With the current Merrill Edge open account offer, new investors have the chance to claim a bonus of up to $600 or $900. To claim this bonus, all you have to do is sign up to Merrill Edge then make the following 2 qualifying requirements:
- Make qualifying investments in your new account within 45 days
- Maintain your qualifying balance for 90 days
Once your balance has been held for 90 days, you’ll receive your bonus within 2 weeks. Normal customers can claim a Merrill Edge open account bonus of up to $600, but it gets better for current Bank of America Preferred Rewards Members, who can claim a bonus of up to $900.
You can check out how the Merrill Edge Open Account Bonus works below:
- Qualifying Assets: $10,000 Cash Bonus (regular): $100 Cash Bonus (preferred rewards): $150
- Qualifying Assets: $50,000 Cash Bonus (regular): $150 Cash Bonus (preferred rewards): $225
- Qualifying Assets: $100,000 Cash Bonus (regular): $250 Cash Bonus (preferred rewards): $375
- Qualifying Assets: $200,000+ Cash Bonus (regular): $600 Cash Bonus (preferred rewards): $900
In this part of our Merrill Edge USA review, we’ll take a look at the look, feel, and usability of their website. Overall, the Merrill Edge website is clever, efficient, and well laid out; there are 6 tabs at the top of the screen with the top right, with the “Open Account” tab being highlighted in red. Getting things started with Merrill Edge is easy and relatively hassle-free, however, in your personal online account, things aren’t easily customizable, which may put off more advanced traders.
Design-wise and aesthetically, Merrill Edge looks a bit dated and definitely doesn’t have the “wow factor” that we look for. The color scheme is your classic All American red, white and blue with a tinge of light grey for good measure. The white is the dominating flag color here and generally, the website feels as though it were designed with a strong sense of patriotism.
Ultimately, the Merrill Edge website does almost everything a beginner to intermediate trader could ask, however it lacks the modern look and feel of some other brokerages’ websites, as discussed in our TastyWorks review, and SogoTrade review.
Merrill Edge Open Accounts
When it comes to creating your Merrill Edge open account, you have 3 types of online brokerage accounts to choose from, each of which have different capabilities, are aimed at different levels of traders and have different Merrill Edge open account processes. In this section of our Merrill Edge review, we’ll break down each type of account, explaining how they work, who they’re for, and how to open them.
- Merrill Edge Self-Directed
The Merrill Edge Self-Directed account gets you unlimited $0 online stock, ETF and options trades. This is an ideal account for beginner or novice traders as you get an easy to follow step-by-step guide to help you through your early trading experiences.
Account minimum: $0
Merrill Edge Open Account Process: To open a Self`-Directed account, you’ll need to complete the sign-up process which requires the following information:
- Social Security number and date of birth
- A valid mail and email addresses
- Employment information (including company name, address, and start date)
- General financial information (such as annual income and household net worth)
You can complete this process online, via phone or by going to your local Bank of America branch (if you’re already a bank of America Customer).
With this account, you’re joining an investment advisory program that’s guided by Merrill Edge’s investment professionals. The guides and strategies are created and catered just for you as an individual with your goals in mind. For this account, you pay an annual 0.45% annual program fee.
Account minimum: $5,000
Merrill Edge Open Account Process: As well as completing the sign-up process required for the Self-Directed account, you’ll also be required to answer a series of questions to let Merrill Edge know more about your investment plans and goals so that their expert professionals can create a strategy that’s right for you.
- Merrill Guided Investing with an advisor
This account type is the next level up from the simple Guided Investing account and therefore has a higher annual fee of 0.85%. The benefits are the same as guided investing only you get a dedicated personal advisor.
Account minimum: $10,000
Merrill Edge Open Account Process: The same as with the Guided Investing but you also get to choose and meet with your personal advisor either in person or over the phone.
If you’re looking for another option then you’re in luck, take a look at the Robinhood open account process to see how it compares. We’ve also compiled all the latest on the Vanguard Open Account, a great option for the smaller investment portfolio.
Merrill Edge offers a simple web-based platform, a mobile version, and their MarketPro trading platform, which is aimed at active traders but was recently made available to all Merrill Edge open account holders, regardless of investment size or account trading activity. By way of a comparison for newcomer traders, we’d suggest looking over our Vanguard review, noted for having lots of helpful investor tools.
The web-based platform with Merrill Edge USA has all of the bells and whistles that beginner to intermediate traders could expect; you can manage your portfolio, easily conduct trades in EFTs, Options & Mutual Funds and the order form is as straightforward as can be. What impressed as most in this section of our Merrill Edge review, is that the order form is specifically designed to prevent you from making any big mistakes, another reason the platform is great for beginners. The charts are also easy to follow and are informative. We mentioned earlier in our Merrill Edge review that the website isn’t easily customizable, however you can personalize it in some ways, including filtering your news feed so that only relevant information comes your way. In terms of design, the website trading platform follows the same color scheme as the rest of the website; it’s a bit bland and dated, but at least inoffensive on the eye.
