Merrill Edge Review 2021

Merrill Edge review 2021 – that will be the topic of today’s article.

This article will review Merrill Edge. If you want me to invest in better solutions than this, don’t hesitate to contact me, email (advice@adamfayed.com) or use the WhatsApp function below.

Introduction:

Merrill Edge is an online trading platform which is an online trading platform with ‘Bank of America’ as its parent organization. Merrill Edge is famous for the $0 trades for the stocks and ETFs it provides as well as the exceptional quality of research and customer support.

Merrill Edge is also widely known for its rewards program, which is considered to be one of the best rewards programs available for banking customers. The Merrill Edge platform is created in order to provide the Bank of America’s online investment services (Quick and Reilly) and the tools (for research and investment) from Merrill Lynch. 

The customers of Merrill Edge can get access to the customer support in person by visiting any of the branches of Bank of America (which are estimated to be around 2500).

Merrill Edge also ranked the number one position for providing client experience and is considered as the best choice for the investors who are willing to handle banking and trading under the same platform.

Merrill Edge also ranked as the best online broker that provides useful information and research, is a good fit for beginner level investors, and provides the best in class IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

Another major advantage that is offered to the investors by Merrill Edge is that the investor can be able to access their account balance by using any of the Bank of America ATM machine. For this, the person isn’t required to pay any sort of ATM/Debit card fee. This option comes in handy for the individuals who can access a Bank of America ATM without traveling far.

The overall rating given by various websites for the Merrill Edge is as follows.


Overall Ratings
StockBrokers 4.5 stars out of 5
Nerdwallet 5 stars out of 5
Investopedia 4 stars out of 5
Bankrate 3.5 stars out of 5
Investorjunkie 8.2 out of 10

Most people often have doubts regarding fees, customer support, markets, research, tools, education, etc. In this article, we will cover most of the general issues related to the Merrill Edge online brokerage services.

Fees and Commissions: 

The fees charged within Merrill Edge are low compared to most other brokers. They provide free trades for stocks and ETFs. For Options trades, the trading costs $0.65 per contract. However, the main aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is that Merrill Edge charges fees for broker-assisted trades and they can be as high as $29.95.

‘Trading Costs’ – Trading costs are the type of costs that are applicable to an investor while making a trade. Trading fees are applicable to a trader in the form of commissions, financing rates, etc. The trading fees are quite low while trading with stocks and ETFs, average while trading with Options, and high while trading with mutual funds.

The stocks and ETFs can be traded at Merrill Edge with $0 trading costs and no requirement for a minimum balance. All the ETFs available at Merrill Edge can be traded commission-free. 

The trading costs for options trading at Merrill Edge are $0 per trade and $0.65 per contract. Because most of the other online brokers also provide options trade for the same price range, the trading costs for options at Merrill Edge are considered average.

The trading costs for Load waived funds is $0 per transaction. The fees for NTF funds are also $0 per transaction, but there is a short-term redemption fee applicable if the investment is not successfully held up to 90 days. The short-term redemption fee is $39.95. For the online transaction of mutual funds, Merrill Edge charges a fee of $19.95.

For all the above-mentioned trading costs, there is an additional fee of $29.95, if the investor chooses to take the help of a representative/broker. 

The margin rates are not so friendly at Merrill Edge, especially for the beginner level investors. For people who are not familiar with the term margin rate, margin rates or financing rates are the rates of interest paid to the broker for the trading instrument or the money required to purchase an asset that they have borrowed from the broker. 

The base lending rate is 6.75% but this is only applicable for a loan amount of more than $100,000. For the loan amount ranging from $25,000 to $99,999, the margin rates have an additional 2.250% on the base lending rate. For the loan amount less than $25,000, the margin rates are base rates plus 3.375%. 

Amount borrowed Margin Rates
$100,000 or more 6.75%
$25,000 to $99,999 6.75% + 2.250% = 9%
Less than $25,000 6.75% + 3.375% = 10.125%

These are the rates as per the date November 1st, 2019, on Merrill Edge. The base rates might differ due to fluctuations experienced according to the market conditions. 

