Merrill Edge is a top brokerage that offers lucrative perks such as $0 ATM fees, third party research, and premium customer service. Read our Merrill Edge review to learn more about the benefits offered and determine if this is the right broker for you.
Merrill Edge sports low overall fees, strong research offerings, and fantastic customer support. It's a solid option for all investors, and especially attractive for Bank of America customers. Read our full Merrill Edge review to find out whether or not this broker is the best choice for you.
$0 per trade
Get up to $600 when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account
On Merrill Edge® Self-Directed's Secure Website.
No brokerage is perfect for everyone, but every brokerage tailors its offerings to a certain type of customer. Merrill Edge stands out from the pack with several main features:
Once you’ve chosen one of our top-rated brokers, you need to make sure you’re buying the right stocks. We think there’s no better place to start than with Stock Advisor, the flagship stock-picking service of our company, The Motley Fool. You’ll get two new stock picks every month from legendary investors and Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner, plus 10 starter stocks and best buys now. Over the past 17 years, Stock Advisor’s average stock pick has seen a 569% return — more than 4.5x that of the S&P 500! (as of 1/15/2021). Learn more and get started today with a special new member discount.
This discount brokerage has joined the trend of $0 commissions on online stock trades, and no-transaction-fee funds make it an attractive bargain. Base commission prices are detailed in the table below.
|Stocks and ETFs||Options||Mutual funds|
|$0||$0.65 per contract||$0 for no load, load-waived, and no transaction fee funds. $19.95 otherwise.|
Investors who want to invest in mutual funds will find many no-transaction-fee (NTF) choices on par with other large brokerage firms. As for mutual funds, Merrill Edge offers thousands of no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds, though many may carry up-front or back-end loads (fees that are a percentage of the amount invested.) That said, many funds that traditionally carry loads are load-waived on the Merrill Edge platform.
Costs aren't just limited to commissions. We read through Merrill Edge's fee disclosures and found a few notable fees worth discussing in more detail.
Merrill Edge, like many brokers, uses a trading platform that's accessed only by a web browser or its mobile app. Investors who keep a $50,000 balance, make at least 15 trades per quarter, or qualify for free trades thanks to its loyalty program qualify for Merrill Edge MarketPro®, which is a more sophisticated trading platform
Its highly rated mobile apps are available for any customer on an iOS, Android, or Windows device, so virtually any smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device has an app for making trades on the go. Best of all, the mobile app offers all the functionality you would expect of a desktop solution: streaming data, multi-leg (complex) options, and mutual fund trading.
|Margin balance||Interest rate|
|Less than $25,000||8.625%|
|$25,000 to $99,999||7.500%|
|$100,000 and up||Contact Merrill Edge|
This brokerage may not be the best fit for investors who use margin as an integral part of their investment strategy. That's because Merrill Edge margin rates are on the higher end of the discount brokerage industry, even for clients who have large balances ($1 million or more).
Of course, margin rates are irrelevant if you don't plan to use margin to leverage your portfolio. Investors who use a cash account can simply forget that margin exists. Investors who use high amounts of margin for long periods of time to leverage their portfolio will likely want to look elsewhere, however, given the high cost of carrying a debit balance.
One major advantage of using a brokerage that is tied to one of the nation's largest banks is its customer service and support. Clients can get help at thousands of Bank of America financial centers (branches), where there are Merrill Edge advisors on staff to help you with anything related to your account. For convenience, you can also schedule a meeting with a local representative so as to get in and out as fast as possible, without waiting in line.
Merrill Edge also offers help 24/7 over the phone. An online chat service is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, and from 7:30 a.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET on Saturdays. (We used its online chat service to ask about its operating hours and received an answer within 30 seconds.)
The Bank of America Preferred Rewards program is a big Merrill Edge investing perk, especially for people who are already Bank of America customers.
Any customer with at least $20,000 in all of their Bank of America accounts and Merrill investment accounts combined is eligible. Preferred Rewards has three tiers, and larger balances mean larger perks. Here's a chart that shows some of the more valuable Preferred Rewards benefits that might interest Merrill Edge brokerage clients:
|Benefit||Gold ($20,000 to $50,000)||Platinum ($50,000 to $100,000)||Platinum Honors ($100,000 or more)|
|Merrill Guided Investing program fee discount||0.05%||0.10%||0.15%|
|Bank of America Advantage Savings Account interest boost||5%||10%||20%|
|Credit Card Rewards Bonus||25%||50%||75%|
|Auto Loan Interest Rate Discount||0.25%||0.35%||0.50%|
|Mortgage Origination Fee Discount||$200||$400||$600|
In short, if you're a Merrill Edge or Bank of America customer, especially one with a relatively large account, you could earn more interest and save money on other financial products.
Discount brokers are offering more research and other tools to help bridge the gap between barebones discount brokerages and traditional full-service brokerage firms. Merrill Edge offers a few noteworthy research capabilities to its clients:
Taking into consideration its pros and cons, we think a Merrill Edge account would be a good fit for you if the following statements apply to you:
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2021 The Ascent. All rights reserved.