Here’s a timely offer, at least for me. New-ish online broker OptionsHouse is offering 100 free trades when you open a new account with at least $3,000 with the promo code FREE100. The 100 free trades work for both stock and options trades, and are good for 60 days after funding. On top of that, their regular price for stock trades is only $2.95, while their options trades cost a flat $9.95 with no additional contract fees. Finally, there are no monthly minimum balances and no maintenance fees. Not a bad price structure.
Quality-wise, they promote the fact that Barron’s rated them #1 in Trade Experience and in the top tier overall in their March 2009 broker review. Although not a big name yet, they do seem like they are ready for serious traders. Here’s a snippet of the review:
Pros: As its name suggests, Options House has a lot of great tools for the options trader. Backed by market maker Peak6, this broker lets its retail customers use quite a few professional-level tools. Building a spread is very intuitive on this system, as is rolling a call or put from one strike to another. The site’s motto is “Fast matters,” and that goes for everything from finding possible trades to populating an order ticket to executing the trade itself.
Portfolio-analysis tools are top-notch here, too. The Risk Viewer includes a what-if calculator showing what could happen based on various market scenarios.
Options House also offers the Maxit tax-management tool for free. Although this is a Web-based platform, it has the flexibility and power of many of the software platforms.
Cons: No mobile access yet. However, the company says it is coming later this year. Limited fixed-income and mutual-fund offerings.
As noted I am starting to invest in some ETFs, so I might give these guys a spin. After looking through their fee schedule I noticed that they all partial outgoing ACAT transfers for free, which means that it won’t cost very much for me to move my holdings out if I need to. (Just transfer the important holdings out, keep one unimportant holding, and then sell it later.) I hope their free tax-management tools does my Schedule D for me.
Update: I just applied – relatively straightforward application, at the end you need to fax/mail in a signature page and a copy of your driver’s license or utility bill. They allow ACH funding online.