Comparing brokers side by side is no easy task. For our 2017 Broker Review
, we factored in 308 different variables to assess 16 different brokers. So when taking a look at Charles Schwab vs Merrill Edge, there is a huge database of information available to us.
To start this comparison, first we will take a look at the broker commission rates for placing regular stock and options trades. Merrill Edge charges $6.95 per stock trade which is $2.00 more than Charles Schwab which charges clients $4.95 per trade. With options, the base fees charged are $6.95 (Merrill Edge) and $4.95 (Charles Schwab). At a difference of $0.10 per contract, Charles Schwab's per contract rate of $0.65 is less than Merrill Edge which charges $0.75. Not all brokers charge a flat rate fee per trade though, so it is important to read the full commission notes to know the complete breakdown (go to any online broker review
page, then scroll to the "Commissions Notes" section).
Next to commission rates, being able to trade the instrument 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, Charles Schwab trails Merrill Edge by 2,484.00 total funds, with Merrill Edge offering 7649 and Charles Schwab offering 5165. Commission free ETFs also should not be forgotten, with Merrill Edge falling behind Charles Schwab, offering 0 commission free etfs compared to Charles Schwab's 229.
Lastly, taking a look at popular features and functionality, we can go a bit deeper to really break down the difference of both brokers. Neither broker offers 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 found at Charles Schwab alongside Merrill Edge. On the whole, when it comes to tools, research, and trading on the go, Charles Schwab was rated for Best in Class - Platforms & Tools and Best in Class - Research in 2014, while Merrill Edge was rated for Best in Class - Research.
Overall, Charles Schwab takes the upper hand with 4.50 stars over Merrill Edge's 4.00 stars.