OptionsHouse 2017 Review

Dayana Yochim
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Investors won’t miss a thing if they step away from their desk to grab a sandwich. Simply set up a trigger alert. When the event occurs you’ll push notification (via email, text, desktop or all of the above) so you can submit an already-saved order ticket from the web or via the OptionsHouse mobile app.
Dayana Yochim
Investors won’t miss a thing if they step away from their desk to grab a sandwich. Simply set up a trigger alert. When the event occurs you’ll push notification (via email, text, desktop or all of the above) so you can submit an already-saved order ticket from the web or via the OptionsHouse mobile app.
Dayana Yochim
1/3

Nerdwallet rating

OptionsHouse is ideal for active stock traders and option investors who want to save money on trading costs without giving up on high-quality tools and service. Its low-cost commissions ($4.95 per trade for stocks and options), $0 account minimum and professional-grade research and platform earn it NerdWallet’s five-star rating.

That said, OptionsHouse is not a one-size-fits-all brokerage solution; mutual fund and exchange-traded fund investors can find a much better fit elsewhere.

Investors won’t miss a thing if they step away from their desk to grab a sandwich. Simply set up a trigger alert. When the event occurs you’ll push notification (via email, text, desktop or all of the above) so you can submit an already-saved order ticket from the web or via the OptionsHouse mobile app.
Dayana Yochim
Investors won’t miss a thing if they step away from their desk to grab a sandwich. Simply set up a trigger alert. When the event occurs you’ll push notification (via email, text, desktop or all of the above) so you can submit an already-saved order ticket from the web or via the OptionsHouse mobile app.
Dayana Yochim
1/3

Pros

  • Low commissions
  • Options trading capabilities
  • Virtual trading platform

Cons

  • Limited commission-free ETFs
  • No NTF mutual funds
  • No forex

Recommended as one of the best for:

Commissions, fees and minimums

OptionsHouse charges a flat $4.95 fee for stock and exchange-traded fund trades, which is in line with other deep discount competitors and about half the cost of trades at more mainstream discount brokers. Options trades also have a base fee of $4.95, but cost just 50 cents per contract — 15 cents lower than at TradeKing and significantly lower than what most other competitors charge.

The broker also scores points for requiring no minimum balance to open an account, but users must maintain a $1,000 minimum funding level to access real-time quotes. Unlike many brokerages that cater to active traders, OptionsHouse doesn’t charge maintenance fees to customers who fail to make a certain number of trades per month or year.

OptionsHouse's fees

Account minimum
$0
for IRAs; $0 for taxable brokerage accounts
Stock trades
$4.95
Options trades
$4.95
base + $0.50 per contract
Account fees
$0
annual fees
$0
inactivity fees
$60
IRA closing fee. $75 outgoing transfer fee

Research and data

OptionsHouse’s platforms are brimming with sophisticated tools investors can use to tinker with data. (See more in the platform section below.) Beyond what’s built into the platform, the company’s research pickings are slim — but they are free. Fundamental Report Cards are the main offering for stock investors. These OptionsHouse-generated briefs provide basic information about individual stocks and a relative rating based on peers in the same sector and industry.

On the education front, OptionsHouse offers articles, blog posts and video tutorials on stocks, futures and options that cover the how-to basics as well as advanced trading strategies. The ongoing schedule of live webinars is also robust. But finding these resources on the firm’s website can be a bit tricky. In September 2016 the company became part of E-Trade (and changed its official name to OptionsHouse by E-Trade). However, the marriage has yet to be fully consummated, and OptionsHouse customers must still toggle between old and new pages and access E-Trade’s educational content.

Customer service

OptionsHouse offers phone support and live chat from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET weekdays as well as email support.

Investment offerings

Don’t be misled by OptionsHouse’s name. Although the company started as a broker for experienced, self-directed investors who were active in options, its offerings today include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and futures. Still, it’s clear that options trading is the heart, soul and continued focus for the firm.

