OptionsXpress Review


OptionsXpress Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs$8.95
Options$14.95 for up to 10 contracts, $1.50 per contract for over 10 contracts
Options Active Traders$12.95 for up to 10 contracts, $1.25 per contract for over 10 contracts
Mutual funds $9.95
Bonds$5 per bond, $9.95 minimum
Futures$3.50 per contract
Forex No commissions. OptionXpress receives compensation through the bid/ask spread.
Options on Futures $3.50 per contract
Spreads, Straddles & Combos2-10 contracts - $12.95 flat (active traders) $14.95 flat (non-active traders); 10 + contracts - $1.25 per contract (active traders); $1.50 per contract (non-active traders)

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures, options on futures, covered calls, forex, ETFs
OptionXpress minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesOptionsXpress fees
Promotion and login linksOptionXpress login, OptionXpress promotions


OptionsXpress by Charles Schwab New Account Setup

OptionsXpress by Charles Schwab has a blazingly fast new account application that doesn't sacrifice security: the checking account we linked used a deposit verification process, and the next day we got a phone call from customer service to verify our account information. Unlike the parent company, Schwab, there is no minimum to open a regular brokerage account. $200 minimum is required for an IRA; minimum for a margin account is $2,000.

OptionsXpress offers most account types: Individual Account, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship, Joint Tenants in Common, Trusts (Regular, Keogh, Profit Sharing Plan Trust, Money Purchase Plan), Corporate and LLC, Partnership, Investment Club, Custodial Account, Coverdell (educational IRA), Minor Roth, Minor Traditional, Custodial Traditional IRA, Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and SIMPLE IRA.


OptionsXpress Mutual Funds Review


Given the name of the brokerage firm, it shouldn't come as any surprise that OptionsXpress isn't geared towards mutual fund investors. Nevertheless, the broker's clients can still trade mutual funds. The OX website does have a basic mutual fund screener. It returns a total of 1,975 funds. The OX screener is able to search according to geographic region, expense ratio, return history, and Morningstar ratings. The screener has fewer inputs compared to Merrill Edge's or TD Ameritrade's screener. OptionsXpress's screener just pulls data from Morningstar. Regrettably, the broker has virtually no educational material on its website regarding mutual funds. This pales in comparison to Fidelity, which has a lot. Unfortunately, there are no funds available without transaction fees at OptionsXpress. Some funds will of course be no-load products.

Mutual funds purchased at OptionsXpress will have their own minimum purchase amounts. Each fund will specify its minimum in the prospectus. OptionsXpress does not charge a low-balance fee for funds. The broker also doesn't charge a redemption fee for early sales, although the fund itself might. The transaction fee for mutual fund sales and purchases is $9.95. While this is cheaper than Scottrade's $17 charge, the complete lack of NTF funds at OptionsXpress is disappointing.


IRAs


OptionsXpress customers can open a Roth, Traditional, Rollover, Minor Roth, SIMPLE, or SEP IRA. There is a $200 minimum to open an IRA, and the broker also requires the account to maintain at least a $200 balance. There are no setup, inactivity, or annual fees.

The OptionsXpress website does have some IRA materials. There are FAQ's that cover many IRA questions, such as rolling over a 401(k) to an IRA, withdrawals from a Traditional account, and Roth IRA eligibility. OptionsXpress is owned by the Charles Schwab Corporation, and OX customers can enroll in free workshops at Schwab locations. However, most of these workshops cover general investing rather than retirement planning. Webinars are available on the OX site; but usually these cover options and futures. OptionsXpress customer service agents are available via on-line chat to answer IRA questions.


OptionsXpress Website/Trading Platform/Tools Review


Website

The OptionsXpress website is fairly easy to navigate. It is arranged at the top with a series of tabs, such as Quotes, Toolboox, and Account. Under each tab are several sub-categories, such as ETF Center, Dividend Calendar, and Futures Research. The firm is one of the few securities broker to offer futures trading. The website has charts, podcasts, and articles that cover various commodities and other products tradable as futures contracts.

