Why UK Options could be the right broker for you

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    Best Binary Options Broker 2020!
    Good Choice for Beginners!
    Free Trading Education, Free Demo Account!
    Get a Sign-Up Bonus Now!

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd in our ranking!

Best Options Trading Platforms

The best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you manage risk

Investopedia is committed to rigorous editorial standards to provide our readers with the best advice and recommendations. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products we reviewed. Learn more about our methodology and review process.

We recognize that we all are living through a particularly volatile time as we deal with this global crisis, and financial markets have also seen unprecedented change, impacting all investors. Our mission has always been to help people make the most informed decisions about how, when and where to invest. Given recent market volatility, and the changes in the online brokerage industry, we are more committed than ever to providing our readers with unbiased and expert reviews of the top investing platforms for investors of all levels, for every kind of market.

Options trading has become extremely popular with retail investors since the turn of the 21st century. Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. They also include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader.

Best Online Brokers for Options Trading in April 2020:

  • tastyworks: Best Options Trading Platform
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Advanced Options Traders
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Mobile Options Traders
  • E*TRADE: Best Broker for Beginning Options Traders
  • eOption: Best Broker for Low-Cost Options Trading

Best Options Trading Platform, Best for Advanced Options Trades, and Best for Mobile Options Traders: tastyworks

  • AccountMinimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close

Tastyworks says that more than 90% of the trades placed by its customers are derivatives, so they naturally spend their time designing a lot of tools specifically for options and futures traders. Everything is designed to help traders evaluate volatility and the probability of profit. Tastyworks’ entire platform is geared towards making decisions and taking action. Tastyworks opened its virtual doors in 2020, so it isn’t saddled with legacy systems that bog down many of the older online brokers. This has helped it tremendously in keeping the options trading experience to the essentials. Tastyworks’ executions are fast and the costs are low, with commissions capped for opening orders for options on equities and futures at $10 per leg.

Watchlists are a key component of the tastyworks platform, and they are the same on mobile, web, and download. The look and feel of the mobile platform is very similar to the desktop versions, though you’ll find price wheels and ways to define trades that minimize the possibility of making a mistake. As you build a position from a chart or from a volatility screener, a trade ticket is built for you. There’s also a video viewer embedded so you can keep an eye on the tastytrade network. Though a newcomer to options trading might be initially uncomfortable, those who understand the basic concepts will appreciate the content, features, and focus apparent throughout tastyworks’ platforms.

All of the tools you’ll need for analyzing and trading derivatives are built into the platforms.

The charting capabilities are uniquely tuned for the options trader. If you have multiple positions on a particular underlying, you can analyze the risk profiles of the combined position.

There are hours of original video from tastytrade every weekday, offering up-to-the-minute trading ideas, plus a huge library of pre-recorded videos and shows.

Newcomers to trading and investing may be overwhelmed by tastyworks at first.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    Best Binary Options Broker 2020!
    Good Choice for Beginners!
    Free Trading Education, Free Demo Account!
    Get a Sign-Up Bonus Now!

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd in our ranking!

There is no fixed income trading (outside of ETFs that contain bonds) for those who want to allocate some of their assets to a more conservative asset class.

Any additional portfolio analysis beyond profit and loss requires setting up a login on a separate site, The Quiet Foundation, which is also part of the tastytrade empire.

Best for Beginning Options Traders: E*TRADE

  • AccountMinimum: $0
  • Fees: No commission for stock/ETF trades. Options are $0.50-$0.65 per contract, depending on trading volume.

New options traders need some help in understanding how trading derivatives can help improve portfolio returns. E*TRADE’s more advanced platforms are elegantly designed and guide you along the way. When you graduate to options and derivatives, the Power E*TRADE website and mobile app can help you learn. The Power E*TRADE site and app can be set up to put the functions you use most often front and center so you don’t have to dig around for them. The platform has all the features inherited from E*TRADE’s acquisition of OptionsHouse technology, which includes a wealth of helpful educational resources for the developing options trader. Watchlists are integrated across E*TRADE’s platforms, and the full range of tradable assets is accessible on the mobile apps. The workflow is very smooth on the mobile apps. We also found that using Power E*TRADE on a tablet is quite pleasant.

Mobile apps are extremely well laid-out and easy to use and are among the most comprehensive and extensive apps tested.

Spectral Analysis on Power E*TRADE is a visually stunning tool that helps you visualize maximum profit and loss for an options strategy and understand your risk metrics

You can test strategies using the paper trading capabilities of E*TRADE Pro’s desktop platform, which uses delayed data so you won’t think you’re placing real trades.

On all platforms, you’ll find a ubiquitous trade ticket with streaming real-time data.

Tiered commission schedule for options trades, charging $0.65 per contract for less frequent traders and $0.50 for those who place more than 30 options trades per quarter.

