and Sluggish user interface
Current Promotion

Cash bonuses ranging from $100 for deposits of $20,000 to $49,999, to $600 for deposits of $200,000 or more

If you are a beginner trader, you may not like Interactive Brokers. On the other hand, if you look for a forex broker or want to trade metals, crypto and futures, then you’d better turn to Interactive Brokers, as Merrill Edge doesn’t offer these.

Another big difference is the commission structure of the two companies. If you trade a large number of shares per trade, then Merrill is probably the cheapest solution for you, as Interactive Brokers charges per share.

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