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Overall

OptionsHouse is fantastic for options trading, providing investors with industry-leading tools and extremely competitive commission rates.

Commissions & Fees
Offering of Investments
Platforms & Tools
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Best in Class
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Mobile Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
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By Blain Reinkensmeyer on February 21st, 2017 | Last updated: March 21st, 2017

Dislikes
  • Poor research
  • Few studies available for charting, and a lack of active stock trader-specific tools
  • Educational resources below industry standards
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OptionsHouse Review

For our 2017 Stock Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked sixteen different online brokers over a period of six months. In total, we conducted 349 customer service tests, collected 5,277 data points, and produced over 40,000 words of research. Learn more.

OptionsHouse has come a long way. After its establishment in 2005, the online broker grew until May 2014 when it was announced the company and tradeMONSTER would be coming together under one roof. OptionsHouse was best known for its highly competitive commission rates, while tradeMONSTER was known for its terrific web-based options trading platform.

From 2014 until the summer of 2016, the combined OptionsHouse brand thrived, ultimately being purchased by ETRADE for $725 million. At the time this review went to press in February 2017, OptionsHouse continued to run as a stand-alone entity and brand, doing what it has always done best, providing clients fantastic options tools with highly competitive commissions.

Commissions & Fees

Stock trades are a flat rate of $4.95 per trade and options trades are just $4.95 + $.50 per contract. This flat-rate commission structure is significantly less expensive than those of all the large, full-service brokers, such as TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity.

What we also deeply appreciate is that OptionsHouse’s structure is clean cut, with little or no gimmicks or special-case scenarios that can ramp up costs in a hurry.

In fact, when you break these rates down against the entire industry, OptionsHouse finishes No. 2 overall behind Interactive Brokers. For equities and options traders this is a seriously competitive commission structure that cannot be overlooked. What we also deeply appreciate is that OptionsHouse’s structure is clean cut, with little or no gimmicks or special-case scenarios that can ramp up costs in a hurry. No platform fees or data fees either – the rates are all inclusive.

OptionsHouseTradeKingInteractive BrokersJust2Trade
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$4.95$4.95N/A$2.50
Stock Trade Fee (per share)N/AN/A$0.01$0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$20.00$9.95$14.95$12.50
Options Base Fee$4.95$4.95$0.00$2.50
Options Per Contract Fee$0.50$0.65$0.70$0.50
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$25.00$20.00$30.00$22.50
Commissions & Fees 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars

To provide its active options trading customers with an even better deal, OptionsHouse kicked off 2016 by implementing a new Dime Buyback program, under which the company removed commission charges tied to closing short options contracts of $.10 or less, no matter what the spread type is. For example, if a customer makes a two-legged options trade and one leg was a buyback for $.10 or less, the second leg commission would be reduced to $0.

Platforms & Tools

OptionsHouse competes with the best in the industry when it comes to powerful platforms for trading options. Built as a web-based platform, OptionsHouse innovates and delivers speed, quality, ease of use, and the tools needed for options traders to succeed.

For newer investors, there isn't a better platform on which to learn how to trade options.

OptionsHouse offers both virtual trading and regular trading. For newer investors, there isn't a better platform on which to learn how to trade options. Pulling up quotes is a breeze, and OptionsHouse makes it easy to file personal notes with each trade.

OptionsHouse trade platform

Regarding OptionsHouse’s streaming charts, the functionality is good but there are drawbacks. First, the interface is not user-friendly and, compared to other brokers, it took us significantly longer to become acquainted with making customizations. Second, there are limited tools (just nine) with which to mark up charts. Third, there is a lack of technical studies available – only 35, compared to the industry average, which is close to 100. This extends to study customizations, which we also found to be limited.

On the plus side, you can place limit orders on the chart itself, then access a pre-filled order ticket to review and submit the trade. OptionsHouse also allows you to view your past buys and sells right on the chart, a feature few other brokers offer.

OptionsHouse stock chart

Moving onto options capabilities, OptionsHouse shines. The option chain screen displays a fully customizable streaming real time option chain with 30 different optional columns, including every greek.

OptionsHouse option chain

Once you find an option of interest, clicking it pops open OptionsHouse’s summary window, which includes key metrics alongside different quick links for further analysis. Click Analyze and the tradeLAB Snapshot Analysis pops open. Not only is Risk/Reward completely broken down with simple smiley faces to translate the pros and cons, but key events to watch out for are displayed alongside a P&L chart. It’s a work of art.

OptionsHouse option analysis

If that isn’t good enough, OptionsHouse then provides a Spectral Analysis, which includes all the data needed to make an informed decision. My favorite feature on this tab is Risk Metrics, which displays the option greeks. Since not all investors understand greeks, OptionsHouse has a simple pull-down menu to change from "Greek" to "English," making the data user-friendly for new investors. Awesome.

