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      January 19, 2019

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Merrill Edge vs Robinhood

Best Online Stock Brokers

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

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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

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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3 stars
Robinhood

ROBINHOOD Visit Site

Cost:

$0 on all online stock trades

$10 for broker-assisted phone trades

Minimum Deposit:

None

Robinhood is one of the newest stock brokers in the online market, founded in 2013 and actively serving over 5 million clients since 2015. Their fee-free trading platform "lets you learn to invest in the stock market for free", primarily through their mobile-based application. For those of us who are more comfortable using our tablets or laptops, Robinhood recently released their web version as well.

As you start using Robinhood, particularly through the app, you'll need to get familiar with how they approach buying and selling stocks. For example, you'll have a Detail page that will give you information about your investments, help you track your returns, and overall statistics about the stocks you've purchased or added to your Watchlist. You'll also find Cards, that tell you about market updates, account updates and new features, and news updates with relevant articles and breaking stories within the financial markets.

Robinhood doesn't offer as much as more established online stock brokers when it comes to research. Because this platform is geared towards Millennials, it's expected that you'll know how to find the information you need through any one of the many free services available online. Once you've navigated to the stock's detail page on the Robinhood app, tap the Trade button to buy or sell.

For more active traders, Robinhood Gold may be an appealing add-on. This upgrade gives you a margin account, with the ability to buy and sell stocks on credit. The Gold membership requires a minimum balance of $2000. With this tier of service, you also get access to the market 30 minutes before it opens and 2 hours after it closes. Monthly Gold membership starts at $6, ranging up to $50/month for people who want access to $10,000 in interest-free credit.

Robinhood is also the only online stock broker we found to offer the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. You'll need to check out whether Robinhood Crypto is available in your state; at the time of our review, only residents of 19 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin) were eligible.

On the other hand, Robinhood has one of the most limited account profiles of any online stock broker we reviewed: they only offer basic, taxable investment accounts. No IRAs, no joint accounts, etc. In other words, if you're looking to invest for retirement purposes and you want the tax benefits offered by a Roth IRA or a self-directed 401(k), you're out of luck with Robinhood.

How does this online stock broker measure up when it comes to customer service? Client comments are mixed. For investors who are just looking for a basic, no-fee way to buy and sell stocks, and who are pretty comfortable with doing their own research and using an app to make their investments, Robinhood is a good fit. But, for anyone who may want the option of having a professionally-managed portfolio - or even an "robo-advisor" that can take an investor's basic information and desired outcomes and generate an investment strategy - Robinhood isn't going to be able to compete with stock brokerages that have been around for much longer.

Bottom line? Robinhood is an easy way to get started with investing in the stock market, with no fees for buying or selling stocks and no minimum deposit required. If you're comfortable with mobile apps and with doing your own basic research about which stocks to buy and when, you might want to give them a try. However, if you're at all unsure about investing and think you might want some hand-holding or advice, you'll probably want to consider an online stock brokers with a longer history.

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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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