The Best Brokers for Options Trading Online - NerdWallet

The Best Brokers for Options Trading Online

Options are a useful and versatile investment strategy for investors looking to diversify.  If you’re looking for the best online brokers for trading options in addition to stocks, you need to minimize your total costs per contract or trade.  The primary difference between futures and options trading is that if an investor purchases options, this gives them the right to buy or sell the asset at a given date rather than requiring them to.  Meanwhile, an investor who holds a futures contract is obligated to carry out the contract at the time and price specified.

NerdWallet’s Top Picks: The Best Overall Online Brokers for Trading Options

competitive pricing with sophisticated tools and quality execution

  • A top option for volatility traders, it provides estimated volatility of an option chain with at-a-glance volatility graphs
  • Commission Per Trade: $9.99 +$0.75 per contract
  • Account Minimum: $2,000
  • Promotion: Trade free for 60 days and get up to $600 when you open an account
  • Learn more about TD Ameritrade
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  • Features the most pricing flexibility as well as the top tools for traders
  • Commission Per Trade: $4.95 + $0.50 per contract
  • Account Minimum: $2,000
  • Promotion: Trade commission-free for your first 60 days (with promotion code 60FREE and $5,000 account balance. Maximum 100 trades)
  • Learn more about OptionsHouse 
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Lowest Cost Options Trading

if price is the most important

  • Combines the cheapest all around pricing with a fast and powerful platform
  • Commission Per Trade: $5 per trade + $0.15 per contract
  • Account Minimum: $2,000
  • Promotion: Offers a free online trading simulator with $100,000 in virtual funds
  • Learn more about Choicetrade
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  • The most advanced, complex options trading platform
  • Commission Per contract: $0.60
  • Account Minimum: $10,000
  • Promotion: None
  • Learn more about Lightspeed
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Best Data Analysis Tools and Software

best data tools with easily customizable features

  • Rated the best platform technology overall by Barron’s, offers some of the fastest trade execution combined with powerful analysis tools
  • Commission Per Trade: $0.20-$0.70 per contract
  • Account Minimum: $5,000
  • Promotion: offering 90 days of free trades
  • Learn more about TradeStation
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  • The most customizable features
  • Commission Per contract: $0.25-$0.70 per contract
  • Account Minimum: $10,000
  • Promotion: $3,000 minimum deposit if under age 26
  • Learn more about Interactive Brokers 
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Selecting the Right Trading Account for Your Needs

If you know exactly what premium features you’re looking for and don’t see them listed above, there’s an easy way to search all available brokerage accounts that make trading options and futures available to you.  Just plug-and-chug: by inputting your desired features into NerdWallet’s brokerage comparison tool, it returns the best accounts that meet your requirements, so you can compare and contrast your options to find the lowest cost alternative.

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  • Dino Gomez

    Although Trade Station I’ve heard has a great platform and automated trading solution…. I’ve worked with the guys at Altavest and they also have an amazing solution worth considering. I have to drop them a link since they have been great to work with:

  • Dan

    FYI, TDA will give you free trades for signing up – Yes. However, the price per contract still applys. The only thing you save is the 9.95 base fee. Not worth it if you ask me.

  • Gary Sandow

    TDA also charges a $20 assignment fee. Fee structure makes it too expensive to use.

  • faxfound

    Two of my friends use this softwre with me. we love this software.? Still my favorite is ANDY LANK CASH FLOW

  • greg has $2.5 commission and for options also charges $.15/contract

  • greg

    my previous post was incorrect…. charges $2.50 plus $.5/trade… so for less than 5 contract trades is a better deal than Choicetrade, But Choicetrade has them beat on any trade that is larger.

  • Marie Louise

    Nice blog, this
    post is very helpful for me. I am looking for articles about trading tips. When
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    Taker Mentoring for good tips about option trading.

  • James Steen

    Since OptionHouse and TradeMonster merger I am experiencing exceptionally slow execution on data requests and order entry; do not dare use this account for time sensitive trades. This is not happening with other brokers so know is not on my end. Is anyone else having this problem?

    • Kim M

      I have been option trading with tradeking. I don’t like their dashboard so I tried the optonhouse with free trades for 60 days. I found my orders (especially, the orders to close options) are not getting filled easily. I never had this problem with tradeking. It seems Optionhouse is really cheating on bid/ask spread.

  • LibertarianUSA42

    TD won’t even tell you how to qualify for upper level trading for options, that’s retarded, I will be taking my money elsewhere.