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 Interactive Brokers 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, with its regular stock trades costing $6.95, is more expensive than Interactive Brokers's rate of $0.00 (the broker charges a per share rate instead) per trade. Looking at trading options, Interactive Brokers's base fee is $0.00 while Merrill Edge's is $6.95. Contracts are pricier at Merrill Edge, costing $0.75 versus $0.70 at Interactive Brokers, a difference of $0.05 per contract. 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 provides its clients with Stock Trading, Options Trading and Mutual Funds while Interactive Brokers gives clients access to Stock Trading, Options Trading, Mutual Funds and Futures Trading. Looking at mutual funds, Interactive Brokers boasts an offering of 8026 compared to Merrill Edge's 7649 available funds. Commission free ETFs also should not be forgotten, with Interactive Brokers having the upper hand thanks to its 33 available ETFs compared to Merrill Edge's offering 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. Interactive Brokers offers virtual trading while Merrill Edge does not. Taking a look at mobile trading, Interactive Brokers 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 clients of Merrill Edge while Interactive Brokers offers clients none of these. On the whole, when it comes to tools, research, and trading on the go, Interactive Brokers finished with awards for Best in Class - Platforms & Tools and Best in Class - Mobile Trading in 2014, while Merrill Edge came up with Best in Class - Research.
Overall, both Interactive Brokers and Merrill Edge hold a 4.00 star rating.