The commissions charged at Merrill Edge are $6.95 along with the applicable trading costs. There is an exception for the commissions up to a range depending on some factors. For example, for people with a minimum account balance of $25,000 within their deposit accounts at the Bank of America, the number of commission-free stocks or ETF trades provided are 30. The person is also required to have a minimum balance of $25,000 in either Bank of America’s deposit account or Merrill Edge’s trading/investment account in order to avail this benefit.

Investors can get up to 100 commission-free ETFs and stocks if they have an account balance of $100,000. People under such category (with an account balance of at least $100,000) are known as the Preferred Rewards Clients with platinum honors status.

‘Non-trading Fees’ – Non-trading fees are the type of fees that are charged to an investor while they aren’t trading. Non-trading fees are applicable in the form of withdrawal fees, account minimum, inactivity fees, etc. 

There is no annual account fee or an account opening fee at Merrill Edge. There is also no requirement for a minimum investment amount, however, there is an exception in the case of 529 NextGen Direct account, where a minimum amount of at least $25 is required. 

If an investor decides to close their account at Merrill Edge or transfer their trading/investment account to another brokerage firm, they are required to pay a fee of $49.95, anyhow, they can be able to partially transfer their account free of cost. The retirement accounts are an exception for the closeout fees.

Another advantage offered to the investor by Merrill Edge is that there are no inactivity fees (fees that are applicable when an account remains inactive for a certain period of time) applicable to the investors.

For the wire transfer, individuals are charged with $24.95 per transaction which can either be domestic or international. Another fee that is applicable is the deposit return fee. The investor is charged with a return deposit fee of $20.

There are other types of non-trading fees such as security transfers, security fees, visa cash advance fees, canceled check fees, returned check fees, stop payment fees, and returned ACH debit fees.

Account Opening:

The estimated time taken to create an Individual Cash Management Account at Merrill Edge should take somewhere around 10 minutes. The person can choose an account at Merrill Edge based on their necessities. The types of accounts available at Merrill Edge are as follows.

‘General Investing’ – The accounts under this category are used for general investment purposes such as gaining profits by making an investment. Having these types of accounts can make an investor achieve their financial goals by gaining profits. 

‘Online Brokerage Account’ – people can open an individual account or a joint account with the benefits of banking as well as investing.

‘Trust Account’ – with the help of trust accounts, investors can be able to hold assets that can be used for the benefits of their family members or others.

‘Estate Account’ – the estate account enables an individual to strategize a plan such that the person’s property (estate) will belong to the family members or beneficiaries nominated by the person, after the person’s death.

‘Retirement Accounts’ – The individuals who opt to choose Merrill Edge’s retirement accounts can be able to contribute savings to their future with some special tax benefits. 

‘Rollover IRA’ – All the person’s retirement assets can be handled with the help of a single Rollover IRA account. They can also effectively manage their tax-deferred status with the help of this account.

‘Traditional IRA’ – This account helps the investor to manage their tax and lower it down without having the necessity of a minimum balance.

‘Roth IRA’ – The savings within the Roth IRA are free from the federal income taxes. Roth IRA is more beneficial than a traditional IRA in terms of tax savings and withdrawal options.

‘Inherited IRA’ – inherited retirement assets can be transferred into a Roth IRA account or a Traditional IRA account in the name of the investor with the help of this account.

‘Bank Savings IRA’ – people with this type of account are offered with interest on Cash Deposits (CDs) and choices for the savings account. The savings IRAs are usually considered to run by the Bank of America and are FDIC insured.

‘Individual Health Savings Account’ – also known as the HAS, it helps to contribute savings for the health care of an individual. People who qualify for the requirements of high-deductible health plans are able to have the privileges of having an investment account with tax advantages as well as covering their medical expenses which might go beyond normal prices.