Most of the features that you’ll find on the web-based platform have been transferred over to the small screen mobile app fairly well, however, as is always the case, there are a few things missing and a few things that aren’t replicated as well as they are on the bigger screen platform. Pricing data lags behind real-time with the mobile app and quotes do not stream at all, so you have to update price data by dragging down the page and releasing it – a funny little quirk that probably needs to be fixed. Overall, the mobile platform just about does its job but we wouldn’t recommend using it as your primary trading platform.
Merrill Edge’s active trader offering is decent enough and has most things that active traders would expect, including a customizable dashboard, interactive chats, and a great number of options tools. In terms of look, feel and layout, Merrill Edge USA has gone for the black background here – the go-to background color for platforms aimed at more serious traders. Overall, we’d say there are better platforms out there for active traders, and as a result, you might want to take a look at our Sofi Invest review.
There are four ways to deposit funds into your Merrill Edge open account; Cash transfer, wire transfer, check or by transferring funds and/or securities from an existing account. In this section of our Merrill Edge review, we’ll take a look at each payment method in a bit more detail. All payments must be made in USD we noted during our Merrill Edge review.
If your transfer funds from your Bank of America or Merrill Edge account, the transaction will happen instantly. If you transfer from an account with another bank the transaction can take up to 3 days to clear.
Funds electronically wired from another bank or financial institution are processed the same day.
Deposits made with a bank or cashier’s check will take 3-5 days to clear.
- Transfer from another brokerage account
With Merrill Edge USA, you can transfer funds and/or securities from another brokerage account. As you can quite probably imagine this is a more complicated and lengthy process than other payment methods and takes a minimum of 8 days to complete.
First up, our Merrill Edge review found they do have all of the channels that you would expect from an online broker that’s parented by the Bank of America; a phone line, live online chat, and email support. There are also FAQs to help you out, however, they are solely related to trading based queries and do little to provide any information on other potential problems. Their phone line is toll-free and available 24/7, however, should you wish to speak with a live broker there is a surcharge for any trades placed with them. The phone line starts off automated and is a bit tedious, however when the time comes for you to get put through to an actual human advisor, the connection times are pretty quick.
In addition to the customer service channels mentioned above, Bank of America customers can also receive in-person Merrill Edge advice via walk-in appointments at your local Bank of America branch. You can also get customer service from Merrill Edge USA on Twitter, however, the account is run by Bank of America personnel, rather than dedicated Merrill Edge staff.
Regulation & Deposit Insurance
In terms of regulation, Merrill Edge is an active member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). What this means is that Merrill Edge USA is obliged to be open and transparent and engage in actively educating their investors, which they do through a number of educational tools. In addition to being a FINRA regulated platform, Merrill Edge has won multiple awards from various industry reviewers and scrutinizers, including customer intelligence company J.D Power and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.
This ultimately means that Merrill Edge is as safe as any other online brokerage in America, perhaps even more so than any other. We are duty-bound in this Merrill Edge review, however, to make you aware that nothing is every 100% safe in the world of financial trading.
Merrill Edge USA is a registered broker-dealer in the US and is therefore registered as a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Merrill Edge’s parent company, Bank of America, is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). What this means is that deposits and account funds are protected up to a certain amount should Merrill Edge or Bank of America encounter any form of severe financial difficulty. Your funds are protected up to the value of $500,000 ($250,000 cash) through SIPC and up to $250,000 through FDIC.
If you’re looking to compare, we were impressed with the track record and credentials found in our USAA Investments review, a long standing broker with a military provenance.
Earlier on in this Merrill Edge review, we spoke about their new customer offer, and while Merrill Edge doesn’t have any other cash offers that we could find, they do have a lot more to offer their customers in the form of education and assistance.
Strictly speaking, Merrill Edge USA doesn’t offer a demo account, however, they offer a plethora of help via their extensive resource center and investment education program. With the Merrill Edge resource center, you can access a number of webinars and video tutorials as well as a library of useful articles and investment guides. They also have extremely well laid out guides articles for three levels of investor; Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
When it comes to help materials, Merril Edge USA have pages dedicated to helping those who are investing at different stages in their lives, as well as preparation guides for major life events. As is required of them being a FINRA regulated broker, Merrill Edge provides budgeting and debt management aids, personal finance assistance, and a page warning potential new investors about the risks involved with online trading.
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