The broker offers only five commission-free ETFs — disappointing, but not unusual for a discount brokerage. Active ETF investors who want to keep commission costs down should consider OptionsXpress or TD Ameritrade. (See our picks for best brokers for ETF investors.) Similarly, OptionsHouse offers no transaction-fee-free mutual funds and forex trading isn’t on the menu.

Available investments

Stocks
Bonds
ETFs
Mutual funds
Options
Forex
Futures

Trading platform

OptionsHouse’s trading capabilities got a dramatic boost when the company merged with TradeMonster in 2015 and fully integrated that company’s highly regarded web-based trading platform. The platform is designed for fast and easy trade execution with the minimal number of clicks. For example, from the trade ticket users can quickly make changes without having to create an entirely new order.

TradeLAB gives investors a profit/loss/break-even snapshot on a single screen as well as the probability of any profit, based on the current stock price and the current implied volatility. Within tradeLAB, investors can play out “what-if” scenarios for every angle they can come up with. The platform also has significant automation capabilities, including trigger alerts that allow users to pre-populate orders. The platform pushes an alert to the investor when an event is triggered, and investors can then submit saved orders directly from the web or via the OptionsHouse mobile app.

Another standout tool is strategySEEK, which helps investors scan live market data for options strategies based on specific criteria. The tool turns up a list of matches, allowing the user to quickly create an order, using the above features to analyze the trade within the ticket.

Lastly, paperTRADE, OptionsHouse’s virtual trading platform, is a nice perk for new and new-to-the-platform investors who want to try out trades before putting money behind them. Once customers open a real account — which, remember, has no minimum funding requirement — they can set up a paperTRADE account that mirrors all of the live trading platform’s bells and whistles. Through paperTRADE, investors can practice trading virtual currency in a live market environment — a feature that makes OptionsHouse stand out among its peers.

Platform features

Desktop installation
Web-based
Streaming quotes
Options tools
Charting
Screeners
Technical indicators
Alerts
Back-testing capabilities
Virtual trading

Mobile app

On-the-go investors will appreciate that OptionsHouse’s trade platform is browser-based. Any customizations the user makes are saved in his or her profile and available no matter what device is used to access the account.

Promotion

We like that OptionHouse’s commission-free trade promotion isn’t limited only to customers who start with high-dollar accounts. With a $5,000 deposit investors are eligible for $1,000 in commission-free trades. A few caveats: Those trades must be executed within 60 days of funding the account and do not apply to futures or futures options transactions. Options traders should note that contract, exercise and assignment fees still apply.

$1,000 in commission-free trades with deposit of $5,000 or more.OptionsHouse

How OptionsHouse stacks up

OptionsHouse offers some of the lowest commissions and fees, making it one of the most affordable choices among discount brokers. Its advanced tools and fast trade executions, along with a full-service platform, make it well-suited for options traders.

"OptionsHouse offers some of the lowest commissions and fees, making it one of the most affordable choices in its competitive set."
Dayana Yochim, NerdWallet Investing
Trade Fee
$4.95
$4.95
Account Minimum
$0
$0
Promotion
$1,000
$1,000
commission-free trades with deposit of $5,000 or more.
Trade Fee
$6.95
$6.95
Account Minimum
$0
$0
Promotion
$600
$600
cash bonus, with a qualifying deposit
Trade Fee
$4.95
$4.95
Account Minimum
$0
$0
Promotion
$1,000
$1,000
in free trades with qualifying deposist

In summary

Although OptionsHouse is not the right fit for mutual fund and ETF investors, it’s hard to beat when it comes to serving options traders and active stock investors at every experience level. Rock bottom commissions (just $4.95 a trade for stocks plus 50 cents per contract for options), $0 account minimum, lack of hidden fees, speedy trade execution and free pro-level investing tools and trading platform are why OptionsHouse continues to show up on our best-of lists.