If you’re searching for a new discount broker, you’re probably already aware what a nightmare it can be. The days of one broker fits all are long gone.
A broker might be perfect for you now, but in two years time your requirements might have changed. So how do you go about selecting the perfect broker for your trading style and experience?
To help you out we’ve compared OptionsHouse and Firstrade two of the best brokers around. Use the tables below to compare each broker’s trading platform, tools and price to select the perfect partner for your current trading strategy.
Products & Services
|website||Visit the OptionsHouse Website||Visit the Firstrade Website|
|Bank Deposits||Bank Deposits|
|Certificates of Deposits||Certificates of Deposits|
|Day Trading||Day Trading|
|Services||Extended Hours Trading||Extended Hours Trading|
|Mutual Funds||Mutual Funds|
|Trading Community||Trading Community|
When it comes to services these two brokers are equally matched, Firstrade has the most complete product portfolio offering everything from Stocks and ETFs to Certificates of Deposits.
Whilst OptionsHouse don’t offer Certificates of Deposits they do offer all the other major investment products, so you’re not going to feel short changed by joining them.
The big difference between these two brokers comes down to their respected trading platforms and fees.
|Automated Trading||Automated Trading|
|Investor Resource Center||Investor Resource Center|
|Mobile Trading||Mobile Trading|
|Online Advisor||Online Advisor|
||Profit & Loss Calculator||Profit & Loss Calculator|
|Streaming Charts||Streaming Charts|
|Stock & Fund Screeners||Stock & Fund Screeners|
|Tables & Graphs||Tables & Graphs|
|Training & Education||Training & Education|
|Virtual Trading||Virtual Trading|
Trading Tools Overview
When I first reviewed Firstrade about 18 months ago they had a pretty poor trading platform. Today however that’s all changed; In October 2010 Firstrade launched XStream their all new platform.
This is a big improvement over the old one; it now comes complete with streaming charts, stock screeners and live commentary. It’s still not a cutting edge platform but it’s very easy to use and perfect for the smaller trader.
One thing to note regarding XStream is that Firstrade don’t offer a virtual trading facility, which is going to make it difficult to develop new strategies or for beginners to practice their trading skills.
OptionsHouse has no such problems, having developed one of the better trading platforms out there. It comes complete with an array of options tools; including virtual trading. Even a professional options trader would feel at home using it.
Fees & Commissions
|Margin Account Minimum||$2000||$2000|
|Stocks & ETFs||$3.95||$6.95|
|Options Per Contract||$0.15 per contract||$0.75 per contract|
|Account Management Fee||$0.00||$0.00|
|Broker Assisted Trades||$3.95||$27.00|
|Bonds||Bond Orders Accepted By Phone||Net Yield Basis (Included in Price)|
|IRA Annual Fee||$0.00||$0.00|
So which of these brokers is right for you? Well if you’re an experienced options trader with a medium sized account, let’s say up to $75,000 then OptionsHouse is the way to go. They have an accomplished trading platform, excellent support and very competitive pricing.
If on the other hand you have a smaller account and only trade occasionally, then Firstrade is probably the better broker. As a small outfit they look after their customers particularly well. It’s not uncommon to contact their customer service team and get the same person twice. That kind of service shouldn’t be overlooked especially in this day and age of large corporations treating customers like numbers.
If you’re a beginner then you’re better off joining one of the brokers that specialize in rookies, like TradeKing or Zecco. That way you’ll get access to some excellent training materials specifically aimed at beginners as well as access to their amazing trading communities.
Neither broker is particularly suitable for day traders as they don’t offer level 2 data. If you need this kind of functionality you should look at joining a direct access broker or using a company like E*TRADE who supply frequent traders with level 2 data free of charge.