One of the brokers I use for trading stocks and options is OptionsXpress. A publicly traded company that’s headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, OptionsXpress is a well-known online broker for options, stock, ETFs, futures, bonds and mutual funds in the US and worldwide. This brokerage firm is truly a pioneer in bringing sophisticated online options and futures trading to individual investors since it was founded in 2000. OptionsXpress has been consistently rated (by Barron’s, Kiplinger etc) as one of the best online brokers in the US, and it’s not hard to see why.
In my opinion, OptionsXpress is like a full-service online broker, but with discount prices.
Here I’ll do a detailed review of OptionsXpress, one of the best stocks & options brokers out there, give you a highlight of their main features, tell you what I like and dislike about it, and how I rate this broker.
Takes Just Minutes To Open An OptionsXpress Account Online
You can open either an Individual or Joint Tenants Account: Select the kind of account you want, and whether you want just a cash account, a cash/margin account or a futures account. OptionsXpress lets you trade stocks, options, bonds, futures, mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) – all in one account. OptionsXpress customers pay only $9.95 for each stock, ETF, bond, mutual fund trade (up to 1,000 shares per trade) and $12.95 up to 10 contracts per options trade.
Business and Trust Accounts: You can also open a business or a trust account for trading with OptionsXpress. Business accounts can be opened for: Corporate and LLC, Partnership or Investment Club. For trust accounts, you can choose between Regular, Keogh, PSP or MPP.
Individual Retirement Accounts: Whether you are an employee or a business owner, OptionsXpress also offers various types of retirement accounts including traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs.
No minimum deposit required to open a cash account. Unlike many other brokers, OptionsXpress does not require you to fund your account with a minimum amount. However do note that you need to deposit a minimum of $2,000 to maintain a margin account.
No minimum balance required to keep your account open. No more worrying about whether you have enough balance in your account so as not to incur any fees. Many other brokers on the other hand require a minimum balance in your account. For example, Charles Schwab requires a $1,000 minimum balance and Ameritrade requires a $2,000 minimum balance.
No maintenance fees or account inactivity fees. Whether you are a new or experienced trader, there may come a time when you don’t trade for a while for whatever reasons, so not being charged for account inactivity fees will be a money saver in those situations.
Competitive Pricing. OptionsXpress customers pay only $9.95 for each stock, ETF, bond, mutual fund trade (up to 1,000 shares per trade) and $12.95 up to 10 contracts per options trade.
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Things We Like About This Broker
Trade Wirelessly Through Your Smartphone. With the OX Mobile application, you can trade anywhere, even if you are not at your desk. Just download OX Mobile onto your iPhone, Android, BlackBerry or Windows Mobile device, and access your account from there. For me, this is a great asset as it enables me to make trades on the go and allows me to monitor any current positions or pending orders.
Powerful Online Trading Tools. OptionsXpress wins hands-down with its easy-to-use and sophisticated online trading tools which new or experienced traders will appreciate. The Screener scans the market for potential stock, option, mutual fund or ETF trade opportunities based on your criteria, from volatility and volume to P/E ratio and dividend yield. The StrategyScan lets you preview trade opportunities based on your criteria, giving you information on your maximum potential gain, risk profile and profit and loss characteristics. Chart Patterns helps sifts through the market based on your criteria like time frame, price range and trend and shows you up to twenty stocks that match your criteria. You can also use Advanced Chart Patterns to single out double tops, triangles, wedges and more. Other tools include the Trade Calculator, Position Analyzer, Xtend, Volatility View and many more.
Streaming Charts. Having free access to tick-by-tick streaming real-time quotes for stocks, options and futures is an invaluable asset. Use their real-time streaming charts to have a detailed view of what the market is doing and where it might be headed. You can customize your charts using any of the more than 100 different technical indicators, and then save your customized chart set-ups to use in the future.
Virtual Trading Platform. Virtual or demo trading lets you trade in real-time conditions, without using any real money, and is a fantastic benefit whether you are a new or experienced trader. It helps you practice trading strategies before you risk any real money and also gives you an opportunity to understand yourself better in a real online trading environment.
Free Broker-Assisted Trading. This is a rarity among brokerage firms. Many other brokers charge a fee if you want to speak to a broker. For example, both Etrade and Ameritrade charge as much as $45 for live assistance from a broker. While these brokers do not provide any trading recommendations, they will help you with technical questions, or any general questions relating to trading and strategies.
