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Trading with options

Exercise leverage and work to manage risk

Options trading gives you the opportunity to buy or sell a particular asset at a specific price within a set period of time. You can use options to pursue objectives such as managing risk, generating income and increasing your buying power. Options carry a high level of risk and may not be suitable for all investors.
May be a good move for:
  • Managing risk
  • Generating income
  • Downside protection
  • Leveraged buying
  • Experienced investors only
Call us
Or call us 24/7 at

Get up to

when you open and fund a new Merrill Edge investment account or IRA.

Options made simple

A stock option is a contract that gives one party the right to purchase or sell a stated number of shares of a stock at a specified price. The price at which the shares may be purchased or sold is known as the strike or exercise price. The right to exercise lasts for a stated period of time. The option expires if it is not exercised on or before the expiration date. Trading options offers risks and potential advantages.
Whatever your outlook, from bullish to neutral to bearish, Merrill Edge can help you apply your strategy.

Bullish outlook

  • Long calls
  • Uncovered puts
  • Covered calls
  • Married puts
  • Bull call spreads
  • Bull put spreads

Neutral outlook

  • Straddles
  • Strangles

Bearish outlook

  • Long puts
  • Uncovered calls
  • Bear call spreads
  • Bear put spreads
Standard, mini and jumbo options let you trade contracts that are the right size for you. Mini options let you trade options on higher-priced equities in blocks of 10 shares rather than 100.

Pricing and fees

Saving more on every trade is easy with Merrill. Compare and you'll see we offer some of the lowest online pricing in the industry.
per online trade
per contract
Unlimited $0 online option trades with no trade or balance minimums.*

Get started

It's as easy as 1-2-3


Open an account

Open your account online in minutes. Here's what you'll need:
  • Social Security number and date of birth
  • A valid mailing and email address
  • Employment information (including company name, address and start date)
  • General financial information (such as annual income and household net worth)
  • Names and dates of birth for any beneficiaries
Or call us 24/7 at 866.460.1282

Fund your account

There are several ways to fund your new account:

Transfer Cash

Fund instantly from your eligible linked Bank of America® bank account or Merrill Edge investment account.
Up to 3 business days
Fund within a few days from an eligible linked account at another financial institution.

Wire transfer

Same day
Wire funds electronically from another financial institution.

Write a check

3 to 5 days
Fund your account by mailing a personal, cashier's or bank check.

Transfer accounts or securities

8 or more days
Transfer an existing brokerage account, IRA account or securities from another financial institution. You can also transfer securities instantly between your Merrill Edge accounts.

Start investing

Create an investment strategy
Use the Options Strategy Builder to quickly identify option strategies that match your risk tolerance, outlook and goals for eligible securities in your portfolio and watchlists.
Start your search
Provided your options trading privileges are approved, search for specific contracts that may be right for you with our powerful options screener.
Use our options chains
Search available option contracts for a particular optionable security. Clear, interactive listings include all the put and call option contract details, such as strike prices, premiums, open interest and volume.
Looking for investment advice and guidance?
Meet with a Financial Solutions Advisor at more than 2,000 select Bank of America financial centers.
Or call us 24/7 at 866.460.1282
Merrill waives its commissions for all online stock, ETF and option trades placed in a Merrill Edge® Self-Directed brokerage account. Brokerage fees associated with, but not limited to, margin transactions, special stock registration/gifting, account transfer and processing and termination apply. $0 option trades are subject to a $0.65 per-contract fee. Other fees and restrictions may apply. Pricing is subject to change without advance notice.

Other fees may apply. Free and $0 means there is no commission charged for these trades. $0 option trades are subject to a $0.65 per-contract fee. Sales are subject to a transaction fee of between $0.01 and $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. There are costs associated with owning ETFs. To learn more about Merrill pricing, visit our Pricing page.

Important disclosures

Certain banking and brokerage accounts may be ineligible for real-time money movement, including but not limited to transfers to/from bank IRAs (CD, Money Market), 529s, Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking™, Credit Cards and transfers from IRAs, Loans (HELOC, LOC, Mortgage) and accounts held in the military bank. Accounts eligible for real-time transfers will be displayed online in the to/from drop down menu on the transfer screen.
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 (PDF)." Call the Investment Center at 877.653.4732 for a copy. A separate client agreement is needed. Multi-leg option orders are charged one base commission per order, plus a per contract charge.