Merrill Edge Review: Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit
|Stocks and ETFs|| $6.95|
|Stocks and ETFs broker assisted|| $29.95|
|Stocks and ETFs automated phone trades|| $32.50|
|Options|| $6.95 + $0.75 per 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|
|Investments|| stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bills, notes, bonds, CDs|
|Merrill Edge minimum deposit to open account|| $0|
|Fees||Merrill Edge fees|
Opening a Merrill Edge account is easy, involving the usual filling out of forms on line and then a quick "Yes or No" decision regarding approval of your account.
The problem comes in getting the first deposit into the account. Where most on-line brokers ask for the routing number and account number of a checking or
savings account for funding, Merrill Edge account holders are not afforded this convenience. Merrill Edge would rather have you fill out a paper form that authorizes
the future transfers of funds between listed bank accounts and the newly opened Merrill Edge account. This fact is not revealed to the account holder until the account
is fully opened, however. This new account funding process is not exactly state of the art and has the effect of causing a delay in the end goal: funding the account and
buying securities. Merrill Edge needs to move to a system of confirming an account by making two small deposits and then receiving a confirmation from the account holder.
Nearly every other financial institution these days uses this method to everyone’s satisfaction.
Once the funding paperwork has finally been forwarded to the offices of Merrill Edge, moving money into and out of the brokerage account is very easy.
If the account holder has a cash balance in the account, a Merrill Edge debit
card can be used to withdraw funds directly from the account wherever VISA cards are accepted worldwide. Check writing against a cash balance is also offered to Merrill Edge account holders. Securities can be sold to raise additional amounts of cash for withdrawal, but funding with an equity or mutual fund sale requires a number of days for the cash to “settle” before it becomes available for withdrawal.
MerrillEdge.com Website/Trading Platform/Tools Review
The MerrillEdge.com website looks very good at first glance. Sadly, in reality it's cluttered with lots of useless images and huge sections of
"fine print" at the bottom. The navigation is not well-thought-out, and it's often hard to find what you are looking for.
The trading tools available are very basic, not offering a lot of functionality (for example, advanced order types) that can be found with most other
online brokers. Changing existing orders on a Merrill Edge trading screens is downright painful.
Merrill Edge does offer a Market Pro application which is a full-screen trading platform designed
to give a more active trader the means to take full control of their investments. Merrill Edge Market Pro is a highly customizable application to view movements of
various investments in real time.
Market Pro provides the Technical Insight tool which helps you locate patterns in individual investments based on bullish or bearish technical events. Also included is
the Strategy Builder tool which allows you to screen investments based on a whole host of metrics. Active day traders may employ the Intraday Trader tool to receive
alerts as technical signals that are triggered throughout the day.
For customers that want to monitor their investments on smartphones, there are apps available for most major hand-held devices: iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch Pros
- Free trades if the account meets certain conditions
- Good banking services including a free checking account
- Good research tools
- Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment, but you must call customer support to set it up)
Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch Cons
- Limited, poorly designed trading tools and charts
- Terrible trade execution
- Technical issues (unusable login cards, website going down, etc.)
- Customer service complaints
- Poor selection of investments
- High margin rates
- Mutual funds subject to self-directed short-term redemption fee of $39.95 if held less than 90 days
Merrill Edge Review Summary
Merrill Edge is new self directed brokerage created by Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America. The company charges $6.95 per trade
for stocks and ETFs. It also offers 30 free trades per month for customers who meet any one of the following criteria:
1. Maintain total combined balances of $25,000 or more in your Bank of America deposit accounts: checking, savings, FDIC-insured CDs or FDIC-insured IRAs.
2. Maintain total combined balances of $25,000 or more in cash balances in your Merrill Edge self-directed account(s): Bank Deposit Accounts sweep option
with your Merrill Edge Investment Account or Retirement Assets Savings Program (RASP) sweep with your IRA.
3. Qualify for the Platinum Privileges program, which requires that you have an active Bank of America personal checking account and maintain at least
$50,000 as a combined balance in your Bank of America deposit accounts and/or your Merrill Edge brokerage accounts.
Essentially it means that to get free trades you are keeping $25,000 in cash uninvested or earning tiny interest.
Also, we don't see how a brokerage firm could make any money with these free trades. We believe this is the same marketing
trick that Zecco used to grow customer base. The firm then dumped its free trades once it had enough clients.
Merrill Edge's standard commissions are about average in the industry, and much better than the hefty $30 per trade charged by
Merrill Lynch's old brokerage.
There are a lot of complaints from Merrill Edge's customers on the whole range of issues: trading tools bugs, defective login cards (SafePass cards),
website going down, mutual funds availability, order executions and customer service.
We don't recommend opening an account at Merrill Edge. There are
Top Rated Brokerage Companies that have fewer
problems while offering better trading tools and more features to their customers.