Detailed Review of OptionsHouse
Unlike many online brokers OptionsHouse, as the name indicates, it's very much focused on options trading. It's owned and operated by Peak6 Investments, which is one of the largest options trading firms in the United States. Peak6 is located in Chicago (their offices are on the original trading floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, the oldest options exchange) which is pretty much the world’s center of options trading. The good thing about this is that it pretty much ensures that OptionsHouse knows exactly what its doing.
This has provided OptionsHouse with access to some of the best options trading knowledge and insight, and it clearly shows. It's undoubtedly one of the very best online brokers for trading options and provides an excellent range of products and services. More than likely, anything that you might be looking for or needing out of an online broker you'll be able to find here.
We have provided more detailed information about this broker in our review below. We cover all the key aspects, including the costs of trading, the platform, and research and analysis tools.
Commissions, Fees & Minimum Deposit
OptionsHouse is very competitive when it comes to its commission structure. There are two commission plans for trading, one of which is aimed at those that trade relatively infrequently and one of which is aimed at the more active traders. Broker assisted trades are also available and, rather unusually, at no extra cost.
In the first plan, traders pay a fixed fee of $5 for up to five options contracts in a single leg trade. Additional contracts cost $1 each. The second plan is a fixed fee of $8.50 for single leg trades, plus $0.15 per contract. OptionsHouse customers can choose to switch which plan they use up to once per day, which can be useful if making trades of different sizes.
What these two plans mean in practice is that OptionsHouse is attractive in terms of costs to basically all kinds of traders. This has been achieved while still having a commission structure that is easy to understand. It's worth noting that the fee for exercising is just $5 too, and there is no account service fee.
The minimum deposit at OptionsHouse is $1,000.
Trading Platform, Tools & Features
Just as the fees at OptionsHouse should appeal to all options traders, so should the trading platform. It's completely web-based, meaning nothing to download, and it's clean and modern looking. It's simple to use, easy to navigate, and offers plenty of tools and features.
The platform is also extremely customizable, more so than others. The entire interface can be set up to suit your own preferences, simply by adding or removing different sections to the layout. You can even adjust the size of certain sections or choose to have them open up in a new window. This makes the whole platform incredibly user friendly.
In terms of the tools and features, OptionsHouse scores highly here too. Perhaps the highlight is the all in one order ticket, which can be instantly accessed with a single click. This is really easy to use and makes entering orders a really straightforward process.
Also impressive is the Trade Generator, which creates a list of potential trades that may appeal to you based on the parameters you choose to enter. The PNL Calculator will calculate the potential profit and loss of any strategy you may be considering, including complex strategies. Risk Viewer is a handy tool that will evaluate your open positions and can help you manage your risk exposure.
There is live quote streaming, current market news, and much more as well. Experienced traders looking for advanced features won't be disappointed while beginners should have problems getting used to trading while using this platform.
OptionsHouse also offers mobile compatibility for those wishing to trade using their smartphone or tablet. There are applications designed specific for the iPhone and Android devices and these have been created to a high standard.
Research & Analysis
If OptionsHouse has a weak spot it's probably in the research tools they offer. There is no third party research available, something which most brokers do provide, and much of the research features they do have are somewhat lacking in depth. You can access basic information but there isn't much that gives you any real insight.
This failing could be considered fair enough considering the fees charged by OptionsHouse, but it's definitely an area where the broker should look to improve. More positively, the technical analysis tools available are of a significantly higher quality. You can easily view short term and long term trends, along with various statistics and trading signals. Additionally there are summaries provided for bullish, bearish and non-directional events.
OptionsHouse provides customer support via phone, email, and live chat. The staff appears to be very knowledgeable and they are certainly helpful. It can be something of a chore to connect to live chat as you have to input a fair amount of details, but this is a very minor issue. Telephone support is available from 7am to 7pm Central time, Monday to Friday.
24 hour support would be a nice addition, but the customer service at OptionsHouse compares favorably to most other brokers.
OptionsHouse set out to provide amateur retail traders with access to similar functionality and tools that are available to the professionals. It's fair to say that this has been achieved, and with very competitive commissions too. The only failing of note is the disappointing research tools. Everything else is very impressive.
This broker should appeal to most trader types, and their fee structure is certainly attractive to both low and high volume traders. It's probably more targeted towards those that have some experience behind them, but there is opportunities here for beginners too.