Investing > Merrill Edge Review

Merrill Edge Review

Merrill Edge offers a number of benefits. In this Merrill Edge review, we go through all the pros and cons so you can see if the platform is right for you.

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Reviewed by
Updated January 14, 2021

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Merrill Edge offer a wide range of services and features at a competitive price. They aim to meet their millennial audiences demand for transparency and responsiveness by providing a first class customer service team and award-winning research.

Merrill Edge are a strong choice if you’re looking for a new broker, especially you’re tempted by the offer of ongoing free trades and prefer not to pay more than you need to. If you’re a Merrill Edge Preferred Rewards member, you’ll enjoy serious benefits such as free trading, making the platform one of the best brokers for free stock trading.

Although its trade commission is higher than competitors, Merrill Edge offers fee-free commissions on stock, ETF, and option trades. It also provides customers with plenty of online tools, award-winning research, and free trades if they qualify for the Preferred Rewards Program.

Fast Facts

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $2.95
  • Best for: Beginners
  • Highlight: Award-winning research

Rating

  • Usability: 8/10
  • Research and Education: 9/10
  • Customer Service & Help: 8.5/10
  • Commissions & fees: 9.5/10
  • Tools & Resources: 7.5/10
  • Overall: 9/10
Visit Merrill Edge on Merrill Edge’s website

🚨 Investor Warning: Merrill Edge allows customers to trade options, among other assets. Options carry a high level of risk and are not suitable for all investors. Certain requirements must be met to trade options.

What is Merrill Edge? 👇

Merrill Edge’s goal is to offer you a “simpler, more streamlined way to manage finances.”

Merrill Edge is part discount brokerage firm and part subsidiary of Bank of America’s (BofA) retail banking division. This means that you have the advantage of banking to help you simplify your finances as well as gaining access to Merrill Lynch’s award-winning research, investment tools, and call center counsel.

🔔 Note: Bank of America will soon be simplifying the name of their broker to simply, ‘Merrill’.

Merrill Edge was launched in 2010 to compete with both Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments for the younger investors to lean on for advice. By offering investing options, saving features and banking all in one place, Merrill Edge has successfully provided customers with more transparency, and put them back in control of their finances. Customers can enlist a Merrill Edge advisor to help them set a goal or give advice, at any stage.

Naturally, this synergy benefits BofA customers. Reward benefits, instant fund transfers between accounts, the ability to view all accounts at once, and even universal logins are all a win-win for their current customers.

Merrill Edge Report: More Americans are Investing 🇺🇸

Merrill Edge has a strong understanding of its millennial customer base, which the broker shows continually by researching and investing time into discovering what makes them tick – a good example is the company’s Spring 2019 report on Americans.

Here are some key takeaways from their Spring 2019 report:

“The spring 2019 Merrill Edge Report reveals Americans are feeling simultaneously optimistic and overwhelmed by their finances as they become more mindful of their spending and take steps to improve their financial lives.”

  • 59% Managing their financial lives weighs heavily on their mind
  • 68% of respondents have delayed or abstained from various life milestones to pay off debt
  • 85% of Americans believe how they manage their money would make their parents proud

Overview and Summary

Merrill Edge has some key highlights of 2019 that we’ve rounded up for you.

  1. Merrill Edge was launched in 2010 to rival Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab Corporation for the younger investors to lean on for advice.
  2. Merrill entered the market with its trading platform MarketPro, offering features that have some traders hooked.
  3. In October, Merrill Edge fully joined the zero-commission fray to offer cheaper and more accessible investing including unlimited free stock and ETF trades.
  4. Merrill Edge offers award-winning research on stocks, mutual funds and ETFs which can all be seen in their Stock Story and Portfolio Story features.
  5. Merrill Edge offers a cool and easy-to-use app that provides first class research for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

How Does Merrill Edge Work? 🤔

In order to rival competitors including Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab Corporation, Merrill Edge needed to have more and better features. It now offers the services of a full broker, and although it isn’t the cheapest, it arguably provides better value for money.

Fidelity’s most impressive feature is their in-house research team and on-hand customer support team. However, Merrill Edge also offers free trades for Preferred Rewards members. This isn’t just a pop-up, use-it-or-lose it offer, like most brokers offers, it’s a continuously running, 3-tiers promotion.

Keep in mind: Customers need a 3 month combined balance of $20,000 or more in Merrill Edge, Merrill Lynch and/or Bank of Americas accounts to become a Preferred Rewards member.

