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Options can be used to generate income, hedge your risk, or add more fuel to your portfolio by increasing your exposure to certain stocks and indexes. But because options trading is inherently more complex than simply buying stocks or funds, options traders often need to be more selective in choosing the right options trading platform. In the guide below, we'll share our top picks for the best options trading platforms and what you should look for when choosing an options trading platform.
$0 online commissions for stocks, ETFs, and options ($0.65 per contract)
$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies
$0 per options trade, $0.50 per contract
$0 per options trade, $0.65 per contract
Open and fund an E*TRADE account & get up to $600 or more
On E*TRADE's Secure Website.
$0 per options trade, $0.50-$0.60 per contract
New accounts with qualifying assets earn $50 to $5,000 using code FOOLAFSA
On TradeStation's Secure Website.
$0 per trade
$0 per options trade, $0.25-$0.65 per contract
$0 for stocks, $1 per option contract (opening trades only)
Best for: Experienced options traders in search of in-depth information
While TD Ameritrade isn't the cheapest platform for options traders, it is one of the most full-featured. Its thinkorswim desktop platform offers unparalleled trading tools and its mobile platform allows for even complex options trades on-the-go. Research from Credit Suisse and Morningstar also helps traders make informed choices.
Best for: Active traders who want a powerful trading platform
Options trades are commission-free on E*TRADE although a standard $0.65/contract fee applies. While this fee makes E*TRADE costlier than some competitors, the brokerage does discount the rate to $0.50 per contract for active investors who make at least 30 options trades per quarter. E*TRADE also offers feature-rich trading tools, especially in its free Power E*TRADE platform which is beloved among options traders.
Best for: Options traders looking for the most affordable solution
Unlike most competitors, Robinhood does not charge a contract fee for options trading. Since there's also no commission, this makes Robinhood the cheapest platform out there for trading options. While not the most feature-rich platform, Robinhood offers mobile trades so it's possible to buy and sell options contracts from all your devices.
Best for: Options traders with little money to invest
Like most brokerage firms, Ally doesn't charge a commission fee for options trades. It does have a $0.50 per contract fee, which is cheaper than some alternatives out there. Ally has no minimum investment requirement and charges no maintenance fees, making it a great choice for options traders without a lot of money.
Best for: Active traders interested in a full-featured desktop platform
TradeStation offers a choice of different pricing structures for options traders, with TS Go users paying as little as $0.50 per contract and no commission. The TS Select plan costs a bit more at $0.60 per contract, but provides access to TradeStation's feature-rich desktop platform which justifies the added cost for active traders.
Best for: Mobile users who want to trade options on-the-go
Webull is a great choice for options traders looking for the cheapest platform around. There's no per contract or commission fees, which sets it apart from most competitors. Webull also offers an intuitive, easy-to-use trading platform and especially shines with its feature-rich mobile software that can be used on all your devices.
Best for: Options traders with lots of money looking for a feature-rich platform
Interactive Brokers charges a variable per contract fee for options trading, with the price based on the size of the trade. This makes it an ideal choice for investors with deeper pockets who can qualify for lower pricing. Its WorkStation platform is a powerful trading platform chock full of features that options traders will love.
Best for: Options traders looking for advanced technology at a low price
tastyworks is one of the only brokerage firms that is primarily geared toward options traders. It offers some of the industry's lowest costs for options trading, charging a commission only when opening a position. Its trading platform offers some of the best technologies designed by the team that pioneered retail options trading, making it an ideal choice for active traders.
One key point to keep in mind is that there's no such thing as the best platform for options trading for everyone, and the costs and features should be weighed with your own preferences in mind before you open a brokerage account of your own.
For example, Robinhood has no commissions for options trades whatsoever, but its platform is very light on functionality and features, which makes it appropriate for investors who don't necessarily need educational resources and just want to dabble in basic call and put trades. On the other hand, an options broker like E*TRADE charges commissions, but is packed with features and resources which could be worth far more than the commission costs for many investors.
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Options traders typically demand more of an options trading platform than people who are simply entering market or limit orders for stocks. Active option traders may prioritize options brokers based on their selection of calculators or screeners, whereas the infrequent options user may care about commissions alone.
