Fidelity Investments rating

Fidelity

Merrill Lynch rating

Merrill Lynch


Merrill Lynch vs Fidelity


Fidelity Investments vs Merrill Edge (Bank of America): which investment firm is better in 2022? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, stock broker fees, and mutual fund offerings.



Who is Better, Fidelity or Merrill Lynch?


Merrill Edge and Fidelity Investments are powerhouses in the brokerage world. Make sure you take a look at our research before choosing one over the other.


Commissions


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Fidelity $0 $49.95 $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


Services


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


Promotions


Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open a new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.

Fidelity: Get $0 stock commissions.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.



First, We Need to Look at Tradable Assets


With a Merrill Edge account, you’ll gain access to these financial products:

  • Stocks on US exchanges
  • Bonds
  • Option contracts
  • Exchange-traded, mutual, and closed-end funds

With a Fidelity brokerage account, you get all of the above assets plus annuities and life insurance. Moreover, Fidelity has a global trading service that can be appended to any investment account. It opens up over 20 international exchanges with lots of foreign stocks.

And these are just self-directed accounts. Both firms also offer portfolio management. Merrill Edge has a low-cost human-managed ETF package but no robo service. The annual fee is 45 basis points.

Over at Fidelity, we do find a robo service. It is 35 basis points annually and trades special Fidelity mutual funds with no expense ratios.

In addition to these low-cost alternatives, both companies have traditional in-person services. Thanks to its partnership with Bank of America, Merrill Edge has more physical locations, although Fidelity does have centers in most US states.

Winner: Fidelity


Second, Let’s Inspect Margin Trading


Margin can be enabled on a self-directed account at either brokerage firm in this comparison. Merrill Edge customers pay interest on this schedule:

Debit Balance Margin Interest Rates
$100,000+ call 855.332.5920
$25,000 - $99,999 7.500%
under $25,000 8.625%

Fidelity has a slightly lengthier schedule:

Debit Balance Margin Interest Rates
above $1,000,000 4.000%
$500,000 – $999,999 4.250%
$100,000 – $499,999 6.575%
$50,000 – $99,999 6.825%
$25,000 – $49,999 6.875%
$10,000 – $24,999 7.825%
$0 – $9,999 8.325%

Unfortunately, neither broker-dealer shows margin details for individual securities on their profiles.

Winner: Fidelity


Third, Let’s Examine Their Websites


When you get ready to trade, with or without margin, both companies have very good websites. On the Merrill Edge site, we found several tools worth mentioning, including:

- Charting with tools, including the ability to view a graph in OHLC format
- Option chains for calls and puts
- Trade ticket with eight order types
- Search bar in the upper portion of the screen to make searching for a ticker symbol easy


Merrill Lynch vs Fidelity


Fidelity’s website also has a search bar at the top that makes getting around its site quite easy. Of course, the top horizontal menu does a good job as well.


Fidelity or Merrill Lynch


Charting on the Fidelity site exceeds Merrill by offering full-screen mode and more tools. The broker’s order form has the same number of order types, although there’s a second version—a simplified form.

Winner: Fidelity


Next, It’s Time for Desktop Software


Neither brokerage firm has stopped with its website. Both offer very good desktop platforms. Merrill Edge’s program requires the download of a file from its website in order to launch, which is a slight inconvenience. Nevertheless, the software has many good features, including:

  • OptionsPlay, an advanced derivative platform
  • Level II data
  • Several technical analysis tools
  • An economics calendar
  • Mutual fund trading
  • Advanced charting with 13 display styles

Bank of America vs Merrill Lynch


Fidelity’s desktop software doesn’t require any download from its website, the first major advantage. But it lags in other areas. For example, charting only comes with 7 display styles. Also, it’s not possible to trade mutual funds on the platform.

Merrll Lynch or Fidelity Investments


But we do like Fidelity’s desktop program for other reasons, including live streaming of Bloomberg and direct-access routing, neither of which will be found at Merrill Edge.

Winner: Toss up


Fifth, Let’s Have a Look at Their Mobile Apps


Fidelity customers get another great software platform with the broker’s mobile app. There are many useful tools on it, including an AI, a learning center, and a beta experience. This latter option is a simplified interface that loses a lot of features. The regular app has bill pay, market news, option chains, and other great features.


