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Top 8 Option Stock Brokers

Options trading is an area of investment that allows investors to buy and sell indexes, ETFs, and securities at a predetermined price for a specific period of time. During that time, options’ values fluctuate based on the price of the option’s underlying instrument. For this reason, options trading can be high-risk, but it can also offer unique benefits from trading ETFs or stocks on their own. For investors willing to brave options trading for the potential for high reward, there are a lot of online option brokers available to support you.

Each online option trading platform is distinctive, making it important to understand your needs and the best options trading strategies for your portfolio. While we’re not a stockbroker or advisor, it’s important to have a thorough knowledge of the choices available to you in order to find and identify possible trades for yourself. Here we’ve analyzed high-visibility options brokers based on qualities important to users such as account minimums, thorough research, trading commissions, and account bonuses, and compiled a list of the top eight option stock brokers:

  • TradeStation.
  • Interactive Brokers.
  • Charles Schwab.
  • Fidelity.
  • TD Ameritrade.
  • Ally Invest.
  • Robinhood.
  • E*TRADE.

TradeStation

Image via Flickr by CreditDebitPro

TradeStation is a discount option broker that caters to active traders, futures trading, and low-cost trading. With a powerful platform and competitive commission prices, TradeStation is the perfect broker for online options trades if you’re a frequent trader. While this broker has a $0 minimum balance, investors who keep at least $2,000 in their account will avoid any account inactivity fees.

Those willing to compare pricing on both of TradeStation’s commission schedules can spend less than they would on other platforms. TradeStation also offers options commissions as low as $0.50 per contract, based on the user’s chosen account type. Keep in mind that TradeStation does not offer features such as research and fee-free mutual funds. They also don’t possess any no-transaction-fee mutual funds. If these are important to you, consider one of the other online option brokers mentioned here.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is another low-cost choice among online trading options platforms with premium features that cater to professionals. With more outstanding margin loans than any other discount broker, low margin rates are a large plus of the Interactive Brokers platform. In addition, IBKR boasts an average client trade rate of over 300 times per year, meaning the typical user is an active trader, financial professional, or experienced investor. For this reason, Interactive Brokers offers its research at an additional charge.

If you consider yourself to be a less active trader, Interactive Brokers also offers a no-commission IBKR Lite Plan. Interactive Brokers does have a minimum monthly fee of $10, however, those on the IBKR Pro plan can avoid this by sustaining a balance of $100,000 or more. Interactive Brokers has an options commission of $0.65 per contract, with volume discounts available.

Charles Schwab

As a full-service online broker, Charles Schwab is one of the best overall picks. This option stock broker features essential research investors need to make educated trading decisions, fair pricing on options, incredible customer support, and an impressive StreetSmart Edge trading platform. With Amazon’s Alexa, you can also use Schwab to request quotes, organize your watch list, and get market updates. Charles Schwab offers an options commission of $0.65 per contract.

Fidelity

Similar to Schwab but with even more research tools for investors, Fidelity is an online trading options broker that’s great for beginning investors. Fidelity boasts over 3,500 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and $0 trading commissions. It also has zero-fee index funds. One of our favorite parts of this choice for option trading online is that, unlike many other brokers, Fidelity doesn’t nickel and dime investors. They also have a strong customer experience reputation, and their Active Trader Pro platform is top notch. Fidelity’s options commissions are $0.65 per contract.

TD Ameritrade

With first-rate tools and products, TD Ameritrade is a competitive platform for trading options online. TD Ameritrade users have access to over 1,900 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs, making this a preferred choice among investors who frequently use funds. Among discount brokers, this stock options broker boasts one of the farthest-reaching branch networks and most extensive research offerings, greatly benefiting users who value a local branch office with access to in-person customer service or who desire more guidance.

Keep in mind that among discount brokers, TD Ameritrade’s margin rates are relatively high, costing up to $475 a year even on a moderate $5,000 average daily balance. If your investment strategy focuses on margin, consider one of the other online trading options listed here.

TD Ameritrade supports $0 commissions and has no account minimums.

Ally Invest

Geared toward long-term investors, Ally invest is an easy-to-use, web-based stock options broker. With a no-load mutual funds fee of $9.95, investors who rely on mutual funds can keep all of their investments in one place, a relatively low cost for the benefits provided. In addition to its simple interface, Ally Invest has 24/7 phone and online chat support. This platform features $0 commissions and no account minimums. Their options fees are $0.50 per contract, making this an excellent choice for price-aware investors.

Note that Ally Invest charges more for commission on stocks priced lower than $2. If you identify as a penny stock trader, one of the other options online brokers mentioned here may better suit your needs.

Robinhood

When it comes to low costs, cash management, and fractional shares, this no-fee brokerage is an ideal platform for newer investors looking to trade options online. On Robinhood, users are treated to a highly competitive annual percentage yield (APY) on uninvested money and can buy fractional stock shares priced as low as $1, making it a super sweet deal for investors with limited funds. Similar to Ally Invest, Robinhood showcases a comparatively simple interface with fewer features but greater ease of use.

In addition to options, investors can trade stocks and ETFs, but it is important to note that Robinhood doesn’t support the trading of mutual funds or bonds on their platform. If these are key to your portfolio, another broker may serve as a better option online trading choice for you. Those who need more than the standard brokerage account, including trusts, partnerships, custodials, and IRAs, should also look elsewhere.

For $5 a month, Robinhood also offers a premium product, Robinhood Gold, which provides its users with access to larger deposits, Morningstar stock research reports, and margin trading.

E*TRADE

E*TRADE is a U.S. options broker with tools and resources that meet the needs of every kind of investor. Its free and convenient online Power E*TRADE platform is particularly popular among options traders, especially those with multiple trading platforms. E*TRADE also offers thousands of free-to-trade ETFs and mutual funds for long-term investors.

Note that some mutual funds made available through this service may have their own minimum investment requirements, but investors can easily build a diversified portfolio from the 4,400 available no-transaction-fee funds. Both standard brokerage accounts and IRAs on E*TRADE have no minimum deposit requirements.

E*TRADE provides 24/7 phone and online chat support and has several brick-and-mortar branches, giving nearby investors the opportunity for in-person customer service.

Tips for Choosing an Options Trading Broker

Now you know the top eight option stock brokers, but which is the best choice for you? When choosing investment tools, we like to take into account three factors:

  1. Pricing: The price of options trades varies across platforms and affects your profitability. You’ll want to commit to a broker that fits your financial goals and situation.
  2. Interface: A platform’s value to an investor varies greatly based on the investor’s needs. It will be beneficial to find an interface that enables your preferred trading strategies, objectives, and intended use.
  3. Bonuses: Supplemental features can be a strong determining factor in what options online broker you choose to establish an account with. Choose a platform with additional tools that benefit your individual trading experience.

Once you’ve selected the options online trading platform that suits your needs, you’ll be able to set up your option trading account and get started.