2019: Thinkorswim versus Merrill Edge brokerage firm comparison: fees, commissions, benefits, differences, pros and cons. Which broker to choose?

Introduction

Merrill Edge has a desktop platform called MarketPro, while TD Ameritrade customers have access to thinkorswim. Both brokerage firms are in the same price range, so they make a good comparison. Let’s see if one is the better value for trading stocks and options.

Pricing

TD Ameritrade does not impose any account minimums or trading requirements to use its desktop trading system, thinkorswim. Merrill Edge investors, on the other hand, must place on average five trades per month to gain access to MarketPro. Alternatively, the broker will accept $50,000 in assets across Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts.

Level II quotes at TD Ameritrade are free for both professional and non-professional traders. There are no trading requirements. Merrill Edge clients must place at least 10 trades per month or have $1,000,000 or more in Bank of America and Merrill Lynch accounts.

The cost of buying and selling securities on either platform is pretty even. Both brokers charge $6.95 for stock and ETF transactions. Merrill Edge customers who have at least $50,000 in combined Merrill Lynch/Bank of America balances qualify for thirty commission-free trades per month.

Option trades on thinkorswim are an additional 75¢. Assignments and exercises are $19.99. On MarketPro, Merrill Edge also charges an extra 75¢ per contract. For exercises and assignments, Merrill Edge does a much better job than TD Ameritrade: the broker charges its regular $6.95 commission.

Market News and Research

MarketPro comes with real-time news stories in article format. It is possible to search these articles by symbol or keyword. It is also possible to perform a search for all securities on a watchlist.

The Merrill Edge platform comes with security research tools, courtesy of Merrill Lynch Global Research. Ratings from this service include buy, hold, and sell recommendations. There are also rankings on a scale of one to nine. Some stocks will have research reports written by the same Bank of America service. A total of 2,800 stocks are covered.

MarketPro has an alert function. When market or security activity reaches a certain level, the software will send a notification to the user on the platform via a pop-up window or a notification in the desktop tray.

Merrill Edge vs Thinkorswim

Thinkorswim also provides alerts. It has an economic calendar, which displays upcoming earnings announcements, dividends, conference calls, and other important events.

TD Ameritrade’s software comes with several video tools, which MarketPro doesn’t offer. CNBC streams at no cost on thinkorswim, and there is also a library of videos from CNBC and Reuters. It is possible to search these resources and even add them to a chart on the day they were released.

A stock screener on thinkorswim can search for equities based on a wide range of criteria, such as earnings per share, volume, bid and ask prices, and profit margin. Ranges can be set by adjusting high and low values.

Both TD Ameritrade and Merrill Edge offer stock screeners on their websites, and these tools are more user-friendly than the screeners on the platforms. More information will also be found on the websites for stocks. There are free research reports available from many third-party analysts. For IBM, TD Ameritrade has seven reports in pdf format, and Merrill Edge has three.

Merrill Edge vs Thinkorswim
The Merrill Edge and TD Ameritrade websites also have lots of data on global markets, including not just securities, but also commodities and indexes. These resources are easier to sort through than information on the platforms. The market news section on Merrill Edge’s website is easier to navigate than TD Ameritrade’s thanks to large icons.

Platform Customization

Both desktop platforms can be customized. MarketPro allows for different color schemes and font sizes. Workspace preferences can be saved on a default page. Time zones can be saved, and so can printing preferences. Hot keys can be set up, and parameters in Black Scholes calculations can also be saved.

In thinkorswim, font size is customizable, and this is a good thing because the default size is very small. Color schemes can be changed as well, along with how orders are submitted, the display of account data, and even the amount of space between fonts.

Promotions

Thinkorswim: Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.

Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.

Charting

Both brokerage houses offer charting software on their websites and desktop platforms. Thinkorswim is the most advanced of the four, offering four hundred technical studies. A chart can be displayed full screen, and there are many graph styles available. These include monkey bars, candlestick trend, Heikin Ashi, equivolume, and more. There are also many drawing tools, including several Fibonacci gizmos, such as Fibonacci Time Ratios.

On MarketPro, interactive charting provides seventy technical studies, whose parameters can be adjusted. The colors of the technical studies can also be changed. Drawing tools include Gann Fan and several Fibonacci tools. A chart’s time interval can be set anywhere from tick to monthly.

A graph on the TD Ameritrade website comes with different chart styles and a few technical indicators. A chart can be shown full screen, and up to 20 years of price history can be shown.

The Merrill Edge website has charting software that will display price history at least back to 1980, although a graph cannot be shown full screen. Like TD Ameritrade, a security’s price history can be compared to an index or another stock; and chart frequency has several options.

Other Platforms

Besides thinkorswim, TD Ameritrade also offers Trade Architect, which is a simpler browser-based trading environment. The broker had the ingenious idea to create a thinkorswim mobile app, and many of the desktop platform’s advanced features are available on the mobile platform. Unfortunately, Merrill Edge does not offer these tools, nor does it provide any simulated trading, which thinkorswim offers.

Merrill Edge vs Thinkorswim Recommendations

Thinkorswim (read review) is ideal for experienced and professional traders who want the most sophisticated technology. Options traders and Bank of America customers will find better pricing at Merrill Edge (read review), however.


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Open TD Ameritrade Account


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