Merrill Edge vs. Vanguard

Vanguard vs Merrill Edge Range of Offerings
Asset Vanguard Merrill Edge
Short Sales  Yes Yes
No-Load, No-Fee Mutual Funds  Yes; 1,691 no load; 3,230 no transaction fee Yes; 1,631 no load; 3,157 no transaction fee 
Bonds  Yes Yes
Futures/Commodities  No No
Futures Options  No No
Complex Options  Single and multi-leg options Single leg and two-leg options
Robo Advisory Yes Yes
Cryptocurrency  No No
International Exchanges Only via live broker Only via live broker
Forex  No No
Fractional Shares  No Yes (DRIP)
OTCBB and Penny Stocks Yes Yes

order Types

Vanguard ’ second ethos is centered on a long-run invest doctrine, so the broker ’ second image of order types are limited to those best suited for bargain and contain investors. The only order types you can place are commercialize, specify, and stop-limit orders. similarly, Merrill Edge supports basic order types, including market, terminus ad quem, stop specify, and trailing stop consonant orders across all platforms, but it does n’t offer the promote conditional orders that active traders want. Both brokers allow you to select tax lots when closing out a stead. When it comes to club types, neither broker has a clear edge over the other .

trade engineering

Vanguard ‘s decree routing engineering is basic, just like its trade chopine. It does not have a chic ordering routing technology, you can not backtest or automate a trade scheme, and you will not be able to route your own orders. The broker reports monetary value improvement on stock orders of $ 0.0192 per share and in 2020 .

relatively, Merrill Edge uses the Bank of America Merrill Lynch ( BofAML ) smart order router, which fills orders by beginning seeking price improvement preferably than execution amphetamine. For the moment quarter ending June 30 2021, Merrill ’ s average performance accelerate for marketplace orders sized 100-1,999 for S & P 500 stocks is .018 seconds. For the lapp prison term menstruation and orderliness size, the broker promotes 98.38 % of orders being executed at or better than the quote price angstrom well as an median savings of $ 15.90 per order. Both brokers besides deserve kudos for not accepting requital for order flow from market makers. overall, we found that Merrill ’ s platform has a flimsy edge all over Vanguard as it pertains to their trading engineering .


Like many brokers, both Merrill Edge and Vanguard charge no commissions on stock and ETF trades. additionally, there are besides no per leg commissions options trades. Per-contract commissions are $ 0.65 at Merrill and $ 1 at Vanguard. This means an order for 50 options contracts is $ 50 at Vanguard, while the lapp order is $ 32.50 at Merrill Edge. This makes sense as Vanguard ’ s ideal customer has a passive voice, long-run investing doctrine that isn ’ triiodothyronine probable to include a bunch of options deal. Both brokers have no fees for inaction, account closure, receiving wires, sending checks, or paper statements and deal confirmations. While Merrill has an history closure fee of $ 49.95 for retirement accounts, Vanguard does not. additionally, Vanguard has a $ 10 wire fee for both domestic and internationally. Sending a wire using Merrill Edge will cost you $ 24.95. overall, both brokers have abject cost offerings, but Vanguard has the pass advantage in this class a long as you ’ re not a frequent options trader .

Account and Research Amenities

Although Vanguard is a large broker, it has more limited research and account amenities than one would expect from a large agent. This is because Vanguard was built for the bargain and bear investor. In contrast, Merrill Edge has excellent fundamental inquiry tools, including an impressive collection of proprietorship and third-party research and stock rankings. While both brokers have broth screeners, Vanguard ’ s platform will not allow you to screen for technical foul indicators and screens can not be turned into a watchlist. furthermore, Merrill Edge has an options screener, equally well as a scheme builder, while Vanguard does not offer an options particular screening joyride .