Who Merrill Edge is Best For 🔝

Merrill Edge is best for you if you consider yourself one of the following:

  • Low minimum
  • Trader of penny stocks
  • IRA investors
  • Smartphone users
  • Goal focused investors

Seasoned traders probably won’t like Merrill Edge as much because it lacks things that more experienced traders probably think of as important, such as commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETF’s) and advanced trading platform features.

All traders are likely to find their retirement accounts attractive, however. As a top broker for Roth IRAs, Merrill Edge offers a number of research tools for long-term, tax-saving investment strategies — all accessible through an app.

➡️ Apart from being the best choice for all BofA customers, they’re also best for helping fledgling traders find their way through this complex, interchanging, and often muddled, sea of investment.

Merrill Edge Compared

Fees
Commissions

$0

$0

Account minimum

$0

$500

Minimum initial deposit

$0

$0

General
Best for

Beginners

Beginners and mutual fund investors

Highlight

Award-winning research

Low fees

Promotion

None

Rating
Fees
Commissions

$0

$0

Account minimum

$500

$0

Minimum initial deposit

$0

TS Select: $2,000

TS GO: $0

General
Best for

Beginners and mutual fund investors

Active options and penny stock trading

Highlight

Low fees

Powerful tools for professionals

Promotion
Rating
Fees

Commissions

$0

$0

$0

Account minimum

$0

$500

$0

Minimum initial deposit

$0

$0

TS Select: $2,000

TS GO: $0

General

Best for

Beginners

Beginners and mutual fund investors

Active options and penny stock trading

Highlight

Award-winning research

Low fees

Powerful tools for professionals

Promotion

None

Merrill Edge Fees 💵

Commissions & Fees

OptionsMutual Fund TradesBroker Assisted TradesInactivity Fee
$6.95 + $0.75 contract$19.95$29.95$0$0

If you’re interested in learning more and making sure that you don’t miss out on anything, then you can view the full range of Merrill Edges account and service fees.

Commissions ✔️

Does Merrill Edge have hidden fees? Well, no — clients who don’t qualify for Preferred Rewards will have to pay a fee of $2.95 for equity trades and $2.95 +.65 per contract. This is relatively high considering more and more competitors are offering free trades to all customers.

Their Saving Grace ✔️

That said, new customers are awarded 300 free online exchange-traded fund and stock trades for 3 months. Just ask someone on the customer support team how you can get this.

How To Start With Merrill Edge 🏁

Finance can be a complex industry; it’s often seen as obscure, ambiguous, with unexpected twists at every corner. Merrill Edge wants to help make things simpler and more straightforward. Here’s 3 steps to setting up a Merrill Edge account.

1. Transfer From Another institution ✅

To move funds or assets from your current institution. Go to the Portfolio & Accounts section, click Transfers & Withdrawals and then go to Securities & Accounts. There you’ll find instructions to complete your transfer.

2. Link Your Bank of America, N.A. Accounts ✅

If you’re already a Bank of America customer then you can link your checking and savings accounts to see your finances one one screen and transfer funds in real-time.

Once you’ve connected your accounts you can begin transferring funds by clicking on Portfolio & Accounts. Just select Transfers & Withdrawals and then hit that Cash button, baby. You’ll see your balances immediately updated and ready for placing trades.

3. Set-up an Automatic Investment Plan ✅

If you want to look out for your future and contribute a little, regularly, to make a lot, then you can set up an Automatic Investment Plan. The amount and frequency you want to invest is completely up to you.

You can also view the Online Users Guide for more information and helpful investing advice. In it, you’ll find all sorts of useful tips like how to pursue your goals with research and how to manage your trades with Merrill’s online trading features.

Merrill Edge Review: Best Features Explained 🥇

MarketPro: An online trading platform

  • Streaming & interactive charting
  • Real-time market analysis and access to Merrill Lynch research
  • Trading and account access
  • Drag-and-drop customizable dashboard

MarketPro is the original trading platform offered by Merrill. With MarketPro you can build watchlists, set alerts and get streaming quotes and news all day everyday. You’ll have access to BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research and you can view your information in a simplified way.

Merrill Edge trading app stock market chart
Merrill Edge offers a number of helpful analytical tools to enhance your investing strategy.

MarketPro allows you to create and view a customized dashboard of your accounts, seeing just the information that’s important to you. It also lets you switch up the information you see at any stage if something else catches your eye. How? Just drag-and-drop your way to your ideal dashboard.