Investors who would like direct access to international markets or to trade foreign currencies should look elsewhere.

You cannot consolidate your externally-held accounts to form a complete picture of your net worth on E*TRADE.

Best for Low-Cost Options Trading: eOption

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 per stock/ETF trade, $1.99 base per leg plus $0.10 per contract for options trades

eOption charges $1.99 per leg for options trades, but the per-contract fee is significantly lower than its competitors, making it great for heavy options traders. eOption also offers commission-free stock and ETF trading so those who are options-oriented traders but also want access to other assets at a low cost will have no issues here. Clearing and exchange fees, typically a fraction of a penny per share, are spelled out on the order confirmation screen and are passed through to customers. eOption also scored highly for its relatively low margin rates.

eOption offers great value for frequent options traders.

The browser-based eOption Trader platform is easy to use.

Newsletter subscribers can auto-trade their alerts.

Limited education offerings.

News feeds are limited.

Any OTCBB (penny stock) trades must be made with a live broker.

Other Options Considerations

The commission structure for options trades tends to be more complicated than its equivalent for stock trades. Until the commission cuts that swept the industry in the fall of 2020, most brokers charged a fee for each leg of an options spread plus a commission per contract being traded. The per-leg fees, which made 2- and 4-legged spreads expensive, have been eliminated industry-wide, for the most part. We are also seeing some brokers place caps on commissions charged for certain trading scenarios.

Investors with fairly large portfolios can also take advantage of portfolio margining at some brokers. This is a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives. Investors with large portfolios can use portfolio margining to reduce the size of the margin loan.

What Kind of Options Trader Are You?

The first and most important piece of information to consider before selecting an options trading account is what kind of trader you are. What is your trading style and risk appetite? Which tools would you like to have handy?

Options are complex products to understand and trade. All of the brokers listed above allow customers to build complex options positions as a single order. Some brokers, such as Vanguard, only allow one position per order, leaving it to the individual trader to place multiple orders one at a time to create a combination position. Merrill Edge lets you place two-legged spreads, but anything more complex will require an additional order.

If you’re just getting started with options trading, the quality of education and help offered by your broker is important. Frequent traders and those who trade a large number of contracts will be more sensitive to commissions and fees, so check out your prospective broker’s charges and make sure you understand them.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out an extensive survey about all aspects of its platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of its platforms at our offices.

Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. These brokers include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader. Investors with fairly large portfolios can take advantage of portfolio margining at certain brokers, a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives, and can reduce the size of your margin loan.

Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.

The 8 Best Options Trading Platforms of 2020

From beginner solutions to expert portfolios

We are committed to researching, testing, and recommending the best products. We may receive commissions from purchases made after visiting links within our content. Learn more about our review process.

Options trading is a somewhat high-risk area of the investment world where you can pay for the option to buy or sell a specific security at a set price on a future date. Based on fluctuations in market prices for those securities, the value of options rises and falls until their maturity date.

If you want to trade options, you’ll need an account with a brokerage that supports options. Each platform is unique and has its own pros and cons, so it is best to understand what you want in an options account and platform before you get started. Follow along to learn more about the best options trading platforms and which may be best suited for your options trading needs.

Best Overall: TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade takes the top spot in this ranking thanks to a combination of reasonable pricing, excellent beginner resources, and a top-of-the-line trading platform that works well for experts and professional traders. No matter where you are in your options trading journey, TD Ameritrade has something for everyone.

Trades at TD Ameritrade cost $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 cents per contract. There is no account minimum. The site offers a current promotion where you get 60 days of commission-free equity, ETF, and options trades with a deposit of $3,000 or more. You get additional bonuses with larger opening deposits.

Beginners have a wide range of resources that are great for options and other investing and trading strategies. For expert traders, the Think or Swim platform gives you Wall Street quality at a Main Street price.

Best for No Commission: Robinhood

You can’t get cheaper than free. While some professional traders are not happy with how trades are handled and processed at Robinhood, it is an excellent platform for beginners to get started with less risk. With no trading fee, you can buy and sell options without risking anything more than your initial investment.

Robinhood is a web-first platform and it doesn’t offer much when it comes to education and research tools. But if you read a book on options and want to try your hand as a hobbyist, Robinhood can certainly handle your needs.

Robinhood also offers commission-free stock trades, ETFs, a limited number of cryptocurrencies, and a limited number of ADRs (American Depository Receipts — a type of stock listing in the US for a foreign company). Because it is mobile first, it offers great real-time notifications for investments and trades on the platform.

Best for Experts: TradeStation

TradeStation started as a software company for traders, and even though it has grown over time, it has held true to its initial trading principles. If you want professional data and high-speed trade execution on an expert-level platform, TradeStation is a great choice.