‘College Planning Accounts’ – thesetypes of accounts help investors save money for the college expenses that have tax advantages.

‘NextGen Direct 529 plan’ – this savings plan helps people save money for the sake of higher education while offering tax advantages, a wide variety of investment options to choose from, and maximum limits of money that can be saved.

‘NextGen Select 529 plan’ – This is just as same as the NextGen Direct 529 plan but is handled by the financial advisors at Merrill Edge. The investor has access to more investment options than they have with the Direct plan.

‘Custodial Account (UGMA/UTMA)’ – these are the accounts that help the investor save money for their children for their future expenses such as education. It is also known as the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act/Uniform Transfers to Minors Act accounts.

There is also a wide range of availability of small business accounts such as ‘Small Business 401(k)’, ‘Individual 401(k)’, ‘SEP IRA’, ‘Simple IRA’, ‘Retirement Cash Management Account’, ‘Business Investor Account’, ‘Working Capital Management Account’, ‘Business Health Savings Account’, etc. these are for the people who are involved with businesses that offer them reduced taxes, health benefits, savings for retirement, and other types of services.

‘Required Documentation’ – To open an account the general documentation required at Merrill Edge is as follows.

  • Social Security Number of the person.
  • Date of Birth
  • Employment Information (in case of employees) such as the company’s name, company’s address, and other necessary details.
  • Financial Information such as annual income, tax details, the net worth of the individual/household, etc.
  • A valid email of the person.

Any person can create an account by submitting the following information and for the people who are an existing customer of Bank of America having a user ID and a password can use their data to auto-fill the application. The main aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is that Merrill Edge is an electronic trading platform/online brokerage firm. Hence, all the necessary documentation should be submitted online and the details such as notices, statements, etc., can only be received online.

Trading Platforms:

At Merrill Edge, people are offered with a trading platform that is simple and can be easily understood. 

‘Merrill Edge MarketPro’ – it is the active trading platform of Merrill Edge through which the customer is provided with a customized dashboard, real-time market analysis, research, and trading tools. 

With the help of MarketPro investors can create watchlists based on their necessities, set alerts/notifications, and get updates about the financial data such as quotes and news. They also get access to the BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research (which is considered as one of the famous global research firms).

Investors with MarketPro are able to manage their portfolio, get almost exact updates on all balances and positions. They can also be able to make trades on equities, ETFs, options, and mutual funds with the help of this.

The dashboard can be customized based on their requirements and users are able to create a customized view, where they will be shown with the data that they want to see. Customization of 36 technical analysis studies is also available to the traders. Another advantage that needs to be taken into consideration is that the traders can also plot powerful trend lines such as the ‘Fibonacci Fan’.

Not every trader on Merrill Edge is able to enjoy the privileges offered by the MarketPro, there is an eligibility-criteria that the user needs to qualify for the MarketPro. The requirements are:

  • The person should open an investment account and must be able to make at least 15 trades per every 3 months.

(or)

  • The person should acquire a combined account balance of at least $50,000 in their Bank of America and Merrill Edge investment accounts.

People who aren’t able to access the MarketPro are able to get access to the web-based platform by visiting their website. Although there might not be as many features offered in the MarketPro trading platform, there are a few features in the traditional web platform that are advantageous to the users/investors.

‘Merrill Edge Mobile Trading Platform’– The mobile trading platform of Merrill Edge is created in such a way that the people can be able to access the services of Merrill Edge anytime and anywhere without having the necessity of visiting their website or have access to their MarketPro trading platform.

The interface of the mobile trading platform is very exquisite and can be easily understood by the users. Any person can download their mobile app with the help of an iPhone, iPad or Android phone.

With the help of the mobile trading platform, investors are accessible to a dashboard that can be customized, charts (interactive and easily understood), alerts, etc.

Trades can be made within stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options by using the mobile trading platform of Merrill Edge. Traders can also manage the existing trades with the help of this. The mobile platform provides quotes, ratings given by expert analysts, updates on news, etc.