Once you have finished analyzing, you can quickly import the data into a fresh trade ticket, use the trade calculator to find the right position size, add optional notes, and then place the trade. (Note: This intuitiveness with design and UI continues beyond researching and placing trades. All live positions are completely customizable. OptionsHouse automatically groups options into spreads for you, then allows you to completely regroup them and customize them to your liking using a simple drag-and-drop interface.)

Even with all these capabilities, the highlight for options remains the strategySEEK tool, which is where you will find the platform’s option screener. strategySEEK is hands down the best options scanner in the industry.

Even with all these capabilities, the highlight for options remains the strategySEEK tool, which is where you will find the platform’s option screener. strategySEEK is hands down the best options scanner in the industry. First, you forecast the price at which you think the stock might end up down the road. Next, you drag and drop to set and order your priorities for the trade: Profit, Return, Probability, and Safety. Lastly, you click “Show Strategies” for a list of the best possible matches. From here, you can create an order and place the trade, analyze the trade (see above), or adjust the scanner and rerun.

OptionsHouse strategy seek

It isn’t just the interface that makes strategySEEK impressive, it’s also the data and behind-the- scenes calculations taking place to power the tool’s recommendations. The OptionsHouse platform calculates EVERY possibility, millions of them, using a plethora of data, and displays results in milliseconds. This attention to detail is also seen throughout the rest of the platform in tools such as the liveACTION scanner.

OptionsHouse liveACTION scanner

All in all, the arsenal of tools available to options traders is truly impressive. OptionsHouse has a clear understanding of what options traders want, and delivers it in stunning fashion. And, as far as equities trading goes, while the platform has a strong foundation of functionality, the overall trading experience could be better. This is especially true for the charting interface, which needs an overhaul. That said, when it comes to browser-based platforms, options trading, and ease of use for new investors, OptionsHouse is king.

Research

On the right sidebar of the Quote screen is OptionsHouse’s take on stock research, which is a breakdown of company information and fundamentals. OptionsHouse offers its own Fundamental Report Cards for each company, which, until October 2015, also included letter-relative ratings. While I applaud the OptionsHouse platform team for thinking outside the box, I found the data difficult to interpret and unimpressive.

With such competitive commissions, OptionsHouse must cut somewhere, and research is where the broker shaves cost.

Beyond the Fundamental Report Cards, not much else is offered. There are no third-party research reports, no way of conducting metric comparisons against other companies, no SEC filings, and you cannot even view a simple balance sheet. With such competitive commissions, OptionsHouse must cut somewhere, and research is where the broker shaves cost.

OptionsHouse fundamental reseach

Similarly for ETFs and Mutual Funds research, the experience is poor. The data is very limiting and the only real positive is being able to see a Morningstar star rating for both ETFs and mutual funds. OptionsHouse is not recommended for research-hungry investors. See: Best Brokers for Research.

Mobile Trading

In late 2016, OptionsHouse released a brand-new mobile experience, completely rebuilt from the ground up. In prior years, OptionsHouse’s mobile apps suffered in the speed department because of their HTML 5 core. Thankfully, speed is no longer a worry and the broker now has a fantastic foundation to build from.

Looking at the features of the new experience, on the plus side, the app has the strong core functionality traders desire: real-time streaming quotes, excellent position management capabilities, and synced watch lists. The app also enables traders to place basic and complex options orders, view post-hours charts, and more. OptionsHouse also ties in some creative design elements, such as a fanning out the five most recent quotes when you tap on “Quote” on the bottom bar.

OptionsHouse mobile quote fan

On the cons side, the app is still so new there are features missing that are still under development and awaiting release later in 2017. When looking at stock charts and trying to perform technical analysis, you cannot rotate the screen horizontally to view the chart cleanly. Studies are fairly limited at 11 (although they can be deeply customized, which is nice) and there are no tools beyond pinching to zoom in and out. OptionsHouse has left its previous app in the app store for this reason, which makes sense.

OptionsHouse mobile stock chart

All data considered, while OptionsHouse clients are stuck using two separate app experiences until the new app is fully featured, the mobile offering is still great. OptionsHouse placed fourth out of 16 brokers.

Other Notes

OptionsHouse delivers customer service that is on par with industry standards. The broker is certainly not industry leading, finishing eighth overall, but it delivers a quality experience that should appease most clients. See: Best Brokers for Customer Service.

