TradeKing vs OptionsHouse

The following is part of our online stock broker reviews series, helping you find a better broker for your investments.

Two of the heavy hitters when it comes to low cost online trades are OptionsHouse and TradeKing. As I write this OptionsHouse’s trade commissions are only $3.95 against TradeKing’s $4.95 per trade, so if you are looking for every discount you can get OptionsHouse wins this round, but as we all know cheapest trade commissions don’t always win the battle! (Also, new for August 2011 you can get a $100 TradeKing bonus when you sign up for a new account)

As for options trades, OptionsHouse has a flat-rate of $9.95, which is competitive compared to many other discount brokers and surpasses all of the full service brokers. For example, OptionsXpress has a $12.95 fee and TradeKing charges $4.95 in addition to sixty five cents per contract. The greatest difference is that with OptionsHouse there is only a one-time flat-rate, whereas other discount brokers will charge the base fee as well as an additional fee per contract.

As mentioned, TradeKing charges $4.95 per trade plus an additional sixty five cents per contract for up to eight contracts. After eight, the price goes down to fifteen cents per contract. Short options which are valued at 5 cents or less can be purchased to close at no charge. As for multiple legs, they will only be charged a one-time base price depending on the amount of contracts involved and the price is either $4.95 or $8.95. Mutual funds are available via TradeKing for $14.95 and bonds are charged just $4.95 per bond, but there is also a $14.95 minimum. Treasuries are $24.95 per transaction and Certificates of Deposit (CDs) are also $24.95.

OptionsHouse pricing is somewhat different. With their trade commission being only $3.95, they also have two plans for contracts. With the first plan you can get five contracts for $5, after which each contract is $1. The second plan offers a deal if you are trading over 10 contracts, wherein each contract is $8.50 plus fifteen cents a contract. Mutual fund trades are only $9.95 at OptionsHouse. In addition, it won’t cost you anything to open an account with TradeKing, but with OptionsHouse there is a $1000.00 fee for cash accounts and a $2000.00 fee for margin accounts.

When it comes to trading tools, OptionsHouse offers volatility charts, streaming charts and news, along with a probability calculator, an options hotlist, a risk viewer, a stock screener, a call spread investigator and the covered call investigator, just to name a few. Many of these tools were developed by the pros at PEAK6 who are still using the prototypes to generate and examine test option trading concepts.

OptionsHouse has been awarded four and a half stars by Barrons and is generally highly ranked as a great resource for options traders. As the name suggests, OptionsHouse has a wide variety of excellent tools designed specifically for options traders. Backed by the impressive, market maker PEAK6, this broker allows its customers to have access to many professional-level tools and information. Building a spread is very intuitive with the OptionsHouse system, as is rolling a call or put from one strike to another. It is no accident that the site’s motto is ‘Fast matters,’ because they have made sure that this goes for everything from finding possible trades to populating an order ticket, to actually executing the trade itself.

Reviews from online discussion boards look promising for OptionsHouse, with many people saying that they have had overall experiences with customer service. Another promising feature of OptionsHouse is that they are a member of SIPC, which means that all investments are protected by SIPC insurance for up to $500,000, of which $100,000 can be cash. They also have excess SIPC Insurance of $200,000 in aggregate for all of their customer’s accounts.

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