Comparing brokers side by side is no easy task. For our 2017 Broker Review, we assessed 16 brokers on 308 different variables to find the best online broker
. Yielding a database of over 5,000 data points, let's compare Charles Schwab vs Merrill Edge.
To start this comparison, first, we will take a look at the online broker commission rates for placing regular stock and options trades. Merrill Edge, with its regular stock trades costing $6.95, is more expensive than Charles Schwab's rate of $4.95 per trade. For options trading, Merrill Edge has a base fee of $6.95, and Charles Schwab a base fee of $4.95. Charles Schwab's per contract rate of $0.65 is less than Merrill Edge which charges $0.75. It's important to note that not all brokers charge a flat fee per trade. Thus, it is important to read the full commission notes for each broker, which we include with each online broker review
Next to commission rates, being able to trade what you want is important. Merrill Edge offers clients Stock Trading, Options Trading and Mutual Funds while Charles Schwab offers Stock Trading, Options Trading, Mutual Funds and Futures Trading. Looking at mutual funds, Merrill Edge boasts an offering of 7649 mutual funds compared to Charles Schwab's 5165 available funds. Commission free ETFs can also be valuable for customers, with Charles Schwab having the upper hand thanks to its 229 available commission free ETFs compared to Merrill Edge's offering of 0.
Trading access aside, by comparing popular features and functionality, we can break down relevant differences between both brokers. Neither Charles Schwab and Merrill Edge offer virtual trading. Taking a look at mobile trading, Charles Schwab and Merrill Edge both have a iPhone App, iPad App and Android App. Not to be left out, online banking is also a nice benefit for many investors, and some brokerages provide these services to clients. Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts, Debit Cards, Credit Cards and Mortgage Loans are available to customers of Charles Schwab and Merrill Edge. On the whole, when it comes to tools, research, and mobile trading, Charles Schwab was rated Best in Class - Platforms & Tools and Best in Class - Research in 2017, while Merrill Edge was rated Best in Class - Research.
Overall, Charles Schwab boasts 4.50 stars versus Merrill Edge's 4.00 stars.