E*TRADE Financial Corporation (ETFC), the New York-based online brokerage, was onto something with its $725 million acquisition of OptionsHouse in July 2016. At the time, the company said that the purchase would help it compete better in derivatives trading. Since then, E*TRADE has become a leading player in options trading among the online brokers, scoring a top ranking from Benzinga.
While Benzinga did not give E*TRADE accolades as the lowest-cost provider of options trading, which went to Ally Invest, the financial media company did say that E*TRADE is the best overall options trading platform. "E*TRADE's OptionsHouse platform and mobile app are the gold standard of option trading platforms. OptionsHouse currently offers traders premium-quality tools without the premium price tag," Benzinga wrote in its review. Citing a customer service rep, the financial website said that the long-term aim is to have OptionsHouse replace E*TRADE Pro as the premium service. Until then, Benzinga noted that OptionsHouse is free for all E*TRADE customers.
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Benzinga pointed to the speed, quality of tools and ease of navigation on the OptionsHouse platform as reasons for the top billing. What's more, the platform gives investors the ability to create virtual trades to test strategies and provides access to real-time streaming options chains that can be customizable with up to 30 columns. In addition, the tradeLAB Snapshot Analysis tool shows the risk and reward from a trade in an easy-to-understand manner, while the strategySEEK tool lets users search for potential trading strategies.
For options investors who make less than 30 trades per quarter, the cost is $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contract. For more active traders, the fee is $4.95 per trade plus $0.50 per contact. Customers who open a new account and have a balance of at least $10,000 receive 60 days of commission-free trades, while those that deposit more than $10,000 obtain $200 to $2,500 in cash bonuses. "E*TRADE may not be the cheapest game in town, but tiered commissions give active traders a discount on the platform's standard rates. Plus, options traders can rest assured that they are getting plenty of bang for their buck with OptionsHouse," Benzinga wrote.
E*TRADE also has the best mobile options app, according to Benzinga, which said that traders on the go receive access to a lot of technology from the two free mobile apps that E*TRADE offers clients. The E*TRADE basic app live streams CNBC TV, provides customers with access to research and provides breaking news alerts. Meanwhile, the OptionsHouse app has professional trading tools in addition to research tools and alerts.