Posted by Chuck on September 23, 2018
Brokerage Bonuses merrill-edge-brokerage-bonus

Published on September 23rd, 2018 | by Chuck

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[Expired] Merrill Edge Brokerage: Up To $900 Cash Bonus for Moving Over your Investments

The Offer

Direct Link to offer

Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can open a new Merrill Edge cash management or IRA account and get the following bonus tiers when you use offer code 900ME:

  • Transfer $200,000 or more and get a $900 bonus (standard is $600)
  • Transfer $100,000 or more and get a $375 bonus (standard is $250)
  • Transfer $50,000 or more and get a $225 bonus (standard is $150)
  • Transfer $20,000 or more and get a $150 bonus (standard is $100)

The Fine Print

  • Offer valid for new and existing individual Merrill Edge IRAs or Cash Management Accounts (CMAs) opened by April 15 30, 2019.
  • You must enroll during account opening by entering the offer code in the online application or by providing it when speaking with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ at 888.MER.EDGE (888.637.3343) or at select Bank of America financial centers. You are solely responsible for enrolling or asking to be enrolled in the offer.
  • Must fund your account with qualifying net new assets within 45 days of account opening. Assets transferred from other accounts at Bank of America, MLPF&S, U.S. Trust, or 401(k) accounts administered by MLPF&S do not count towards qualifying net new assets.
  • You must be enrolled in Preferred Rewards as of 90 days from account funding.
  • After 90 days of meeting the funding criteria, your cash reward will be determined by the qualifying net new assets in your account (irrespective of any losses or gains due to trading or market volatility).
  • Offer is limited to one CMA and one IRA, with no more than two enrolled accounts per accountholder.
  • Eligible Merrill Edge IRAs limited to Rollover, Traditional, Roth and owner only SEP IRA.
  • The Merrill Edge IRA or CMA may be a Merrill Edge Online Investing and Trading account, Merrill Edge Advisory Account or Merrill Edge Guided Investing account.
  • You may be eligible for a different or better offer. Please contact us for more information.
  • This offer does not apply to business/corporate accounts, investment club accounts, partnership accounts and certain fiduciary accounts held with Merrill Edge, or to any types of accounts (including IRAs or CMAs) held with other business units of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S).
  • Your one-time cash reward will be deposited into your Merrill Edge IRA or CMA within two weeks following the end of the 90 day period. If your account is enrolled in an investment advisory program, such as Merrill Edge Advisory Account or Merrill Edge Guided Investing, any cash reward deposited into your account will be subject to the program fee and other terms of the investment advisory program.
  • Tax Disclaimer: The cash reward will be credited as investment earnings to your account. Merrill Lynch may issue an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 (or other appropriate form) to you that reflects the value of the reward. If the cash reward is credited to your IRA, the IRS may view the reward as taxable income or as a contribution to the IRA (if it is an excess contribution, it may be subject to an annual 6% excise tax if not timely distributed). Please consult your tax advisor for more information regarding the proper tax treatment. (Note: I didn’t get a 1099 when I did one of these Merrill brokerage bonuses in the past.)
  • Customers not enrolled in Preferred Rewards as of 90 days after funding will receive the cash reward without the 50% bonus: assets of $20,000 to $49,999 in cash and/or securities receive $100; for $50,000-$99,999, receive $150; for $100,000-$199,999, receive $250; for $200,000 or more, receive $600.
  • Until April 15, 2019, when you enroll in the 50% More offer, you are consenting to be enrolled in the Preferred Rewards Program within 30 days of funding your new Merrill Edge account with a minimum of $20,000. During the promotional period, the Preferred Rewards requirement to maintain your combined balances for a three month calendar period will be waived.
  • You must have or open an eligible personal checking account (either Bank of America Core Checking® OR Bank of America Interest Checking®) as well as a Merrill Edge IRA or CMA account to be enrolled in Preferred Rewards. All Preferred Rewards benefits available in the tier associated with your combined balance level will be active within 30 days of enrollment.

Our Verdict

There are lots of brokerage bonuses available, but many of us are especially interested in the Merrill Edge offers since with $100,000 invested you’ll get Platinum Honors status with Bank of America which makes you eligible to earn 2.62% cash back on all spend with the Premium Rewards or Travel Rewards card.

