Merrill Edge Review – A Great Tool for Free Trades
Merrill Edge is a trading platform from Bank of America. It allows you to trade stocks and ETFs without fees. It also gives you access to robust research and education services. In our Merrill Edge review, we conclude that the trading platform is a winner. It’s great for those looking for a strong trading platform combining banking and trading under one roof.
When it comes to trading stocks, investors have lots of choices. Of course, you could get yourself a traditional stockbroker or financial advisor (but we don’t generally recommend it). You can use a lightweight trading app like Robinhood or the Cash App. These offer convenient free trades and are easy to use.
Apps like the Cash App and Robinhood have forced larger trading platforms like Charles Schwab and Merrill Edge to offer free trades as well. But Edge offers some additional benefits.
What Is Merrill Edge?
Merrill Edge is the legacy of Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch was an investment banking giant that was acquired by Bank of America in 2008. Bank of America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the second largest banking company in the United States after JPMorgan Chase.
The trading platform comes from BofA Securities, a segment of Bank of America’s retail banking division. The product was originally launched on June 21, 2010. And the product itself was the outcome of the merger between Bank of America Online Investing and Merrill Lynch.
One of the great advantages of the product is that it combines Bank of America and Merrill services into a seamless customer experience. Examples of these features include:
- Ability to view Bank of America and Merrill Edge accounts within one login
- Real-time money transfers between your accounts
- Ability to view your Edge balances on Bank of America ATMs
- Desktop and mobile ease of use.
If being able to handle your banking and investing together is important to you, Merrill Edge is an attractive platform.
Merrill Edge provides its users with zero-fee stock and ETF trades. This is for an unlimited amount of trades. However, options trading is not free. Options contracts cost $0.65 per contract.
Another restriction to note is that users are not able to trade over-the-counter (OTC) stocks. Stocks trading below $5 per share are delisted from the exchange. These, therefore, cannot be traded here. This means that there are no penny stocks traded on Edge.
Merrill Edge as a Research and Education Platform
Maybe you have the luck of a leprechaun. In a garden of four-leaf clovers. Where a rainbow ends. Or maybe you’re like me and have a lot less luck than that. If you are more like me, then stock research is important.
Luckily, Merrill Edge has a lot of great research for investors. It’s one of the great features of its platform. And this research is provided by the Merrill Lynch Global Research group, as well as third-party analysts. Those third-party providers include:
- Trefis (company valuations)
- Recognia (automated technical analysis)
- MSCI ESG ratings (environmental, social, governance).
If what you are looking for is mutual fund research, Merrill has two great vehicles: Morningstar and Lipper. These are more than enough for most mutual fund investors.
Fund Story and Other Educational Features
Merrill Edge also offers its “Fund Story” feature. With this great tool you can research a mutual fund’s individual holdings. Plus, you can look at the sectors it covers and its historical performance. Additionally, you can also access third-party ratings of the fund and more.
Fund Story features a fee analyzer which shows the costs of owning the fund. A fund’s fees can have a major impact on your overall return. So this is crucial information to have.
Not only does Edge have Fund Story but it also features “Portfolio Story” and “Stock Story” to analyze your own portfolio, as well as your individual stocks.
Beyond this, the website has a variety of educational resources. These include articles, webinars, videos and courses. You can search through these resources by relevant investing experience or by topic. You also have access to Morningstar’s investing classroom.
Merrill Edge offers well-organized, guided and curated content for additional learning opportunities. The Guidance and Retirement Center allows customers access to various calculators, educational articles, videos and goal-planning tools.
MarketPro Trading Platform
If you’re looking for an even more robust experience, the MarketPro trading platform may be right for you. This is Merrill’s flagship trading platform. It is designed for active traders.
There are a number of features available to you on the MarketPro trading platform. These include:
- Setting trade alerts
- Creating watch lists
- Real-time portfolio monitoring.
It is an easy-to-use interface for a seamless experience.
MarketPro allows you to chart 36 different technical analysis studies. It also has an interactive charting tool. You can use streaming data to create your visualizations. The dashboard is fully customizable.
In order to use MarketPro you need to have either a combined balance of $50,000 in assets at Bank of America and Merrill or you need to trade at least 15 times per quarter.
Is Merrill Edge Trading Right for You?
Every investor must look at the pros and cons of a trading platform to decide which one is right for them. Merrill Edge has much to offer. Everything from seamless banking and investing integration to robust educational and research resources are available to the user.
On the other hand, if you’re an advanced, active trader, you may find this platform too lightweight. Plus, if you focus on options trading you do have to account for the contract fees.
Nevertheless, our Merrill Edge review concludes that, for a majority of investors, this tool could be a great fit. And if you want to keep up with all of our investing reviews, I encourage you to sign up for our free Investment U daily e-letter by entering your email in the field below.
About Brian M. Reiser
Brian M. Reiser has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a concentration in finance from the School of Management at Binghamton University.
He also holds a B.A. in philosophy from Columbia University and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of South Florida.
His primary interests at Investment U include personal finance, debt, tech stocks and more.