Merrill Edge rating

Merrill Lynch Review

Merrill Lynch Overview

Please note that the following article and rates apply only to Merrill Lynch self-directed investing accounts called Merrill Edge. This Merrill Lynch review does not apply to any other Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith accounts.

Merrill Edge (member of SIPC) is an on-line self directed discount broker operated by Merrill Lynch, a subsidiary of Bank of America. With competitive fees and excellent research tools, the firm offers a good value to securities traders. Let's take a closer look at this broker and see what it has to offer.

Fees and Account Minimums

Merrill Edge charges $0 for stock and ETF trades. Options are an extra $0.65 per contract.

Trading stocks, options, ETFs, or mutual funds with a live broker is $29.95.

Brokerage accounts have no minimum opening deposit or minimum balance requirement. IRAs also have no annual account fee or minimum balance requirement. There is a $49.95 fee for closing or transferring a retirement account.

List of all Merrill Lynch fees is located under this link.

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Open Merrill Edge Account

Mutual Funds

Merrill Edge offers more than 4,000 mutual funds to trade. More than 800 of these have no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds that do carry a transaction fee are $19.95 to trade. The fee applies to exchanges, purchases, and sales. For NTF funds, there is a $39.95 short-term trade fee if the fund is held less than 3 months.

Research and Education

Merrill Edge has an abundance of educational resources on its website. Clients can find information on retirement planning, or take courses on securities topics at three different levels: beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Numerous videos are available covering topics such as asset allocation and bond investing. There are calculators to help investors determine education costs. There are also self-guided investment courses powered by Morningstar.

Merrill Lynch Review: Website

The website has excellent tools for researching securities. There are effective screeners for stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. Analyst reports on stocks are available from S&P Capital IQ, Merrill Lynch, and Morningstar free of charge. Lipper ratings are also displayed for mutual funds. The broker provides technical analysis information at no cost from Recognia.

Cash Management Features

Checks and a Visa debit card can be added to a Merrill Edge brokerage account. There are no fees for the checks or card. Withdrawals at Bank of America ATM's are always free. Clients are reimbursed up to $200 for non-Bank of America ATM's per year.

Merrill Lynch review

Alternatively, a Bank of America checking account can be linked to a Merrill Edge brokerage account. Transfers between the two are quick and easy using either the Bank of America site or the Merrill Edge platform.

Customer Service

Merrill Edge can be contacted via phone, e-mail, and snail mail. Investment and technical representatives are available 24/7. Merrill Edge has a phone number for investors traveling internationally. On-line chat is available for investors trying to open an account.

The broker has a nationwide network of investment advisors, called Financial Solutions Advisors, located at Bank of America branches. These advisors provide one-on-one investment advice.

Trading Tools

The broker's website is intuitive and user friendly, and is relatively easy to navigate. Drop-down menus display a wealth of information in an easy-to-understand format.

Merrill Lynch Review: Trading

Trades can be placed within the web browser. Charting is available and includes some technical analysis tools. A help feature displays important educational information on how to place trades.

At the bottom of the browser is a useful trade ticket called TradeBar. It provides quick data and order entry, and can even produce a small chart.

Merrill Lynch Review: Website

Merrill Edge provides its customers with Portfolio X-Ray®, a service operated by Morningstar. This program scans an account and determines sector weightings and asset allocation. It also displays stock holdings underlying a mutual fund.

Merrill Lynch Discount Broker

A sophisticated trading platform, Merrill Edge MarketPro, is available to active traders. The requirement is 15 trades per quarter, or a minimum of $50,000 in combined Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts. In contrast, the best trading platform on the market, Thinkorswim, is available to all TD Ameritrade customers with no requirements.

Mobile Trading

Merrill Edge has applications for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Android. The interface is easy to navigate. Users can place trades, sign up for alerts, pay bills, and make a mobile check deposit. The app does provide news articles, although there is no streaming business news. Other brokers, such as Fidelity, provide streaming financial news free of charge.

Merrill Lynch Self Directed App


Cash reward qualifications: assets of $20,000 to $49,999 in cash and/or securities receive $100 bonus; for $50,000-$99,999, receive $150; for $100,000-$199,999, receive $250; for $200,000 or more, receive $600.

Additional Features

Merrill Edge offers clients the ability to trade extended hours. The broker also has a good selection of fixed-income products, including CD's, Treasuries, and secondary bonds, along with a handy screener.

The firm does not offer virtual trading account, cryptocurrencies, access to online investor community, forex and futures trading.


The Merrill site is better than Vanguard’s, E*Trade’s, and WellsTrade’s. Many other brokers don’t offer a trade bar at all, or they don’t offer the same quality as Merrill’s. Fidelity is one example of the latter. Merrill’s mobile app is much better than TIAA’s, and its cash management features are better than what Vanguard offers.

On the downside, Merrill Edge really underperforms in the mutual fund category. Most broker-dealers today offer more than 4,000 funds. Firstrade offers 10,000 mutual funds with NO commission.

As far as MarketPro goes, several brokers recently have removed trading requirements to use their trading platforms. Fidelity and Schwab are two examples. Webull has always provided platform to all of its customers at no cost. It also has lower margin rates, cryptocurrencies, and virtual trading.

Merrill’s standard $0 commission puts it on the same level as many online discount brokers today, including Fidelity, Schwab, and Firstrade.

Merrill Lynch Review Summary

We will end Merrill Lynch review with recommendations. Merrill Edge is an excellent choice for Bank of America customers. Everyone else, especially mutual fund investors and stock/ETF traders, will find better opportunities elsewhere.

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About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.