Margin lending at Merrill Edge® is a flexible line of credit that can be used for almost any purpose. Learn more below about margin lending, including the potential advantages and risks.


How does margin work?

  • Margin is an extension of credit, using margin eligible securities held as collateral.
  • In general, there is no set repayment schedule. You can repay any loan amount at any time by making a deposit or selling securities, as long as you maintain the required level of equity in your account.
  • You can use your margin loan to buy additional securities or withdraw funds for other purposes.
  • Margin interest is charged on the money you borrow over the time the loan remains outstanding. Margin interest rates are based on the total loan amount and are subject to change at any time.


You purchase 200 shares of a $50 stock for a total investment of $10,000
You borrow $5,000
on margin
You invest $5,000
of your own money
Current market value:
Your total stock value: $10,000
$0Footnotes 1,2
If you invest only $5,000 of your own money and $0 on margin
Your total stock value: $5,000
$0Footnotes 1,2
Footnote 1 After paying back borrowed funds
Footnote 2 Interest charges, commissions and fees not included
Ways to use margin loans*
Investment financing
  • Market opportunities
  • Portfolio diversification*
  • Advanced trading strategies**
Overdraft protection (margin loan)
  • Visa® card transactions
  • Checks and Bill Pay transactions
Short-term borrowing
  • Unexpected expenses
* Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
** Examples of advanced trading strategies may include certain types of options trading and short selling. For more information, please refer to the Merrill Edge Margin Handbook (PDF).

Margin rates and charges

The margin rate you pay is based on your total loan amount. The applicable margin interest rate fluctuates based on current market conditions, and it is subject to change at any time. The margin interest you are charged is based on the amount of money borrowed and the length of time the loan is outstanding.
Call 855.332.5920855.332.5920 for more information about our latest rates.

Advantages & Risks

Margin borrowing is not for everyone. Make sure you understand the advantages and risks.
Access to additional funds without selling your securities
Borrowing against your assets to meet short-term cash needs, rather than selling your securities, may allow you to keep your investment strategy on track, including potentially deferring tax implications that might result from selling securities.*
*Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.
Increased profit potential
A margin account may increase your profit potential by leveraging your margin eligible securities to buy additional securities on credit.
Advanced trading and hedging strategies
Margin provides access to various advanced trading strategies designed to take advantage of short-term opportunities, generate income or hedge against other investment risks.*
* Examples of advanced trading strategies may include certain types of options trading and short selling. For more information, please refer to the Merrill Edge Margin Handbook (PDF).
Potential loss and liquidation
Loss in value of securities held as margin collateral may force the liquidation of securities in your account to satisfy margin calls, and we may do so without contacting you; in addition, margin interest charges will increase your margin debit balance and will decrease your account's value.
Risk of amplified losses
Potential losses may be significantly greater due to leverage if there is adverse market movement. Your losses can potentially be greater than the amount that you invest.
Advanced trading strategies risks
Advanced trading strategies can be subject to significant price volatility, and trading losses can greatly exceed income or profit potential in some cases. For additional information, please reference the Merrill Edge Margin Handbook (PDF).

Getting Started

Open a new account and add margin

Open a Merrill Edge online investing and trading account.*
Select the "Margin" option to apply for the Margin Lending Program.
Fund your account with at least $2,000 in cash or margin eligible securities.

Add margin to an existing account

If you already have an existing, eligible Merrill Edge online investing and trading account, funded with at least $2,000 in cash or margin eligible securities, you can easily apply for a margin account online.*
* Margin cannot be added to Retirement Accounts, UTMA/ UGMA accounts or Merrill Guided Investing accounts.
Need help? Call us 24/7 at 855.332.5920855.332.5920


Frequently asked questions

Your loan, or debit balance, is an open-ended collateralized loan. You may keep the loan open for as long as you choose, provided you comply with the terms of the account and Merrill Lynch is satisfied with the conditions of your margin account.
You can reduce or pay off your debit balance (which includes margin interest accrued) by depositing cash into your account or by liquidating securities. The proceeds from the liquidation will be applied to your debit balance.
Margin trading can begin once the account is fully approved, and your account is updated to reflect margin buying power.

Additional resources

Margin in-depth
For a detailed understanding of what margin is and how it works, download the Merrill Edge Margin Handbook (PDF).
Margin rates

More about small business retirement plans

Margin in-depth
For a detailed understanding of what margin is and how it works, download the Merrill Edge Margin Handbook (PDF).
Margin rates

Important disclosures

Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Certain requirements must be met to trade options. Before engaging in the purchase or sale of options, investors should understand the nature of and extent of their rights and obligations and be aware of the risks involved in investing with options. Prior to buying or selling an option, clients must receive the options disclosure document "Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options." Call the Investment Center at 1.877.653.4732 for a copy. A separate client agreement is needed.

When you purchase securities, you may pay for the securities in full, or if your account has been established as a margin account with the margin lending program, you may borrow part of the purchase price from Merrill Lynch. If you choose to borrow funds for your purchase, Merrill Lynch's collateral for the loan will be the securities purchased, other assets in your margin account, and your assets in any other accounts at Merrill Lynch. If the securities in your margin account decline in value, so does the value of the collateral supporting your loan, and, as a result, we can take action, such as to issue a margin call and/or sell securities in any of your accounts held with us, in order to maintain the required equity in your account. If your account has a Visa® card and/or checks, you may also create a margin debit if your withdrawals (by Visa card, checks, preauthorized debits, FTS or other transfers) exceed the sum of any available free credit balances plus available money account balances (such as bank deposit balances or money market funds). Please refer to your account documents for more information.

Before opening a margin account, you should carefully review the terms governing margin loans. For Individual Investor Accounts, these terms are contained in the Margin Lending Program Client Agreement. For all other accounts, the terms are in your account agreement and disclosures. It is important that you fully understand the risks involved in using margin. These risks include the following:

  • You can lose more funds than you deposit in the margin account. A decline in the value of securities that are bought on margin may require you to provide additional funds to us to avoid the forced sale of those securities or other securities in your account(s).
  • We can force the sale of securities in your account(s). If the equity in your account falls below the maintenance margin requirements or Merrill Lynch's higher "house" requirements, we can sell the securities in any of your accounts held by us to cover the margin deficiency. You also will be responsible for any shortfall in the account after such as sale.
  • We can sell your securities without contacting you. Some investors mistakenly believe that they must be contacted for a margin call to be valid, and that securities in their accounts cannot be liquidated to meet the call unless they are contacted first. This is not the case. We will attempt to notify you of margin calls, but we are not required to do so. Even if we have contacted you and provided a specific date by which you can meet a margin call, we can still take necessary steps to protect our financial interests, including immediately selling the securities without notice to you.
  • You are not entitled to choose which securities in your account(s) are liquidated or sold to meet a margin call. Because the securities are collateral for the margin loan, we have the right to decide which security to sell in order to protect our interests.
  • We can increase our "house" maintenance margin requirements at any time and are not required to provide you advance written notice. These changes in our policy may take effect immediately and may result in the issuance of a maintenance margin call. Your failure to satisfy the call may cause us to liquidate or sell securities in your account(s).
  • You are not entitled to an extension of time on a margin call. While an extension of time to meet margin requirements may be available to you under certain conditions, you don't have a right to the extension.
If you have any questions or concerns about margin and the margin lending program, please contact the Merrill Edge Investment Center at 855.332.5920855.332.5920

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Investing in securities involves risks, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.

Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

Merrill Edge is available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S), and consists of the Merrill Edge Advisory Center (investment guidance) and self-directed online investing.

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