Merits are a recent implementation to Torn City. They are earned by doing things that are reputable in the game, such as doing a certain amount of crimes, reaching a level of net worth, leveling to a certain level, among others. Each merit point should be treated as valuable, as they are non-transferable and rare.
Merits: 4 [use]
You will get something like this when you have Merits available for use. Clicking on the use button will send you to a page where you can decide on what to spend.