OptionsHouse Review




OptionsHouse is a relative newcomer to the discount brokerage market, formed in 2006 as a subsidiary of PEAK6 investments, a proprietary investment firm based in Chicago.

They use the same platform developed for PEAK6 so you can expect a fully functional professional style trading platform with a multitude of tools for both stocks and options.

One thing that marks them out against their competition is their sliding scale commissions for options, most brokers charge a flat fee for options trades.

This makes OptionsHouse incredibly good value for money if options make up a large percentage of your investment strategy, as you could literally save thousands of dollars in the long run.

 

 Fees & Commissions

Stock Trades Options Base Per Contract Min Deposit Broker Assisted Mutual Funds
$3.95 $8.50 $0.15 $0 $3.95 $9.95

 

Website & Sign-up

The OptionsHouse website is clean and functional, it’s easy to use with good navigation and a nice clear font which is easy to read. They offer multiple ways to contact them including live chat, telephone and email, so help is only a click away if you get stuck.

Signing up with OptionsHouse was as easy as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There is only one form to complete and it literally only takes 5 minutes, as long as you have all your details to hand. This shows how it should be done, there’s really no need for long convoluted forms and excessive security measures.

 

Trading Platform & Tools

optionshouse-platform

As you would expect from a firm formed by a bunch of proprietary traders, OptionsHouse have a fully functioning, tool ladened trading platform. Awarded 4 stars by Barrons in 2011 it has everything the professional options traded is ever going to need.

One of the most useful is the Put Spread Investigator, which scans the universe of equity options to find put spreads with high theoretical returns. You can then review the options and make your decision with just the click of a mouse.

One thing I would say is that this platform is not really suited to beginners; it takes a while to learn about all the tools they offer and a beginner is unlikely to use some of the more exotic ones. That being said it’s an excellent platform with full virtual trading facilities perfect for intermediate and active traders.

Pros

  • Lowest commissions
  • Free streaming quotes
  • Excellent trading tools
  • No Minimum account balance
  • No fee IRA accounts
  • No volume requirements, maintenance and inactivity fees
  • Free check-writing privileges
  • No surcharges for large orders and extended hours trading
  • Very low margin rates
  • Free virtual trading
  • One-on-one coaching, customized to an individual’s experience level, is available at $150 per month

Cons

  • For stocks priced $2.00 or less that are not options eligible, add $0.005 per share for the entire order
  • Shortened extended hours trading: 8:30 am – 9:30 am and 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST
  • International investors are not accepted
  • Lack of a real trading community

 

Summary

OptionsHouse are an excellent broker and very keenly priced. In fact they’re the cheapest broker for Stocks, ETFs and Options. So if price is your major concern there’s no need to look anywhere else.

But price alone shouldn’t be the overriding factor when choosing a broker, customer service, education and the quality of trading platform should also be taken into account.

With regards to the platform, I don’t have too many complaints, yes it’s a little cumbersome to use and there are simpler more intuitive platforms out there, but all the tools are there. This is not a cut down budget platform that you might be expecting from a broker with such competitive fees.

With regards to training, there are some excellent options training materials available, but they’re firmly aimed at the more intermediate investor. If you’re a beginner you might find this level of training a little too advanced.

They also don’t offer a trading community in the style of Zecco or TradeKing. This is a real problem if you’re a beginner, you really shouldn’t overlook the advantages of a trading community especially when you’re starting out.

In terms of service with OptionsHouse I’ve no complaints. Every time I’ve need to contact them they’ve been quick to respond either by email or telephone. They don’t use offshore call centers so you’ll be speaking directly with an American based in Chicago.

To sum up OptionsHouse is an excellent broker with very competitive fees and a great trading platform that’s perfect for intermediate traders. They’re not a suitable broker for beginners, who’d be better off with a broker like Zecco or TradeKing.

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