Does Anyone Use Merrill Edge?

RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011

I have been with fidelity for over 15 years and am generally happy with them.

An issue with partial fill bothers me so free trades would help with that.

30 free trades a month is plenty. I guess it requires a $50k combined balance to get the 30 trades a month.

Was considering transferring a CD that I have at fidelity to meet that requirement. And then I can add money as needed.

Only issue is they don't give level 2 quotes until I get close to a million in assets and I may never get there.

My fear is pissing off fidelity and them taking away my active trader access.

stcharles   |     |   12 posts since 2018
I recently changed from TDAmeritrade (12 or so years) to Chas. Schwab. I looked at Fidelity, and Merrill Edge. They are all quite anxious to get your business - the industry has become very competitive. I would use the website information as a guide, and then phone - they each offered me perks that were not advertised. I wouldn't worry a bit about pissing one or the other off - that is their problem - what one brokerage won't give you the next one will.
I just tell them I'm reviewing brokerage services and looking for the best value for the service offered.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
Yeah, Im thinking Im just going to transfer a single $50k CD to get me started without having to park $50k at very low rates just for some free trades. The negative with Edge is they charge $30 for tender offers or rights offerings and I usually have several a year. Fidelity is free for those but $5 for trades.
CTM   |     |   113 posts since 2010
Yes, I use Merrill Edge, along with other brokers.

You will need to open a Bank of America checking account to get the most out of your Merrill Edge account.
B of A usually runs several targeted promotions, but I believe there is currently a nationwide $ 100 bonus for opening a checking account. You only need the minimum in the checking account as it is the combined total of all accounts that sets the Preferred Rewards tier.

Merrill Edge has a tiered bonus offer for standard brokerage accounts and IRA accounts:

$ 100 @ $ 20k, $ 150 @ $ 50k, $ 200 @ $ 100k and $ 600 @ $ 250k+.

We transferred a couple of IRAs to Merrill Edge when the bonus was $ 1000.

And ... don't you use the All Or None (AON) designation on trades to avoid partial fills?
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I know about AON orders but they have their limitations.

Does BAC have a free checking account?

Have you noticed any problem with them compared to others?

I guess my $50k CDs are now worth $49k but if I can transfer one, that will be an easy way to meet the $50k requirement without having a lot of idle cash.

i presume you cant place orders without cash or buying power in the account?
Sylvia   |     |   190 posts since 2012
Barron’s annual online broker ranking is hot off the press, Occupying the top 3 spots overall are Interactive Brokers, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade, respectively. Merrill Edge is #6. Barron’s also has rankings by type of investor.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
When i was at the Edge site, they had advertising that made it sound better than 6th. Maybe from a different firm. But, with a FREE broker, I don't need all the bells & whistles.

My only concern is that transferring part of my assets out does not have them deactivate my activate trader status. It probably won't but Im not positive.
Sylvia   |     |   190 posts since 2012
If info on requirements for maintaining desired trader status is not available or ambiguous, why not flat out ask Fidelity, e.g., IF my assets drop to X amount, what happens? It's a business so I wouldn't expect them to take question personally or be arbitrarily punitive. After all, they don't know if you've got a large chunk of change elsewhere that you could some day bring over to Fidelity. It's not in their interest to screw you.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I think I am already below active trader requirements. So ASKING might alert them.

On the other hand, if nobody even notices partial transfers, they may not notice?

$50k will be transferred, Ive already determined that. The question becomes, do I transfer 50+50 for a slightly larger cash bonus, I think. (Regular+ IRA) Or even 150+50?

I chatted and they said no fee for partial transfers. I did not ask about full transfers because I'm not mad at them or about to transfer my accounts totally.

But, if I decide to buy some UTEs and want to dollar cost average over 3 months on 3 stocks, thats $133 at Fidelity and Free at Edge. Fidelity would argue that my fills are not as good. (Arguable but lets say it costs me 5 cents a trade)

Thats $1.35 for 27 trades.

The $50k from my IRA is already cash and I prefer to invest in my IRA.

In the regular account, I have no cash. But $150k in underwater CDs that I wish I never bought. But, I will hold to maturity.

Transferring 1 would meet the $50k minimum for free trades. (That and some extra cash) But I could transfer $200k total, $147k in CDs and $50k in cash out of my IRA) Why don't I do that? Because I don't want to lose my level 2 quotes. Which, is not free at Edge without a $700k account balance.

I have been slowly liquidating my regular account a little at a time over years. Just because their rates were so low that I would remove any excess cash ASAP.
(Except the $150k which I transferred in $50k at a time) Which is now worth $147k.

