OptionsHouse Quick Review
In May of 2014 two of the largest and best discount brokerages TradeMONSTER and OptionsHouse combined to under the OptionsHouse name to form one of the best, if not the best discount brokerage.
The combined strengths of TradeMONSTER’s award winning trading platform with OptionsHouse’s almost unbeatable fees and market research, particularly in Options make for a great place to open an account.
And don’t let the name fool you, OptionsHouse is NOT just for options traders. But if you do, you will LOVE OptionsHouse.
There is nothing complicated about opening a OptionsHouse account. Once the online application is filled out and account funded you can be trading within hours.(Assuming you wire the funds).
The usual information is required:
- Name and Address
- SSN or Taxpayer Identification Number
- Employers Name, Address and Phone Number
Citizens of the following countries can open an OptionsHouse account:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- Hong Kong
Trading Commissions and Fee Schedule
|Stocks and ETFs:||$4.95|
|Stocks and ETFs broker assisted:||$4.95 + $25|
|Stocks and ETFs interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system:||$4.95 + $25|
|Options:||$4.95 + $0.50 per contract|
|Listed Corporate Bonds:||N/A|
Education, Tools and Research
Most discount brokerages offer some trading tools but with the merger of TradeMONSTER and OptionsHouse the bar has been raised significantly. The web-based trading platform is innovative and easy to use at the same time.
If you’re a beginning swing trader, the features and tools available are probably more advanced than what you need, particularly if you are using a stock/option picking service for your trades. But its good to know they are there if you decide that you want to start doing some of your own research.
OptionsHouse offers a virtual/paper trading ability in addition to their standard trading account, giving you the ability to get familiar with all the trading tools and practice strategies at no risk.
If you’re a newer trader/investor you will not find an easier platform to learn. Pulling up free streaming quote is a breeze. The user interface is simple, there are 4 tabs at the top; Account, Options, Research and Tools with the appropriate sub menus below keeping the interface uncluttered.
When it comes to the charting, OptionHouse’s streaming charts have all the functionality you would expect and more. There are over 34 technical studies and indicators for you to choose from. Trading can be done right from the chart as well.
By simply double clicking anywhere on the chart a pre-populated order screen comes up. What is really cool, is that the charts also will show you past buys and sells so you can see how you performed.
Now if you are an option trader, your gonna be in heaven. The option chain screen is fully customizable with real-time streaming quotes. The screen shows puts and calls and by default lists 30 strike prices and all the greeks. Click here for a primer if you are unfamiliar with them.
Once you find an option of interest, clicking on it will pop open a window with a summary screen plus all the option metrics. If you click analyze, the tradeLAB analysis screen opens giving you a breakdown of risk/reward, key events to look out for such as earnings plus a P&L chart.
There is also the “Spectral Analysis”, this has everything you need to make an informed decision on the profit potential of the option. The Risk Metrics tab, will show all the “Greeks” for the option with an explanation in plain English what they mean. This makes it easy for the newer trader to understand what they are looking at.
The strategySEEK tool is where you will find the best options scanner available by a large margin. All you have to do is give it a guess where you think the stock price may be in the future, then use the drag and drop feature to set your priorities: Profit, Probability of Success, Return on Investment, and Safety.
If you click “Show Strategies”, a list of the best strategies be shown making it an easy decision for you. Then simply place the order or make some adjustments. The attention to detail plus power of the analysis is impressive to say the least.The StrategySEEK tool was built by option traders for option traders.
If that wasn’t enough, OptionsHouse has added the tradeCYCLE feature. This fully featured platform will allow to easily develop AND back test your own strategies in a virtual account so you don’t need to risk a dime testing them. This is a feature that normally you would need something like Tradestation for and cost thousands of dollars but you get it FREE with OptionsHouse.
OptionsHouse provides a good level of customer service, not as good as say Scottrade that caters to the total newbie trader. That said, when you call the customer service number, someone will pick up in short order and be able to answer your questions.
And if you have a question about options pricing (it can be complex) they can transfer you to a specialist how can better explain it in plain English so you better understand how the strategySEEK and tradeCYCLE work.
- Very low trading commissions.
- No maintenance or inactivity fees.
- No set up, annual or inactivity fees for IRAs.
- No minimum deposit to open a cash or an IRA account.
- Sophisticated trading platform and powerful tools.
- Virtual trading platform for beginners.
- Free streaming quotes.
- Free seminars on options trading.
- Award-wining mobile Apps (5 stars out of 5 by Barron’s 2015).
- Rated high by industry’s most reputable magazines.
Where OptionsHouse Excels
Low costs: OptionHouses’s $4.95 stock and ETF trade commission’s put it among the least expensive of the discount brokers keeping more money in your account.
OptionsHouse also has no inactivity or annual account service charges plus very competitive mutual fund trading fees of $20.
Customer service: While OptionsHouse may not offer all the hand holding of a broker like Scottrade they are consistently given high rankings for customer service. OptionsHouse also has an extensive online education center, with live webinars, videos and articles.
Trade platforms and tools: OptionsHouse’s trading platform is the best in class. There is really nothing else out there that compares from a features and usability standpoint.
Mobile Apps: OptionsHouse provides a mobile trading for Android and the iPad, iPhone. Its mobile platform was ranked number one overall by Barron’s.
The app has real-time streaming quotes, synced watch lists, the ability to place basic and complex options orders plus a variety of stock order types.
OptionsHouse has also tied in some creative elements like a customizable home screen to include visual pricing of stocks and options.
The Bottom Line
There are a whole host of factors to consider when choosing an online discount broker. The low commissions of $4.95, not charging a maintenance and inactivity fees or requiring its members to maintain minimum account balances as other brokers do make OptionsHouse among the cheapest of discount brokerages.
OptionsHouse is a standout when it comes to trading options and was rated as one of the “Best for Options Traders” in 2015 and in the four years prior by Barron’s.But that doesn’t mean if you only trade stocks you shouldn’t use OptionsHouse.
Considering the low commissions, an intuitive, easy to use browser-based platform, excellent mobile app and good customer service make it an easy choice to use OptionsHouse as your broker.