OptionsXpress doesn't have the cheapest trades for an online broker, but its flat-fee structure, no minimums and no-fee broker assistance win rave reviews from experts. The broker's mobile and online trading platforms are also top-notch.
No minimums, powerful free tools. OptionsXpress was acquired by Charles Schwab in 2011, but continues to operate independently and wins rave reviews from many financial experts. The firm originally specialized in options trading, and is still noted for its research tools and mobile apps for options traders. However, OptionsXpress has diversified and now offers a wide range of investment products and an education center with webinars, live events and virtual trading.
There's no minimum to open an account, making signing up especially easy, and you'll have access to $25,000 in virtual money that you can use to practice trading before delving into real trades. Several free, powerful tools help identify which trades are right for you. The program interface works for beginners or advanced traders, and is customizable.
More than just options, but higher-priced trades. OptionsXpress offers far more than just options trading: bonds, stocks, ETFs, futures, international markets and mutual funds are also available. (Forex – foreign-currency trading -- is not.) Stock trade commissions (Est. $10 per trade) are a flat fee up to 1,000 shares and there aren't minimums or maintenance fees, but the minimums on options trades (Est. $15 plus $1.25 for fewer than 35 options trades) can get pricey for active traders.
If you fall into this category, OptionsHouse (up to 5 for $5 and $1 thereafter) would be a better deal. On the upside, OptionsXpress's mutual fund trades (Est. $10) are on the lower end, and there are over 5,000 no-load funds available. Level II quotes are also available for more advanced traders.
Free broker assistance, limited hours. While its trades may be a bit pricey, experts rave about the fact that OptionsXpress offers free broker-assisted trades -- a rarity among online brokerages. Agents are available via live chat, phone and email, but emails might not be answered until the next day; 24-hour support chat is only available for futures traders Sunday through Friday. (Live chat for other traders is available 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.) There are no offices for face-to-face assistance.
TopTenReviews.com offers detailed reviews of 18 brokers, naming OptionsXpress the number-one broker due to its flat-rate fees, no account minimum and trading tools. It gets 9.78 points out of 10 and TopTenReviews.com's 2013 Gold and Excellence awards.
Review: OptionsXpress, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not Dated
OptionsXpress gets 4 out of 5 stars from this expert reviewer, who praises it as a "popular specialized broker" catering to options and futures traders. However, it only provides 24-hour customer service for futures traders.
Review: OptionsXpress Review, Ed Carlson, June 7, 2013
Editors of MoneyUnder30.com give OptionsXpress 3.5 out of 5 stars, praising its low-cost trades and no-fee broker assistance. OptionsXpress's online and mobile trading tools are named "hands-down among the best for anyone serious about research."
Review: Compare the Best Brokerage Firms for Investing Online, Editors of MoneyUnder30.com, Not Dated
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. Berger likes OptionsXpress's lack of account fees and its free broker support.
Review: OptionsXpress Review -- Online Discount Broker, Rob Berger, March 21, 2012