My IRA has plenty of liquid cash earning near nothing. So moving it to earn near nothing elsewhere inst going to cost me much. Unless they take away my level 2 quotes and then I have no choice but to move everything to edge despite the $30 fee for extraordinary transactions. (Like tender offers or rights offering and I have those fairly regularly)

All that being said, I think I will revisit the activate trader pro requirements just to be sure.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I called Fidelity and they did not seem to indicate there would be a problem with transferring some assets.
The only thing I'm waiting on is an exception to the $30 fee for rights offerings & tender offers.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I was going to open a large brokerage account with them until I saw they had in the past paid $900-1000 bonuses rather than their current $600. . I told the rep I was dealing with I wanted $1000 and I would move in $250k. He has not responded so maybe they won't go for it. They did not go for a waiver on the $30 reorg fees and I thought they would.

Its ok, I'm not mad at fidelity. And $4.95 a trade while I wait is fine. Considering I really do not trade a lot.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
There was a delay but I finally got what I was looking for... $1000 bonus for opening a $250k account and leaving it there for 9 months. There normal bonus is lower but they occasionally have $900-1000 deals. I guess I need a BAC checking account. In looking for a BAC checking deal today, all I could find is $100 for something with direct deposit and I do NOT have that. And they won't accept things like ACHs.

Im probably going to just move over some CDs and other positions and see how I like their platform. And if I do, probably open a smaller IRA because I try to trade in my IRA when I can.

No downside in parking CDs at Edge. And moving over some other stuff too.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I finally found a downside with Edge. The ONLY question I did not ask until now is about the length of limit orders. Just found out its ONLY a month for GTC orders. That is problematic for me.
As a result, I am probably not going to send $250k. Maybe $50-150k or something.

I still want the account, but I am not going to struggle to send $250k when I can finagle with fidelity for free trades.(But not extra bonus money)
ttrade   |     |   3 posts since 2018
A bit late to the party but... if you open a BOA checking and deposit 50K with Merrill that will more than qualify you for BOA preferred rewards which gives you fee-free checking.

100K will get you their top preferred rewards level, 100 free trades with Merrill and Platinum Honors benefits with BOA checking and more importantly.... 75% bonus on credit card kickbacks.

Get these two cards, and along with signup bonuses you can get this cashback ongoing:
BOA Cash Rewards Visa - Effectively 5.25% on gas
BOA Travel Rewards - Effectively 2.625% on everything (redeemed as statement credits for travel related purchases)

That said, I'm not crazy about Merrill's software or order execution. But for limit orders on small moving stocks, not paying for partials is a big deal.

But... Merril's software treats them bizarrely... when you get a partial fill it's status chances to "Partial fill" and is no longer considered "Open" in order status windows... i.e. if you have the status filtered to show only open orders... it disappears(!!) just as if it had been fully executed. In fast trading this is a major confusion and headache that is not needed.

In addition, if you change an existing partially filled order, the quantity shows up as the original quantity, not the partially filled quantity. And if you change the quantity, it is relative to the original (less any execution). I think... Again, it's very confusing. I just end up cancelling the whole order rather than changing.

I haven't used Fidelity, but Merrill is definitely no TDAmeritrade or Interactive Brokers when it comes to software or fills. But... 100 free trades a month in certain situations is a big deal.

Hope that is helpful. If it is, private message me with that hot stock you're buying up. :)
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I have pretty much given up on them for anything more than a "bonus" transfer.

The 30 day limit orders just kills it for me.

My style is to place a lot of orders above & below market to buy & sell. And replacing them every 30 days is way too much work.

I think in years past they had DOUBLE the bonus deals around Tax time. So I would probably want to do it around tax time.

I have free trades at Fidelity for 2 years for moving in $100k for 9 months. Plan is to rinse & repeat when the freebies run out.
ttrade   |     |   3 posts since 2018
FYI I've had a bit more experience with limit orders with Merrill Edge since my post and am continuing to be unhappy with their routing and fills.

I have noticed in the past getting nuisance fills and then my full fill only after the market has moved past my price. This is of course not unusual or proof of anything but the fills on Merrill "felt" consistently slower than TDAmeritrade, including in one case where I was trading the same stock.

But I have had no real evidence, because most of my trading was pretty active stocks with with large quantities posted at the BBO so it's unclear where my order is in the queue.

That changed this last week in a slow moving market (and slow moving stock) where it was ticking off slowly in 100-200 chunks.

I placed a limit sell order for 500+ shares, and viewing the market depth (on TDAmertirades's ThinkOrSwim) I could see that there were only 400 offered at my price on all exchanges combined (with nobody beating my price), and it stayed that way for some minutes. So it appears Merrill was not routing my limit order to the exchanges.

There was a flurry of activity as the market closed with a bunch trades at my asking price, but I got only some ridiculous 15 share fill.

I'm not entirely sure what's going on and would be interested to hear evidence to the contrary but....

My general impression is Merrill is doing all they can do to route orders internally or with partners, i.e. if you are not beating the current BBO or placing a market order... good luck. You may not end up on an exchange at all.