OptionsXpress Implements Customers’ Suggestions. Unlike many other corporations who have grown too big to listen to their customers, OptionsXpress is constantly improving its trading platform and tools for the benefit of its customers. The OptionsXpress customer Wish List lets traders submit product ideas and suggestions to OptionsXpress, and then other customers can vote on those suggestions, with the most popular product suggestions being implemented. Several innovative features developed as a result of Wish List include alerts for technical chart patterns, notes on saved orders, the ability to launch a detached streaming chart from any page, and many more. This is something I really like about OptionsXpress.
Very Comprehensive Education Section. Once you are logged in, you will have free access to trading education on stocks, options, futures, bonds, ETFs and funds, organized by experience level from basics to advanced stuff. OptionsXpress also has free webinars where you can learn from their videos how to use their tools or how to place orders. There is such a rich library of information in their Education Center that you will find the topic you are looking for regardless of your experience and skill level.
Your Account Money Is Insured, Up To $25 Million Per Customer. OptionsXpress is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, so should the firm collapse, the money in your account will be safe. Their enhanced SIPC account coverage insures up to $24.5 million per customer, $900,000 of which may be cash. This is similar to the FDIC insurance for US bank accounts. With this insurance, you won’t have to worry about the financial stability of the broker and can concentrate on your trading.
Our Least Favorite Things About This Broker
Slightly higher transaction costs for stocks compared to some discount brokers. When you trade stocks/ETFs with OptionsXpress, you pay $9.95 per trade up to 1,000 shares, and shares above 1,000 will cost an additional 1 cent per share. Even though it is slightly more expensive than some discount brokers, it is totally worth it, considering the large selection of trading and screening tools provided by OptionsXpress and their easy-to-use trading platform.
How To Open An Account At OptionsXpress
It is very easy and fast to open an OptionsXpress account. You can open your account in just a few minutes:
- Select the type of account you would like to open, and what you want to trade.
- To create your profile, enter your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and employer’s name and address.
- Print out, sign the application and mail or fax it over.
- Fund your account by account transfer, check, wire transfer or ACH.
- It’s possible to have your account ready for trading the same day if you are a US resident.
A $100 Bonus Offer For New Members!
From now till December 31, 2011, OptionsXpress is offering new US customers a $100 bonus when you open an Individual or Joint account and fund it with at least $500 on or before December 31, 2011.
1. Open a new Individual or Joint account (IRAs, other tax-exempt, linked, or shared accounts are excluded from this offer).
2. Fund account with at least $500 cash or securities transferred from a brokerage firm other than OptionsXpress.
3. Make 3 trades within 12 months of account opening.
4. The $100 bonus will be deposited into your account within one month of meeting the terms and conditions of this offer.
5. Maintain at least $500 in your account for 6 months (excluding trading losses), if not, the $100 bonus will be deducted from your account.
Go to the official OptionsXpress application to apply online for this time-limited $100 bonus promotion.
OptionsXpress is a solid and reliable online broker for stocks, options, futures, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds. Despite having slightly higher transaction costs compared to some discount brokers, we think OptionsXpress comes out on top because it has no hidden fees, has great service, is constantly coming out with innovative features, and the fact that it has more than 40 free research and trading tools which you can maximize the use of for your trading.
Whether you are new to trading or are already a seasoned trader, you will find their information and tools extremely useful. Their trading platform is very user friendly and simple to use. Unlike many other brokers, OptionsXpress doesn’t require you to maintain any minimum balance in your account, doesn’t charge an account inactivity fee, offers free broker assistance service, provides a dedicated 24/7 support, instant messaging, free paper statements, free streaming news, and many more. Plus, its enhanced SIPC insurance insures up to $24.5 million per customer should the company fail.
Even if you are outside the U.S., you can also open an account with OptionsXpress. As a U.S.-based broker, it offers only U.S. exchange traded products and only accepts U.S. currency in its customer accounts.
Because of all these benefits, I highly recommend OptionsXpress as your one-stop broker for stocks, options, futures, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds. To me, OptionsXpress is like a full-service online broker, but with discount prices. Learn more about OptionsXpress at the official OptionsXpress website.
Click here to go to OptionsXpress official application to apply online for the time-limited $100 bonus promotion.