Merill Edge A Broker For Bonds & Stock

February 7, 2021
Brokers
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Established in 2010, Merill Edge is owned by Bank of America. Merill Edge is a branch of Merill Lynch that went under in the 2008 financial crisis. The sign-up process is pretty simple meaning that anyone can sign up and there are no initial deposit requirements which means that you can always try out the platform to see if it fulfills your needs. The broker is regulated by the SEC and offers a mix of 8,400 options on bonds to choose from and more than 2,400 stocks and ETFs. The broker also has a good interface and usability features like newsfeed and the option to set up price and market news alerts. If you're interested in trading bonds & stocks, and you're not interested in other assets like crypto or Forex, then Merill Lynch is a great choice for you.

If, you are a broker looking for commodities, forex, crypto and a good customer service inside the US and across the globe, have a look at Capital.com. The broker has one of the most extensive educational resources and customer support programs that offers every investor with their own dedicated account manager, Capital.com promises to be a broker that will be with you through your trading journey. Sign up now and become one of the thousands of readers who have already used this platform and given us positive reviews.

We analyzed hundreds of data points relevant to the costs, benefits and features of trading with Merrill Edge and scored our findings on a 10-point scale across 10 distinct categories.
Fees 3
Signup Process 9
Minimum Deposit 10
Ease of Use 7
Deposit & Withdrawal Options 5
Customer Support 7
Asset Classes 4
Referral Program 0
Demo Account & Educational Resources 3
Safety & Regulation 10
Total 58

Introduction

Merill Edge is a US-based broker that was established in 2010 by Bank of America, the broker is a branch of Merill Lynch that was acquired by Bank of America after 2008. The broker is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in the USA. Merill Edge only provides its services to clients based in the USA, where the broker has earned a solid name in the industry for the depth in the asset options that it provides.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Customizable interface
  • Commission free stocks & ETFs
  • Option to hire personal finance assistant
  • Quick customer service

Cons

  • No demo account
  • Basic educational resources without much detail
  • No referral program for friends and family
  • Limited asset classes

Account Types

Merill Edge Individual Brokerage Account

Manage your own investments and build your own portfolios so that you can achieve your financial goals the way you want to. It is something that is interesting if you are an active investor as you would obviously want to make your own portfolio.

Merill Edge Roth IRA

This account type helps you save up for retirement. You can benefit from the potential to earn tax-free income and greater withdrawal flexibility in retirement as you can withdraw from time to time without any penalties.

Merill Edge Traditional IRA

The traditional retirement account is a common account type used by many investors saving for the long run. You can benefit from the potential to reduce current taxes while enjoying tax-deferred growth potential (contributions may be tax deductible).

Merill Edge Rollover IRA

Rollover IRA accounts provide you good flexibility as you can change your 401k from employer to employer. You can maintain your retirement plan's tax-deferred status while consolidating your assets meaning that if you plan to rotate employers while saving for retirement.

Merill Edge NextGen 529 Plan

If you want to save for your kids education or your education then this account type is for you. You can enjoy tax advantages such as gains tax, diverse investment options and high contribution limits to help you save for future education expenses.

Merill Edge Joint brokerage account

Manage your own investments and pursue your financial goals through an account with up to four owners so you can help each other in investing.

Merill Edge Custodial Brokerage (UGMA/UTMA)

Set aside money on behalf of a minor to pay for education or other expenses that can help you achieve your long-term goals.

Merill Lynch SEP IRA

Benefit from the flexibility to contribute as your cash flow allows, with contribution limits nearly 10 times higher than a traditional IRA.

Here's a breakdown of our 10 scoring categories, each scored out of 10 for a total of 100 points.

#1 Fees

Merill Edge Commissions On Stock & ETFs

The broker does not charge any commission for stock and ETF which augers well for investors as they can freely trade these assets without paying hefty commissions on trades which can be very annoying at times especially when there are tiered commission rates on trading.