MyOX is a dashboard on the website that contains several windows for quick access. These include a watch list, account balances, quotes, a chart, positions, order status, and a message center. At the bottom of the browser is a handy quote bar. Entering a ticker symbol produces a security's last trade price, the day's volume, and the current bid-ask spread. There are links that produce a chart or option chain. Clicking on the trade link generates a new web page with a trade ticket. Advanced orders are available, including one triggers two, trailing stop, contingent on price, and more.





OptionsXpress also provides its customers with paper trading. A practice platform launches from the website into a separate window. Users get $25,000 in practice money. Stocks, options, futures, and ETF's can all be bought and sold without risking a single dollar. Complex order strategies can be practiced. These include butterfly, straddle, combo, and OCO. An account balance list changes when orders are placed, so new traders can get an idea of what happens to an account as orders are completed.

OX customers have access to some helpful financial videos on the broker's website. These cover important topics, such as how to place an order or use the broker's Java-based streaming charts. A chart can be detached and displayed full screen. The price action can be displayed tick-by-ticket. Several technical studies and drawing tools are also available.





Advanced Trading Platform

Unfortunately, OptionsXpress doesn't have an advanced desktop platform. Many brokers today, including Fidelity and Schwab, do offer one. On the flip side, OptionsXpress has many excellent search tools, such as Dragon and Idea Hub. These scanners can examine thousands of stock and option ideas to help traders find ideal candidates for purchase. Other brokers, such as Firstrade, don't offer the same level of search capability.


Mobile Trading

The OptionsXpress mobile app has many helpful features that traders will like. An all-in-one trade ticket allows orders for futures, options, stocks, and ETF's to be submitted to the exchange. Market news articles, current index prices, and the day's biggest movers are also shown on the app. It can be used on Apple and Android phones and tablets.





OptionsXpress Pros


  • Very cheap mutual fund commissions at $9.95 per transaction
  • Great customer service
  • Many well-designed trading tools and cutting-edge trading technology
  • Free streaming quotes
  • No fee IRA accounts
  • Free virtual trading
  • No money down to open new brokerage account
  • Free DRIP: dividend reinvestment plan (contact customer service to set up)
  • Access to financial advice and additional brokerage services through Charles Schwab


OptionsXpress Cons


  • Higher than average commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • High margin rates
  • NTF mutual funds are not offered


Recommendations


OptionsXpress may be a good choice for options traders because the broker's website has some good tools for options research. However, traders pay $1.50 per contract with a $14.95 minimum per order. Other brokers, such as Fidelity or OptionsHouse, may be a better value. Unlike most securities brokers, OptionsXpress offers futures trading; but at $3.50 per contract, TD Ameritrade is a wiser choice. With steep commissions, OptionsXpress is hard to recommend.


OptionsXpress Review Summary


OptionsXpress has been a leader in on-line trading for over a decade but you probably never heard of them. This is because they don't waste time with flashy TV commercials. Instead the company tends to focus on providing top notch trading, the industry's leading tools and high levels of customer service.

OptionsXpress, now part of the Charles Schwab family of investment services, is a full service investment broker providing liquid trading in stocks, commodities, futures, forex, bonds and mutual funds with a special emphasis on options and the tools active traders need. The broker provides leveraged trading through margin accounts as well as all levels of options trading up to and including naked short puts. In fact, options is what OptionsXpress is all about. The platform is about the easiest to navigate and use of any on the market and includes cutting edge tools like the OptionsPricer, Strategy Scan and the Dragon.

OptionsXpress by Charles Schwab offers great customer service, and professional level trading tools. The firm is rated Best in Trade Experience, Technical Trading Tools, Usability, Research and Customer Service Access in online broker surveys by major financial magazines.

There are no IRA setup or annual IRA fees and no account inactivity, maintenance, or platform fees. OptionsXpress does not have surcharges for stocks below $1 (penny stocks), large size orders or extended hours trading.

Beginner investors could educate themselves by taking free instructor-led online classes. They could also call and place broker-assisted trades with no additional charge. OptionsXpress offers free virtual trading, which allows users to practice trading with fake money.

The biggest disadvantage OptionsXpress has is that their commissions on stocks and ETFs are higher than the average in the industry. Active equities and options traders usually prefer TradeKing or OptionsHouse both of which offer much more attractive pricing and great trading tools.


OptionsXpress Promotion Code


None

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OptionsXpress reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 4


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