Published in: Buying Stocks | Dec. 4, 2018

How to Sign Up for a Merrill Edge Brokerage Account

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If you’re interested in giving Merrill Edge a try for your general investing or retirement needs, you’ll be happy to know that opening an account is rather quick and easy.

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In the years since Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, the company’s online brokerage platform, Merrill Edge, has gained serious traction. Now one of the best online stock brokers, Merrill Edge offers low-cost trades in a feature-packed platform that conveniently integrates with Bank of America checking and savings accounts.

If you’re interested in giving Merrill Edge a try for your general investing or retirement needs, you’ll be happy to know that opening an account is rather quick and easy -- especially if you’re already a Bank of America customer. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of how to sign up for a Merrill Edge brokerage account.

Step 1: Go to the application page and choose your account type

To apply, point your web browser to www.merrilledge.com and click on the red “open an account” button in the top right corner.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a variety of account types to choose from. For general investing purposes, you can open an online (individual or joint) brokerage account, or a custodial account for a child. If you’re investing for retirement, you can choose a traditional or Roth IRA, or you can roll over an existing IRA. If you’re self-employed, Merrill Edge also offers SEP-IRA accounts. Finally, Merrill Edge also offers 529 College Savings Plan accounts.

Select the account type that applies to you and click on “open a brokerage account.”

Step 2: Gather the necessary documents

Note: The following steps refer to the process for opening an individual brokerage account. If you’re opening a different type of account (such as an IRA), the process may be slightly different.

According to the documentation page on Merrill Edge’s account opening website, the entire process to open an individual brokerage account should take less than 10 minutes. In order to ensure that this will be the case for you, it’s a good idea to gather the requested information before you get started. This includes:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • A valid mailing address
  • Information about your employment, including company name, address, and your start date
  • Your annual income and household net worth

It’s also worth noting that if you are already a Merrill Edge client or if you have a Bank of America account, you can use your existing user ID and password to pre-fill your application.

Step 3: Fill out the application

Assuming that you don’t already have a password that pre-fills your application, the next step is to complete the application. There are currently five steps to the Merrill Edge application:

  1. Personal information, such as your name, address, country of citizenship, and Social Security number.
  2. Information about your employment and your financial situation.
  3. Account details. Here you can apply for a margin account (aka trading with borrowed money), a debit card attached to your account, and check writing privileges on your new account. You’ll also create your new user ID and password here.
  4. A page where you have the opportunity to review your application and the terms of your account, where you electronically sign your application.
  5. Finally, the fifth page is where you submit your application.

Of course, if you already have a Merrill Edge or Bank of America account, much of this will already be done for you. In this case, your version of the application will only require you to fill out information that Bank of America/Merrill Edge doesn’t already have.

If you need assistance with the application (for example, you aren’t sure how to appropriately answer a certain question), the help line is available 24/7 at 1-888-637-3343.

Step 4: Fund your new brokerage account

When it comes to funding your new Merrill Edge brokerage account, you have a few options. You could fund your new account:

  • Instantly from your existing Bank of America checking or savings account.
  • By linking to an account at another bank. This takes up to three days.
  • By wire transfer, which is processed on the same day.
  • By mailing a check.
  • By transferring an existing brokerage account from another financial institution.

Step 5: Select your first investments

After your account is funded, the only thing left to do is start investing. With your new Merrill Edge brokerage account, you have the choice of thousands of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. If you’re an experienced investor, you can also use your account to trade options.

If you’re new to investing, or just prefer to keep things simple, there are tools available to help. For example, the BofAML US 1 List is designed to narrow your choice of stock investments, and Merrill Edge has its own tools to help you build a portfolio of mutual funds and ETFs.  

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