MarketPro offers interactive charting tools that use streaming market data, where traders can see the latest figures to help them keep up-to-date. And even better, traders have first hand access to 36 technical analysis studies to help identify market trends and keep ahead of the rest.

Lastly, you monitor your portfolio in real time, see the latest balances and position and even place ETF, equity and mutual fund trades. Not bad for an app!

😕Financial charts and analysis confusing? Learn how to read stock charts.

Where MarketPro Could Do Better ⏫

MarketPro has two slight drawbacks that customers might not love. First, there isn’t any way to make a quick order entry or swiftly pass the order confirmation window, which can be a bit of a nuisance. Secondly, MarketPro doesn’t support any advanced order types or direct market routing, such as conditional order.

Merrill Edge Stories

merrilledge-account
Merrill Edge ‘Stories’ help you get the most out of your account.

Stories is all about giving customers detailed information in a streamlined and easy way. It offers an online experience to empower users with the information needed to make the best decisions.  Merrill Edge’s Portfolio Story, Fund Story and Stock Story were all created to give users a thorough and in depth information in one area.

Merrill Edge’s unique combo of using both Morningstar and Lipper as its primary research providers gives its stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETF) and mutual funds extremely thorough and accurate results.

Portfolio Story

Bring your portfolio to life with Merrill Edge’s Portfolio Stories. This platform collates all your personal information to show your highlights in a clear, concise and educational language and format, on demand. This format also provides visual highlights of how much a fund will cost you over-time, so you can compare and contrast funds to make the smartest decision.

Fund Story

Merrill Edges fund story was newly released in January 2019. It offers customers a research experience to help easily evaluate ETFs and mutual funds, including costs, holdings and ratings. This feature was created to give investors a strong understanding of their assets and help you make more informed decisions.

Stock Story

Fund Story, Merrill Edge latest release, compliments Stock Story, an award-winning stock research platform, launched in 2017.

Are There Free Trades With Merrill Edge?

Merril Edge Preferred Rewards Chart
Through the Merrill Edge Preferred Rewards program, members receive free stock and ETF trades.

In October 2019, Merrill Edge fully joined the zero-commission fray to offer cheaper and more accessible investing, to remain competitive. A review of Robinhood — the stock app surging in popularity with more than 10 million users — shows a ton of free features. To stay relevant, Merrill Edge Preferred Rewards members now have access to unlimited free stock, ETF and trading options.

This great thing about this is that it’s a continuous promotion and not a pop-up, catch it while you can promotion like most others. Option trades carry a competitive fee per-contract of $.65. You’ll also have access to other discounts and programs that the Preferred Rewards Program offers.

Something to note: To be considered for this program you must have an account with Bank of America and at least $20,000 in deposit accounts and/or Merrill investment accounts.

Merrill Edge Research & Educational Tools

TT illustration of a trader in front of his PC
Merrill Edge is well-known for its outstanding research tools and educational resources.

We’ve already spoken about Merrill Edge’s research briefly, but it really deserves a spotlight of its own. The BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research franchise, (who merged with Merrill Lynch) is positioned in the top tier in many external surveys. The entity received a lot of recognition for its work recently, including being awarded No.1 Global Research firm of 2019.

Merrill Lynch provides research on stocks, mutual funds and ETFs, which can be seen in the brokers Stock Story and Portfolio Story features, as outlined above.

But the area in which Merrill truly shines is fund research. Let’s take a closer look at that particular area.

Fund Research

Merrill Edge uniquely integrates research from both Morningstar and Lipper together with its in-house research team that provides reports on market commentary, individual stocks, and economic news.

The stock and fund pages feature charts, financial data, prospectus information and even a research report, so long as Merrill are covering the stock. These reports allow novices to access a wealth of information that would otherwise be hard to find. The reports also link to SEC filings.

Where the Research Lacks

For all the wonders of Merrill Edge’s award-winning research, its bonds analysis has some work to do to keep up with competitors. It also doesn’t produce any videos that deal with ongoing market commentary unlike rivals Fidelity and Charles Schwab.

Merrill Edge’s Educational Offerings

TT illustration of a broker educating other people
Merrill Edge provides top-notch educational material that can especially benefit beginner traders.

We can’t mention Merrill Edge without mentioning the educational material it provides to investors of all levels from beginner to advanced. The broker offers videos and webinars, articles, calculators and even courses if you’re looking to spruce up your skill set.

Asset Allocator

Merrill Edge’s asset allocator allows you to target a specific asset allocation and balance your portfolio so that it aligns with your investment objectives.