Some features that may be considered "make or break" when picking the best platform to trade options are listed below:
LEARN MORE: How to trade options
Commissions and fees for options trades can vary wildly even among the best platforms for options trading, and the difference can really add up. Here's a look at the costs associated with options trading, and how much our best brokers for option trading charge.
Most of the best options brokers have eliminated flat-rate commissions for online stock and options trades, and just use a small fee for certain options traded. That means they offer commission free options trading, but charge a fee based on the number of options contracts traded. Thus, it costs more at most options brokers to trade 50 options contracts than it does to trade 10 options contracts.
The most common price point is roughly $0.65 per contract, although this can be between $0 and $1.00, depending on the stock options broker. Based on the typical fee of $0.65, to buy 10 contracts, a trader would pay $6.50 to make the trade ($0.65 × 10 = $6.50). To buy 100 contracts, the same trader would pay $65 in commissions to make the trade.
And to be clear, these are commissions for online options trades. If you conduct a trade by phone, the commission could be even higher.
The table below compares options trading platforms based on the cost to buy or sell 10 options contracts.
Commission free options trading used to be a pipe dream for investors, but that's no longer the case with the best platforms to trade options slashing costs to attract and retain accounts. Here's an options fee comparison when trading 10 contracts for our top picks.
|Options broker||Commission to trade 10 contracts|
|E*Trade||$5 - $6.50|
|TradeStation||$5.00 - $6.00|
|Interactive Brokers||$1.50 - $6.50|
Options brokers sometimes charge fees to buy or sell options, but some also charge fees if you want to exercise an option, or if an option you have sold is assigned.
Most of the best options brokers don't charge these fees anymore. The exception is TradeStation, which charges $14.95 for both options exercise and assignment. If you don't plan on holding options until their expiration dates, this shouldn't necessarily be an issue, but it's still worth keeping in mind.
As mentioned before, most of the best options options brokers have commission free options trading, but do charge a small fee per contract traded. Robinhood and Webull are the few free options trading platforms that have 100% free options trading, both a $0 commission and no per contract fees for online trades. Robinhood and Webull also apply this same approach to stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency.
All options brokers on this list and most notable stock brokers offer many platforms from which to enact trades, including within a mobile app. Ultimately, the best apps for options trading will differ by user need, but here is a rundown of our picks of the best options brokers based on their app rating.
|Options trading app||Google Play Store Rating (out of 5 stars)||Apple iOS Rating (out of 5 stars)|
|TD Ameritrade (thinkorswim app)||3.8||4.7|
Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim, E*Trade, Tradestation, and Ally Invest are rated as some of the best investment apps overall by everyday users. But when it comes specifically to the best app to trade options, we think TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim, Robinhood, and E*Trade are top picks to consider with this narrowed focus. These are the best apps for trading options based on a number of factors, including overall user ratings, options trading fees, simplicity to use, and the overall capabilities of their mobile app compared to full-featured online experiences.
|Broker/Advisor||Best For||Commissions||Next Steps|
Many options brokers have minimum deposit requirements for options trading. If you're interested in level one option trading, which usually includes covered calls and secured puts, the minimum requirement may be less than $1,000. But certain options strategies, such as net credit spreads, may require a much higher minimum account balance -- sometimes as high as $10,000 or more.
Trading options can be risky. You could face unlimited losses with certain trading strategies, such as selling naked calls. However, buying call or put options isn't as risky, because the most you can lose is the amount you spent to buy the options contract.
All options trading is leveraged investing, which inherently carries greater risk. Ensuring you do careful research and understand the trades you make can reduce the chance of loss.
You need a broker to access the market, so you cannot trade options without one.
Many options trading platforms allow you to practice options trading, including E*Trade and TradeStation.
Call options give you the right (but not the obligation) to buy a certain stock at a certain price by a specific date. Call options provide another way to profit on the rising price of a company's stock without buying shares. In options trading, each contract gives you the right to buy 100 shares at a given price, so if the stock price goes up before your option expires, you can profit.
Put options give you the right (but not the obligation) to sell stock at a certain price in the future. If you believe a company's shares will go down in value, put options let you profit on that assumption.
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