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


Update 3/18/21: According to somebody on the BH forums, Merrill Edge will be stopping all cash bonuses as of 4/15. This bonus will continue to be available until then. Hat tip to reader SamL

Update 1/17/21: Deal is back and valid until April 15, 2021. This $1,000 deal is better.

Update 4/15/20: Extended until July 15th, 2020.

Update 10/3/19: Deal is back and valid until April 15, 2020.

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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