OptionsHouse vs IB

Interactive Brokers vs OptionsHouse

OptionsHouse or Interactive Brokers - which is better in 2017? Compare trading platforms, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.

Compare Account Pricing, Commissions, Fees


Interactive Brokers

  • 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
  • Investments: stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures, ETFs
  • Optionshouse minimum deposit to open account: $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
  • All Optionshouse fees
  • Optionshouse promotion code

  • Stocks and ETFs: $0.005 per share with $1 minimum, 0.5% of trade value maximum for SMART routed orders
  • Options: $0.70 per contract if premium => $0.10; $0.50 per contract if $0.05 =< premium < $0.10; $0.25 per contract if premium < $0.05 + exchange fees. Minimum $1 per order.
  • Mutual funds: $14.95 (minimum size on initial fund order is $3,000, subsequent minimum order size is $100)
  • Corporate and municipal bonds: 0.1%* face value (10 bps) if <= $10,000 face value; 0.025%* face value (2.5 bps) if > $10,000 face value
  • Treasuries (bills, notes, bonds): 0.02%* face value (2 bps) if <= $1,000,000 face value; 0.002%* face value (0.2 bps) if > $1,000,000 face value; $5 minimum
  • Metals: 0.15 basis point * trade value; minimum $2; storage cost 0.10% per annum
  • US-future and future options: $0.85 per contract
  • Forex: 0.20 basis point * trade value if <= $1,000,000,000; minimum $2
  • Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, futures, currency transactions, US SSFs, EFPs, metals
  • Interactive Brokers\IB minimum deposit to open account: $10,000 for non-IRA account, $5,000 for IRA account, $3,000 for anyone age 25 or younger
  • All Interactive Brokers fees
  • Interactive Brokers promotion

Compare Pros


Interactive Brokers

  • 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

  • Low pay-per-share commissions on stock trades with up to 1,000 shares and on options trades of up to 20 contracts
  • Professional trading platform
  • Lowest margin rates in the industry
  • Access to 100 markets worldwide
  • Rich selection of products for trading

Compare Cons


Interactive Brokers

  • 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

  • $10 per month minimum commission requirement to avoid $10 monthly fee (rises to $20 monthly if account balance is less than $2,000; waived for $100,000+ accounts)
  • $10 monthly for market data feed (waived if trade commissions are more than $10 per month)
  • $7.50 quarterly fee for IRA accounts ($30 per year)
  • $10,000 minimum to open most accounts
  • Complicated fee structure
  • Trader Workstation is designed for professional traders; it is not intuitive and difficult to learn
  • Expensive to make trades with over 1,600 shares
  • Lots of customer complains about snobby customer service (and yes, we experienced it ourselves)
  • Merciless margin tightening and fast margin calls - IB apparently doesn't care if their customers get completely wiped out
  • Minimum size on initial mutual fund order is $3,000 (subsequent minimum order size is $100). Only no-load funds and short term redemption fee funds are offered
  • Technical problems with trading platforms and website
  • Long login process

Promotion Links

OptionsHouse: Open and fund an OptionsHouse account to get up to $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days.

Interactive Brokers: company never offers promotions.

OptionsHouse vs Interactive Brokers: Comparison Summary

Interactive Brokers (or IB, Interactive Brokers Review) offers better equity commissions than OptionsHouse (OptionsHouse Review) on orders of up to 990 shares. OptionsHouse is cheaper for orders of over 990 shares, and the higher the number of shares in the trade, the more you save. IB has $10 per month in commissions requirement to avoid $10 monthly fee ($20 per month for accounts with less than $2,000). Customers subscribed to market data will be charged additional $10 monthly, if the same requirement is not satisfied. OptionsHouse does not charge monthly fees.

Interactive Brokers' only focus is on very active and professional traders. This is who the firm targets as customers and they actually discourage beginners to apply for an account. IB's trading platform is one of the most advanced in the industry, and will be very complicated to master for beginner investors. Anyone new to investing will definitely be better off with OptionsHouse, especially considering how terrible customer service at Interactive Brokers is.

When comparing OptionsHouse versus Interactive Brokers in trading tools category, there is a slight edge at OptionsHouse. IB, however, is in top 3 best firms in this area, along with another trading specialist - TradeStation (review). Both online brokers offer practice accounts (also called virtual or paper trading) for clients to test and improve their trading strategies without taking any risk.

The bottom line: if you are an experienced trader that makes a lot of equity trades of up to 990 shares, or trades many options contracts, or trades on international exchanges, then open account with Interactive Brokers. Otherwise, especially if you are a beginner or "buy-and-hold" investor, looking to open IRA account, or only trade occasionally, OptionsHouse is your broker.

Updated on 4/21/2017.

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