OptionsHouse Review: Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit
|Stocks and ETFs|| $4.95|
|Stocks and ETFs broker assisted|| $29.95|
|Options||$4.95 + $0.50 per contract|
|Mutual funds|| $20|
|Futures|| $1.50 per contract|
We begin OptionsHouse review with a description of the online application for new accounts which is easy and fast - usually takes 8 minutes to complete. You start by
clicking on their promotion offer - Trade Free For 60 Days when you Open a New OptionsHouse Account.
- than hit "Open An Account Today" button. To receive
60 days of free trading you must fund an account with a minimum of $5,000 within 30 days of account opening.
After going through application screens, we had to fax two paper forms to transfer an existing IRA account (not required if you are not
transferring an account) - we would have preferred the option to email scanned forms instead. Customer service called the next day
to make sure everything was in order.
New account is immediately funded with $100,000 of virtual money, and customers can start practice trading right away. This virtual trading feature
is a great learning and testing tool for trying and developing trading strategies without risking hard-earned money.
Accounts offered at OptionsHouse include Individual, Joint With Right Of Survivorship, Traditional IRA and Roth IRA.
OptionsHouse Mutual Funds Review
OptionsHouse does not offer any no-transaction-fee funds, nor does it advertise any selection of no-load funds. All U.S. mutual funds are available through the broker;
so any fund that specifies in its prospectus that it's no-load will be. Unfortunately, OptionsHouse does not have a mutual fund screener. Even Merrill Edge, which
doesn't offer many mutual funds, has a screener. There are also no educational materials on the OH website that cover mutual funds. There is a profile page on any
mutual fund ticker symbol entered on the broker's desktop platform. Here, users can find a small amount of information on a fund, such as a graph showing a
hypothetical growth over time of $10,000 invested in the fund, current NAV, total fund assets, and return history.
The minimum investment amount for a fund purchased through OptionsHouse is determined by the fund itself. This amount is displayed on a fund's profile page on
the OptionsHouse desktop platform. There is no charge for mutual funds with low balances. Every mutual fund transaction at OptionsHouse costs $20. It doesn't
matter if the fund has a load or not. Since the firm doesn't have any NTF funds, there is no short-term redemption fee for selling quickly. The mutual fund itself,
however, could impose a short-term trade fee. There is also the $20 transaction fee on the sell side.
OptionsHouse clients can open Roth, Traditional, Rollover, and SEP IRA's. The broker doesn't charge any setup, annual, or inactivity fees. There is no required
minimum deposit to open an IRA, and there is no minimum balance requirement. However, the broker does impose a $60 fee to terminate a retirement account.
OptionsHouse Review: Website/Trading Platform/Tools
The OptionsHouse website has limited functionality and is used for account management, such as downloading statements, getting help with taxes, or
transferring funds. No actual trading is being done on the website.
Advanced Trading Platform
OptionsHouse has a Java-based platform where all trading takes place. It is launched from the website and generates an independent window from the
browser. Charting, order entry, strategy testing and options research are all performed on the platform. The platform is user friendly and easy to learn.
The software has excellent search ability for options. Traders can look through a host of option strategies, such as iron butterflies and diagonals.
A simple click on an option produces a user-friendly trade ticket.
A nice feature of this platform is the ability to switch from the regular brokerage account to simulated trading. In this mode, investors can practice
trading in the same platform without putting real money on the line. All of the same platform features in the real account are also available in the
simulated account. This means that investors can practice day trading or the use of margin.
None of the broker's trading tools have any fees or frequent trader requirements, so all customers can use them.
OptionsHouse provides its clients with a very useful app. It can be used on Apple phones and tablets, mobile web, and Android devices. The app's interface was designed with usability in mind. There is a blue section for research and trading. An orange section has market news and a watch list. The third section is a cluster of green choices that shows account information and positions. These color-coded areas make the app easy to navigate. The app also features an area called the Dashboard, where users will find the day's profit or loss, YTD return, market news, and current positions.
Alerts are also available on the mobile platform. A variety of events can trigger an alert, such as order fill or a price movement. Users can set alerts to be sent via e-mail, text message, or push notification.
Investors can also practice trading on the app by selecting a paper trading account. This practice account is an integral part of the app. Investors can learn different trading strategies without the risk of losing real money.
Trading options on the app is simple. An option chain is displayed for any security entered after tapping on the Options menu. Tapping on a call or put creates a trade ticket. Complex option strategies are also available.
The app has good charting tools for stocks and ETF's. Conveniently, the graph rotates horizontally when the device is held horizontally. Technical indicators are also available on the platform.
Read OptionsHouse app review.
OptionsHouse Review: Pros
- Very low commissions
- Free streaming quotes
- No fee IRA accounts
- No volume requirements, or maintenance or inactivity fees
- Free check-writing privileges
- Free DRIPs/dividend reinvestment (complete, non-fractional shares only)
- No surcharges on large orders or extended hours trading
- Low margin rates
- Free virtual trading
OptionsHouse Review: Cons
- For stocks priced $2 or less that are not options eligible, there is a $0.005 per share surcharge for the entire order (including OTCBB, Pink Sheets)
- Short after-hours trading: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST, instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
The broker's standard commission of just $4.95 for stock and ETF trades makes OptionsHouse a perfect choice for investors looking for a bargain. Add
in option contracts for an additional 50¢ per contract, and the firm is a great value. OptionsHouse also offers trading in futures, a rarity among
securities brokers. Clients can buy and sell futures contracts until September 30, 2016 for just $1.50 per contract, another bargain.
OptionsHouse Review Summary
Don't let the name fool you - OptionsHouse is not just for options traders. Since 2005 the firm also provides excellent tools and pricing for stocks,
ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds investors. In 2016 it added futures trading to the list of the products. OptionsHouse now offers low, flat-rate $4.95 per
trade commission on stocks and ETFs; attractive plan for option traders - $4.95 plus $0.50 per contract; and a below average, $20 per transaction
rate on mutual funds. The company does not have minimum account balance, trading volume, or minimum number of trades requirements to get these low
OptionsHouse’s margin rates are some of the best in the industry. Currently if a trader borrows over $1 million, the margin
rate is only 3.25%. The highest margin rate is 7.75% to borrow up to $49,999. The margin rates incrementally decrease from 7.75% to
3.25% depending on the amount the investor borrows over $50,000.
Unlike many other companies, the firm does not have additional fees on IRA accounts, extended hours trading, or large orders. There is, however,
$0.005 per share surcharge for stocks priced $2 or less that are not options-eligible. OptionsHouse also has shorter than usual after-hours trading
period: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST.
OptionsHouse offers its customers Maxit Tax Calculator, which helps investors with tax liabilities, gains tracking, and Schedule D reports.
In 2014 OptionsHouse merged with another excellent discount brokerage - TradeMonster. The merger placed the firm in the top 10 largest online
brokerages in the U.S. In July of 2016 OptionsHouse announced that Etrade acquired it and the deal is scheduled to be closed by the end of the year.
This should ease the fears of anyone who is considering opening an account at the firm but have never heard about it.
In the most recent online stock broker survey, OptionsHouse got score of 5 (out of 5) in Mobile and Portfolio Analysis & Reports
categories as well as some of the highest scores in Research Amenities, Usability, Customer Service & Education, and in Trading Technology categories.
We rated OptionsHouse one of the best online brokers for stocks and
options trading in 2016.
The firm provides some of the cheapest commissions on many investment products without compromising on customer service, quality of trading tools, or
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