For beginner and advanced investors alike, Merrill Edge offers a good mix of competitive fees and great customer service to make it easier to invest.
But it’s not the best choice for everyone. This Merrill Edge review will help you determine if the broker is right for your investing goals.
Merrill Edge review
Merrill Edge is an online brokerage service provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the investment arm of Bank of America. As a result, Bank of America customers can receive extra perks by investing with the broker.
Before we get into the details, here are some high-level benefits and drawbacks to consider about Merrill Edge:
- It offers commission-free trades for big investors and Bank of America loyalists.
- It requires no minimum opening deposit.
- It has an excellent customer support team.
- The securities selection might be limiting for more advanced investors.
- Its advanced platform isn’t available for small-time investors.
Merrill Edge investment accounts
Merrill Edge offers a variety of investment accounts to help you with all your individual investing needs, including:
- Individual and joint brokerage accounts
- Trust and estate accounts
- Individual retirement accounts
- Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
- Merrill Edge Guided Investing accounts
- 529 accounts
- Custodial accounts for minors
For the most part, you control the investments in your Merrill Edge account.
One exception, however, is the Merrill Edge Guided Investing account, which is managed by investment professionals at Merrill Lynch. You can have a traditional brokerage account or IRA within a Merrill Edge Guided Account.
Merrill Edge doesn’t require a minimum opening investment, so it’s a great fit for investment newbies.
Once you’ve opened an account, you can invest in the following securities:
- Exchange-traded funds
- Mutual funds
- Bonds and other fixed income
More sophisticated investors who want to trade in foreign exchanges, precious metals, futures, or other advanced investment options won’t be able to do so with Merrill Edge.
Once your account balance reaches $50,000 or you make at least 15 trades per quarter, you’ll get access to Merrill Edge MarketPro, a tool that offers real-time market analysis, interactive charting, and a customizable dashboard.
How to open a Merrill Edge account
If you’re interested in investing with Merrill Edge, the process of opening an account is straightforward.
You’ll start by choosing which type of account you want to open. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll walk you through the process of opening an individual brokerage account.
You’ll need the following information to get through the application process:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Valid mailing address
- Valid email address
- Employment and income information
- Other financial information
If you have an existing Merrill Lynch or Bank of America online account, you can log in and it will prefill some of the information on the application for you.
If not, you’ll start the application from scratch with the information provided above. You’ll also share details about your experience with investing.
If you don’t already have an online account, you’ll create one and then review and e-sign the necessary documents and disclosures. At that point, you’ll set up how you want to make your opening deposit.
The whole process of opening an account with Merrill Edge takes 10 minutes or less. And if you have questions along the way, you can chat with a representative and receive quick answers.
Merrill Edge commissions and fees
Merrill Edge charges a flat commission of $6.95 for stock and ETF trades.
If you want to trade options, it’s $6.95 plus $0.75 per option contract. While some mutual fund transactions don’t charge a commission, others do. Check out the pricing schedule to find out if you’ll be charged.
Depending on your relationship with Merrill Edge or Bank of America, you could qualify for fee-free trading.
For example, you’ll get 30 commission-free stock or ETF trades if you meet one of the following requirements:
- You have a combined total of $25,000 or more in deposit accounts at Bank of America.
- You have a combined total of $25,000 or more in your Merrill Edge online investing and trading accounts.
- You’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client with platinum status, which requires a combined total of at least $50,000 between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch accounts.
If you’re a Preferred Rewards client with platinum honors status, which requires a combined total of at least $100,000 between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, you’ll get 100 commission-free stock and ETF trades per month. That’s up to $695 in savings per month.
Merrill Edge doesn’t charge an annual account fee but will charge you a $49.95 fee if you close your account and transfer it to another brokerage firm.
Merrill Edge eligibility requirements
You have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a self-directed investment account with Merrill Edge.
You also need to be at least 18 years old to open an account. However, an adult can open a custodial account on behalf of a minor.
Merrill Edge customer service reviews
StockBrokers.com ranked the broker No. 2 for customer service in its 2017 online broker review, saying, “Every broker rep we spoke to was friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. It is apparent Merrill Edge trains its staff well and understands what it takes to provide consistent, high-quality client support.”
If you have any questions about Merrill Edge or need support after opening an account, you can reach the customer support team via:
- Phone: 888-637-3343
- Live chat on the Merrill Edge website
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- One-on-one consultation at a local Bank of America branch
Merrill Edge review: Is this the broker for you?
If you’re an existing Bank of America customer, having your bank accounts and investment accounts under one roof can be convenient. Although the broker’s commissions aren’t the cheapest, you can get some trades for free if you commit enough cash or trades.
Plus, the fact that Merrill Edge requires no minimum opening balance makes it accessible to people who are starting out and don’t have enough money to get a brokerage account somewhere else.
That said, it’s wise to compare fees and features from several brokers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Here are a few to consider in comparison to Merrill Edge:
|Broker||Commission||Minimum Opening Deposit|
|Merrill Edge||$6.95 per trade||$0|
|Fidelity||$4.95 per trade||$0 or $2,500 (depending on the account type)|
|TD Ameritrade||$6.95 per trade||$0|
|Charles Schwab||$4.95 per trade||$1,000 (waived if you commit to $100 automatic monthly deposits|
As you shop around, consider your investment goals and how each broker can help you reach them. Don’t consider only commissions and fees but also customer service, ease of use, and investor education.
With these criteria in mind, it’ll be easier to ensure that you make the right choice the first time.
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