Also not covered in my review commentary is OptionsHouse’s educational resources. While these resources improved in 2016 with the addition of webinars and more educational content on the company’s blog, OptionsHouse still lacks across the board. Education is limited to just options, there are no videos, organization is poor, and there is a lot left to be desired. See: Best Brokers for Investor Education.

Final Thoughts

OptionsHouse has proved to be a terrific home for options traders over the years. There was no better confirmation of OptionsHouse’s dominance than the firm’s acquisition by ETRADE for $750 million in July 2016.

For now, OptionsHouse remains a stand-alone brand that continues to do what it does best. While it is weak in its offering of education, research, and tools catering to active stock traders specifically, OptionsHouse is on par with the industry with its customer service and shines everywhere else. For options trading, OptionsHouse is No 1, thanks to its discounted pricing structure and industry-leading tools.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer Blain heads research at StockBrokers.com and has been involved in the markets since placing his first stock trade back in 2001. He developed StockBrokers.com's annual review format seven years ago which is respected by broker executives as the most thorough in the industry. Currently maintaining funded accounts with more than a dozen different US regulated online brokers, he's executed thousands of trades through his career and enjoys sharing his experiences through his personal blog, StockTrader.com.


Ratings Overall

Best in Class

2017
 9

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Mobile Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
2016
 7

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Mobile Trading
  • Ease of Use
  • Active Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
2015
 5

Overall
  • Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Mobile Trading
  • Ease of Use
  • Active Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
2014
11

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Active Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors
2013
 9

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Active Trading
  • Options Trading
  • New Investors

Commissions & Fees

Commission Notes

OptionsHouse is an online broker with fairly straight forward commission offerings.

Stock Trades - OptionsHouse's flat rate stock trade commissions of $4.95 are among the lowest of any current online broker. For stocks under $1 add $.0005 per share.

The $4.95 rate applies to any sized order up to 50,000 shares. If over 50,000 shares, the order will be split into two or more with an additional $4.95 commission charged for each 50,000 shares.

Options Trades - $4.95 + $.50 per contract. Exercises and assignments receive a flat rate commission of $4.95. OptionsHouse also offers a very unique dime buyback program, allowing users the ability to buy back any short options for no commission when they are priced $.10 or less.

If trading options in SPX, VIX, RUT, and OEX there is an additional fee of $0.18 - $0.45 per contract to offset exchange fees.

Other Investment Types - Mutual fund trades are $20 per trade. Bond trades are $25 + $1 per bond. OptionsHouse also offers futures trading.





Trade Commissions Breakdown

Stock Trade Fee (flat) $4.95
Stock Trade Fee (per share) N/A
Options Base Fee $4.95
Options Per Contract Fee $0.50
Options Exercise Fee $4.95
Options Assignment Fee $4.95
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $20.00
Broker Assisted Trades Fee $25.00
Minimum Deposit $0.00

Margin Rates

Margin Rate Under $24,999.99 7.75%
Margin Rate $25,000.00 to $49,999.99 7.25%
Margin Rate $50,000.00 to $99,999.99 6.50%
Margin Rate $100,000.00 to $249,999.99 6.00%
Margin Rate $250,000.00 to $499,999.99 5.25%
Margin Rate $500,000.00 to $999,999.99 3.50%
Margin Rate Above $1,000,000.00 3.25%

Miscellaneous Fees

Bond Trade Fee $15 + $1 per bond
Treasury Trade Fee $15 + $1 per bond
IRA Annual Fee $0.00
IRA Closure Fee $60.00
Returned ACH Fee $30.00
Returned Wire Fee $30.00
Stock Certificate Processing Fee $300.00
Stock Certificate Delivery Fee $235.00
Paper Statement Fee $2.00
Paper Confirmation Fee $0.00
Domestic Wire Fee $25.00
International Wire Fee $50.00

Account Features

Offering of Investments

Advisor Services help No
Bonds (Corporate) help Yes
Bonds (Municipal) help Yes
Bonds (US Treasury) help Yes
CDs help Yes
Clearing Firm help Apex Clearing
Commission Free ETFs help 5
Direct Market Routing - Stocks help Yes
Direct Market Routing - Options help No
DRIPs help Yes
# of Easy to Borrow Stocks help 3951
Forex Trading help No
Futures Trading help Yes
Member FINRA help Yes
Member SIPC help Yes
Mutual Funds help Yes
Mutual Funds (No Load) help 4650
Mutual Funds (Load) help 7625
Mutual Funds (NTF) help 0
Mutual Funds (Total) help 12275
Mutual Funds Phone Trades help Yes
Mutual Funds Web Trades help Yes
No Fee IRAs help Yes
No Inactivity Fees help Yes
No Minimum Deposit help Yes
Options Exercising (Web) help Yes
Options Exercising (Phone) help Yes
Options Trading help Yes
Complex Options Max Legs help 4
Options Trading (Mini) help Yes
Options Trading (Weekly) help Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets help Yes
Stock Trading help Yes

