OptionsHouse IRA Accounts
OptionsHouse is a good place to open a Roth IRA and unlike mutual fund focused options like Vanguard, it deals heavily with trading. In fact, OptionsHouse offers access to mutual funds and if you want to buy or sell shares in a mutual fund you'll only pay $9.95. As their name suggests, their IRA accounts are designed around options trading. Option Plan trading fees are $4.95 plus $0.50 per contract. Because OptionsHouse is known for its excellent options trading platforms it is a great choice for anyone who is interested in actively trading their IRA in different stocks. If you are willing to accept the hands-on aspect of this account, you'll get the benefit of low trade fees at only $4.75 per trade.
Compared to other online brokers offering IRA accounts, the fees are hard to beat. There are no account maintenance fees or connection charges, no minimum balances and you can have a broker assist you in your trade and still pay only the per trade fee.
OptionsHouse offers several types of IRA accounts. The traditional IRA grows your tax-deferred dollars until retirement, and then you pay taxes upon withdrawal. The Roth IRA is funded with post-tax dollars, where you grow your nest egg, and ultimately withdrawal tax-free. The SEP IRA is a great choice for the self-employed, who can qualify to contribute more each year to their account than they can with traditional or Roth IRAs. There is a $1,000 minimum to open the account, which takes as little as 15 minutes online.
Streaming Quotes for Free
While many online brokerages offer streaming quotes, there is often a fee for this service. OptionsHouse provides streaming quotes for free. Open your account, take fine minutes to fill out the required fields and you are granted access to real time quotes on the range of stocks, bonds and other securities. This is a great feature if you are keeping an eye on a particular stock, or a specific industry.
The Virtual Account Tool
Once you open an OptionsHouse account, you get a $5,000 virtual account to practice with. If you are new to trading, or at least very cautious about trading your IRA funds, you can try your hand first for free with a virtual trading account. Take a stock strategy out for a virtual spin with imaginary money. It's a great way to test the waters at no risk.
Weak on Mutual Funds
The OptionsHouse mutual funds trading fee is great at just under ten dollars. However, the broker offers only about 1,000 no-load mutual funds, perhaps only a third of what competitors like TradeKing offer. Also, all mutual fund transactions need to be made over the phone. Although OptionsHouse is clearly targeting the active trader, they could stand to add more mutual fund options. If you prefer to put your IRA in a mutual fund, a free Vanguard account is a better option. Note that many of the top online brokers allow trades after hours, but OptionsHouse closes daily trading at 5:00 P.M. EST.
Updated Research Features
Since a merger with TradeMONSTER in 2014, OptionsHouse has improved their online research features. They list stock analyst reports, feature competitor news on specific industries and provide charts to allow investors to make informed decisions on specific stocks or funds to invest in.
Good Trading Tools
The online tools at OptionsHouse are very efficient and easy to understand. They are not as sophisticated as the tools at some online brokers such as Etrade, but they hold their own. The stripped down tools were designed at first to appeal to the knowledgable, active trader. As OptionsHouse adds more research capacity to their online brokerage, the scope of their trading tools expands and improves.
OptionsHouse calls their trading process and tools tradeCYCLE. Account holders can begin their trading process in tradeCYCLE by doing homework with research tools. Next, they find or craft a strategy with tools called strategySEEK or spreadMAKER, followed by testing the strategy in tradeLAB. Those ready to pull the trigger on a trade execute it with OMSuite. There are also tools for exit plans and adjusting your trades. The trading process may look a bit like a game, dressed up in this clever bit of marketing, but clients are guided through a logical, intelligent approach to investing that leaves no stone un-turned.
Good Customer Service
User reviews confirm that the OptionsHouse customer service call center staff is knowledgable about investing, a very positive plus in the online brokerage business. This is especially important to the active trader looking for information from a professional in the field, allowing them to proceed with confidence in the OptionsHouse team. There is also an instant chat feature. Some clients have noted that wait times can be long for both phone and chat.
The OptionsHouse online brokerage dates to 2005. They are backed by global growth investor General Atlantic. Their 2014 merger with TradeMONSTER expanded their offerings significantly and helped improve their trading platform. Barron's has rated OptionsHouse as a 4 star brokerage, the top rating, for four years in a row, citing them as one of the top companies in their field. Certainly, they are leaders in low-cost trading, and as an active trading platform.
Verdict - Good
This is a good choice if you are looking for an excellent account in which you can trade stocks and options. On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple mutual fund this may not be the IRA provider for you.