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Merrill Edge® review 2024

Updated January 2, 2024
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Merrill Edge: Best for

  • Research
  • Existing Bank of America customers
  • Customer support

Merrill Edge is a solid pick for investors in search of robust market research and educational resources from a platform with no commissions on stock or ETF trades. Experienced investors will enjoy the broker’s advanced MarketPro trading platform, while all investors can benefit from the broker’s wide selection of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and options. Existing Bank of America customers in particular will enjoy a seamless investing experience with Merrill, where they can transfer money quickly between either entity and earn additional credit-card rewards.

Despite these benefits, Merrill lags behind many competitors when it comes to no-transaction-fee mutual funds. If a huge selection of commission-free mutual funds is important to you and you don’t want to sacrifice other features, check out Interactive Brokers, Charles Schwab and E-Trade, all of which offer thousands of mutual funds with no transaction fees.

Merrill Edge: In the details

Broker logo
4.5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
Cost
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Accounts & Trading
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Research and Education
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Mobile
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Customer Experience
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
About Bankrate Score
Minimum Balance
$0
Cost per stock trade
$0
Cost per options trade
$0.65 per contract
Promotion
Up to $600 cash
Commission-free ETFs
All
No-transaction-fee mutual funds
800+ NTF mutual funds
Securities tradable
Stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds
Customer service
Phone 24/7, access to an advisor at more than 2,000 B of A locations
Account fees
$49.95 full transfer fee, $49.95 closeout fees on retirement accounts
Mobile app
The Merrill Edge mobile app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Pros: Where Merrill Edge stands out

Research and education

Merrill does a fine job of providing research on stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. When it comes to funds, Merrill includes research from Morningstar and Lipper, while its own in-house team, Morningstar and CFRA provide reports on individual stocks, market commentary and other economic news. Each stock or fund page is fully featured, with financial data, charts, prospectus information (for funds) and a research report (if Merrill or others cover the stock). For many investors, an analyst’s report can provide information that can’t be found anywhere else. Links to SEC filings round out the offering. It really is a great lineup of research. 

Merrill also does a fine job providing educational materials to investors, with videos and articles explaining retirement, college planning, personal finance and how to begin investing, among many other topics. If research and education are important to you, check out TD Ameritrade, too.

Available account types

If the account type exists, there’s a good chance that Merrill offers it, and that’s not always the case for online brokers. Of course, Merrill offers individual and joint accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, but it provides a number of less-common account types, too. These include trust, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA and solo 401(k), among many others. You can also save for your child’s education through 529 plans or just invest on their behalf through custodial accounts. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a major account type that Merrill doesn’t offer. 

The broker also offers managed portfolios if you want someone to do the investing for you. Pricing begins at 0.45 percent of assets, or $45 per year for every $10,000 you have invested if you go with the online-only portfolio. That management fee rises to 0.85 percent if you want a human advisor to help you along the way. (There’s also a $20,000 minimum investment to work with a human advisor.) Either way, pricing is cheaper if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards client.

MarketPro trading platform

Merrill enters the fray with its flagship trading platform MarketPro, offering many of the features that active traders have come to expect from a platform. On MarketPro, you can set trade alerts, create watchlists and monitor your portfolio in real time. And the MarketPro trade interface is much simpler and easier to use than the broker’s basic trade platform, which can be awkward and even confusing.

With MarketPro, you’ll be able to chart dozens of different technical analysis studies, and its interactive charting tools use streaming data to populate the visualizations. The fully customizable dashboard allows you to drag and drop your way to the layout that syncs best with your trading style. You’ll also have access to Level II quotes, which shows you the order book for Nasdaq stocks and can provide insight into how a stock is trading along with the type of trader involved.

Integration with Bank of America

Even if you don’t sign up with Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program, your account with Merrill will be linked with your Bank of America account and be visible on a single dashboard. That’s great when you want to transfer money from one to the other, because it happens instantly. It’s hard to overstate the ease with which you can move money between accounts. It’s done in seconds, and you know immediately the money is there. 

Compare that with the days it typically takes to transfer money from your bank to your non-affiliated broker. So if you want to buy a stock immediately, you must wait for the funds to clear. On top of this, it’s also useful to simply have all your accounts with one organization, making your financial life just a bit easier.

Customers with balances of $20,000 or more will see a boost in credit card rewards that can increase their cash back through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. Make sure to ask the broker or bank about the program.

Customer support

Merrill is a great choice here, because of the responsiveness. You’ll have access to customer support on the phone 24 hours a day throughout the week, and you can get in-person assistance at more than 2,000 Bank of America locations after scheduling an appointment. You’ll also be able to contact support via the broker’s in-house messaging program once you’re a client.

Cons: Where Merrill Edge could improve

Account fees

Merrill Edge doesn’t have an inactivity fee, but it will ding you as you go out the door. It charges a $49.95 fee for a full transfer-out of your account to another broker, though fortunately it doesn’t hit you for a partial transfer. It will also clip you for $49.95 to close out a retirement account, though this fee won’t stack with the transfer-out fee. Standard investing accounts do not have a close-out fee, however.

Clunky website interface

If there’s one place Merrill could improve, it’s on the basic site navigation and trading interface. The order entry is too cumbersome, even if you’re making only a one-off trade. Sometimes you must click into tiny menus to execute a trade, and the process is simply more clunky than it ought to be. Of course, there’s always MarketPro if you need a more dynamic platform.

Fractional shares

Merrill Edge allows you to reinvest your dividends into fractional shares of stock, letting you roll that full payout into more equity. That’s a small perk, but it has a downside. If you decide to sell your entire position in a particular stock, it can take several additional business days for Merrill to sell off any fractional shares you earned from dividend reinvestment. Another drawback? The broker doesn’t let you purchase fractional shares of stocks, so you can’t invest a set dollar amount into whatever stock you want. 

Some top brokers, including Fidelity Investments and Interactive Brokers, let you reinvest dividends and purchase fractional shares on thousands of stocks. Fractional share investing is an increasingly popular way for brokers to differentiate themselves. 

Investment selection

Let’s be clear: Merrill Edge offers the core investment securities – stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and options. Those choices will suffice for the vast majority of investors, and it’s only going to be a handful of people (likely more advanced traders) who need something more — only for that group does the broker fall short. So if you want to trade forex, futures or cryptocurrency, you’ll need to look for another broker, perhaps Interactive Brokers, which is well-known for its broad range of potential investments. 

In addition, Merrill offers less than 900 no-cost mutual funds, which puts it well below that of other major brokers that offer more than 3,000. A boost to the number of fee-free funds available would be warmly welcomed by investors.

Review methodology

Bankrate evaluates brokers and robo-advisors on factors that matter to individual investors, including commissions, account fees, available securities, trading platforms, research and many more. After weighting these objective measures according to their importance, we then systematically score the brokers and robo-advisors and scale the data to ensure that you are seeing the top options among a field of high-quality companies. Read our full methodology.