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Scottrade vs Merrill Edge


Compare Merrill Edge\Lynch versus Scottrade - who is the better broker in 2021? Cost, IRA accounts, online trading platforms, mutual fund offerings comparison.



Scottrade is now TD Ameritrade


Scottrade has been assimilated into TD Ameritrade. See Merrill Edge vs TD Ameritrade comparison article instead.


Promotions


Scottrade: Get $0 commissions and ACAT fee reimbursement.

Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.


Overview


Two low-cost brokerage firms that offer investors good benefits at a fraction of what other firms charge are Scottrade and Merrill Edge. So which is better - Merrill Edge or Scottrade? The following comparison will reveal the answer.


Scottrade vs Merrill Edge: Pricing and Account Minimums


Investors at Scottrade can buy and sell stocks and ETF's for $0 per trade. Merrill Edge charges $0. Options at Merrill Edge are an additional $0.75 per contract, while Scottrade charges a $0.70. Both firms have live representatives on the phone who can help clients complete trades. Scottrade charges $32 for this service, and Merrill Edge is somewhat lower at $29.95. Neither broker chargers any maintenance or inactivity fees for a trading account. In order to open an account, Scottrade clients are required to deposit $2,500 or more. Merrill Edge does not require any amount.

Merrill Edge has a slight edge in this category.


Fund Investing


Scottrade offers its clients almost 3,000 mutual funds without transaction fees or loads. In total, the broker has over 14,000 funds. Transaction-fee funds that are no-load cost $17 to trade. Funds that have a load are always free to buy. They do cost $17 to sell.

Merrill Edge offers fewer mutual funds than Scottrade, providing less than 5,000. Of these, approximately 800 have neither load nor transaction fee. Transaction-fee mutual funds at Merrill Edge are $19.95. The firm also charges a fee of $39.95 when an NTF mutual fund is sold less than 3 months after buying it.

Scottrade comes out on top here.


Merrill Edge vs Scottrade


Education and Research


First-rate educational and research tools can be found on the Merrill Edge website. The broker has numerous videos on important topics, such as asset allocation and bond categories. Merrill Edge customers receive equity reports from Morningstar, Merrill Lynch, and S&P Capital IQ free of charge. Tutorials and self-guided courses explain various financial subjects. Helpful calculators are also on the Merrill Edge website, including a cash flow estimator and a college planning tool.

Scottrade provides third-party stock reports from S&P Capital IQ, Thomson Reuters, and MarketEdge at no cost. A securities education page is available called Knowledge Center. Here, traders will find a financial dictionary, articles, courses, in-person seminars, and videos. These cover different topics, such as tax strategies and how to buy a municipal bond.

Pretty even in this category.


Customer Service


Customer service representatives at Scottrade can be reached over the phone during the week from 5 am to midnight. Phone service is also available on the weekend from 8 am to 6 pm. The company has one of the largest branch networks in the industry, with more than 500 locations currently open.

Unlike Scottrade, Merrill Edge offers 24/7 customer service over the phone. Investment and technical specialists can be reached any time of the day. The firm has a phone number for clients who travel outside the U.S. Some Bank of America branches have a Merrill Edge office inside for customers who are willing to pay for investment advice.

Overall, it's pretty even here.


Trading Tools


The Merrill Edge website is intuitive and easy to navigate. Trades can be placed using the web browser or with TradeBar, a useful trade ticket at the bottom of the browser. It quickly provides security data and order entry. The broker offers a sophisticated trading platform for frequent traders.

Investors will find a less sophisticated website at Scottrade. Trading takes place within the browser, although there is a trade ticket at the bottom. Unlike Merrill Edge's trade ticket, Scottrade's version does not produce a small chart. Finally, ScottradeELITE is an advanced trading platform for active traders.

Merrill Edge wins here.


Scottrade versus Merrill Edge


Mobile Trading


Scottrade investors who want to trade on a mobile device can choose Android, Apple, or mobile web. On the app there is options research, position and account data, and market news.

In addition to Android, iPad, and iPhone, Merrill Edge also has an app for Apple Watch. Several useful features are on the Merrill Edge app, including bill pay, funds transfer, and mobile check deposit.

This category is a tie.


Promotions


Scottrade/TD Ameritrade: Get $0 commissions and ACAT fee reimbursement.

Merrill Edge: Get up to $600 when you open new Merrill Edge account with at least $20,000.



Banking Features


A checking account with FDIC insurance is available at Scottrade. The account comes with checks and a debit card at no cost, and ATM fees are reimbursed nationwide. Scottrade requires its customers to have at least $500 in a Scottrade brokerage account to apply for a deposit account with the company.

Checks and a debit card can be added to a Merrill Edge brokerage account. These additions are free of charge. ATM withdrawals from Bank of America ATM's cost nothing. The broker reimburses no more than $200 per year for ATM's outside of Bank of America's network. A Bank of America checking account can also be linked to a Merrill Edge securities account.

Overall, it's pretty close here.


Additional Features


Merrill Edge doesn't offer any unique or special features that make it stand out from the rest. Scottrade provides a very useful to many investors Flexible Dividend Reinvestment Program that allows users to invest dividends into stocks of any company (unlike other brokers that allow dividend reinvestment only into company that paid the dividend).

Scottrade wins here.


Scottrade vs Merrill Edge: Outcome


There were four ties, Scottrade (Scottrade Review) was triumphant in two categories, and Merrill Edge (Merrill Edge Review) succeeded in two categories. Scottrade is our recommendation between these two online brokers for both IRA and non-IRA brokerage accounts. Merrill Edge is a good add-on service for Bank of America customers, especially if they trade a lot and can keep $25,000 in uninvested cash.

Update:

Scottrade was acquired by TD Ameritrade last year. TD Ameritrade plans to fully integrate Scottrade by September of this year. For this reason it makes more sense to open an account with TD Ameritrade directly and skip possible transition inconveniences. New customers could take advantage of TD Ameritrade's promotion that allows them to trade for free for two months.