So you’re an avid stock investor and/or trader. If you’re interested in expanding your portfolio with options trading or you’re looking for a new online stock broker that has strong support for both stock investors and options traders, then you might want to get to know OptionsHouse. This broker offers low rates and even some commission-free trades. Let’s jump right into the details of OptionsHouse:
OptionsHouse Review: Brokerage For Stock & Options Trading
Pricing and Commission Rates
For stock trades, they’re available at a flat rate of $2.95. Note that you’ll also pay $.005 per share if the stock you’re interested in is $2.00 or less and isn’t options-eligible. This is one of the cheapest stock brokers around, as a lot of brokers I’ve seen charge $10 or more per trade.
You have a few choices when it comes to picking your rates for options trading. If you intend to keep your account low-volume, you’re likely to appreciate the Up to 5 for $5 rate. Those who want to trade more than 10 contracts should consider the other rate, which is $8.50 plus $.15 per contract.
In the event that you start out at one rate, then want to switch, you won’t be locked in to any one rate. You can change your rate once a day, and the change will go into effect the following day.
The rates for stock and options trading seem like a good deal compared to some of OptionsHouse’s competitors. For example, at ETrade, stock and options trades are available to qualifying customers for $7.99 to $9.99, plus $.75 per option. The expenses can add up if you make a lot of trades in a month. Some brokers charge extra for broker-assisted trades, but they’re free with OptionsHouse.
There’s no minimum balance you’ll have to maintain, but there is a minimum funding amount of $1,000 for cash accounts and $2,000 for margin accounts. You can open an individual, joint, or corporate account, or a variety of IRAs and other accounts. If you prefer, you can also roll over your current 401(k) into an IRA here.
Some types of accounts offer check writing and the first 40 checks are free. The debit card has a fee of $30 a year, so you might want to go with a cheaper debit card elsewhere.
OptionsHouse Platform & Tools
Looking over the platform, you’ll see how the site has attempted to streamline the trading experience. You can place orders, look up quotes, and customize your screens without wading through an excessive amount of information.
Tools include a stock screener, enhanced charting, a risk viewer, a probability calculator, and more. There’s also access to streaming quotes and news, so you can assess the market with up to the minute data.
Mobile users will be able to access OptionsHouse on the iPhone, Palm Pre, G1, and a selection of BlackBerry devices. You should be able to trade stocks, options, and ETFs, but you won’t be able to make advanced orders this way.
Practice with Virtual Trading
In case you don’t have a lot of experience with stock and options trading or you simply want to get to know the platform in depth before diving in, you’re welcome to try out Virtual Trading, which is a great way to learn how to trade stocks without risk. You’ll be handed $5,000 in fake money so you can enter virtual orders. That way, you can get to know the stocks and options that interest you, get a feel for how the tools work, and refine your trading strategies without losing any real money. There aren’t any risks with virtual trading and you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with the platform at your own pace.
Community & FAQ
When some companies promote themselves as a Web 2.0 choice, you might expect a social networking platform to be baked in. Instead, OptionsHouse is on Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and has a blog that offers discussions on financial news, tools, and closer looks at companies on the OptionsHouse Hotlist. A stock or options novice would probably prefer a community to interact with, which is a great way to learn from other users.
If you want more information, the FAQ covers a lot of ground. Also, customer service is offered through live chat, phone, or email. You can also learn more with the videos, webinars, and live seminars offered on the site.