Beginners need enough support to learn the ropes and experienced traders are after low fees and powerful tools. We signed up, assessed the fees, took the tools for a spin, and narrowed it down to three top picks.
There are a lot of brokers that are perfectly capable of trading options — nearly all of the big read: To find the brokers that cater specifically to options, we looked at 36 choices and analyzed their products.
We prioritized the most important aspects:. Cost matters a lot when it comes to trading options. Fees can add up and even wipe out the profits from any profitable trades.
Granted, slightly higher fees may be worth it if a broker can provide other perks say, excellent resources and education for beginners , but we wanted all our picks to have competitive pricing. We also wanted to avoid minimum balance requirements, or a set number of trades per month.
Easy-to-use interfaces are a make-or-break for most platforms. The price of options contracts can swing a lot over the course of a trading day; poking around a clunky options chain can literally cost you. Education and resources are important, especially for investors who are getting their feet wet.
Not all traders will need hand-holding, but we wanted to find at least one excellent options broker we could recommend to newcomers. Flexibility can be interpreted a few ways. For us, it meant the robustness of the platform could we research and purchase stocks and ETFs in addition to options? It was quick work to eliminate the most expensive platforms, as well as the ones that had absolutely no resources or reports. To test ease of use and flexibility, we signed up for accounts and simulated making trades on all the rest.
Three brokers rose to the top, and each brings something unique to the table. TD Ameritrade Higher fees on an ultra-easy platform. Plus, tons of support and education. For more novice traders, the platform supports the jump from trading stocks with the funds in an IRA to more sophisticated products like options.
We can anticipate its service only getting better too. In fact, TD Ameritrade is one of the best platforms for all levels of investors, serving up two discrete products: Thinksorswim is a desktop platform designed for an all-around trading experience: Tabs at the top are simply categorized under jargon-free headings: Unlike thinkorswim, the platform is customizable. OptionsHouse The lowest fees and no minimum balance requirements. The company was founded in and was established to specifically provide options traders who demanded lower fees from the then burgeoning online brokerage industry.
Those low fees are still what makes OptionsHouse so popular. This is the lowest price in the industry. The OptionsHouse platform is striking if a bit chaotic — there are buttons, tabs, and menus all over the place. And, the tradeLAB makes dissecting options spreads simple — the green smiley face is good; the red frown is no good. OptionsHouse has about 30 technical studies; TD Ameritrade has Everything happens through the desktop platform, Xtend, but all the trading tools are also on the optionsXpress web platform.
The Idea Hub scans the market for volatility, earnings, and income-based strategies and offers new trade ideas. With Walk Limit , you can set a few parameters, and it will scan updated market data and re-create an order you may have made at a higher price in the past. This is all to say the price structure favors the active. Say you are a buyer looking for a specific vintage car and you end up finding one you just have to have.
You then negotiate with the owner to give you an option to buy the car in six months for a specific amount. If the owner agrees, you pay him a percentage up front for that option. The same scenario applies in the stock market — just for financial assets instead of vintage cars. Consider your entire investment strategy. These online brokerage firms all offer a variety of investment opportunities.
You may want to take into account their extra perks or the price of their mutual funds, for example. Plus, instant access to our exclusive guide: We find the best of everything. We start with the world. We narrow down our list with expert insight and cut anything that doesn't meet our standards. We hand-test the finalists. Then, we name our top picks.
Home Online Stock Trading. Latest Update October 28, Lowest Fees Rock-bottom pricing, but no research or strategy support. We prioritized the most important aspects: Our Picks for Best Options Broker. Lowest Fees OptionsHouse The lowest fees and no minimum balance requirements. Best Tools and Research optionsXpress A one-stop shop within a major firm, with an options-native platform. The Best Options Broker at a Glance. Options are contracts that allow an investor the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an asset on or before a set date.
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