Please note that the following review and rates apply only to Merrill Edge self-directed investing accounts. These do not apply to any other Merrill Lynch,
Pierce, Fenner & Smith accounts.
Merrill Lynch 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|
|Investments|| stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bills, notes, bonds, CDs|
|Merrill Edge minimum deposit to open account|| $0|
|Fees||Merrill Lynch fees|
Merrill Lynch trading tools are available for all types of brokerage accounts (including IRA). The firm offers the usual tools that you would expect
from a big brokerage firm.
You have the opportunity to view streaming quotes for your existing holdings. A customizable watchlist allows you to keep your future acquisitions on the radar to wait
for a buying opportunity. Programmable alerts allow you to stay abreast of any major events on the investment. Some of them are 52 week highs/lows, percent change in price in a
day/week/month/year, or you can set a limit or volume alert. Stock splits are a separate alert. You can even set an alert if the asset trades at a different pace than
any of the three primary indices.
Beyond the usual bells and whistles that most casual investors expect, Merrill Edge does maintain a Market Pro application. This full-screen trading platform is 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. 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.
Finally, the Merrill Edge trading application will stay up for an extended period of time before timing out.
This gives you the opportunity to keep a watchful eye on your investments, even if you are not actively trading during the day.
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 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 Lynch Review Summary
In terms of expense, the Merrill Lynch brokerage account is fairly low cost. Expect to pay $6.95 per trade for securities and exchange traded funds (ETFs). No load mutual funds will cost
you $19.95 for each transaction. Merrill Edge Self-Directed Mutual Funds carry a commission of 0.75% of the total gross proceeds which is capped at $250
(a $50 minimum charge applies). Options contracts are 75 cents each plus the $6.95 charge per transaction (an additional $23 charge applies for representative-assisted trades).
Bank of America customers have the option to link their accounts with their Merrill Edge accounts. This allows for seamless transfers of money from depository accounts
into your brokerage accounts and vice versa. Transfers are made in real time, giving you access to your funds for a quick trade or to pay a bill.
There are a couple of ways to have fees waived on your IRA account on a long-term basis. First, making at least 15 trades in a quarter will qualify you for a waiver of your custodial
fee. If you maintain a balance of at least $50,000, you may also avoid the fee.
The primary benefit of maintaining at least $50,000 in combined balances (deposit accounts and brokerage accounts) is that you qualify for Platinum Privileges. As a courtesy,
the $6.95 stock trading fee is waived for the first 30 trades every month. That is a break from up to $2,500 in trading fees annually.
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.
None right now.
Reviewed by Brokerage Review on
Reviewed by Editor and Merrill Lynch customers.