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 Firstrade 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 more than Firstrade for placing regular stock trades ($6.95 and $4.95, respectively). For options trading, Merrill Edge has a base fee of $6.95, and Firstrade a base fee of $4.95. At a difference of $0.10 per contract, Firstrade'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. Firstrade alongside Merrill Edge offer clients Stock Trading, Options Trading and Mutual Funds. Looking at mutual funds, Firstrade offers its clients access to 12191 different mutual funds while Merrill Edge has 7649 available funds, a difference of 4,542.00. Commission free ETFs also should not be forgotten, Firstrade offers 12 versus Merrill Edge's total of 0.
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 Firstrade and Merrill Edge have virtual trading. Taking a look at mobile trading, Firstrade gives clients access to an iPhone App and Android App while Merrill Edge has an 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 and Debit Cards are available to clients of Firstrade while Merrill Edge offers clients Checking Accounts, Savings Accounts, Debit Cards, Credit Cards and Mortgage Loans. On the whole, when it comes to tools, research, and trading on the go, Merrill Edge posted awards for Best in Class - Research in 2014, while Firstrade found itself with none of these.
Overall, Merrill Edge takes the upper hand with 4.00 stars over Firstrade's 3.50 stars.