Merrill Edge vs M1 Finance in 2022


M1 Finance vs Merrill Edge Bank of America for online investing. Compare cost, brokerage fees, IRA accounts, and differences. Which firm is better?



Overview of M1 Finance and Merrill Edge


M1 Finance is a small brokerage house that’s trying to change the way people invest. Merrill Edge, on the other hand, is owned by the gargantuan Bank of America and offers a more traditional investment experience. Before choosing one, be sure to look over this review:


Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Merrill Edge $0 $19.99 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
M1 Finance $0 na na $0 $0


Promotions


M1 Finance: Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance.

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



Category #1: Investment Strategies


Merrill Edge self-directed customers can invest in bonds, equities, closed-end funds, ETF’s, mutual funds, and option contracts. This list is trimmed down to just exchange-traded funds in the broker’s managed account service. While not strictly a robo program, it does manage to be very low cost: just 45 basis points per year. A second program adds an online financial advisor for an extra 40 basis points. And then there are traditional management packages that come with in-person visits for a little extra cost.


Merrill Edge


M1 Finance provides no financial planning service or portfolio management beyond the Pies it creates. These are baskets of securities similar to mutual or exchange-traded funds. They can contain stocks, closed-end funds, or ETF’s. The really great thing about the M1 platform is that customers can create their own Pies. However, they can only be traded at certain windows during the market day (Merrill Edge self-directed traders get the whole market day).

Winner: Merrill Edge


Category #2: Websites


To actually submit a trade or to manage an account, Merrill Edge provides its customers a simple but effective website. During our trial run of it, we found it easy to navigate. A top search bar makes finding quotes and other information fast and easy.


Merrill Edge


The order ticket on the Merrill site has 8 order types, 4 of which are trailing orders. There are just 2 duration choices, though.

Asset profiles have free technical analysis research (courtesy of Recognia). Charts deliver many tools, including technical studies and several display styles, although a graph unfortunately cannot be displayed the full width of the monitor.

The M1 Finance website is much simpler than Merrill’s. Charts only have one display style, and there are no tools of any kind. Asset profiles have less information on them, and there really is no order ticket at all. Instead, M1 clients send order requests on a very simple form, and it is the broker in this case who sends orders to the exchanges (in batches during the day).


M1 Finance versus Merrill Edge


Winner: Merrill Edge


Category #3: Mobile Apps


In addition to websites, both broker-dealers have mobile apps. The M1 Finance app continues its website’s great simplicity, incorporating the same elementary order form and very basic charting. Touch ID is one major highlight, and we did really like the ability to create Pies on the mobile platform.


M1 vs Merrill Lynch


Merrill Edge’s app, by contrast, has real trading power. There is an actual order ticket that has the same duration choices and trade types that its website cousin has. Charts have tools, a great feature that won’t be found on M1’s app. Other great features on Merrill’s app include:

- Free credit score
- Mutual fund trading
- Options trading
- Free stock reports
- Mobile check deposit


Merrill Edge or M1


Winner: Merrill Edge


Category #4: Desktop Platforms


Merrill Edge continues its outperformance with a fantastic desktop program. Called MarketPro, this robust piece of software has some really advanced features that the most demanding traders will find sufficient. Highlights include:

- Custom layouts
- Multi-window trading environment
- Bank of America Global Research Ratings
- Over 100 technical studies

Because of M1’s emphasis on simple investing, it does not have a desktop trading system.

Winner: Merrill Edge


Category #5: Margin


Merrill Edge customers pay either 9.989% or 8.864% for margin loans, depending on the amount borrowed. Margin, of course, is not available in managed accounts.

M1 Finance also offers margin borrowing. Rates are much lower, 5% or 3.5%, although the lower rate does require a $125 annual membership.

Winner: M1 Finance


#6: Other Services


IRAs: Individual Retirement Accounts are available at both brokerage houses in this contest. Only Merrill Edge offers the SIMPLE IRA.

IPO Availability: Initial Public Offerings are not available at either Merrill Edge or M1 Finance.

Fractional-share Trading Pies are traded in whole dollars, which produces fractional shares. Merrill Edge does not yet offer partial-share trading in stocks or ETF’s.

Banking Tools: Both firms offer Visa debit cards with their brokerage accounts. Merrill Edge also offers free checkwriting. Moreover, because of its relationship with Bank of America, it’s very easy to link a checking or savings account to a securities account.

Dividend Reinvestment Program: Each brokerage firm offers (at no cost) dividend reinvesting, although M1 Finance has a $25 minimum reinvestment amount (which Merrill Edge does not have).

Extended Hours: Merrill Edge, but not M1 Finance, offers both pre-market and after-hours trading.

Winner: Merrill Edge


Our Recommendations


Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Either broker.

Small Accounts: M1 Finance.

Beginners: Either broker.

Stock/ETF Trading: With its powerful desktop program, Merrill Edge is an easy pick.


Promotions


M1 Finance: Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance.

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



Merrill Edge vs M1 Recap


M1 Finance succeeds in delivering a different investment experience, but it doesn’t succeed in defeating its rival here overall.


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 Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.