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      December 9, 2019

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TD Ameritrade 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 TD Ameritrade 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.

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Best Reviews

2019

Online Stock Broker Reviews

5 stars
TD Ameritrade

TD AMERITRADE

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Cost:

FREE online stock and ETF trades

$0 Commission for online option trades (contract fees only $0.65)

$5.00 for IVR (phone system) trades

$25.00 for broker-assisted trades

Minimum Deposit:

None

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award TD Ameritrade is the name to trust when it comes to affordable, easy-to-understand online stock trading. With a 40 year history, 11 million funded client accounts, and $1.2 trillion in total client assets, this online stock broker clearly has the expertise to help investors at all levels to make the transactions they want.

They start with one of the most straightforward pricing structures on the market:

  • FREE ($0 commission) for all U.S. exchange-listed stocks and ETFs - regardless of your account balance or how many shares you buy
  • Options trades are also $0 commission, with only a $0.65 contract fee and $0 exercise or assignment fees
  • Stocks not listed on a U.S. exchange (OTC stocks) have only $6.95 commission
  • IVR trades (Interactive Voice Response - over the phone transactions) are charged a $5.00 commission
  • Broker-assisted trades charge a $25 commission

All of these fees are plainly listed upfront. You'll find no hidden spurprises or nick-and-dime charges here.

Another perk of opening a trading account with TD Ameritrade is their bonus structure. You can receive a bonus of up to $600 depending on how uch you open your account: $100 for accounts funded with $25,000 to $99,999, $300 for accounts funded with $100,000 to $249,999, and $600 for accounts with with $250,000 or more.

This online stock broker offers three platforms for interacting with their services:

  • Web: using your laptop or tablet, you can access independent third-party research, planning tools, and educational resources. You'll also get the latest financial news via Yahoo! Finance, along with social sentiment and volume that pulls insights from Twitter.
  • Mobile: if you want your choice of device-optimized mobile apps (including Apple Watch), access to the #1 trading app in the App Store, and the ability to manage investments and seize opportunities while on the go, this will be your preferred platform.
  • Thinkorswim: TD Ameritrade's professional-level platform is designed for serious traders who want onboarding tools to get started quickly, idea generation with market scans and ability to monitor possible risks/rewards, and elite-level tools that can test your strategies and perform multiple analyses.

Not sure which platform is right for you? You can get complimentary assistance from one of TD Ameritrade's platform specialists, through their toll-free number, who can help you get started. Each platform can be used free of charge. And, all of this brokers' assistance is available 24/7 by email; during regular business hours, you can also use their toll-free number and/or visit one of their 360+ branches nationwide.

With TD Ameritrade you also gain access to independent 3rd party research from Morningstar, TheStreet, and CFRA. For those who like to keep a constant eye on the market, you'll enjoy streaming news and quotes.

TD Ameritrade is the top online stock broker available today - but don't just take our word for it. In 2018, they were recognized as Kiplinger's best online broker, and Barron's as the first-place winner in multiple categories: Long-Term Investing, Usability, Novices, Option Traders (8 consecutive years), Investor Education (2 consecutive years), and five other areas. You'll find similar accolades regarding customer experience when looking at a study done by Investor's Business Daily.

If you're looking for the industry's most accessible trading platform, affordable flat-fee pricing, and a wealth of knowledge and assistance, look no further than TD Ameritrade. They offer the highest value for your stock trading dollar and have earned our highest ranking among online stock brokers.

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3.5 stars
Merrill Edge

MERRILL EDGE

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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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