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Merrill Edge review

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Offers in-depth research and free trades to qualifying investors.

Merrill Edge, a Bank of America (BOA) company, is a brokerage firm offering in-depth research tools and free trades to qualifying BOA customers. But if you’re not eligible for free trades, you’ll pay commission fees.


Option trade fee/contract


Minimum deposit to open


Minimum deposit to open$0
Available asset typesStocks
Mutual funds
Option trade fee$2.95 + $0.65/contract
or $0 + $0.65/contract for Preferred Rewards members

Expert review

Cassidy Horton

Review by

Cassidy Horton is a writer for Finder, specializing in banking and investments. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia Southern University. Cassidy enjoys educating people about financial services, exploring the Pacific Northwest and watching endless reruns of The Office.

Expert review

If you’re a current BOA customer who qualifies for free trades, Merrill Edge may have everything you need. It offers 24/7 phone support, seamless integration with other BOA accounts and plenty of in-depth educational resources.

But if you don’t qualify for free trades, you may want to keep looking. Otherwise, you’ll pay $2.95 per trade, which is steep compared to other brokers that have adopted a commission-free model.

Who is Merrill Edge best for?

Merrill Edge is best for the following investors:

  • Experienced investors. Merrill Edge’s lowest investment tier is self-directed, so experienced investors may feel comfortable using the platform.
  • Fundamental traders. Investors can make informed decisions when they utilize Merrill Edge’s breadth of educational resources.
  • Long-term traders. Those who purchase the Investing with an Advisor plan get access to a team of financial advisors to help them meet their long-term goals.

Merrill Edge account options

Merrill Edge allows you to invest in stocks, bonds, options, ETFs and mutual funds through online brokerage accounts, IRAs and college savings accounts. It has three investing tiers:

Account typeFeeMinimum opening depositKey features
Merrill Edge Self-Directed$2.95 per trade


$0 for Preferred Rewards members
$0Access to research and insights
Merrill Guided Investing0.45% annually$5,000Everything in Tier 1, plus:

A Merrill investment professional monitors and rebalances account based on financial goals

Merrill Guided Investing with an Advisor0.85% annually$20,000Everything in Tier 2, plus:

Meet with a financial advisor to discuss your goals and priorities

Merrill Edge’s Self-Directed account is the only tier that allows for online options trades. If you’re a Preferred Rewards member, you pay $0.65. You’ll pay $2.95 plus $0.65 per contract fee for each trade otherwise.

How do you become a Preferred Rewards member?

To qualify for $0 trades, you’ll need a BOA account and maintain a combined balance of $20,000 or more across your BOA deposit accounts or Merrill Lynch investment accounts.

What are the benefits of Merrill Edge?

Merrill Edge offers several unique benefits like:

  • Bank of America integration. Current BOA customers can view their banking and investment accounts all in one place.
  • Free trades for Preferred Rewards members. Self-Directed account holders can make commission-free trades on stocks, options and ETFs. But options have a $0.65 per contract fee.
  • Comprehensive resources. Investors get access to in-depth educational resources from Merrill’s Global Research department , Recognia , CFRA and Morningstar for investment advice.

What to watch out for

While Merrill Edge has its perks, it also has potential drawbacks:

  • Fees for guided investing. You’ll pay anywhere from 0.45% to 0.85% annually for guided trades.
  • In-person applications. If you want guided investing with an advisor, you’ll have to open your account at a local office.
  • High commissions. Compared to competitors who currently offer commission-free trades, its $2.95 per trade on stocks, ETFs and options, is high. Plus you pay an additional $0.65 options contract fee.

But if you don’t qualify for free trades, you may want to compare your options before you make a decision.

Compare with other stock trading platforms

Name Product Available asset types Stock trade fee Option trade fee Annual fee
Ally Invest Self-Directed Trading
Mutual funds
or $3.95 with a $100,000 average daily balance or 30+ trades over a rolling 3-month period
$4.95 + $0.65/contract
or $3.95 + $0.50/contract with a $100,000 average daily balance or 30+ trades over a rolling 3-month period
500+ commission-free ETFs, some of the industry's lowest fees plus a cash bonus up to $3,500.
You Invest
Mutual funds
$0 + $0.65/contract
Free online stock, ETF and options trades with $0 minimum to start.
Mutual funds
$0 + $0/contract
Firstrade customizable trading platforms let you manage your account and trade from your desktop, iPad or mobile phone.
Margin financing rates start at 3.99%. No monthly subscription fees for margin.
Zacks Trade
Mutual funds
$0.01 per share
($3 minimum)
$3 + $0.75/contract
Trade stocks, options and ETFs for as low as $1 per order for a year when you open a new account by December 31, 2019, and fund it with $2,500 or more within 60 days.
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.

Compare up to 4 providers

How do I get started?

You can open a Merrill Edge account in person with a local Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor or online.

Open your account online in five simple steps:

  1. Visit the Merrill Edge website and click Open an Account.
  2. Choose the type of account you wish to open and click Next.
  3. Select whether you want online, guided, or advisor-guided investing.
  4. Add your personal and financial details and click Next.
  5. Agree to the terms and conditions, fund your account and get started.


You’ll need to meet the following requirements to apply for an account:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Valid Social Security number
  • Valid US address
  • Existing bank or brokerage account for account transfers

Required information

Have the following information on hand when you open a Merrill Edge brokerage account:

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Residential address
  • Email address
  • Employment information, including income and net worth

I’ve made my first trade with Merrill Edge. Now what?

Once you’re set up with a Merrill Edge account, make the most of it by:

  • Exploring Stock Story and Fund Story. These tools guide you through an educational and visual presentation on selected securities.
  • Watching investing videos. Venture over to Merrill Edge’s educational resource center and brush up on investing topics like individual stock trading, portfolio selection and asset allocation.

Merrill Edge customer service

Chat with a Merrill Edge customer support representative in four ways:

  • Call 888-637-3343 at any time
  • Start a live chat online
  • Email
  • Meet with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor at a local office

Frequently asked questions

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