OptionsHouse for Stocks and Options Trading

OptionsHouse first came to my attention in April when I compared online discount brokers for their commissions to trade stocks, mutual funds, and options. However, at that time I didn’t get much interest in the broker at that time because back then, the commission it charges was $4.95 per stock trade, which is the same as what TradeKing charges. However, since the launch of OptionsHouse 2.0, the broker has reduced its stock trade commission to $2.95, beating both TradeKing and Zecco ($4.50/trade, but you can get commission free trades from Zecco if you meet certain conditions), another popular online discount broker, easily and nicely as far as commission is concerned. In fact, OptionsHouse adopts a flat-fee policy that makes it a very attractive discounter brokers for both stocks and options trading.

Since I started to learn options trading, I decided to open an account with OptionsHouse and see how it compares with other brokers I am currently using. If nothing else, the $2.95 commission itself makes OptionsHouse a nice choice to trade stocks.

OptionsHouse Interface

OptionsHouse Stock Trading Platform review

My first impression of OptionsHouse’s trading interface is very positive (since I am still waiting for my account to be funded, I wasn’t able to trade). Even though the interface is web based, it feels more like a stand alone platform.

The Account page lists all the information about the account, including Account Value, Portfolio Value, Cash Balance, Stock Buying Power, Option Buying Power, Positions, and Orders. By clicking tabs on the right hand of the screen, I can read market news, see chart of a particular stock, check out stocks in my watch-list, see what’s hot in options trading, and monitor indices.

The Stock page gives me detailed information about a particular stock I am interested in. For example, it shows the company profile, financials, latest insider trades, SEC filings, analyst ratings of the stock (in the picture above is analyst ratings of Citigroup and stock chart), earnings, and historical stock prices. The information is very comprehensive, covering pretty much everything you need to know about the company.

While the interface looks impressive, I found it’s a little weird that all stock quotes are delayed 20 minutes. I don’t know why it only gives delayed quote (hope it isn’t like TradeKing that I have to setup the account to get real-time quotes). If I want to trade stocks at real time, then I need real time quotes, not something that has happened 20 minutes ago.

The Options page shows Option Chain of a particular stock with expiration times for Put and Call Options from 17 days to 572 days.

OptionsHouse Tools

What I like the most are the tools offered by OptionsHouse. Here I can use tools such as Streaming Charts & News, Risk Viewer, Probability Calculators, P&L Calculator, Stock Screener, Vol Charts, Put Spread Investigator (as shown in the following screenshot), Call Spread Investigator, and Covered Call Investigator.

OptionsHouse Options Tools

Even though I didn’t find a tool to let me do, for example, Technical Analysis, it does have quite a few tools for options trading. However, since I don’t trade options, I can’t comment on whether those tolls are useful for options trading or not. I will need to study a little more to know how to use them :)

I did played a little bit their stock screener. The function that let me export results in CVS file, which you can open with Excel, is quite nice (if you think it’s necessary to export the results of course).

What else?

Since I am still waiting for my account to be fully functional right now, I am sure there will be other functions that I will find helpful once I start to use it to trade. In addition to the flat $2.95 commission per stock trade, OptionsHouse also charge flat $9.95 for options trading. The flat fee, however, could cost you more if you only a small number of contracts (1 options contract represents 100 shares of the underlying stock). For example, if you trade only one options contract, you will pay OptionsHouse $9.95 in commission, while trading the amount of contract with, say, TradeKing, will cost you only $5.45 ($4.95 + $0.50/contract) because, TradeKing, like most other discount brokers, charges commissions for options based on the number of contracts traded (see updated discount brokers comparison for commissions charged by each broker for trading options),  plus the commission per stock trade. If you buy or sell more than 10 contracts, then OptionsHouse will make a better choice since TradeKing will charge more than $9.95 for trading more than 10 contracts.

If you are other brokers, but interested in trading stocks and options with OptionsHouse, you can open an account with OptionsHouse ($1,000 minimum is required), then use ACAT to transfer your account from other broker to OptionsHouse. Though you are likely to be charged with an account transfer out fee, but OptionsHouse will reimburse you up to $100 transfer fee charged by other broker.

Update: I had an online chat with OptionsHouse and it seems that I have to wait until my account is funded to see real time quotes. Also for the account to be fully functional, I need to fax in the signed application together with a voided check.

Update 2: The account is up and funded. OptionsHouse uses trial deposit to verify the ownership of the linked external bank account, despite the requirement of mailing/faxing in a voided check. And after the account ownership is verified, they actually took back the two trial deposits! Talking about cheap.

Update 3: OptionsHouse is offering 100 commission free trades for November and December 2009.

If you are interested in opening a brokerage account with OptionsHouse, use OptionsHouse promotion code below to open an account and start trading.

Promotion Description Expiration
Flat $3.95 per trade Buy stocks/ETFs at $3.95 per trade, regardless whether it’s a market or limit order. N/A
Trade options with OptionsHouse for $9.95 flat commission
OptionsHouse ranked #1 in Barron’s 2009 Online Broker Survey and it’s named the Best For Options Traders. Open an account and experience the difference. N/A

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