TradeStation charges $5 per trade plus $0.50 cents per contract. However, it also offers unbundled and per-contract pricing. Professional and high-volume traders may do better with the flat rate cost of $1 per contract instead of the base + per contract fee most brokerages charge.

While it doesn’t offer as much for beginner traders and new traders, you could host a family office or business portfolio on TradeStation with no problems. In fact, its tools are so good it sells many of them for a fee to professional investors with accounts at other brokers. With an active account at TradeStation, you get those tools for free. Just beware the minimum $2,000 balance or five trades per year to avoid a $95 annual account fee.

Best for New Traders: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab delivers an all around great experience with excellent customer service. Once you open a new account, trades are $.95 each plus $0.65 cents per contract. First-time clients get 500 commission-free trades for two years when you deposit $100,000 or more in a new account.

Schwab offers above-average research and education offerings. It also gives you a very good platform for trading on desktop, web, and mobile. Even outside of options, it is one of the best overall brokerages for a wide range of investing and trading needs.

With the large library of educational and research content, you can enter the high-speed options trading world with your eyes wide open to the risks and opportunities. That said, the competitive costs and quality trading platforms make it a worthy consideration for even the most experienced traders. Accounts require a $1,000 minimum to access options trading.

Best for Low Costs and No Minimums: Ally Invest

Ally Invest is another low-cost brokerage best known for its cousin Ally Bank. Like the bank, Ally Invest offers an easy-to-understand and low-fee brokerage lineup. Trades are $4.95 each plus $0.65 cents per contract. There is no account minimum. With a current promotion, you can get up to $3,500 bonus cash depending on the size of your deposit.

You can start with a low investment to learn more about Ally without worrying about big minimum balances or fees. But even some more experienced traders will be happy with the low costs and a wide range of services geared toward option traders.

Highlights include a powerful trading platform and valuable charts, data, and analytics to help you build your options trading strategy. In the world of discount brokerages, you can’t always take the value of a broker from its trading fees. At Ally, that’s certainly the case.

Best Per-Trade Fees: Interactive Brokers

If you are an active trader who prefers making frequent, small trades, Interactive Brokers may be the best fit. There is no pre-trade fee and options commissions are $0.70 cents per contract. High volume traders can qualify for lower pricing down to $0.15 cents per contract with 100,000+ contracts per month. This brokerage also offers pricing that is attractive to active stock and ETF traders. Different pricing applies to non-US options.

This brokerage is not good for passive investors with few trades per year or a large balance. The account requires a hefty $100,000 minimum balance or $10 in commissions per month to avoid an activity fee. The activity fee is the difference between your trading commissions and $10 per month to total a $10 minimum monthly charge. The account charges a higher $20 minimum if you don’t keep at least $2,000 in equities in the account.

If you do have the appetite for at least $10 in trades per month and/or can satisfy that $100,000 minimum, Interactive Brokers has excellent trading platforms. These tools include a natural language bot that will place orders based on your instructions and a professional-grade desktop platform.

Best Tiered Pricing: Lightspeed

Lightspeed is a brokerage with a focus on active and experienced traders. Lightspeed charges $0 per trade and $0.60 cents per contract with a $1 minimum per trade. Tiered pricing starts at 500+ contracts per month. Depending on your volume, discounted rates range from $0.20 cents at 100,000+ contracts per month to $0.50 cents at 500 to 2,000 contracts per month.

Lightspeed offers professional-grade trading platforms. The options platform is known as Livevol X and offers integrated order execution, analysis, customized layouts, historical data analytics, and other useful features. Like competing platforms, you can manage most common account needs right in the desktop, web, or mobile-based platform.

This brokerage is not as beginner friendly as others on our list, so you should look elsewhere if you are brand-new to options trading. But if you are experienced and want expert tools, you can find everything to whet your appetite at Lightspeed. With low pricing for high-volume options traders, you might find it the right home for your options brokerage needs.

10 Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners of April 2020

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

When you’re a beginner investor, the right brokerage account can be so much more than simply a platform for placing trades. It can help you build a solid investing foundation — functioning as a teacher, advisor and investment analyst — and serve as a lifelong portfolio co-pilot as your skills and strategy mature.

What are stock brokers?

Stock brokers are people or firms licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the stock market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire stock brokers to place trades on their behalf. But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Today, most investors place their trades through an online brokerage account. (A little lost? Check out our explainers on brokerage accounts and buying stocks.)

on TD Ameritrade’s website

TD Ameritrade

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on TD Ameritrade’s website

cash credit with qualifying deposit

Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

High-quality trading platforms.

No account minimum.

Good customer support.

Large investment selection.

Costly broker-assisted trades.

on Interactive Brokers’s website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

No promotion available at this time

on Interactive Brokers’s website

No promotion available at this time

Large investment selection.

Strong research and tools.

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

Website is difficult to navigate.

