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Best Options Trading Brokers and Platforms 2019

Jan. 3, 2019
Brokers, Investing
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NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent.

We spent over 300 hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. And to help you find the one that’s best for you, we’ve highlighted their pros, cons and current offers.

The best options brokers offer low commissions, solid trading tools, an abundance of high-quality research and the customer service necessary to support everyone from beginner investors to advanced traders. At least, that’s our take on what makes for the best brokers. Ask a dozen people what they prioritize and you may get a dozen different answers.

While most of the brokers on our list of best brokers for stock trading would be a good pick for options as well, this list highlights brokers that excel in areas that matter most to options traders. Many of the below brokers also appear on our list of best online trading platforms for day trading.

Unsure what you’re looking for? See our post on how to choose an options broker and our options 101 guide for more on what can make or break an options trading experience.

Best online stock brokers for options trading 2019

NerdWallet rating

Fees

$4.95

per trade + $0.65/contract

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Ally Invest’s robust trading platform and lineup of free research, charting, data and analytical tools make it a good choice for active traders. But it’s also appropriate for beginning investors who will appreciate that there is no account minimum and no annual fees.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low commissions.

  • No account minimum.

  • Strong web-based platform.

  • Robust research and tools.

Cons

  • No no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • No branches.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$6.95

per trade + $0.75/contract

Account minimum

$500

Promotion

Up to 500

commission-free trades with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

E-Trade has long been one of the most popular online brokers, largely because of its easy-to-use tools. They offer a tiered commission structure that favors frequent traders but can add up to high costs for casual investors.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Excellent customer support.

  • Access to extensive research.

  • Advanced mobile app.

  • Reduced commissions for frequent traders.

Cons

  • Higher commissions for low-volume traders.

  • Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$6.95

per trade + $0.75/contract

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

60

days of commission-free trades with qualifying deposit

The bottom line

TD Ameritrade makes up for higher-than-average trading commissions with better-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Large investment selection.

  • Free research.

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • No account minimum.

  • Good customer support.

Cons

  • Higher trade commission.

  • Costly broker-assisted trades.

  • High short-term ETF trading fee.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$5.00

per trade + $0.5/contract

Account minimum

$500

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

The bottom line

TradeStation is the gold standard among active stock, options and futures investors who rely on the broker’s high-octane trading platform, reams of research and sophisticated analytical tools. The firm offers three commission plans — flat-fee, per share/per contract and unbundled pricing plan (the latter two of which will be attractive to active traders). The lack of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds can be a turnoff to some investors.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • Comprehensive research.

  • Low commissions.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • No commission-free ETFs.

  • Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$0.01

per share + $0.7/contract

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

The bottom line

Interactive Brokers is a strong option for advanced, frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, low commissions and a quality trading platform. New traders might be turned off by inactivity fees, high balance requirements and a lack of educational resources.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low commissions.

  • Quality trading platform.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Low margin rates.

  • Wide investment selection.

Cons

  • Inactivity fees.

  • High minimum balance requirement.

  • Complex pricing.

  • Minimal educational resources.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$0.00

per trade + $0/contract

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

The bottom line

Robinhood is truly free: There are no hidden costs here. You’ll give up a few things in exchange for free trades — trading tools, research, education, investment options beyond stocks and ETFs — but if limiting costs is your No. 1 concern, Robinhood is a solid choice.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No commissions on stock trades.

  • No account minimum.

  • Streamlined interface.

Cons

  • No retirement accounts.

  • No mutual funds or bonds.

  • Limited customer support.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$3.00

per trade + $0.15/contract

Account minimum

$500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

The bottom line

EOption provides an efficient, no-frills platform for active investors who prioritize low costs over a fancy platform. The savings can be significant for advanced stock and options traders who have other sources for the research and data they need.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Deep discount commissions

  • Low margin rates

  • Can serve international investors

Cons

  • Very basic trading platform

  • Limited data and research

Read full review

Best options trading brokers: summary

Broker
Best
for
Highlights
Commissions
Promotion
Account minimum
Start investing
Ally Invest
Ally
Low minimum
No account minimum
$4.95/trade + $0.65/contract
$50-$3,500 in cash bonus + free trades with a qualifying deposit
$0

E*Trade

E*Trade
Trading platform
Professional-level trading platforms available for free
$6.95/trade + $0.75/contract; volume discount available
Up to 500 commission-free trades with deposit of $10,000 or more
$500; $0 for IRA
TD Ameritrade
Overall + User-friendly platform
Top research; powerful trading platforms; strong customer service
$6.95/trade + $0.75/contract
Trade commission-free for 60 days and get up to $600 back
$0
TradeStation
TradeStation
Trading platform
Advanced trading platform, speedy execution
Flat-fee pricing: $5 base + $0.50 per contract

Per-contract pricing: $1 per option contract (one contract minimum)
Open an IRA account and pay $4 per stock/ETF trade; $5,000 minimum
$2,000 for options trading
Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab
Research + User-friendly platform
Robust, free research offerings; extensive lineup of investor education options
$4.95/trade + $0.65/contract
Referral award for first-time clients; 500 commission-free trades for two years, with qualifying deposit of $100,000
$0
Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers
Overall + Research
Low commissions; superior trading tools; high-quality research
$0/trade + $0.70/contract
Special terms for clients 25 and younger
$0
Robinhood
Robinhood
Low costs + Low minimum
No commissions; no account minimum
$0
Refer a friend who joins Robinhood and you both earn a free share of stock
$0
EOption
Low cost
Good for active traders seeking low costs
$3/trade + $0.15/contract
None
$500

» Need help opening an account? Here’s our guide to brokerage accounts.

James Royal contributed to this roundup.