Merrill Edge Account Review: Brokerage Fees, IRA Investing, Pros and Cons, Mutual Fund Offerings



Merrill Edge Review - Pricing


  • Stocks/ETFs: $6.95 per trade
  • Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • No load mutual funds: $19.95 per transaction
  • Bonds: on a net yield basis


Merrill Edge Important Fees and Surcharges


  • Extended hours surcharge: $0
  • Large order surcharge: $0
  • Penny stocks surcharge: $0
  • Mutual fund short-term redemption fee if held less than 90 days: $39.95
  • IRA setup fee: $0
  • Annual IRA fee: $0


Merrill Edge Advantages


  • Possibility of trading for free
  • Banking products from Bank of America, including IRAs, checking accounts and CDs
  • Free dividend reinvestment
  • No account fees or trade surcharges
  • Fee-free retirement accounts


Merrill Edge Disadvantages


  • Buggy trading tools
  • MarketPro is available for accounts with $50,000+ or making 15 trades per quarter


Merrill Edge Account Types


  • General Investing
  • Cash Management Account
  • Individual Account
  • Joint Account

  • Retirement
  • Roth IRA
  • Traditional IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA

  • Education
  • NextGen College Investing PlanĀ®
  • Custodial (UGMA/UTMA) Account


Merrill Edge Overview


Traders looking for a discount broker with low fees, good trading tools, and 24/7 customer service should consider Merrill Edge. With Bank of America backing it up, it's able to deliver a value that many other brokers can't offer.


Trading Technology


The broker's website is easy to navigate. Handy drop-down menus display a wealth of topics within several categories. These include Research, Trade, and Help & Support. Orders can be placed on a simple trade ticket that appears on a web page. Alternatively, the broker provides a more sophisticated trading bar that appears at the bottom of the browser. It is called TradeBar and makes order entry quick and easy. The tool provides last trade price, the day's high and low prices, the current bid-ask spread, and the day's volume. A small chart can also be shown. The time scale can be adjusted to display daily, weekly, monthly, or annual price history. Several order types besides market and limit can be used, such as stop quote and trailing stop.


Merrill Edge Review 2017


The broker also offers its customers a desktop application called MarketPro. This advanced trading system has many features that traders will enjoy. For example, news and equity ratings are available along with streaming watch lists and interactive charting. The software includes more than 70 technical studies. Stocks, options, ETF's, and mutual funds can be traded on the platform. The broker does maintain active trader requirements to use the software. Investors must execute at least 15 trades every 3 months or have a minimum of $50,000 in account balances across both Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts.

Traders who don't want to use either the website or the platform can use the Merrill Edge mobile app. The firm has platforms for iPhone, iPad, mobile web, and Android. The Merrill Edge app has fingerprint login capability for devices that support the feature. Useful features include mobile check deposit, bill pay, and watch lists. The broker also has an app for Apple Watch, and has announced plans to roll out a redesigned mobile app in the fall of 2017.


Merrill Edge Mobile Review 2017


ETF's and Mutual Funds


Mutual fund traders have a small selection of funds at Merrill Edge. The broker provides 834 mutual funds that have no transaction fee and no load. In total, there are 4,013 funds open to new investors. Funds with a transaction fee cost $19.95, which is applied to purchases, sales, and exchanges. Using a live broker to trade a mutual fund incurs a $29.95 charge. A short-term-redemption fee of $39.95 is applied to NTF mutual funds if they are sold in under 90 days.


Merrill Edge Review 2017


The broker's screener for mutual funds is very powerful. It has over 60 filters to help narrow down the 4,000 choices to a smaller assortment. All ETF's trading on American exchanges are available, although Merrill Edge does not offer any that are commission free.


Pricing


Merrill Edge has an average commissions in the brokerage industry today. Stock and ETF trades are $6.95 per transaction. Options cost an additional $0.75 per contract. Exercises and assignments are just $6.95, also very low by industry standards. Trading with the broker's automated phone system carries the same $6.95 charge. Some customers get even lower commissions. Clients who have at least $25,000 deposited as cash at Bank of American and/or Merrill Edge receive a maximum of 30 trades per month free of charge.

Merrill Edge offers margin to investors who would like to trade with borrowed funds. A loan of less than $25,000 costs 9.125% currently. A debit of $10,000,000 or more costs just 5.00%.

The broker charges nothing to open or maintain an account. There are no inactivity or low-balance fees. There is also no minimum deposit to open an account. Accounts are automatically enrolled in electronic delivery of statements. Paper statements cost $5 each.


Comparison


Merrill Edge's $6.95 commission is the same or lower than many of its rivals, including E*Trade ($6.95), Vanguard ($7-$20), and Wellstrade ($8.95). E*Trade does offer a $2 discount for some clients, but that is less than Merrill's 100% discount. The only large brokerage house that is priced better for stocks and for mutual funds than Merrill Edge is Ally Invest. OptionsHouse and Ally Invest do have a $4.95 commission for all traders. However, Optionshouse lacks many of the research and educational tools that Merrill Edge offers, although it does have a platform that is free to use. Ally Invest lacks 24/7 customer service, although it offers twice as many mutual funds as Merrill Edge.

Merrill Edge offers free stock reports from three analysts: S&P Capital IQ, Merrill Lynch, and Morningstar. TD Ameritrade and Fidelity, by comparison, provide reports from more than three analysts. Firstrade offers reports only from Morningstar.


Merrill Edge Review 2017


Merrill Edge Review Summary


Merrill Edge is a good value among brokerage services around. However, frequent stock traders will find better choices in OptionsHouse or Ally Invest. The firm's primary weakness is in mutual funds. Investors who mostly trade funds will find better selections at Schwab and TD Ameritrade.


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Merrill Edge Reviewed by Savings-Secrets.com on . Rating: 3
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