optionsXpress Trading Platform Review

This is the third segment of the broker trading platform review series. So far I have covered Scottrade and Firstrade. Today, I am going to take a look at another online broker, optionsXpress. I mentioned early that, though I have an account with optionsXpress for nearly 2 years, I didn’t make any trades with optionsXpress until recently. The reason for not using it is quite simple: Unlike Scottrade and Firstrade, I don’t consider optionsXpress as a true discount broker. It’s quite expensive to trade with optionsXpress actually. Nonetheless, the broker has some features that are worth a look.

optionsXpress Commission

Yes, it is rather costly to trade stocks with optionsXpress. Currently, the broker charges $14.95 for each stock trade for up to 1,000 shares. If you trade more than 1,000 shares, the commission changes to $0.015 per share. If you trade 9 times or more, then the commission drops to $9.95 per trade, still very expensive. If you want to use optionsXpress to trade options, the fee is $14.95 for every contract if you trade less than 35 times a quarter.

In addition to stocks and options, optionsXpress offers mutual funds, also at $14.95 per trade. As I mentioned a number of times before, buying mutual funds from brokers is not the best way to invest in mutual funds because they all charge very high fees with almost no exception. To avoid such hefty fees, go with the mutual fund companies directly instead.

optionsXpress Trading Platform

In addition to the main web interface where you can find standard information such as account value and positions, optionsXpress also has a customizable interface called MyOX.

OptionsXpress interface

With MyOX, you have the flexibility of choosing what you want to see in your account, eliminating unwanted contents from the interface as those I see in Firstrade. On the default MyOX page, I have such basic information of my account as balance, positions, orders, stock/options watch list, and a quote of stock that’s not in the watch list. But that’s not all it offers. In fact, I can add a new tab if I want to have more contents, like charts, options chain, financial news, RSS feed, etc, though they will not be on the same page.

And like many other web-based trading platforms, trading can’t be done directly in the main optionsXpress page. To make a trade, you will need to click the Trade button at the top, select whether it’s a stock or options you want to trade, and go to a different page where you can enter your order information. However, if it’s a stock that’s already in your Watch List, you can trade right from the Watch List. The Watch List itself is also customizable, so you can choose see. The default setting includes Symbol, Last, Bid, Ask, Change, and Actions (Trade). With other web-based brokers, the quotes of those stocks either in the holding or watch list are usually not updated unless you manually refresh the screen. Not so with optionsXpress. At the bottom of optionsXpress Watch List, there’s a check-box where you can choose to Auto-Refresh the list. From what I noticed, the frequency is quite high.

optionsXpress Streaming Quotes

optionsXpress also offers web-based streaming that will give you quotes in real-time.

optionsXpress Streaming Quotes

What I like about this tool is that stocks in the Watch List are added to the real-time quote window automatically, so you don’t have to enter the symbols again. This feature is what Socttrade and Firstrade streaming quote tools don’t have. If you want to trade a stock in your Watch List from the quote window,  you can simply double-click the symbol from the list and the stock will be added to the order form underneath the quote list, where you can also find more detailed information about the stock , where trades can be made right from the streaming quotes window. It’s really convenient. And those symbols that you added to the Watch List from the streaming quote will also appear in your Watch List in the web page.

Other Tools

I have talked about optionsXpress’s Virtual Trading before. But that’s not the only tools that optionsXpress offers. In fact, the broker has a wide range of tools that help investors make better investment decisions.

optionsXpress Trading Tools

Obviously, you will need to really use all those available tools to fully explore what are offered by optionsXpress, that’s something I haven’t done yet.

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