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Merrill Edge Self-Directed
4.1
★★★★★
Finder score
Advisory fee
$0
Minimum deposit
$0
Paid non-client promotion. Finder does not invest money with providers on this page. If a brand is a referral partner, we're paid when you click or tap through to, open an account with or provide your contact information to the provider. Partnerships are not a recommendation for you to invest with any one company. Learn more about how we make money. Finder is not an adviser or brokerage service. Information on this page is for educational purposes only and not a recommendation to invest with any one company, trade specific stocks or fund specific investments. All editorial opinions are our own.

Summary

Offers in-depth research and $0 fee on stocks and ETFs.

finder.com's rating: 4.1 / 5.0

★★★★★

Merrill Edge, a Bank of America (BofA) company, is a brokerage firm offering in-depth research tools and commission-free trades. But its limited types of securities offerings may not be a good fit for some active traders and investors.

  • Consider Merrill Edge if you’re a Bank of America customer who wants to bank and invest in one place.
  • Look elsewhere if you’re a futures, forex or cryptocurrency trader.

In this guide

  • Review
  • Details
    • Features
  • Your reviews
  • Ask a question

Details

Features

Available asset types Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual funds, ETFs
Account types Brokerage, Retirement
Minimum deposit $0

What I think about Merrill Edge

Like most brokers, Merrill Edge offers $0 commission on stocks and ETFs. You also get access to other instruments, such as options, mutual funds, fixed income and bonds with fees similar to other brokers. This is way more investment options than you get with a platform like Robinhood. But unlike Robinhood, you don’t get to invest in crypto with Merrill Edge.
Depending on your investment goals, Merrill Edge lets you open three types of accounts: individual, retirement and education accounts. But what’s important is you get to choose who manages your account. This means you can trade your own account, leave it to a professional to choose your investments and rebalance your portfolio — or get guidance from an investment advisor.
If you trade your money yourself, there are no account minimums and fees. But the other two options require at least $1,000 and $20,000 minimum investments respectively, and you’ll pay an annual fee of 0.45% and 0.85%. You can pay a lower annual fee if you’re a Preferred Rewards member.
Overall, with its fees and offerings, Merrill Edge is a solid trading platform for beginners and advanced traders alike.

How do you become a Preferred Rewards member?

You’ll need a Bank of America account, and you’ll need to maintain a combined balance of $20,000 or more across your BofA deposit accounts or Merrill Lynch investment accounts.

Rating overview

Fees

★★★★★3.4/5

It offers reasonable fees for securities but its portfolio management program is more expensive than most.
Available securities

★★★★★ 4/5

It lacks access to futures, crypto and forex but offers just about everything else.
Customer support

★★★★★ 5/5

Support can quickly be reached in three ways.
Mobile app

★★★★★ 4.7/5

Overall, the app receives solid reviews but scores higher among Apple users.
Research and tools

★★★★★ 4/5

It offers a solid lineup of research and analytics tools.
Reliability

★★★★★ 4/5

No major outages but mobile app and web platform crashes have been reported.

To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.

What investments does Merrill Edge offer?

With a Merrill Edge account, you have the following investment choices:

  • Stocks and ETFs. Invest in publicly traded companies and exchange-traded funds with no commission fees.
  • Options. Execute $0 online option trades and pay $0.65 per contract.
  • Mutual funds. Explore professionally managed mutual funds, including thousands of no-load options.
  • Bonds and CDs. $0 online trades for CDs and $1 per bond with a $10 minimum.

Merrill Edge is best for advanced traders and hands-off investors

Merrill Edge offers advanced charting tools and research along with level 2 access. This makes the platform an excellent choice for advanced stock and ETF traders. Options traders who trade multiple contracts may find it a bit expensive with the $0.65 per contract fee.
Beginner and hands-off investors can also find great value with Merrill Edge — especially if you bank with Bank of America. That way, you can get discounts and perks on Merrill Edge and Bank of America products.

Fees and costs

Your fees depend on your Merrill Edge account type, which is divided into three investing tiers.

Account typeFeeMinimum opening depositFeatures
Merrill Edge Self-Directed$0 online stock, ETF and option trades$0Access to research and insights
Merrill Guided Investing0.45% annually
Preferred Rewards members can receive a discount of up to 0.15% annually
$5,000Everything in Tier 1, plus: a Merrill investment professional monitors and rebalances accounts based on financial goals.
Merrill Guided Investing with an Advisor0.85% annually
Preferred Rewards members can receive a discount of up to 0.15% annually
$20,000Everything in Tier 2, plus: meet with a financial advisor to discuss your goals and priorities.

How do I sign up?

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 steps:

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

Eligibility

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

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Have a valid US address
  • Have an existing bank or brokerage account for 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

Research tools

Active and long-term traders can access the following research tools:

  • Advanced stock screeners. Apply more than 200 filters to sort through available securities quickly.
  • Markets at-a-glance. Get information on how different sectors are performing on Merrill Edge’s website.
  • Market research. Access the latest data from providers like Morningstar, CFRA and Bank of America Global.
  • Investor education. Access webcasts, videos and webinars that cover timely market topics as well as Merrill Edge’s in-depth article library.
  • Customizable desktop platform. Merrill Edge Market Pro offers real-time market analysis, streaming and interactive charting on a fully customizable dashboard.

Pros and cons

Pros

Merrill Edge offers several unique benefits like:

  • Bank of America integration. Current BofA customers can view their banking and investment accounts all in one place.
  • Commission-free trades. Make commission-free trades on stocks, options and ETFs.
  • Comprehensive resources. Investors get access to in-depth educational resources from Merrill’s Global Research department, Recognia, CFRA and Morningstar for investment advice.

Cons

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

  • Limited types of securities. You can’t trade futures, forex or crypto with Merrill Edge.
  • 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.

Is Merrill Edge legit?

Yes, Merrill Edge is safe and legitimate. This US-based broker was founded in 2010 by Bank of America. It’s regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and provides protection for its investors against the loss of cash and securities through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

Merrill Edge reviews are mixed

As of March 2022, Merrill Edge gets high praises on its mobile apps. But reviewers on Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) aren’t as happy with the platform.
Because Merrill Edge is a subsidiary of Bank of America, it doesn’t have its own page on the Better Business Bureau’s website. However, Bank of America received an average rating of 1.05 out of 5 stars based on consumer reviews submitted to the BBB. These generally focus on the company’s banking products.

BBB rating (Bank of America)A+
BBB accredited (Bank of America)No
BBB customer rating (Bank of America)1.05/5 based on 566 customer reviews
Trustpilot score1.7/5 out of 22 customer reviews
Google Play app4.0/5 stars based on 5,955 reviews
Apple app store4.7/5 stars based on 99,086 reviews
Customer reviews verified as ofMarch 2022

How do I contact Merrill Edge support?

  • Phone. Speak to a representative 24/7 by calling 888-637-3343.
  • In-person. Meet with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor at a local Bank of America financial center.

Compare Merrill Edge to other platforms

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How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.
For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

Paid non-client promotion. Finder does not invest money with providers on this page. If a brand is a referral partner, we're paid when you click or tap through to, open an account with or provide your contact information to the provider. Partnerships are not a recommendation for you to invest with any one company. Learn more about how we make money.

Finder is not an advisor or brokerage service. Information on this page is for educational purposes only and not a recommendation to invest with any one company, trade specific stocks or fund specific investments. All editorial opinions are our own.

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