Merrill Edge rating

Merrill Edge

Etrade rating

E*trade

Merrill Edge vs Etrade


Compare Etrade vs Merrill Edge - which is better? IRA/Roth accounts, online trading fees, differences, and stock broker mutual fund rates.



Introduction


At either E*Trade or Merrill Edge you can get banking features and trading capability. But does that mean these two brokerage firms are about the same? If you think so, you definitely need to read this article.


Categories


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Etrade
Merrill Edge
Ally Invest


Cost


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Etrade $0 $19.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Merrill Edge $0 $19.99 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 $0.50 per contract $0 $0


Tradable Assets


With our E*Trade trial account, we found stocks, fixed-income securities, futures (including cryptocurrency futures), options (including options on futures), exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds, and mutual funds. The broker also has an IPO center on its website. On the day we conducted our research, there was one IPO available from Phreesia, a health care company.

At Merrill Edge, investors have access to ETF’s, mutual funds, closed-end funds, stocks, bonds, and option contracts. We did not find an IPO section on its site.

E*Trade wins the first category.


Portfolio Management


Both brokerage firms in this competition offer portfolio management for clients who haven’t found the success they’re looking for with their own investment strategies.

E*Trade starts with a robo package that cost just 30 basis points per year with a $500 initial investment. Customers who don’t trust a software program to make trading decisions can sign up for an old-school package. Other securities can be traded, such as stocks and mutual funds. Management fees vary from 0.65% to 1.25%.

Merrill Edge doesn’t have a robo advisor. It uses human advisors at Merrill Lynch to monitor and pick investments. Merrill Guided Investing is an online program that costs 45 basis points per annum with a $5,000 minimum balance. The broker will add a one-on-one working relationship with an advisor for 85 basis points per year (and a $20,000 minimum balance). With either package, Bank of America Preferred Rewards members get a discount of 0.15%.


Merrill Lynch vs Etrade


Having a digital advisory option gives E*Trade the victory here.


Website Trading


Merrill Edge’s website has a top menu with a few choices (like Accounts, Trade, and Research) that make finding topics pretty straightforward. A search field in the upper-right portion of the site provides quick info on any company or ticker symbol. After clicking on a company’s name, a drop-down window with buttons for alerts, a watchlist, and trading is shown.


Merrill Edge vs Etrade


The trade ticket offers eight order types and two duration choices. Extended-hours trading is also a possibility.

Charting on the Merrill site comes with about twenty technical studies, four chart styles, and three company events. A chart cannot be displayed the full width of the screen, one disadvantage.

At E*Trade, charts can be displayed the full width of the screen. There are technical indicators, company events, and seven graph styles. While the website does offer other highlights, it probably is best to cut to the chase and discuss E*Trade’s major attraction in this category: its browser platform.


Etrade vs Merrill Lynch


Called Power E*Trade, it boasts thirteen order types and three duration choices. Charting has over 100 technical studies, and we were really impressed with the inclusion of Bloomberg video news for free.

E*Trade wins again.


Desktop Trading


Both firms in this survey have desktop software. They both also impose account minimums. At E*Trade, $1,000 in assets is required. Merrill Edge requires either $50,000 (including Bank of America balances) or 5 trades/month.

Level II quotes are available on either platform. However, Merrill requires twice as many trades or twenty times the account balance to get them. E*Trade has no such requirement.

Both software programs offer advanced charting tools and option trading. Mutual funds can be traded on Merrill’s platform but not on E*Trade’s. Both layouts can be easily adjusted by dragging, adding, and deleting windows. Video news is available on E*Trade’s platform, but not on Merrill’s.

Direct-access routing is available on E*Trade’s platform, but not on Merrill’s.


Etrade vs Merrill Edge


Another loss for Merrill Edge.


Mobile Trading


Merrill Edge customers can use the broker’s user-friendly mobile app. It offers a credit score at no charge, a unique feature. Charting is available in horizontal mode with several good tools. The software’s order ticket offers eight trade types and two duration choices. Options and mutual funds can also be traded on it; and there’s a mobile check deposit feature.

E*Trade has two mobile platforms, one regular version and another inspired by the company’s browser software. Standard features include advanced charting, mobile check deposit, and a sophisticated order ticket. It offers six order types and eight duration choices. Mutual funds, futures, and options on futures can be traded. Streaming video news makes an appearance once again, a really nice service that is noticeably absent on Merrill Edge’s app.

E*Trade is the victor here.


Other Services


Dividend Reinvestment Program: DRIP plans are available at both broker-dealers. There is no charge from either.

IRA’s: Both firms offer Individual Retirement Accounts. Merrill Edge charges $49.95 to close an IRA, while E*Trade charges $25 for several services.

Automatic mutual fund investing: Available at both free of charge.

Pretty even here.


Where to Open Account?


Mutual Fund Traders: Both companies have good screeners to look for mutual funds. With E*Trade’s, we found 8,596. Merrill Edge has 3,146. Both firms offer pre-screened lists of funds for free. We recommend E*Trade.

Beginners: Although E*Trade has more branch locations for customer service, Merrill Edge has more locations for managed account services. We do like E*Trade’s customer service better (it has a human chat service for account holders, for example); but Merrill Edge has better materials on investing basics. We can suggest either broker here.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Merrill Edge charges $100 to setup an individual 401(k), which E*Trade doesn’t charge. E*Trade also offers an IRA designed for withdrawals after 59½. So we’ll go with E*Trade.

ETF and Stock Trading: We suggest E*Trade over Merrill. E*Trade has a much lower requirement for its desktop platform. And its free browser platform will satisfy most traders’ demands anyway. As for stock and ETF resources, E*Trade offers more information.


Merrill Edge vs Etrade Verdict


Merrill Edge failed to win a single category. Despite its affiliation with Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, it doesn’t compete very well in the discount brokerage world. Value oriented investors should also check out a $0 commission broker, Ally Invest.