So it's free trades, but at a price. Unfortunately where the free trades are most valuable to me (actively traded account with limit orders and short-term holdings) is where I most need excellent fills. For someone else who routinely places market orders Merrill is probably fine.

I have decided to move my existing actively traded account to Interactive Brokers. I will be moving another longer-term account to Merrill just to score a new account bonus and to maintain my BOA Preferred Rewards tier.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
i have had a problem with nuisance fills too. At fidelity. I used to think it was the market makers too. But now, I think all these free trading places have a ton of kids with $300 accounts who trade miniscule amounts for fun.

Fidelity would waive the commissions for me back when I was paying. Now that I got the 500 free trades for 2 years, I don't have to call.

Fidelity always talks about price improvement but I rarely get it. And like you, I often only get filled when the market moves against me.

So it may be all brokers?

I have time & sales at fidelity and you would not believe the number of odd lot trades in low priced stocks on a daily basis. I mean 20-25 shares or even less of $2 stocks.

They can't be all market makers screwing with us.
ttrade   |     |   3 posts since 2018
You're probably right about the free trading apps and the small fills.

What I appear to be seeing with Merrill -- specifically, that my limit order is not posted on a public exchange if I'm not beating BBO -- is definitely not with all brokers. It doesn't even seem like it should be legal, frankly.

Obviously I don't have a problem with them filling all or part of a limit order internally if they can do so immediately, but if not it should be posted on an exchange so I've reserved my place in the queue if it's ticking off at that price.

When trying to find if that is in fact what is happening with Merrill I ran across this review of order execution quality that was interesting:

Also found this where Merrill was being naughty:
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
Hot stock tip? Are you kidding? Bought 6 stocks recently. 5 are down. One a lot.

Made up for them in the winner so all in all about a break even. SMH.
TheBombingRange   |     |   99 posts since 2017
I know you don't like smartphones RJM but maybe check out Robinhood. $0, commission free trades. They have their website up now so it's not just the app. As far as I know you can still utilize platforms like Fidelity for research for free without actually submitting trades through them. If you're looking for management, then you need a more traditional brokerage.
CTM   |     |   113 posts since 2010
Robinhood is a "starter" broker. The app and web interface are under constant development,
as are the offerings.

From their website:

Robinhood Financial currently doesn’t support:

Foreign-domiciled securities*
OTC equities
Preferred stocks
Tracking stocks
Mutual funds
Bonds and fixed income trading
Foreign exchanges

I'm more than happy to pay a few dollars for decent execution or the ability to move a large block.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
Yeah, I looked at Robinhood a few years ago and decided against it. I am not unhappy with fidelity generally but free traders is a benefit.

I own one stock that I have a hard time buying at or near the bid and when I try to bump the bid a penny or two, I get a nuisance fill. Like 110 shares of a $1.50 stock.

Whereas, if I got free trades, I could place smaller orders and/or cancel orders with partail fills & so forth.

I like this $1.50 stock for potentially $2.50-3.25 in a few years and a decent dividend while I wait. But it seems there are a bunch of kids playing on robinhood with this stock as it trades very, very small amounts often almost every day. My all or none orders go unfilled even when the stock trades below my limit price. (But not at the ask)

Fidelity will waive the commission when that happens but I have to call & ask.

I asked for some kind of prorated commission and they said there is no way they can do that. 20+ years ago, i had an account at Datek which was good for situations like that because they would pro-rate partial fills. I did not do a ton of day trading but I still liked their set up in many ways.

I just went on chat and they said there is no partial transfer fees. The Edge guy said they would reimburse me if there was. But he has not responded to my email recently.

I think transferring a $50k CD and a few stocks in my IRA would get me to the $50k that I think is required for the 30 free trades. And a $100 bonus I think.

We don't have any BACs around here so I will have to look into their checking accounts.
CTM   |     |   113 posts since 2010
You might look at Interactive Brokers for the trading pattern you describe.

$ 0.005 / share with a $ 1.00 minimum.

They are a huge clearing broker, clearing about 75% of Scottrade orders before the got swallowed by TD Ameritrade. They also have the best margin rates in the industry.

Finally, look at the B of A website under Checking and click the Compare box.
While not technically "free", either type of checking account will be free for that level of assets in Merrill Edge.
RJM   |     |   501 posts since 2011
I tried to open an account at IB over 15 years ago and they rejected me because of a minor issue I had previously with another firm. Spoofing they called it. Have not tried again.

Actually, my spoofing was illegal the SEC said. I disagreed but settled because it was cheaper than defending myself.

I cant recall for sure if I was already at fidelity or not. But I guess that could potentially keep me from opening other brokerage accounts too?

I chatted with fidelity and they don't charge for partial transfers. On one hand i only wanted to try Edge with one account but maybe I should do one of each? Regular and IRA?-

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