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      October 20, 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.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Online Stock Broker Reviews

5 stars
TD Ameritrade

TD AMERITRADE Visit Site

Cost:

$6.95 per online equity trade

$34.99 for IVR (phone system) trades

$44.99 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 more than 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: a flat fee of $6.95 for all online stock trades. If you're interested in other instruments like ETFs or futures, or if you need to execute your trade using TD Ameritrade's phone system or professional brokers, expect a different set of fees - all of which are clearly spelled out on their pricing page, with no surprises or hidden costs.

Another big perk of using TD Ameritrade is their 60 days of no-fee trading. That lets you get a feel for their system at no cost to you, other than the price of the stocks themselves. At the time of our review, they were also offering a bonus of up to $600, depending on how much investors used to fund their accounts: $100 for accounts funded with $25,000 to $99,999, all the way up to $600 for those funded with at least $250,000.

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/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.

TD Ameritrade is the top online stock broker available today - but don't just take our word for it. In 2018, they were recognized by 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 categories. You'll find similar accolades regarding customer experience when looking at a study done by Investor's Business Daily: there's just no other online stock broker that can compete with TD Ameritrade.

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 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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