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      September 18, 2019

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Firstrade vs Merrill Edge

Best Online Stock Brokers

To help you find the Best Online Stock Brokers, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Firstrade and Merrill Edge.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Online Stock Brokers, please Click Here

Who is the Best Online Stock Broker? Whether you consider yourself an avid investor or a beginner just starting to look into the stock market, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of the stock trading options. Although some people still use traditional stock brokers, many people have found they can save a lot of money by trading stocks themselves.

Besides significant cost savings, another great advantage to executing your own transactions is that you can avoid the time and energy necessary to deal with "professional" stock brokers. Many of these individuals try to convince you to buy or sell stocks, because they earn a commission every time you make a transaction. With online stock brokers, you never have to talk to any salesmen.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Online Stock Broker Reviews

4.5 stars
Firstrade

FIRSTRADE Visit Site

Cost:

$0 for all online trades

$19.95 (+ $.50/contract) for all broker-assisted trades

Minimum Deposit:

None

Since 1985, Firstrade has been a leading brokerage firm offering a complete line of investment tools and products for every level of investor. This stock broker was one of the very first to get online, and they've received plenty of industry awards - Forbes, Smart Money, and Barron's have frequently named Firstrade among their top choices for online brokers, especially when it comes to commissions and fees.

You'll soon see why: Firstrade doesn't require any minimum deposits, and in August 2018 the firm eliminated all commissions for stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. That's right: you won't pay anything in fees for most transactions completed through the broker's online platform. Ever.

That means that you can trade using your dashboard, online or via mobile app, at no cost other than the price of the stocks themselves. Some of the newest features added to the Firstrade app at the time of our review were advanced charts, equity ratings, and an improved trading/research interface.

You'll also have access to a wealth of information once you open an account. Click on the Research & Tools heading to see what you can expect from Firstrade, including video commentary from trusted independent analysts, Market Heatmap, Morningstar ratings and research reports, and much more.

The only drawback to using Firstrade that we could find is the lack of advisor help, either automatic or with an investment professional. Most online stock brokers offer at last one, if not both. In other words, if you need some hand-holding while buying and selling stocks and strategizing your approach, Firstrade might not be your top pick. Otherwise, if you're comfortable doing the research using the educational resources this stock broker does offer online, you'll probably be very pleased with your experience.

Firstrade jumped almost to the top of the industry when it announced their fee-free trading structure, making them an excellent choice for most investors looking for an affordable online stock broker.

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3.5 stars
Merrill Edge

MERRILL EDGE Visit Site

Cost:

$6.95/trade on stocks and ETFs

Up to 100 free trades per month with Preferred Rewards

Minimum Deposit:

None

Merrill Edge is the investment division of well-known Bank of America. Because of this relationship, they're an ideal choice if you're already banking with BoA: you can get increased rewards, the simplicity of transferring funds between accounts with a single login, and manage both your investments and your banking through the mobile app.

This online stock brokerage has received many awards, including J.D. Power's "Outstanding Customer Service Experience" recognition for 7 consecutive years and Kiplinger's #1 spot among online brokers in 2017.

In general, expect to pay $6.95 per stock trade when using the Merrill Edge self-directed investment platform, along with fees of $0.01 to $0.03 per $1000 of principal when you sell.

You can also get up to 100 free stock trades per month through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. At the time of our review, the eligibility requirement was a minimum average combined balance of $50,000 in BoA qualifying accounts (e.g. investment/deposit) to get 30 $0 trades per month, and $100,000 to get up to 100 $0 trades each month. Compared with other online stock brokers that offer free trades with no such requirements, Merrill Edge will definitely tie up a lot of your money in order to qualify for their "rewards".

If you prefer professional portfolio management, either through an online investment advisory program or by working directly with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor, you can access those services for an additional fee of 0.45% and 0.85%, respectively; minimum investment amounts of $5000 and $20,000 apply.

Merrill Edge's online platform has a number of useful tools that are visually appealing and easy to understand. For example, you can see how your portfolio ranks in terms of a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. You can also take advantage of analyst reports on specific holdings, along with recommendations as to buy/sell/hold on individual stocks in your portfolio.

The only negative we found when evaluating Merrill Edge as an online stock broker was with respect to customer service. Some clients complained that the service they received was not as good as they had expected, especially given the brokerage's reputation as an award-winning company. Also, we found some comments describing slower-than-average updates when trades are made.

Overall, Merrill Edge is a trustworthy online stock broker - but unless you're a Bank of America customer for other products, you may find more appealing options with one of the higher-ranked services in our review.

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Continued from above

And, of course, with fluctuations in the economy, and subsequent rises and falls in stock prices, some people panic and pull out significant investments - leaving the door wide open for others to take advantage of big opportunities to buy low and hopefully sell high later.

Of course, the best online stock brokers do have the option to work with a consultant if you choose. Especially if you're just starting to learn about investments, you may feel more comfortable knowing you can access an expert if the need arises. These services may be included, or you may have to pay for them a la carte.

So, when choosing the right online stock broker for your needs, how do you know which one is best? Before you jump in and start buying up your shares in Apple or Coca-Cola, here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Information. From beginners to experts, having up-to-date information on the stock market is critical. What resources does the online stock broker have available to guide you in your decision-making?
  • Fees. When purchasing your stocks, will you be charged a percentage of your total buy or a flat fee? When the time comes to sell, what will you pay?
  • Reputation. What do other investors say about their experience buying and selling with the online stock broker? Have they had positive interactions with the broker when they've needed help? How many investors have chosen this particular broker's services?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online stock brokers available today. We hope this information helps you choose the right broker for your stock buying and trading needs!

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