OptionsHouse Review

Updated June 30, 2013
Bottom Line

OptionsHouse caters to options traders but has other offerings like stocks and mutual funds. It gets high marks for customer service and trader education, including sophisticated risk assessments, and has impressive mobile applications.

Ease of use

$1,000 minimum to open an account. Opening an account requires a $1,000 minimum, or $2,000 for a margin account. After signing up you'll have access to virtual trading, which enables investors to test out trades without actually executing orders. OptionsHouse's online platform also has a popular risk evaluator (called the Risk Viewer) that assesses the risk for each investment or potential investment in the form of an easy-to-read score.

ProsLow commissions, No maintenance fees, Robust mobile appsConsEmphasis on options trading, Limited extended trade times

The interface is clear and highly customizable, and Reviews.com notes that you can open multiple windows within the platform to give a more comprehensive view. However, while OptionsHouse caters to more sophisticated traders, it doesn't offer Level II quotes, which are essential to day traders.

Pricing and services

Highly competitive pricing. OptionsHouse has among the lowest fees in the industry (Est. $4 per stock and ETF trade; $5 for 5 options ($1 over 5). Mutual fund transactions cost more (Est. $10); the rates are highly competitive but there are limited mutual fund options. There are no IRA fees. Bonds and ETFs can be traded, but Forex (foreign-currency trading) and other international investments aren't available.

After-hours trading is restricted to one hour after the market closes; it used to be four hours. Reviewers praise OptionsHouse's mobile apps, which work with Android and Apple devices as well as Kindle Fire, have stellar security and facilitate very fast trades -- but only during market hours. If you want a broader range of investment offerings, reviewers say that E*Trade (Est. $10 per trade) may be a good fit.

Customer service

No broker-assisted fees, but very limited hours. In addition to offering very cheap trades, OptionsHouse beats out the competition by not charging for broker-assisted trades. There are expert brokers available via phone and chat, but hours are limited (Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Standard Time), and they shut down when the U.S. markets close for holidays.

When Brokerage-Review.com set up an account online, customer service called the following day as a courtesy. (The testers had to fax in additional paperwork to transfer an IRA; there was no option to email the documents.) TopTenReviews.com calls OptionsHouse "a stellar online stock trading service," citing its excellent customer service.

Our Sources

1. Barron's

Back Online!, Theresa W. Carey, March 9, 2013

For its 2013 rankings, Barron's rates 24 online brokers, praising OptionsHouse for offering "terrific professional-grade tools" and customizable mobile apps with the option of having an extra layer of security. It's ranked 4.5 out of 5 stars for options trading and 4 stars out of 5 overall, placing sixth among the two dozen firms.

2. TopTenReviews.com

OptionsHouse, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated

Editors of TopTenReviews.com give OptionsHouse 9.75 out of 10 stars, calling it "a stellar online stock trading service with low fees and powerful trading tools" that has excellent customer service. It receives the site's 2013 Silver and Excellence awards. It doesn't offer Level II quotes, which are essential to day traders, however.

3. Investors.com

Top 5 Online Brokers Ranked for Every Investor Type, Victor Reklaitis, Feb. 5, 2013

Investor's Business Daily's website, Investors.com, identifies the best online brokers based on a survey of 10,250 Investor.com readers. OptionsHouse is chosen for low fees and options trading.

4. BrokerageReview.com

2013 Best Brokerage Firms: Top Rated Discount Online Stockbroker Companies, Editors of Brokerage-Review.com, Not dated

New York-based company Brokerage-Review.com, an ad-driven site, names OptionsHouse the best online broker in 2013 (it also won the distinction in 2012) primarily because of its low fees and zero account-balance minimums. Editors test and review the broker, giving it 5 out of 5 stars; on the downside, they note that it has "shortened after-hours trading."

5. Reviews.com

OptionsHouse Review, Ed Carlson, June 7, 2013

OptionsHouse gets 4 out of 5 stars from this expert reviewer, who praises its low cost and fees as well as its platform tools. However, the brokerage's limited access to international markets and lack of third-party research are critiqued.

6. DoughRoller

OptionsHouse Review: An Online Discount Broker with Professional Grade Trading Tools, Rob Berger, March 30, 2012

DoughRoller's publisher, personal finance expert and attorney Rob Berger, recommends Scottrade, OptionsHouse and OptionsXpress as Editor's Choice picks, and provides longer reviews on each service. OptionsHouse gets an endorsement because of its "professional grade online trading tools" and cheap, flat-fee stock trades.