Review of Merrill Edge self directed brokerage account: pros and cons, commissions and fees, minimums, rating, trading platform, research tools, education, and customer service.


Rating:  3.5-star brokerage firm rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $6.95
  • Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $19.99

Merrill Edge Review

Serving over 1.4 million households nationwide, Merrill Edge is an investment company with more than $114 billion in assets under management. Acquired by Bank of America in 2009, the broker does not only offer the convenience of Bank of America banking services but also provides access to many investment products.

Merrill Edge offers a wide selection of investment accounts that include self-directed accounts that are available online and Merrill Edge Advisory Center accounts that are available at select Bank of America financial centers across the country.

Merrill Edge Review: Trading Commissions

Merrill Edge brokerage offers flat rate commission on stock and ETFs - $6.95 per trade. This is higher than what is offered by other online brokers, including Fidelity, Schwab, and Ally Invest, all of which charge $4.95 per trade. At Merrill Edge there is no surcharge for automated phone stock and ETFs trades. Broker-assisted trades cost $29.95.

Merrill Edge provides 30 free stock and ETFs trades per month to all customers with $25,000 total assets in their accounts, including self-directed investing accounts and Bank of America deposit accounts.

Merrill Edge is charging $19.95 for mutual funds transactions. This is much lower than at Fidelity and Schwab but twice as much as Ally Invest and Firstrade is charging.

The broker also offers no load and no transaction fee funds. If one of these funds is sold within 90 days of purchase, $39.95 short-term redemption fee is applied.

Merrill Edge brokerage taxable and IRA accounts have no minimum funding or balance requirements and no maintenance or inactivity fees. Setting up an IRA is also free of charge. However, $49.95 will be charged for an account closure (IRA only) or transfer to another firm.

Merrill Edge Platforms and Trading Tools

Merrill Edge Review
The brokerage provides browser-based trading, mobile trading and MarketPro - an advanced trading platform. MarketPro a feature-rich trading software available to active traders who make at least 15 trades per quarter and to all customers with total combined balances of $50,000 or more in their Bank of America banking and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. To compare, the industry's leading trading platform - Thinkorswim - is available to all TD Ameritrade customers without any charges or conditions.

The Merrill Edge MarketPro platform offers streaming and interactive charting, real-time market data and insights, and a fully customizable dashboard.

Merrill Edge mobile app is available on iPhone, iPad and Android. With the app customers can check their investing and linked Bank of America accounts balances, make trades, transfer funds, research investments, monitor market and watch news.

Merrill Edge review: smartphone app

Research and Education

The company provides an outstanding investment research from Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, Recognia, and Merrill Lynch Global Research. Thomson Reuters market activity, news and analysis is also offered free of charge.

Merrill Edge review: investment research

A wide selection of educational materials including videos, articles, webinars and planning tools are available at the Merrill Edge Investor Education center. All materials, tools and calculators are well-designed, organized by categories, and are especially helpful for beginner investors.

Merrill Edge Customer Support

Merrill Edge provides great customer support. Investment experts can be reached via phone (24/7), email, an online chat, or by making a free appointment with a specialist at the financial center. One-on-one guidance and advice are only available to Merrill Edge Advisory Center customers.

Merrill Edge Review: Pros

  • No-fee IRA accounts
  • Excellent 24/7 customer service
  • Integration with banking products and services
  • Good selection of third-party investment research
  • Free trades (with conditions)

Merrill Edge Review: Cons

  • High stock and ETF commissions
  • Commission-free ETFs are not available
  • Advanced trading platform is not provided to everyone

Merrill Edge Review Summary

Great customer support and investment research make this broker a solid option to consider especially for Bank of America current customers who have high balances.

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Merrill Edge Commissions and Fees

InvestmentsPrice
Stocks and ETFs$6.95
Stocks and ETFs representative assisted $29.95
Stocks and ETFs automated phone trades$6.95
Options $6.95* + $0.75 per contract. Multi-leg options are charged per leg and contract.
Options representative assisted$29.95* + $0.75 per contract. Multi-leg options are charged per leg and contract.
Options exercised/assigned$6.95*. Multi-leg options are charged per leg and contract.
Mutual funds $19.95
Merrill Edge self-directed mutual funds 0.75% gross proceeds, $50 minimum, $250 maximum
Bonds On a net yield basis
* -- Additional transaction fees In addition to your options commissions, sell orders may be subject a transaction fee (of between $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). If applicable, this fee appears under "Transaction Fee" on a Trade Confirmation.

Merrill Edge IRA & Account Fees

FeeAmount
IRA Setup Fee$0
Annual IRA Fee$0
IRA Termination Fee$49.95
Full Account Transfer Out$49.95
Partial Account Transfer Out$0
Outgoing Wire Fees (Domestic)$24.95
Outgoing Wire Fees (International)$24.95

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Merrill Edge reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com Rating: 3