Merill Edge Commission Structure

The basic commission structure that the broker employees is mentioned in the table below. Assisted trades consist of you taking advice from the broker when making a trade. These trades cost you $29.95 per trade that you make on any asset type, as illustrated in the table below.

Asset Commission Commission on Assisted Trades
Mutual Funds$19.95$29.95 per trade
Treasuries, Including Auction & Secondary $0$29.95 per trade
Coporate, Municipal Bonds$1/Bond trade ($10 min, $250 max)$29.95 per trade

Merill Edge Deposit & Withdrawal Fees

There are no deposit and withdrawal fees associated with using Merill Edge's brokerage services via local transactions through credit and debit cards. This augers well for investors because you do not have to pay to use your own money. Often brokers are a bit tricky in having no deposit fees when you are depositing into their platform, but charge withdrawal fees when you take your funds out from them. Merill Edge offers good value here as you do not have to worry about withdrawing your funds. Especially, if you are someone new looking to try out the platform to see whether it fits the bill or not to be your broker of choice.

However, there is $24.95 wire transfer fee for local and international transfers which can be quite expensive for users who are beginners or rely on small investments to make profits. There is also a $19.99 deposit return fee which can be a bit annoying at times in case you need to return a deposit.

Merill Edge Inactivity Fees

The broker does not charge any inactivity fees. Inactivity fees especially can be very annoying for traders because they tend to be variable and can sometimes cost a lot to users if they have been inactive for a couple of months or more.

Merrill Edge Fees Score: 3/10

#2 Signup Process

The signup procedure is completely based online. You can apply for an account online and the online signup procedure comprises of a few details that you need to fill. The details required are elicited below.

  • Social Security number
  • Birthdate
  • Email address
  • U.S. home address or any document with proof of address
  • Employer name and address (if applicable)

The sign-up procedure is simple and the verification of your account can take up to 1 day. The verification process is quick but brokers like Capital.com allow for quick opening of account due to which the broker loses a point in our scoring guidelines.

Merrill Edge Signup Process Score: 9/10

#3 Minimum Initial Deposit

There are no minimum inital deposit requirements that you need to get started with your Merill Edge account. This bodes well for beginners because often individuals looking to get started with trading may not have a $500 or $1,000 to get started with trading. Another advantage of no minimum initial deposit requirement is that you can always test out the platform by depositing a few dollars to see how it fits your needs and requirements and whether you want to continue using it or not. If you want to look at other brokers with no minimum initial deposit requirements, check out RBC Direct Investing, FXTM or IronFX. They also offer good demo accounts and educational resources to help you get started with trading.

Merrill Edge Minimum Initial Deposit Score: 10/10

#4 Ease of Use

Merill Edge provides its services over its desktop, web and mobile platforms. Moreover, the broker offers decent customizability in making your own dashboards that lends some control to users with respect to the type of customization that they want.

Merill Edge Mobile Trading & Web Platform

The rating for the play store is 3.9 and for the app store is 4.7. The interface for both platforms is quite similar in terms of the dashboard and the different menus available. You can set up 4 types of alerts on both platforms namely:

  • Investment Alerts with respect to price alerts on any of your asset types. This helps you keep track of market swings and make timely decisions.
  • Account Alerts notify you about your account and privacy settings
  • Security Alerts tell you of any suspicious logins
  • Market Alerts alert you whenever a potential market event happens that can affect your portfolio in a positive or negative way.

Moreover, you can also solicit reports such as how your portfolios are doing and what salients of your portfolio may earn you gains and losses. However, a major distinction between the mobile and web platform is that you cannot trade bonds on the mobile platform which is a bit strange.

The interface in general seems a little outdated and seems like something taken from the early days of computing. For a major broker, I think they can work to improve their interface.

Merill Lynch

Merill Lynch Desktop Platform

Merrill Edge's desktop trading platform is named Merrill Edge Market Pro and it is designed for professional traders. To be able to use it, you need to make at least 15 trades per quarter or hold $50,000 in your account.

