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Merrill Lynch provides self-directed online stock trading services through its broker-dealer unit, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith. Although Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009 and operated it as a subsidiary until 2013, Merrill Lynch is now merged with Bank of America and is no longer a subsidiary. The merger helps Bank of America to cut costs and comply with regulations that make big banks easier to resolve in a crisis. However, the broker-dealer unit, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, continues to operate as a subsidiary of Bank of America. If you want to conduct online stock trading with the Merrill Lynch brand, the service is called Merrill Edge.

Because its parent company is Bank of America, Merrill edge account holders have a single login that provides access to Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts. Other benefits of the relationship include the ability to meet with Merrill Edge Financial Solution Advisors in selected Bank of America banking centers should you want a personal consultation. Furthermore, certain qualified Merrill Edge clients can receive up to 30 free online trades per month and the ability to conveniently move funds between Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts. To qualify for 30 free online trades, it is necessary to maintain combined balances of at least $25,000 in your Merrill Lynch and Bank of America accounts. If you exceed 30 online trades in a month, or if you do not qualify for the benefit, trades cost $6.95.

Merrill Edge clients have access to the stock market and to helpful resources that can inform transactions. A stock screener filters stocks according to your criteria. You receive research from Morningstar, Standard and Poor’s and B of A Merrill Lynch Global Research. You can customize charts to demonstrate the performance of stock that you hold in comparison with published indices. A comparison tool compares stocks according to earnings and growth, performance and fundamentals. You can build profiles that show all of the details of a particular stock on one page. After-hours stock trading is available. As you manage your equities, you have access to market and economic information such as company announcements, upgrades and downgrades from analysts, cost-basis information and alerts about price and volume changes. In addition to access to the stock market, Merrill Edge clients can trade options, mutual funds and fixed income vehicles.

Merrill Lynch Summary:

Merrill Edge is an excellent choice for an online stock trader. The pricing is simple and flat. There are many investment offerings. Tools are easy to use and you have access to useful research. You can conduct your investing and banking from a single login.


Merrill Lynch

A single login provides access to your Merrill Edge account and your Bank of America account.

Despite excellent discounted trade prices, some competitors are priced slightly less.

The Verdict
: 8/10

Merrill Lynch is a good choice for an online stock trader because of its pricing and investment offerings.