The Benefits of Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing

We can’t talk about Merrill Edge without mentioning the brokers support. Merrill offers customers support that is second to none. Because it is aimed at fledgling traders, being available and responsive at all times is a priority. Customers not only have access to a 24/7 customer support team but can also make appointments with advisors at more than 2,000 Bank of America locations.

For quick and easy queries you can use the company’s online chat that offers real-time responses from about 30 seconds to 1 minute. It also has an in-house messaging program for current clients specifically.

Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing (MEGI)

Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing Poster showing the illustrations of happy employees and a happy customer
The Merrill Edge Guided Investing program is great for beginner investors.

Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing (MEGI) is a robo advisor platform for Merrill Edge. Considering it only launched in 2017, it’s pretty much a newcomer in this field.

MEGI offers customers a portfolio that aligns with their goals and that is built, rebalanced, and monitored by an investment team. This aim of this service is to help newer investors find their feet and stay on track.

Customers can make use of the broker’s investment strategy, portfolio management, and online performance monitoring with this service.

Investment strategies

Simply tell the team about yourself and your goals to be recommended, an investment strategy will then be created with a recommended portfolio of ETFs and mutual funds that align with your needs.

Manage your portfolio

Merrill Edge take what you like about investing and create a portfolio that’s monitored and managed by the team.

Stay on track

Your customized dashboard will help you to easily see your portfolios performance and keep your contributions updated.

Is Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing Free?

TT Illustration of how much money you need to start day trading
Although Guided Investing provides numerous benefits, you need to have a minimum of $5000 to use it.

Unfortunately not – you’ll need to have a minimum of $5,000 in your account to get started and the service fee will cost you 0.45%.

What are the potential downsides to MEGI?

Although MEGI can really help investors along, it doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting. This feature is gaining a lot of traction with robo advisors which might persuade you to go for another broker when it comes down to taxable accounts.

Where Merrill Edge Falls Short

No Commission-free ETFs

Unless you’re a Preferred Rewards member then you won’t qualify for commission-free trading. This isn’t exactly uncommon among brokers but there has been more of a move towards offering it to all customers.

Trading Platform Restrictions

Although Merrill Edge offers MarketPro, as mentioned above, you need Java, and access is restricted to customers who maintain a balance of at least $20,000 between Bank of America and Merrill Edge accounts or make at least 15 trades per quarter.

The Tokenist illustration of intraday futures trading with a hand working something on tablet and a candlestick chart in the background
The Merrill Edge platform restrictions can negatively affect the overall trading experience for some users.

Level 2 quotes, as well as real-time big and ask prices for Nasdaq stocks are restricted to people who trade at least 30 times per quarter or maintain a balance of $1 million or more combined in both their Bank of America and Merrill Lynch accounts.

Merrill Edge Make Things Simple

If there’s one strong theme with Merrill Edge, it’s that they’re clear, concise and easy to use, and that can’t be denied.

Signing up for Merrill Edge is ridiculously easy, especially for current Bank of America customers, and accessing data, using its features and getting advice can all be done in just a few quick steps.

Final Thoughts: Merrill Edge Review

Merrill Edge offer a fair industry price among their competitors, and Bank of America customers can easily begin trading from their accounts. Prices are around $6.95 per trade, $.95 + .75 per contract for trading options, and there are no added charges for stocks less than $1.00 per share.

Bank of America’s award winning customer service team are mighty and provide around the clock to provide help.

Customers will get excellent insights, a great customer service team, up to 100 commission-free trades per month with the Preferred Rewards Program and it’s all as easy as pie…kinda.

Overall, if you’re new to trading and looking for some guidance, then you’ll likely enjoy this broker. Similarly, Bank of America customers will be happy to discover that Merrill Edge is a wonderful extension of the bank.

Merrill Edge FAQs

  • Is Merrill Edge Good for Beginners?

    Yes – in fact, being beginner-friendly is one of Merrill Edge’s strong suits. The lack of an account minimum, together with plenty of high-quality research makes for a platform that can give you both a lot of room to grow, and the tools that you’ll need to do so.

    Merrill Edge also boasts quite an impressive track record when it comes to customer service, with a helpful phone line and online chat option – both of which offer short waiting times.

    Merrill Edge’s desktop and mobile experience are quite well-designed and user-friendly. The Portfolio Story, Fund Story, and Stock Story options provide clients with a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand overview of relevant information,

    The ability to sit down with an advisor at 2,000+ Bank of America locations also speaks to Merrill’s dedication towards helping beginner investors find their feet.