  • Create your own layouts or use our pre-built solutions
  • Save up to 25 layouts, utilizing 26 fully-customizable windows available to build your trading space
  • Intuitive support found in every window — simply click the help icon and access our comprehensive guide

The desktop platform is much more advanced as it is designed for advanced users with advanced statistical and mathematical tools, not in the other platforms. The outdated interface of desktop and mobile apps means that the broker loses a few points here.

Merrill Edge Ease of Use Score: 7/10

#5 Merill Edge Deposit & Withdrawal Options

There is only one base currency (USD) that you can choose from when you’re depositing or withdrawing your funds from the platform. This should be more than enough for any investors living in US, but a bit of an hassle for outsiders.

Investors can electronically transfer their funds directly from their bank account via bank or wire transfer, or use credit or debit cards.

This leaves us without the ability to transfer funds to the broker through electronic wallets. These make investing a lot faster and easier for many investors who may not want to use credit/debit cards, and not having these options will turn away a good portion of investors who can turn to other brokers that offer a wide array of electronic wallets for transfer of funds.

Furthermore, transferring money from a non-RBC bank account to your RBC Direct Investing account can take several business days. It’s far too slow to be considered appropriate in today’s fast-paced investing world and is simply disappointing.

Merrill Edge Deposit & Withdrawal Options Score: 5/10

#6 Merill Edge Customer Support

Good customer service is an essential dimension for most of our readers in fact good customer service is a crucial decision point for our readers when deciding the broker of their choice. Some of the customer service options offered by Merill Edge include:

  • Live Chat via the website
  • Email at [email protected]
  • Telephone at +1 888.637.3343

Customer support is available 24/7 during weekdays and weekends, which is pretty decent. However, Merill Edge does not offer a personal account manager without any added costs like Capital.com due to which it loses a couple of points.

Merrill Edge Customer Support Score: 7/10

#7 Merill Edge Asset Classes

Merill Edge has limited asset types, but within each asset type, it offers plentiful options for its investors within each asset type.

AssetsOptions
Stocks & ETFs2300  +
Mutual Funds100 +
Bonds8,300 +

Merill Edge Stocks & ETFs

Merill Edge offers shares of many of the Fortune 500 companies meaning that you can easily build a portfolio from one of the strongest pools of companies available for investors. The 100's of ETFs available on the platform mean that users can diversify their portfolios because ETFs are a an amazing tool for diversifying your funds as they serve similar function to mutual funds in the short term. Just to give you an idea here are a few of the commonly traded stocks that you can trade:

  • Amazon
  • Bank of America
  • Ebay
  • Facebook
  • Ford
  • Home Depot
  • Intel
  • Tesla
  • Microsoft
  • Netflix
  • Nvidia
  • Paypal

Merill Edge Bonds & Mutual Funds

Merill Edge offers more than 8,300 bond types with corporate bonds, government bonds & treasury bonds. The broker is like a heaven for bond traders where you can find anything you want. Bonds are often a good source of hedging against risk especially in volatile times like today hence, the broker provides you with a lot of options to literally spoil you for choice.

Merrill Edge Asset Classes Score: 4/10

#8 Referral Program

Merill Edge currently does not have any active referral program. Having a Referral program is often a good way to entice individuals to try out a platform with their friends and they are a good way for people to learn trading with their friends and family. If you are looking for a good broker to register you and your friends and get decent rewards you should check out Alvexo. The average value of a referral with Alvexo is $250 which can provide you with some much-needed investment funds to use the platform.

Merrill Edge Referral Program Score: 0/10

#9 Demo Account & Educational Resources

Demo Account

Merill Edge currently does not have a demo account. Demo accounts are a good way of learning how to trade using paper money before you start investing your own money. Its a shame that you do not get to do so with Merill Edge because the platform has some really good fee structures for different assets and it can really attract a lot of new traders by giving them the opportunity to test out the platform to see if it is right for them.