Fidelity vs Merrill Edge


Merrill Edge has just one version of its app. Highlights include horizontal charting with tools, multiple order types, a mutual fund trade ticket, and educational resources. These are available on Fidelity’s app as well. One feature Merrill offers that Fidelity doesn’t is a FICO score.


Merrill Lynch or Fidelity


Fidelity has software for iMessage and Apple Watch, nice tools that Merrill Edge hasn’t developed yet.

Winner: Fidelity


Sixth, It’s Security Research


Fidelity’s desktop platform and mobile app have their own security research tools, but we found the broker’s website to have the lion’s share of resources. Besides good screeners, asset profiles are very valuable. For Amazon, we found no less than 11 analyst reports, some of which have price targets. Profiles on the Fidelity site have lots of data points, including numbers on top competitors, ESG performance, fundamental and technical scores, and much more.


Fidelity or Merrill Edge


On Merrill Edge’s trading platforms, we found good information as well. Mutual funds have star ratings from both Morningstar and Lipper (Fidelity has star ratings only from Morningstar). Stock profiles, though, have fewer pdf reports compared to Fidelity. For Amazon, we found just 3. Trefis® price analysis and free research from Bank of America Securities are highlights, though.


Merrill Edge TradeBar


Winner: Fidelity


Finally, Here Are Some Extra Services


Extended Hours: After-hours and pre-market trading are on tap at both investment firms in this contest. Fidelity’s early session is longer by 30 minutes.

DRIP Service: Free of cost at both Merrill Edge and Fidelity.

Banking Tools: Merrill Edge offers check writing and a Visa debit card. Moreover, it’s easy to link a Bank of America deposit account to a Merrill Edge brokerage account. Fidelity has its own lineup of banking products, including unlimited ATM fee refunds on its debit card.

Individual Retirement Accounts: IRAs are available at both brokerage houses. Fidelity has more IRA types than Merrill Edge. Plus, Merrill Edge has a $49.95 IRA closeout fee, which Fidelity doesn’t have.

Fractional Shares: Only available at Fidelity (for stocks and exchange-traded funds).

Initial Public Offerings: Once again, only available at Fidelity.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Both Merrill Edge and Fidelity provide the ability to set up automatic mutual fund purchases.

Winner: Fidelity


Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: Fidelity offers more than 9,000 mutual funds. At Merrill Edge, that number is reduced to just over 3,000. Both firms do, however, have very good fund research tools. In fact, Merrill Edge has the better fund screener. Take your pick.

ETF & Stock Trading: Because Fidelity has partial-share trading and direct-access routing, we would lean towards it.

Beginners: A low-cost managed account with either firm will work. For self-directed trading, we like Fidelity’s branch locations and online learning library better.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Both brokerage firms have good retirement tools on their websites. Merrill Edge doesn’t offer annuities, but Fidelity does, and this gives Fidelity the edge here, not Merrill. Plus, Merrill charges annual fees for its solo 401(k). Fidelity does not.

Small Accounts: For managed accounts, Fidelity has the lower minimum deposit requirement. For self-directed trading, neither broker has account minimums or trading requirements, although as already mentioned, Merrill Edge does have an IRA closeout fee. Plus, it has an account transfer fee, which Fidelity doesn’t have.


Promotions


Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open a new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.

Fidelity: Get $0 stock commissions.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.



Fidelity vs Merrill Lynch: Results


Merrill Edge doesn’t even have the better banking tools. Fidelity is it. Value oriented investors, however, might find a better deal at Ally Invest.







Fidelity Fees vs Merrill Lynch Fees



Fidelity Investments


Merrill Lynch

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $32.95
  • Options: $0.65 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $49.95 to buy; $0 to sell. $49.95 if sold within 2 months
  • Bonds and CDs (new issues): on a net yield basis
  • Bonds and CDs (secondary issues): $1.00 per bond ($250 maximum)
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, commercial paper, UITs, ETFs
  • Fidelity minimum deposit to open account: $2,500 ($0 for Rollover IRA; $2,500 or $200 per month for ROTH and Traditional IRA)

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $29.95
  • Options: $0.65 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
  • Investment products: stocks, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bonds, CDs
  • Merrill Edge minimum deposit to open account: $0



Updated on 1/13/2022.