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 IRA investments. Merrill Edge Market Pro is a highly customizable application to view movements of
various investments in real time. This is advantageous for the high-volume trader, since price quotes on the other screens could be delayed up to 20 minutes.
New to Market Pro is 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 are triggered throughout the day.
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 get it)
Merrill Edge / Merrill Lynch Cons
- Limited, poorly designed trading tools and charts
- Terrible trade execution
- Account balance discrepancies
- Technical issues
- Customer service complaints
- Poor selection of investment choices
- 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. Combined total of $25,000 or more in your deposit accounts at Bank of America. When you make a trade, MLPF&S adds the average
collected balances in your deposit accounts as of
the prior month to the balances in your bank CD and IRAs as of the prior business day. Bank deposit accounts with the same
(SSN)(s) on the self-directed brokerage account are automatically included in the balance determination. Brokerage fees associated with,
but not limited to, margin transactions, option trading, special
stock registration/gifting, account transfer and processing, account maintenance, research requests, and termination still apply.
2. Alternatively, a combined balance of $25,000 or more in cash in one or both of the following sweep options in your Merrill Edge
account(s) as of the prior business day:
- Bank Deposit Accounts sweep option with your CMA
- Retirement Assets Savings Program II sweep with your IRA
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.
The internet is full of complaints from Merrill Edge's customers on the whole range of issues: trading tools bugs,
maintenance and account transfer fees, 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 free features to their customers.