I have been a big fan of ultra-discount brokers Zecco and TradeKing, primarily because of their low trading costs and easy to use online brokerage platform. However it looks the low cost broker wars have intensified with a strong new player in the stock trading scene – OptionsHouse. They are an established broker in the option trading space, but have extended their business model to stock trading. Thanks to a superior, no-fuss trading platform they are able to offer very low trading rates such as $3.95 for stock trades (regardless of shares), $8.50 for options.
After having done a lot of trading in options and stocks over the last 10 years I can assure that these are the among the lowest trading costs you will see. Just see the chart comparing them to other established brokers – where you literally save hundreds of dollars over a year if you are a regular investor. So make sure you sign up for a free account to get these low brokerage rates. I have already opened an account with them and found their user interface very intuitive and best of all – quick. OptionsHouse is a member of SIPC (like all reputable brokers) which protects investors from the insolvency of a brokerage firm for up to $500,000.
Before you sign-up with them though, I recommend you check out their great virtual tour to get a feel for their user interface and the features they offer. If you have never traded stocks or options before, you may find it a bit too advanced and I recommend Tradeking or E-trade for you in this situation. Alternatively if you are familiar with stocks and want to step up to options trading (without paying the ridiculous per-contract fees at brokers like TD Ameritrade), then this is the broker for you. Start with their virtual trading feature where you can learn options trading, practice new options trading strategies, compete with your brother-in-law, and experiment with different stocks or sectors. And it’s all risk-free. Once you open a OptionsHouse account, you’ll have immediate access to your virtual account, which will be funded with $5,000 in fake money. You can add more at any time as you continue trade, learn, and build your trading confidence. Once you feel comfortable, you can start to trade real dollars and turn your virtual trading into reality!