Although Vanguard ’ randomness charts are customizable, there is no technical analysis available and the customization is limited. Merrill Edge ’ sulfur MarketPro has wide graph and customization capabilities with streaming real-time data. Both Merrill ’ s web and mobile platforms have limited charting capabilities that are enough for fooling, long-run investors to trade on the go. overall, Merrill Edge has a substantially better volunteer than Vanguard as it besides includes news from more than 30 sources, a barter estimate generator, robust third base party inquiry, a DRIP platform, and more. You can still strengthen your fiscal toolbox with plenty of do-it-yourself resources with Vanguard, but the majority of this agent ‘s tools are centered around retirement planning.

portfolio psychoanalysis

similar to its account and research amenities, Merrill ’ s portfolio analysis capabilities are exceptional. Merrill ’ s Portfolio Story is a proprietorship tool that shows a dispatch breakdown of your portfolio, not only by sectors and holdings but besides by performance, analyst ratings, and MSCI ESG scores. It ‘s a valuable piece of portfolio psychoanalysis engineering and should be specially helpful to new investors. Vanguard ’ s Portfolio reports and analysis aren ’ thyroxine as robust but they are updated in real clock time on the Vanguard web site. It is besides customizable and you will have the ability to aggregate holdings from away accounts. Both platforms lack trade journals arsenic well as the ability to calculate the tax impact of a future trade. Overall, however, Merrill Edge has a much better portfolio analysis offer than Vanguard .


Both Vanguard and Merrill Edge provide educational resources for their customers. The focus of Vanguard ’ sulfur content is on helping you set fiscal goals and create a plan of action on how to reach them. In summation to blogs, articles, webcasts, and early educational resources, Vanguard besides offers life stage planning tools that are useful for do-it-yourself and novice investors. With Merrill Edge ‘s investor education, you can pick an induct know horizontal surface or a topic—such as investing & markets, stocks, ETFs, options, reciprocal funds, margin, and others. You can besides learn about diverse investment topics through a serial of courses that go from basic to more sophisticated strategies. Although both Merrill and Vanguard offer a solid department of education, we found Merrill to be the better option in terms of education due to its across-the-board choice of topics and deeper dives into them .

Customer Service

Vanguard ’ s customer service is lacking when compared to Merrill Edge. It does not have 24/7 phone support, on-line chew the fat, and you can not speak with a live agent. furthermore, you will only have access to a fiscal adviser if you are a Vanguard Personal Services Advisor client. Merrill Edge has 24/7 earphone back, on-line new world chat, and the add ability to get in-person digest at most Bank of America branches. When it comes to customer service, Merrill Edge has a firm advantage over Vanguard .


Although both brokers have security features in coarse, Merrill has an advantage over Vanguard in this category because of its extra features, including a soft keepsake for login and bad trade mandate that is available through text, call, and e-mail. Merrill besides has a device token that is offered through the SafePass card for bad trade authority. On top of all this, Merrill Edge besides has a higher sum loss restrict of $ 1 billion, while Vanguard has an aggregate terminus ad quem of $ 250 million .

Our verdict

We recommend Merrill Edge in most situations because of its advantages in being a more divers broke. If you ’ re already a Bank of America customer, choosing Merrill Edge may be a no brainer as Merrill Edge seamlessly integrates with the bank experience. even if you ’ re not a BoA customer, many investors will enjoy Merrill ’ s proprietary and robust third-party research and portfolio psychoanalysis tools. Compared to Vanguard, Merrill Edge ’ south platform is more intuitive when it comes to the trade have and it offers more explanation and research amenities that would be valuable to investors of all feel levels .

Merrill Edge besides outperforms Vanguard when it comes to security, trade technology, education, and customer service l. All things considered, we found Merrill Edge to be the better overall brokerage platform for most investors. The one exception, however, is if you are looking to be a buy and hold investor. If that is the encase, Vanguard can be a more cost effective broke to do this with, despite the lack of bells and whistles on its platform.


Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of on-line brokers. Our reviews are the resultant role of months of evaluating all aspects of an on-line broker ’ second platform, including the exploiter experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security system, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rate scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring organization.

Read our full methodology .

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Category : Finance

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