5. Merrill edge review

What Makes Merrill Edge Great?

Merrill Edge has been rated the #1 broker for customer service, commission and fees, and research by the likes of Kiplinger and Institutional Investor. And with a range of investing offerings and research tools, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

Investment Selection

One advantage of Merrill Edge is the range of investment choices you have. For starters, you get commission-free trading for ETFs and stocks. You can also invest in:

  • CDs
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Options

Additionally, Merrill Edge has excellent ESG investing support. ESG, or environment, social, and corporate governance, is a socially-responsible investing strategy in which investors support companies that support these values.

With Merrill Edge’s sustainable investing, you can use its Idea Builder tool to find stocks that support environmental and social initiatives you care about. Stocks even have an ESG rating to help you decide. Plus, your portfolio has an overall score for each ESG component.

Finally, you can also trade on margin. However, Merrill Edge doesn’t support futures trading.

Education & Resources

Merrill Edge customers have access to a wealth of investing research to help them make more informed decisions. If you’re an active investor who loves digging through stock screeners and analyst reports, Merrill Edge is for you.

Some of the main educational and research resources you get include:

  • Bank of America’s (BofA) Global Research reports
  • BofA buy-rated stock picks from its Global Research Analyst team
  • Third-party research from partners like CFRA, Lipper, and Morningstar

Merrill Edge also provides videos and webcasts from industry professionals covering topics like market volatility and various asset classes.

The research you get from BofA is the main selling point. You get weekly and monthly reports with insights from investment analysts, hedge fund managers, and industry leaders.

And there are other useful investing tools as well. Merrill Edge has flexible screener tools for stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and fixed-income investments. Screeners have over 200 filters, including options like analyst opinions, dividends, earnings and growth, and other metrics to help you value a stock or security.

MarketPro Trading

MarketPro is Merrill Edge’s online trading platform that caters to active traders. It’s free for Merrill Edge customers, and there’s no minimum deposit or trading requirement. You don’t pay commissions on stock and ETFs either.

You create a customizable trading dashboard with MarketPro. Merrill Edge has several prebuilt trading views. You can also add additional info to your dashboard and save different layouts. Other perks of MarketPro include:

  • Charting options with 104 technical indicators and 25 drawing tools
  • Level II Nasdaq quotes
  • Options analysis tools

Additionally, market makers compete for Merrill Edge’s business. According to Merrill Edge, this means 99% of orders execute at or better than quote price. Orders also process in 0.007 seconds on average, so you can trade knowing your quote price is the actual price.

MarketPro is only available on desktop. But Merrill Edge has a robust mobile trading app where you can manage your account, read the latest news, and enable stock and watchlist alerts so you don’t miss a trade.

Merrill Edge Guided Investing (MEGI)

Self-directed investing with Merrill Edge provides everything you need to start investing. And the range of research and education tools helps you get started.

But Merrill Edge also offers Guided Investing if you need expert investing help. This robo-advisor considers your investing goals and levels of risk tolerance to build a portfolio that’s right for you. Merrill Edge even handles portfolio rebalancing, and you can monitor performance and progress towards your goals in a central dashboard.

Unlike some robo-advisors, Merrill Edge lets you stay online-only or add access to a Merrill Edge advisor. The plans have different investment minimums and fees:

  • MEGI Online: $1,000 investing minimum; 0.45% annual fee.
  • MEGI Online With Advisor: $20,000 investing minimum; 0.85% annual fee.

Robo-advisors like Betterment are more affordable with a 0.25% annual fee for accounts under $100,000. But Merrill Edge offers flexibility. And the fact you can talk to a human advisor is a selling point for some investors.

Preferred Rewards Program

Because Bank of America owns Merrill Edge, you automatically get enrolled in the Bank of America Preferred Rewards Program. As long as you have an active Bank of America checking account and meet certain balance requirements, you gain perks.

Currently, Preferred Rewards has four tiers that help you save on investing and bank fees while unlocking extra rewards:

 GoldPlatinumPlatinum HonorsDiamond
3-Month Average Balance Requirement$20,000 to $50,000$50,000 to $100,000$100,000 to $1M$1M to $10M
Guided Investing Discount0.05%0.10%0.15%0.15%
Advantage Savings Interest Bonus5%10%20%20%
Credit Card Rewards Bonus25%50%75%75%
Foreign Exchange Rate Discount1%1.5%2%No international transaction fees or ATM fees

Bonus cash-back and interest are the main perks of Preferred Rewards. But this program also makes Guided Investing more affordable and helps you save on international travel.

New Account Bonus

New customers can earn up to $600 for opening a Merrill Edge Self-Directed account. To qualify, you must fund your account with at least $20,000 within 45 days of opening. Merrill Edge bonuses vary depending on funding amount:

Deposit AmountCash Reward
$20,000 to $49,999$100
$50,000 to $99,999$150
$100,000 to $199,999$250

Earning $600 requires a lot of capital, but even earning $100 to $250 is a competitive welcome bonus.

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