Inactivity fees on IBKR Pro.

on SoFi Invest’s website

SoFi Active Investing

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

on SoFi Invest’s website

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

Commission-free stock and ETF trades.

Fractional shares available.

No account minimum.

Free financial counseling.

Small selection of tradable securities.

Limited track record.

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Summary of Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners of April 2020

on E*TRADE’s website

cash credit with a qualifying deposit or transfer

on E*TRADE’s website

on TD Ameritrade’s website

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on TD Ameritrade’s website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers’s website

No promotion available at this time

on Interactive Brokers’s website

SoFi Active Investing

on SoFi Invest’s website

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

on SoFi Invest’s website

in Transfer Fee Rebates

cash credit with qualifying deposit

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

no promotion available at this time

No promotion available at this time

No promotion at this time

More resources for new investors

  • Need some background? Read our guide to how the stock market works.
  • Unsure of how to build your portfolio? Learn more about how to invest in stocks.
  • Interested in instant diversification? Understand how investing in mutual funds can help.
  • Want to join the passive investing revolution? Consider index funds.

Last updated on April 1, 2020

Methodology

To recap our selections.

NerdWallet’s Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners of April 2020

Frequently asked questions

It doesn’t take a lot of money to get started; many stockbrokers allow you to open an account for $0. Many brokers also will waive any minimum investment requirements if you sign up for regular monthly contributions of $100 or more.

If you don’t have a lot of cash but want to try your hand at do-it-yourself investing, using commission-free exchange-traded funds can be a cost-effective way to begin building your portfolio. ( Have $500? Learn how to invest it .)

To buy and sell assets like stocks, bonds and mutual funds, you need to open an investment account through a stockbroker. That account is called a brokerage account, and it holds the cash you’ll use to buy and sell investments, as well as the investments themselves once you own them.

If you have a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement account, you already have one kind of investment account. Many investors find it beneficial to open additional stock brokerage accounts when:

  • Saving for retirement. If you want or need to save for retirement in an account separate from your employer, you can open an IRA. These come in two flavors, a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. ( Read more about the differences here .) One thing to note about both: Contributions are limited to $6,000 a year ($7,000 if you are age 50 or older).
  • Investing for other goals. If you’re saving for a goal other than retirement — or you’ve topped off your 401(k) and IRA contributions — a taxable brokerage account is a good option. As the name implies, this doesn’t carry the tax advantages of retirement accounts. You will have to pay taxes on any capital gains each year.

On the plus side, you don’t face any of the restrictions for withdrawals that come with tax-advantaged accounts. If you need money in a hurry, a taxable account would be your first line of defense before dipping into retirement accounts and potentially paying early withdrawal penalties.

A brokerage fee is charged by the stockbroker that holds your account. Brokerage fees include annual fees to maintain the brokerage account or access trading platforms, subscriptions for premium research, or even inactivity fees for infrequent trading. You can avoid or reduce brokerage account fees by choosing the right broker.

The difference between a full-service stockbroker and a discount stockbroker comes down to the level of service and how much you want to pay for that service.

Traditional full-service stockbrokers do more than assist with the buying and selling of stocks or bonds. They often offer a wide array of services and products, including financial and retirement planning, investing and tax advice and regular portfolio updates. But they can charge substantial fees and transaction costs that can erode long-term investment gains.

If you have more money than time, a full-service broker may be for you. For most investors, however, it can pay to look at discount stockbrokers. These brokers allow you to buy investments online through their website or trading platforms. You’ll pay less in trading commissions and fees at a discount broker.

Other brokers, called robo-advisors , offer a combination of access to financial planners and automated investing technology. Companies in this category include Betterment and Personal Capital , and they build your investment portfolio for you for a fee. If you want a service to make investment decisions for you, robo-advisors are a good option.

Yes, but it will take more time than getting cash from your ATM, often a few business days. Your broker will need to sell securities (like stocks, bonds or mutual funds) equivalent to the amount you want to withdrawal, so it’s not as simple as removing cash from a savings account.

If you’re taking all of your money out — whether transferring to a different stockbroker or cashing out to move to Tahiti — there may be account closing fees.

The rules for withdrawal of retirement accounts like an IRA are different, depending on your age. Most withdrawals carry a 10% penalty before the age of 59½ and will be taxed as ordinary income the year you cash out. ( Roth IRAs, which are funded with after-tax cash, are more forgiving of early withdrawals.)

The nonprofit Securities Investor Protection Corporation insures cash and securities up to $500,000, with a $250,000 limit on cash losses. But this protects you only in the event your stockbroker fails. Any losses and gains of your investments carry no protections.

Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
  • Binarium
    Binarium

    Best Binary Options Broker 2020!
    Good Choice for Beginners!
    Free Trading Education, Free Demo Account!
    Get a Sign-Up Bonus Now!

  • Binomo
    Binomo

    2nd in our ranking!

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