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November 11, 2015

Online Stock Trading

OptionsHouse Review

OptionsHouse has a winning combination of low trading costs and fees plus some of the best options trading tools around. They may not offer the same additional resources as other brokers, but that wouldn't be your primary reason for choosing OptionsHouse in the first place.

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The Good

Extremely low trading costs and fees

Probably the single best thing about OptionsHouse is their competitive prices. Trading rates for new clients recently got bumped up from $3.95 to $4.95 per trade, but these rates are still among the lowest in the industry. Plus, OptionsHouse has a unique pricing structure for options traders where you pay $4.95 for an options trade plus $0.50 per contract.

Variety of proprietary tools built into web-based platform

OptionsHouse doesn't simply offer you a clean, modern web-based trading application—they also include a number of proprietary tools to aid your trading. One of those unique trading tools is the Trade Generator, which produces a set of potential trade ideas based on criteria like risk appetite or time frame. If you're a more advanced trader, you will find that the Spread Investigator tool comes in handy. It scans all of the equity options for call and put debit spreads that can potentially deliver high returns.

Fully customizable trading interface

The web-based trading platform offered by OptionsHouse is simple to navigate and understand. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to customize the entire interface by minimizing, adding, or removing different sections to the home screen layout. In addition to that, you can open one of these sections as its own separate window so it will detach from the main browser window you originally opened it in. This gives you the ability to spread your trading experience across your entire screen if you wish. It can also be beneficial to have multiple windows open so you can look at a number of indicators at the same time you are researching or executing your trades.

Quick order entry and account navigation

When you open the OptionsHouse trading platform, you will notice that options trading is a heavy feature (hence the product's name). The quick order entry ticket allows for some of the fastest options trading in the industry. You can instantly add an option leg or a stock leg in one click after typing in a stock quote. OptionsHouse also offers a Quick Launch button in the bottom-left corner of the screen that will completely simplify your navigation. Just click the button and anything you would need is launched in a separate window.

Extensive options trading tools

A review of OptionsHouse wouldn't be complete without commenting on their options tools, which are some of the best and most useful around. Within the Options tab in your account, you can view options chains, vertical options, an options calendar, and several types of option spread choices. In addition to the aforementioned Spread Investigator and Trade Generator tools, OptionsHouse also offers Risk Viewer, which provides insight into your profits and losses, market risk, and options exposure.

Innovative mobile application

The OptionsHouse mobile application is available for Android and iPhone. The iOS application will also work on an iPod or iPad. The app is simple to use and easy to navigate. You can make trades, set up watch lists, and create alerts. One nice feature about the mobile app is that it provides you with tips to help you navigate when you log in. This is useful because oftentimes iPhone applications have some unique features that you won't even notice unless you stumble upon them by accident. One feature highlighted by the app is the ability to quickly place a trade by clicking on the bid or ask price of a stock.

The Bad

Limited investment product access

By name, OptionsHouse primarily exists for options traders, but they still offer access to a variety of other investment products. Unfortunately, you can't access forex or international markets with an OptionsHouse account. It's the assumption, though, that you wouldn't be interested in trading with OptionsHouse if you are placing a high value on having access to these investment products, so this shouldn't be a deal breaker for most traders, especially options traders.

Lacking financial resources offered by major brokers

If you choose OptionsHouse as your broker, you should know that you will not have the same type of additional financial resources that a full-service broker provides. Thus, if you need banking services or access to credit and debit cards, you should look elsewhere. OptionsHouse also does not offer college savings plans or small business tools.

No asset protection guarantee

In terms of account security, many brokers offer an asset protection guarantee against any unauthorized access to your account. OptionsHouse does not offer this guarantee, which means that the assets in your account are not covered should an unauthorized person to use your account. Without the knowledge of how often this activity occurs, it's difficult to say how significant that guarantee may be. However, it is comforting to know that you are not on the hook for any losses you may not be responsible for.

Limited research and charting capabilities

One of the major knocks on OptionsHouse is the minimal amount of research they provide. There is no third-party research available and many of the other research amenities don't have the level of depth that you will find elsewhere. The charting capabilities are pretty weak overall, so if you trade with OptionsHouse you may want to consider using a third party to view charts, which can be somewhat frustrating.

The Details

  • Broker Assisted Trades: $25
  • Futures Contract Fee: Not offered
  • Maintenance Fees: $0
  • Margin Rates: 2-6.5%
  • Minimum Account Balance Fee: $0
  • Mutual Funds Fee - Load: $9.95
  • Mutual Funds Fee - No-Load: $9.95
  • Options Contract Price: $0.50
  • Options Flat Fee: $4.95
  • Stock Flat Fee: $4.95

Other Fees

  • ACH/EFT Withdrawal: $30
  • Bounced Check: $30
  • Check Withdrawal: $0
  • Domestic Wire Withdrawal: $25
  • Forced Margin Sellout: Regular commission
  • Full Account Transfer: $50
  • IRA Annual Fee: $0
  • Partial Account Transfer: $0
  • Stop Payment on Check: $30
  • Telephone Orders: Not offered

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