As the bull market marches relentlessly on, investors are spreading their investment wings, expanding in to different and often uncharted asset vehicles as they gain confidence in the strength of the markets and in their own ability to trade.
One of the fastest growing investment niches is options trading. And one of the best platforms available to trade in them is OptionsHouse.
And even if you don’t want to trade options, OptionsHouse it a pretty solid platform to trade more conventional assets, like stocks and mutual funds.
Keep reading and find out what OptionsHouse is all about and if it’s good for you.
OptionsHouse Review – Great for Options and More
Who Is OptionsHouse?
OptionsHouse was founded in 2005 by PEAK6 Investments. PEAK6 was a leader in the development and use of proprietary tools in the management of risk in options trading. Though it started out as an options trading platform, it has branched out to include virtually all other investment classes.
Today, OptionsHouse is owned by Chicago based OH Acquisition LLC, a fast growing financial services company that came about as a result of the merger between OptionsHouse LLC and tradeMONSTER in 2014 (Click here to see out tradeMonster review). The new company is backed by growth investor General Atlantic.
The platform is growing rapidly, and has been ranked among Barron’s Review of Online Brokers “Best for Options Traders” six years in a row (2009 through 2014). The platform is dedicated to providing active traders with unmatched value through low prices, speed of platform and execution, and premium products.
How OptionsHouse Works
Though OptionsHouse was created specifically for options trading, it is also an excellent platform to trade other investments. It operates as a full-service, discount broker that enables you to trade virtually all other investment types.
The platform offers traders and investors the following:
You can cut your teeth in options trading with the Virtual Trading app. It enables you to test trading strategies without risking real money, and it includes all of the functions and features of the live version of the OptionsHouse.
OptionsHouse is considered to have one of the top mobile trading apps in the industry. Barron’s rated the mobile app with 4.5 out of 5 stars, noting that it has the “Lowest Frequent Trader’s Monthly Costs.” The app works with G1 (Google Android operating system), iPhone, Palm Pre, BlackBerry 8900 Curve, BlackBerry 9000 Bold, BlackBerry 9500 Storm, and BlackBerry 9630 Tour.
You can have IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and 401(k) rollovers at OptionsHouse. And once your account has been approved and funded you can trade call and put options, as well as stocks and funds. You can also sell covered calls and cash secured-puts, since all of these strategies involve limited risk.
OptionsHouse gives you the ability to trade option credit spreads within a retirement account, but these can only be traded on European style cash-to-settle indices. You can also trade debit and credit spreads on equities and on indices, but only after completing the Complex Options Agreement, as these trades are limited to experienced traders.
OptionsHouse Tax Center
The Tax Center gives you the ability to download Form 1099/1099-R and Schedule D/Form 8949 (capital transactions). Forms are available after February 15 of the previous tax year.
OptionsHouse has large library of tutorials on the platform. This will help you to become a knowledgeable trader before you begin investing. It can be especially effective when used in combinations with the Virtual Trading feature.
You can reach customer service from 7 AM to 7 PM Central time, Monday through Friday (excludes exchange holidays).
OptionsHouse Features – What Makes The Platform Special
One of the things you notice about OptionsHouse almost immediately is that it’s one of the most comprehensive trading platforms around.
Here’s a summary of some of the features and tools listed on the OptionsHouse Trading Platform webpage:
OptionsHouse Risk Score. Risk Score uses proprietary risk-management algorithms to give you a customized analysis of your portfolio’s potential risk.
Risk Viewer. Using proprietary algorithms, the Risk Viewer can help you better understand and estimate the potential risk in your portfolio.
Trade Generator. The proprietary technology in the Trade Generator scours the market for options trades and finds new trade ideas that match up with your inputs and sentiment.
Spread Investigators. The Spread Investigators scan the universe of equity options to find call or put spreads with high theoretical returns.
Streaming Charts & News.
With streaming charts, news and data you can visualize the market’s minute-by-minute movements in a customizable format to follow the market and make well-informed trades.
Profit and Loss (P&L) Calculator. The P&L Calculator offers an educational analysis of complex option strategies. You can use the P&L Calculator to generate on-the-fly “what-if” scenarios about potential trades.
Probability Calculator. The Probability Calculator enables you to enter price targets for a given symbol and find the probability of an underlying symbol reaching these targets on a future date.
Stock Screener. The Stock Screener can help identify interesting potential investments based on your own ideas, market sentiment, and other criteria that you select.
Volatility Charts. The Volatility Charts track changes in both implied and historic volatility to help you analyze volatility trends.
OptionsHouse Fees and Account Minimums
One of the real strengths of the OptionsHouse platform is that it offers some of the lowest trading fees in the industry. You can trade stocks at $4.75 per trade, and mutual funds for $9.95.
Pricing for options trades are as follows:
- Single Legs: 5 contracts $5.00 (plus $1.00 per contract over 5), or $8.50 + .15 per contract
- Spreads, Straddles and Combos: 10 contracts: $10.00 (plus $1.00 per contract over 10), or $12.50 + .15 per contract
Right now, OptionsHouse is offering 100 Commission Free Trades if you open and fund a new account with a minimum of $5,000.
There is no minimum funding amount to open an account with Options House – only a suggestion that you fund the account with at least $1,000 to make sure you have sufficient cash to begin trading.
There are however funding requirements based on the type of trading you want to do:
- $2,000 is the required minimum for a margin account in order to receive margin treatment on any trades you make. If your margin account falls below $2,000 in margin equity, it receives no margin treatment and is essentially treated like a cash account.
- There may be other minimum funding levels or minimum numbers of trades required to qualify for certain promotions on your cash or margin account.
- $2,000 is the required minimum to establish check writing privileges and a minimum of $10,000 to establish debit card privileges for both cash and margin accounts.
A Few Things You May Not Like About OptionsHouse
OptionsHouse charges a $75 annual fee if you want to have a debit card attached to your account. This may not be a deal-breaker for most investors, but it could be an issue for those who like debit card access to their investment portfolio.
OptionsHouse’s clearing firm – Apex Clearing Corporation – charges a $2 monthly processing fee to customers who elect to receive paper statements. A $2 per statement charge will also be assessed to customers who request to have their prior account statements printed and mailed to them.
“Non-Network Mutual Funds” are not available for purchase or transfer through OptionsHouse accounts. Non-Network Mutual Funds include funds issued by CGM, PIMCO, Meridian, USAA and Allianz. If you’re partial to these fund families, you may find this restriction to be a limitation.
Will OptionsHouse Work For You?
OptionsHouse is an excellent trading platform, even if you never intend to trade options.
Trading fees are among the lowest in the industry, there is an abundance of training resources including the virtual trading platform, and more trading tools than you’re likely to ever need.
The absence of account minimum requirements makes the platform suitable for new and small investors, and it can be an outstanding site if you want to add options trading to your retirement portfolio.
We’ll give OptionsHouse 4.5 stars out of 5.0.
OptionsHouse is offering up a number of juicy promotions for new accounts. Take a look:
10,000 United MileagePlus® award miles: Get 10,000 United MileagePlus® award miles when you trade with OptionsHouse
Free digital subscription to the Wall Street Journal: Get a FREE digital subscription to the Wall Street Journal when you open and fund a new OptionsHouse account
Free Google Nexus tablet: Get a FREE Google Nexus Tablet when you open and fund a new OptionsHouse account.
Free Kindle Fire HD: Get a FREE Kindle Fire HD when you open and fund an OptionsHouse account.
Each of the above is a separate promotion (you won’t get all of them). Make sure you read the details for the one you choose.