Customer Service

Phone Support help Yes
Email Support help Yes
Live Chat (Current Clients) help Yes
Live Chat (Prospect Clients) help No
24/7 Support help No

Platforms & Tools

Desktop Platform (Windows) help No
Desktop Platform (Mac) help No
Web Platform help Yes
Active Trading Platform help tradeMONSTER
Charting - Display Corporate Events help Yes
Charting - View Historical Trades help Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies help 35
Charting - Drawing Tools help 9
Charting - Trade Off Chart help Yes
Charting - Notes help Yes
Heat Mapping help No
Ladder Trading help No
Level 2 Quotes - Stocks help Yes
Level 2 Quotes - Options help Yes
Option Chains - Streaming Real-time help Yes
Option Chains - Total Columns help 30
Option Chains - Quick Analysis help Yes
Options Analysis - P&L Charts help Yes
Options Analysis - Probability Analysis Basic help Yes
Option Analysis - Probability Analysis Adv help Yes
Option Positions - Contract Rolling help Yes
Stock Alerts Delivery - Email help Yes
Stock Alerts Delivery - Sound help Yes
Stock Alerts Delivery - Text SMS help Yes
Streaming Time & Sales help Yes
Streaming TV help No
Trade Hot Keys help Yes
Virtual Trading help Yes
Watch Lists - Streaming Real-time Quotes help Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields help 29

Research

Research - ETFs help Yes
Research - Mutual Funds help Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB help Yes
Research - Fixed Income help Yes
Misc - Global Markets Overview help No
Misc - Portfolio Allocation Breakdown help Yes
Misc - Portfolio Builder help No
Equity Research - Earnings Analysis help Yes
Equity Research - Insider Analysis help No
Equity Research - Metric Comparisons help No
Equity Research - SEC Filings help No
Equity Research - Social Sentiment help No
Equity Research - Research Reports help 0
ETF Research - Performance Analysis help Yes
ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings help No
ETF Research - Morningstar Style Box help No
ETF Research - 3rd Party Ratings help Yes
ETF Research - Research Reports help No
Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown help No
Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings help No
Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis help Yes
Mutual Fund Research - Prospectus help No
Mutual Fund Research - 3rd Party Ratings help Yes
Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports help No
Screener - Stocks help Yes
Screener - ETFs help No
Screener - Mutual Funds help No
Screener - Options help Yes
Screener - Bonds help No

Education

Has Education - Stocks help No
Has Education - ETFs help No
Has Education - Options help Yes
Has Education - Mutual Funds help No
Has Education - Fixed Income help No
Has Education - Retirement help No
Investor Dictionary help Yes
Client Webinars help Yes
Client Webinars (Archived) help Yes
Live Seminars help No
Videos help No
Retirement Calculator help No
Progress Tracking help No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes help No

Mobile Trading

iPhone App help Yes
iPad App help Yes
Apple Watch App help No
Android App help Yes
Android Tablet App help Yes
Mobile Site help Yes
Touch ID help Yes
Account Transfers help Yes
Quotes (Real-time) help Yes
Quotes (Streaming Real-time) help Yes
Watch List (Real-time) help Yes
Watch List (Streaming Real-time) help Yes
Watch List Syncing help Yes
Market Movers (Top Gainers) help Yes
Custom Screening / Scanning help No
Charting - Stock Comparisons help No
Charting - Technical Studies help 13
Charting - After Hours help Yes
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields help Yes
Stock Alerts - Advanced Fields help No
Stock Alerts Delivery - Push Notifications help Yes
Customizable Homescreen help Yes
Streaming TV help No
Trading - Stocks help Yes
Trading - After-Hours help Yes
Trading - Conditional Orders help Yes
Trading - Mutual Funds help Yes
Trading - Simple Options help Yes
Trading - Complex Options help Yes
Trading - Option Rolling help Yes

Banking

Member FDIC help No
Checking Accounts help No
Savings Accounts help No
Debit Cards help No
Credit Cards help No
Mortgage Loans help No
Mobile Check Deposit help No
Online Bill Pay help No
Mobile Bill Pay help No
ATM Fee Reimbursement help No
No Fee Banking help No
Retail Locations help 0

Order Execution

Receives Payment for Order Flow (Equities) help Yes
Receives Payment for Order Flow (Options) help Yes
Client Liquidity Rebates help No
Financial Information Forum (FIF) Participant help No

Compare OptionsHouse

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 2/20/2017 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.




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