The mobile platform also has a unique feature of setting a touch ID which is provided by very few brokers. Transfers can also be made using the mobile trading platform. They also provide the users with the ability to track the updates in the market with the help of an ‘Apple Watch’.

Merrill Edge has a mobile trading platform, web trading platform, and an active trading platform (Merrill Edge MarketPro) which are efficient but it lacks a desktop trading platform. Desktop users can access using the website of Merrill Edge.

Research and Tools:

‘Research’ – Merrill Edge is well known for the excellent research that it provides to the traders, among all other brokers. It also ranked as the ‘No.1 Global Research Firm’ in the year 2019. It collaborates the research from Morningstar and Lipper, thus, giving the users access to exquisite fund research. 

They also provide Fixed Income Digest every three months, especially for the bond investors. Merrill Edge has the availability of exceptional research on stocks, mutual funds, and the ETFs. The ‘Stock Story’ and ‘Portfolio Story’ happen to provide valuable research. 

The fund research on Merrill Edge is one of the major advantageous research provided to the traders. The research pages of stocks and funds offer an excellent research report. Most of the research data that can be found on Merrill Edge cannot be provided by many brokers.

‘Education’ – The education for the investors is also very good at Merrill Edge when compared to other brokers. Education can be offered to the trader ranging from the beginner level to advanced level in the form of educational videos, educational articles, webinars, and courses. 

The Stock Story and the Portfolio Story not only provide research, but they also have links for educational content. They also provide planning for retirements, education, investments, etc. 

‘Portfolio Reports and Analysis’ – analysis on Merrill Edge is based on the requirements of the trader with the help of their Portfolio Story. Through this, the investor is required to answer a few questions about topics such as their portfolio, regional analysis, etc., and are provided with the info about their asset allocation. There is no availability of the option of beta weighing their portfolio on Merrill Edge.

Customer Support:

Personal assistance is offered to the users when they visit any of the Bank of America branches nearer to them. This can be considered as a major advantage when compared to most other online brokers as they don’t have this type of facility. However, the representatives are mainly based on life stage planning.

Merrill Edge provides 24/7 customer support to the investors and the support team can be contacted with the help of live chat, phone or email. People who want in-person explanations are able to book an appointment with their representative across 2000 Bank of America branches available all over the USA.

The online chat option has a quick response time and the support team responds within 30 seconds to 1 minute. Their phone support is also known to respond within a short time span. The people are able to acquire relevant and useful information by contacting the support team. 

Merrill Edge Guided Investing (MEGI):

MEGI service provided by Merrill Edge offers Robo-advisor services that are assisted by the experts of Merrill Lynch. It is considered as the best available option for the beginner level traders. The minimum required amount to avail the MEGI service is $5,000 and the fees charges are 0.45%. 

With the help of the MEGI service, the customers are provided with strategies apt for investments, management of portfolios by professionals, etc. the one feature lacked by the MEGI is that it does not provide tax-loss harvesting.  As some other brokers provide this feature, people might consider moving on them (especially people who rely on Robo-advisor services).

Conclusion:

Merrill Edge is known to provide a good overall experience to traders with some exquisite features such as low trading costs, excellent research, guided service, high-quality customer support, discounted prices, etc. 

They also have a good rewards program that can be very beneficial to investors. The rewards program is accessible to all the investors who have a personal checking account and a combined balance of $20,000 in the Bank of America and Merrill investment accounts.

But the investors should keep in mind that Merrill Edge doesn’t FDIC insured, the investments made are not guaranteed by the bank, isn’t insured by any federal government agency, and investments aren’t conditioned to any banking service or authority.

It is a well-known fact that people cannot be able to gain profits all the time relying only on an online broker. They should have a strategized plan and discuss it with a good financial advisor (like us) before making any decisions that are related to trading.

By keeping all the key aspects in mind and having a good strategy, investors can be able to gain profits from their investments.

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