Educational Resources

The broker offers plenty of basic educational resources for its users in the form of:

  • Educational articles
  • Video tutorials on using the platform

The broker gives you basic knowledge on trading different assets using the platform. Moreover, there are a few educational articles to help you stay in sync with the market conditions and how you should trade in those market conditions. The broker does not offer courses or webinars like some of its contemporaries which is a bit of a disadvantage for beginners looking to build their game in becoming an amazing trader. The broker scores poorly because it does not offer a demo account and has very basic educational resources to supplement users.

Merrill Edge Demo Account & Educational Resources Score: 3/10

#10 Safety & Regulation

Merill Edge is regulated by the esteemed Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) of the USA. This bodes well for users because the broker is regulated by the top institutional regulator in the world. This means that the broker's activities are constently being monitored to ensure safe business practices do not but the investors money at risk because there have been examples of brokers being fined by regulators we strongly suggest that whatever broker you decide to trade with is regulated by a tier-1 broker. The score is a perfect score because the broker is regulated by a tier-1 regulator.

Merrill Edge Safety & Regulation Score: 10/10

While researching 100+ of the world's top brokers, we’ve noticed what works and what doesn’t from the customer's point of view. That’s why our final test for any broker is to compare it to Capital, which scores 91/100 points across the 10 categories mentioned in this review, and is our top-rated broker for 2021.

Merrill Edge vs. Capital.com

Merill Edge lacks prowess in a few dimensions compared to Capital.com.

Customer Support

Capital.com offers some quick support via live chat and phone, whereby both platforms respond to queries within a few seconds or a couple of minutes at the most. The emails are also answered aptly and quickly with an average speed of 20 minutes.

Capital.com gives you a dedicated account manager who keeps a record of your transactions so you do not get lost in a customer support cycle. Often, availing customer service can be a problem because lots of brokers are slow in providing customer service and you have to explain your problem to different representatives to solve it.

More Asset Types

Capital.com also offers forex, commodities and crypto, 3 asset types that are not in Merill Edge's repository, meaning that you should definitely check out Capital.com if you like trading in these options.

Comprehensive Educational Resources

Capital.com has a lot of educational resources to train any kind of trader looking to deal in any kind of asset. Often brokers offer a few basic educational resources for traders like Merill Edge but Capital.com does a good job in this regard and it is with you in helping you learn to trade savvily and efficiently. Some of the resources offered are as below:

  • Tutorial videos on using the platform
  • Educational videos on trading different assets
  • Webinars
  • Educational articles

The resources offered to teach you everything from learning how the platform works to educational videos and webinars. Capital.com also offers asset trading training guides.

Training Guides

  • CFD training guides
  • Commodities training guides
  • Indices trading guides
  • Trading psychology guides
  • Shares trading guides
  • Forex trading guides

Capital.com has you covered if you want to start trading an asset that you have not traded before. They also offer 5 courses that are aimed at training beginners and refreshing the knowledge of experienced traders.

Capital.com Online Courses

  • Introduction to financial markets
  • ABC of derivatives
  • Financial instruments
  • Derivatives and risks of trading
  • What are leverage and margin

The online courses are designed for beginners but anyone can benefit from them in learning the basics and good practices and knowledge of the industry.

So what are you waiting for signup today for the best broker in the business that has more assets, better educational resources and more comprehensive education resources.

Related: If you want to learn more about this broker, you can read this excellent review of Capital.com.

In Summary

If you are an established trader that is into trading bonds, mutual funds, stocks and ETFs then Merill Edge may be a good fit for you because the staggering variety that they offer is unparalleled by most brokers. Moreover, Merill Edge is owned by the esteemed Bank of America and is regulated by SEC something that many brokers lack which means that they uphold strict regulations in the way that they run their operations. Sign up today to one of the most trusted names in the US Market.

However, if you are looking for a broker with a complete offering of commodities, forex, crypto, better educational resources and a strong customer support system with a dedicated account manager that is with you through tout your trading journey then we highly recommend that you try out the Capital.com platform as most of our readers have found it quite hrlpful and we hope you will enjoy it too.

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