Merrill Edge has a regular new member bonus of up to $600, and this special $900 offer is available only for Preferred Rewards members. We did see a slightly better $1,000 bonus back in 2016 which a lot of us jumped on then, and we also have seen more targeted $1k bonuses which are harder to get. (Bonus is still available, but it’s pegged “for MoneyShow attendees only”, and some readers have had issues in the past with using the promo code, YMMV.) I’ve also heard that the $1,000 bonus tier levels is sometimes available when applying over the phone or in branch with an advisor, so you can definitely try that. Otherwise, this $900 gets you pretty close to the best bonus. You can even do two bonuses, one for a taxable account and one for an IRA.

The bigger issue with this bonus is the chicken-egg problem: for many readers, the primary goal of using Merrill Edge is to become Preferred Rewards, but this bonus is only for someone already a Preferred Rewards member.

However, a look at the fine print indicates that this should work for new Preferred Rewards members as well: the terms state that so long as you’re enrolled in Preferred Rewards 90 days after transferring the funds, you’ll be eligible for the increased bonus. So for example, if you open up an investment account and transfer over $100k of investments, you should become Preferred Rewards 30 days later (you’ll be at Gold level due to your 3-month average, eventually progressing to Platinum Honors level), and when you hit 90 days from funding you’ll already be Preferred Rewards and will be eligible for the 50% increased bonus. Might be worth confirming with a banker first to ensure you’ll get the increased bonus, but that’s how I understand it.

Thanks to reader B.R. for sending this in



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Chris
Chris

I did this a few months ago when the bonus was this high and started three new IRAs. All three received their respective bonus once the money was transferred in. I thought I’d mention it since it seems to say it’s limited to one IRA.

Credit
Credit

You opened three IRAs of the same kind? They let you do that?

Chris
Chris

Two Roths, one traditional. I switched jobs and rolled over my 401k into one Roth and the traditional (my 401k had roth/traditional portions). Afterwards I decided to move my other Roth over to Merril also so I could combine them.
I figured I’d try to open a new Roth for the bonus. Worked fine, all of them got the bonus 3+ months ago and I consolidated the Roths together after the bonus posted.

I’m pretty sure you can have as many IRAs as you want as long as you don’t contribute more than your allowed across all of them.

Steve
Steve

The bonus terms say “Offer is limited to one CMA and one IRA, with no more than two enrolled accounts per accountholder”, so it’s unexpected that they gave you bonuses for 3 IRAs.

Sparky
Sparky

I assume each IRA or portion was at least 20k?

mift
mift

There is also currently a (slightly) higher bonus
https://www.merrilledge.com/offers/1000offer
but with conditions “This limited time offer is valid only for MoneyShow attendees” which may or may not be enforced. (It also has a longer holding period). If it is enforced (YMMV) you only get the regular bonus. So there’s a risk.

bax
bax

That offer has been around for a while. It was posted here before. Those who signed up for that offer should have DPs by now.

Andrew
Andrew

I did the Money Show $1000 offer back in February. I never bothered to sign up for anything at Money Show; I just used the special link to get the higher bonus. Merrill never asked for anything more. After six months and a couple days, they deposited the $1000 bonus into my account.

Chucks
Chucks

Interesting. If I’m reading this correctly, a balance of $25k ?immediately? allows for fee free trades?

“You may also qualify for 30 $0 online stock and ETF traders per month if you have $25,000 or more in combined balances in your Bank of America deposit accounts or $25,000 or more in combined cash balances in your Merrill Edge self-directed Merrill Edge online brokerage accounts and/or IRA accounts through 09/30/17.”

I’m not an active trader but would want to minimize costs associated with getting cash into an index fund ETF/mutual fund

Lrdx
Lrdx

Yes, immediately.

Mike
Mike

Careful if you want to invest in securities worth less than $5 and/or $300 mil in market cap with this platform. They are making the process harder to sell them after Sep 30: it will involve a review – so delay in execution and maybe cancellation.

Dan
Dan

Some ETFs have market caps lower than that!

Steve
Steve

They also don’t let you buy GBTC (and I think also some other ETFs that they think are “risky”).

Roger
Roger

If you already got the offer this year , I dont see anything in the prequisites that disqualifies you ! Anybody know about this requirement?

Credit
Credit

That is BS.

“If the cash reward is credited to your IRA, the IRS may view the reward as taxable income or as a contribution to the IRA ”

Why not consider it as interest paid just as it does for all the other accounts.

