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We spent over hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. Who is the best options broker today? The answer depends on whom you ask and what they value. For some investors, the best broker for trading options is the cost with the cheapest commissions. Others prioritize trading tools, platform design, research, customer cost or all of the above.
See cost to choose an options broker for more on what can make or break an options trading experience. Our top picks cover all the option trader needs Ч access to high-quality research, analytical tools, a user-friendly platform Ч at reasonable prices. TD Ameritrade handily serves option traders no matter where they are on the learning curve. Get details in our TD Ameritrade review. See our OptionsHouse review for more details. Both brokers allow prospective clients to test-drive the goods without putting any real money on the line.
TD Ameritrade offers a paperMoney virtual trading account to test out the thinkorswim platform. At OptionsHouse, once customers open a real account which has no minimum funding requirementthey can set up a paperTRADE account that offers investors hands-on practice trading virtual currency in a live market environment.
These brokers offer competitively priced options trading commissions and have eliminated or dramatically capped minimum trading fees. In early most of the mainstream online brokers slashed commissions to levels once reserved for their deep-discount peers. OptionsXpress, which is owned by Charles Schwab, changed from a tiered commission schedule to a flat-fee one in early Platform, data and other fees can quickly cancel out what you save on commissions.
Neither broker is known for having standout trading platform features or research tools. See our full reviews of OptionsXpress and eOption for details on what they offer. But for those simply looking for a cheap way to execute trades, OptionsXpress and eOption get the job done.
For cost-conscious, active options traders looking for low costs and a platform with a lot more meat on its bones, Interactive Brokers may be more your style. Its Trader Workstation platform with an options strategy lab is considered one of the best and most sophisticated around.
But watch other fees to ensure that the lower commissions pay off. These brokers offer some of the most powerful trading platforms available for a reasonable price. Option trading platforms at TradeStation and Ally Invest offer a wide variety of analytical tools, provide stable and speedy trade execution, and allow investors to customize the tools and design to best suit their needs. TradeStation is best left trade more experienced, tech-savvy investors who want to experience options trading using the same tools as pro traders.
The broker provides all the tools needed to design, test-drive, monitor, automate and speedily execute the most complex trades via direct-market access no pesky middleman to slow down the process. But in March TradeStation eliminated the service fee, trade its trade commissions for stocks and options and tossed in free real-time market data and free access to its market-monitoring and portfolio-level back-testing tools.
Educational tools and platform tutorials are plentiful, which is a plus: Because of the sophisticated nature of the platform, it may require some time to become familiar with all that it offers. See more in our TradeStation review.
The browser-based option resembles the offerings of its pricier competitors and comes with free options trading tools for screening and advanced charting. Navigation is easy and streamlined. Customers can create a custom dashboard with movable modules with the data and features they want to use. Cost setup extends to what users see across all devices, including mobile and tablet. Both offer extensive research and data for free, as well as live classes and webinars for trade and advanced options traders.
But Schwab itself has a fully realized suite of offerings option options traders, including trade assessment tools, customizable screeners, access to Schwab analyst options-market commentary, live online webinars and pre-recorded seminars. Schwab offers two excellent platforms: These brokers provide ideal conditions educational resources, user-friendly platforms, customer support and low minimums for investors just learning the options trading ropes.
OptionsHouse and TD Ameritrade Ч our trade overall brokers Ч ranked highest in this category, too. OptionsHouse, Ally Invest, TD Ameritrade, Merrill Edge: Many of the brokers on our list require no money to open an account. Scottrade and TD Ameritrade: On-call help is particularly handy when starting out. Scottrade is known for its standout customer service and huge physical presence of branches.
So is TD Ameritrade, with around-the-clock phone and email support and branches where clients can attend seminars and meet with investment associates. Ally, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade: And trade Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade have multiple option customers can use to start learning the ropes, then graduate to more sophisticated tools and trades if desired. NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date.
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Top research; two powerful trade platforms. Good for active traders seeking low costs. Advanced research and tools, speedy execution. Extensive lineup of investor education options. Deep research library and customer education opportunities.