  • What’s the Difference Between Merrill and Merrill Edge?

    Merrill, which was formerly branded as Merrill Lynch (and is still commonly referred to as such), and Merrill Edge, are both owned by Bank of America – but they aren’t the same thing.

    Merrill Edge is a low-cost or discount broker, primarily aimed at clients that have less than $250,000 in investable assets. After Merrill Lynch became a subsidiary of Bank of America in 2008, Bank of America Online Investing was merged with Merrill’s investment and research tools, call center and customer service to provide clients with a beginner-friendly electronic trading platform that caters to fledgling investors. Thus, Merrill Edge was born.

    That’s it for Edge – but what about Merrill? Merrill offers a suite of financial services, but it is oriented towards a clientele that has more money to invest. While Merrill Edge is focused primarily on providing an online experience, it is only available to US nationals and permanent residents – to contrast, Merrill is available in many locations around the world, including Canada, Australia, Korea, France, and Germany.

  • Does Merrill Edge Charge Fees?

    We’ve already covered the basic commissions and fees that you’ll run into with Merrill Edge – but there are additional costs that you might incur. 

    • These fees include:
    • Full account transfer: $49.95
    • Domestic and international wire transfers: $24.95
    • Return deposits: $20
    • Closeout fees for retirement accounts: $49.95
    • Online no-load TF: $19.95, $29.95 if representative-assisted
    • Fixed income trades for secondary issues: $1 per bond, $30.95 if representative-assisted
    • Stock Certificate Processing Fee: $25.00
    • Paper Statement Fee:$5
    • Paper Confirmation Fee: $3
  • Is Merrill Edge FDIC Insured?

    No, it isn’t – but Merrill Edge does have SIPC insurance, which covers your account for up to $500,000 in equity, with up to $250,000 in cash. 

    Lloyd’s of London provides additional coverage that goes above the SIPC limits, providing clients with an aggregate loss limit of $1 billion, including up to $1.9 million in cash per customer.

  • Does Merrill Edge Allow Day Trading?

    It does – but whether or not you should use Merrill Edge for day trading is an entirely different question.

    MarketPro, Merrill Edge’s online trading platform, has a couple of drawbacks that make it less attractive to day traders.  The lack of advanced order types, like conditional orders, and direct market routing, together with the lack of one-click buy and sell buttons, make the platform much less suitable for day trading.

    Merrill Edge hasn’t turned a blind eye towards the zero-commission race, however. Commission-free online stock, ETF, and options trades are available, however, seasoned day traders will likely find Merrill Edge’s offering of securities rather lackluster. If you’re interested in a platform that is geared specifically towards day trading, have a look at our review of the five best day trading brokers.

  • How do I Fund my Merrill Edge Account?

    If you have a Bank of America account that is linked to your Merrill Edge account, you can transfer cash quite quickly – certain account types can even make use of real-time transfers. If you’re transferring cash from an account type that doesn’t support real-time transfers, or from a linked account at another financial institution, the waiting period is up to 3 days.

    You can also make use of wire transfers. Funds can be electronically wired from other financial institutions to your Merrill Edge account, and the funds will show up in your account within the same day.

    Another way to fund your account is by mailing a personal, cashier’s, or bank check – however, this method is a bit more time consuming, with an estimated waiting time of 3-5 days.

    You can also transfer existing brokerage and IRA accounts, as well as securities from other financial institutions – just keep in mind that it takes at least 8 days to do so. On the other hand, you can transfer securities between your Merrill Edge accounts instantly.

  • Can You Short on Merrill Edge?

    Yes – provided that you open a margin account. You’ll need to pay a minimum deposit of $2,000 and maintain a minimum account balance of $2,000 at all times.

    However, this is one of the areas in which Merrill Edge falls…well, short. Customers often report difficulties with opening a margin account, and the troubles don’t stop there. 

    The margin rates that Merrill Edge offers aren’t competitive – and to be more precise, they’re at the higher end of the scale for discount brokerages. Although the rates are reduced once you cross a certain threshold, they always remain prohibitively high. 

    Although short-selling is an option with Merrill Edge, we can’t recommend it in good conscience – and there’s no good reason to use the platform for this purpose. If short selling interests you or plays a large role in your investment strategy, have a look at our guide to the five best online platforms for short selling.

Compare Merrill Edge

Find out how Merrill Edge stacks up against the competition.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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