Celia
Celia

If it’s credited to an IRA, it’d be a contribution (interest earned as a bonus, not on the actual balance, so new money). If it’s credited to a taxable entity, it would count as interest paid. If they fail to give you a 1099 for interest earned on a taxable account like Chuck said, it’s really no big deal unless you’re audited. When it comes to IRAs and retirement accounts, there are so many regulations, it can become a big deal so they’re probably being cautious.

Steve
Steve

Stuff like that has been holding me back from doing an IRA bonus; I don’t want to deal with a mess if I already contributed the yearly max to the IRA, and the bonus also counts as a contribution.

But data points I’ve seen for IRA bonuses at other brokerages is that it’s not counted as a contribution. So this disclaimer might just be covering their butts for very rare possibilities, e.g., there’s a chance that the IRS could make a ruling in the future that IRA bonuses must be treated a specific way, but currently it isn’t treated that way. (But, it’d be nice if someone could post a recent data point for a Merrill Edge IRA specifically.)

mift
mift

At Merrill Edge, and most brokerages, a bonus paid into an IRA is like investment returns, not a contribution, and not taxable (apart from that for a Trad IRA you pay tax when you withdraw, but that’s just like any other returns within Trad IRA).

I expect that for bonus in taxable, it is reported on 1099-MISC only if at least $600, as DPs suggest.

Credit
Credit

This is not clear.
“Offer valid for new and existing individual Merrill Edge IRAs or Cash Management Accounts (CMAs) opened by April 15, 2019.”

So existing accounts just add new money by April/2019?

Randy
Randy

Can you add this is only for US citizens / permanent residents only ? Folks on a visa are not eligible to open an account

vipul
vipul

Yup, they are pretty uptight regarding that. I was a permanent resident and even then I was unable to open an account since I didn’t have my physical green card. I came on an immigrant visa and USCIS guidelines and website clearly show that immigrant visa stamp in your passport serves as a legal proof of permanent residence for up to 1 year. But not for them.

TravisZ
TravisZ

“Offer is limited to one CMA and one IRA, with no more than two enrolled accounts per accountholder.”

That means if I have a $205k Roth and $220k taxable accounts and transfer both to Merrill. I would get $900 x 2 = $1800?

mift
mift

Yes.

Jam Fro
Jam Fro

I would vote for a separate tab on the top, Bank, Credit Card, Brokerage

AndyK
AndyK

Gee whiz question… is one able to transfer individual CUSIP corporate bonds in between brokerage accounts? Have some individual corporate bonds from the same company with varying maturity dates which I would have no problem transferring a few of them, but not all of them…

RD
RD

I believe you should be able to. I’ve been able to do partial asset transfers in the past. You can always direct the brokerage to do what you want on the phone even if you can’t online.

I’ve generally been impressed by the competence of the brokerage CSRs in Merill and Fidelity.

AllwaysLearning22
AllwaysLearning22

It seems the $1000 offer is back (valid until 10/16/2018) – https://www.merrilledge.com/offers/1000offer

Use offer code SFMS18

See https://www.doctorofcredit.com/merrill-edge-brokerage-bonus-1000-cash/

It seems this offer is better ($150 bonus) if you don’t cross the $50K threshold. The SFMS18 is better if you can sign up by 10/16 and transfer > $50K

slut
slut

There are potential issues from using the money show code, as noted here and in other threads

AllwaysLearning22
AllwaysLearning22

Could you please clarify what you mean by “money show code” ?

AllwaysLearning22
AllwaysLearning22

Aha, I see. You mean the verbiage on that page which says “This limited time offer is valid only for MoneyShow attendees”

There is at least 1 DP this is not enforced – https://www.doctorofcredit.com/merrill-edge-brokerage-up-to-900-cash-bonus-for-moving-over-your-investments/#comment-646446

But the difference makes sense only for the:
$100K – $375 vs. $500
$200K+ – $900 vs $1,000

The smallest one is better here
$20K – $150 vs $100

The $50K is practically the same
$50K – $225 vs $250

slut
slut

Anyone know if this is churnable? If so, how long does the previous ML account need to be closed?

Bmanamex
Bmanamex

Fyi, you can open multiple accounts in order to hit a level. Example, open a brokerage, rollover and Roth and transfer in money from your other accounts from the outside to meet your asset level.

Tim
Tim

If you transfer from another brokerage for this bonus, make sure to ask Merrill for an ACATS fee reimbursement.

Merrill doesn’t publicly advertise this as far as I can tell, but my banker told me they will reimburse up to $150 in transfer fees if you ask, and provide documentation for the transfer out fee. I just got back the $50 that Ally Invest charged me.

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