PROS / The flat rate for trades, exercises and assignments is one of the lowest of services we reviewed.
CONS / There are fewer tools to help you estimate the performance of a stock.
VERDICT / While this service has reasonable fees and a decent platform, little makes it stand out among its competition.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Merrill Lynch is an online discount broker that offers trades of popular investments through its trading platform Merrill Edge. It offers trades of stocks, options, ETFs and bonds at prices that are lower than many of its competitors. The platform is more advanced than some others, which makes it a good choice for more experienced traders. It is a pretty standard service compared to some of the best online brokers, but its long history of good business practices means that Merrill Lynch is a solid service despite lacking some of the fancier features of other online stock trading services.
This online stock broker sets a flat rate for all trades. Stock trades are $6.95 and option trades are also $6.95 plus the standard per-contract fee, which at $0.75 is average for the services on our brokerage comparison. The flat fee further applies to an option exercise or assignment. The fee for a broker-assisted trade is $29.95, which is a little above average. The rate for margin accounts is typical, although for the lowest rate of 4.5%, you must have a balance of over 10 million dollars, which is higher than many services' top-tier balance.
Within the platform, Merrill Edge clients have access to the stock market and to helpful resources that can inform transactions. A screener filters stocks according to your criteria. You can customize charts to demonstrate the performance of stock that you hold in comparison with published indices. A comparison tool shows stocks according to earnings and growth, performance, and fundamentals. Despite these useful tools, this service does not have some helpful resources, including profit-versus-loss estimation or volatility reports.
If you wish to trade when you are away from your computer, you can access your online account on your smart phone. The website is optimized for mobile browsers, and there are apps available for the iPhone, iPad and Android phones. You can trade investments, research stocks, create watch lists and set alerts. If you have the mobile apps, you also are able to take advantage of remote check depositing by simply taking a picture of the check with your phone.
The website provides a good deal of resources for researching stocks, learning about investments and planning for your future. Webinars cover topics concerning the market and events that affect it. There are also financial tools to help you calculate if you'll be ready for retirement, track your spending and estimate your net worth. For assistance with the platform or trading, you can contact customer service through live chat, on the telephone and by email.
This online stock trading service has lower-than-average prices and one of the best online trading platform with standard features, which means that it is a good choice, but there are better choices. However, it is also a well-established broker, which may make it more attractive than newer businesses.