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- Merrill Edge is a brokerage offering human advisors and online trading, investing, retirement, and education savings plans.
- Merrill Edge has accounts for all types of investors, but it could be an especially good fit for active traders and Bank of America clients; you could qualify for discounts if you have a Bank of America account.
- Standard brokerage accounts have no minimums and offer unlimited free trades on stock and ETFs.
- Merrill Edge’s Active Trader Pro platform offers more advanced trading tools and market insights for active traders.
- Click here to open an account with Merrill Edge.
Merrill Edge could be a great fit for active traders and research-focused investors who want commission-free trades and inexpensive brokerage accounts. The company charges $0 commissions on all stock, ETF, and option trades (though you’ll still pay $0.65 per options contract), and it gives you the choice of several other investment products.
Merrill Edge’s three investing accounts — Merrill Edge Self-directed, Merrill Guided Investing, and Merrill Guided Investing with an advisor — all offer mutual funds, bonds, treasuries, and certificates of deposit (CDs). And you’ll have three different trading platforms to choose from: the Merrill Edge web platform, the mobile app, and Merrill Edge Market Pro.
On the research side of things, Merrill Edge provides investing insights and third-party analysis from Morningstar, Inc., CFRA, Moody’s, and multiple other investment analysis companies. You’ll also have access to Bank of America Global Research, and you can skim the latest stock market quotes and commentary on the brokerage’s digital apps.
Merrill Edge is also a competitive option for Bank of America customers since it lets you integrate your personal Bank of America accounts with your Merrill Edge accounts. You’ll also have access to 4,300 Bank of America financial centers if you need any in-person assistance, and you can get discounts or interest rate boosters if you enroll in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program.
More advanced or active traders can utilize the Merrill Edge Market Pro platform for additional investment analysis, market insights, and trading features.
If self-directed trading isn’t your thing though, don’t worry. If you’re looking for a robo-advisor or professional guidance, you can sign up for Merrill Guided Investing or Merrill Guided Investing with an advisor. You’ll need a minimum of $5,000 for Merrill Guided Investing and a minimum of $20,000 for Merrill Guided Investing with an advisor.
One of the main drawbacks to look out for is that you won’t be able to purchase specialty investments such as cryptocurrencies, precious metals, money market funds, and more. If you’ve got any questions, though, Merrill Edge provides 24/7 customer service and a live chat feature.
Bottom Line: Merrill Edge has options for every type of investor, but it’s especially convenient for Bank of America account holders thanks to the potential to get discounts and the ability to connect your accounts. The brokerage offers a combination of self-directed and advised investing accounts, three trading platforms, and investment research materials.
Merrill Edge pros and cons
- No minimums or commissions for self-directed accounts
- Investment insights and research provided by multiple third-party companies
- Can link Bank of America accounts
- Competitive customer service with live chat available
- No specialty investments like cryptocurrency, futures, or precious metals
Self-directed brokerage accounts
If you’d like to take the DIY investing route, Merrill Edge offers the choice of individual, joint, or custodial accounts. The company’s brokerage accounts also allow for unlimited commission-free trades on stock, ETF, and options. And you can take advantage of its investment research materials to review the latest stock market news, price movements, company financials, and more.
You’ll also have access to mutual funds, bonds, treasuries, and CDs. Although you can avoid commissions on options trades, you’ll still have to pay $0.65 per contract.
You can fund your brokerage account through one of four ways: real-time instant funding, wire transfers, checks, or account transfers.
Merrill Edge offers Merrill Guided Investing, a robo-advisor, and another managed portfolio — Merrill Guided investing with an advisor — for investors looking to work with professional advisors.
With Merrill Guided Investing, you get access to a portfolio that’s automatically constructed, monitored, and rebalanced for you. And once you set specific investing goals, Merrill Edge professionals create personalized asset allocations and investment strategies on your behalf.
Merrill Guided investing also offers socially responsible portfolios, which generally avoid certain types of stocks like tobacco in favor of more ethically minded investments. You’ll need at least $5,000 to use its robo-advisor, and you’ll have to pay a 0.45% annual fee.
Merrill Guided Investing with an advisor has a 0.85% annual fee and a $20,000 minimum account size requirement, but you’ll be able to work with a professional advisor to establish and work toward investing goals. In addition to one-on-one advice, this account also allows for periodic reviews with a financial advisor.
Merrill Edge has several retirement accounts for individuals and businesses. For individuals, the brokerage allows you to set up traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, rollover IRAs, and IRA transfers. And each IRA is completely free to set up and maintain.
Businesses, on the other hand, can utilize SEP IRAs, 401(k)s, and SIMPLE IRAs.
College saving & 529 plans
Interested in saving for college? Merrill Edge offers two options: 529 plans or custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA).
Merrill’s 529 plans have a $25 minimum initial funding requirement, but you’ll pay $0 in account fees. These plans also let you make federal tax-free withdrawals and offer four different portfolios: age-based diversified portfolios, diversified portfolios, single fund portfolios, and stable principal portfolios.
Custodial accounts — technically known as Uniform Gifts to Minors Act/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA) — let you set aside money for minors, or beneficiaries, until they reach termination age.
Merrill Edge’s custodial accounts are currently free to set up and maintain. Like its self-directed brokerage accounts, these accounts also offer unlimited commission-free trades for stocks, ETFs, and options.
Merrill Edge is a digital brokerage offering online investing, trading, retirement, education savings, and investment research solutions. The brokerage was formed after Bank of America acquired wealth management firm Merrill Lynch in 2009.
The company also offers margin lending, tax planning, step-by-step investing guidance, and investor education resources. Merrill Edge’s investor education center offers financial advice through a Morningstar Investing Classroom, videos and webinars, and tools and calculators.
Merrill Edge was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2019, the brokerage ranked as the best broker for beginner investors in Kiplinger’s Best Online Brokers ranking. Merrill Edge also ranked No. 1 for User Experience in Kiplinger’s 2020 Best Online Brokers ranking.
Merrill Edge has hundreds of millions in assets under management, with millions of active clients. Its parent organization, Bank of America, currently holds more than $1.7 trillion in deposits.
Rickie Houston is a wealth-building reporter at Personal Finance Insider who covers investing, brokerage, and wealth-building products.