2020 Charles Schwab OptionsXpress brokerage review: pros and cons, fees, minimums, ratings, trading platform, research tools, education, IRA, and customer service.

UPDATE: OptionsXpress has been fully merged into Charles Schwab and discontinued. See Charles Schwab Review instead.

Rating:  Charles Schwab rating

  • Stocks/ETFs: $4.95
  • Options: $14.95 (up to 10 contracts), $1.50/contract thereafter
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95
  • Minimum to open: $0 for a cash account.


OptionsXpress Review

OptionsXpress, a subsidiary of the Charles Schwab Corporation, offers an array of investment products at moderate cost to investors. With good charting tools and the well-known Schwab backing it, OptionsXpress is worth taking a look at.


OptionsXpress Pricing and Fees

OptionsXpress promises their customers no hidden fees, and they deliver. Trading stocks and ETF’s carries an $4.95 charge. Placing the trade over the phone with a live broker surprisingly costs nothing extra.

Options are $1.50 per contract with a $14.95 minimum. Active traders who place 35 or more option trades per quarter receive a reduced rate of $1.25 per contract with a $12.95 minimum.

Futures are $3.50 per contract, and forex is commission free because there’s a markup in the bid-ask spread that compensates OptionsXpress.

Mutual funds carry a $9.95 transaction fee, plus any load the fund carries. The broker does offer some no-load funds.

OptionsXpress does offer investors access to both government and corporate debt. The transaction fee for bonds is $5.00 with a $9.95 minimum per order.

The brokerage firm has no minimum opening deposit, and no account minimums, making OptionsXpress worth trying.

Besides their standard brokerage account, OptionsXpress also offers trusts and IRA’s.


OptionsXpress Review: Research

This broker has a wide variety of really neat web-based research tools. For example, Idea Hub is a useful tool that helps traders identify option trade possibilities. Traders can search for bullish, bearish, or neutral ideas focusing on earnings, volatility, and other criteria. Idea Hub suggests a particular trade and pre-populates the trade ticket for the investor.

The Dragon is another tool. It helps investors find stocks, options, and ETF’s by displaying the top 50 results of a search based on criteria such as P/E ratios or open interest.

OptionsXpress has an assortment of educational resources for its clients, consisting primarily of live webinars and on-demand videos. A variety of topics are covered in these resources, such as futures, options, and IRA’s. Live workshops are also available in select cities.

A handy resource that many securities brokers don’t offer that OptionsXpress does is futures research. Identifying a wide range of futures contracts is quick and easy using futures chains.

OptionsXpress Review: Customer Service

OptionsXpress customer service can be contacted via an on-line chat system, phone, fax, or e-mail. The futures department is open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week while the futures market is open, which is Sunday 5:30 pm – Friday 5:30 pm EST. The chat service is staffed Monday – Friday, 8 am – 8 pm, EST.

Customers who also have a Charles Schwab brokerage account will see a link to their OptionsXpress account upon logging into their Schwab account, or they can simply login to their OptionsXpress account directly.


OptionsXpress Review: Trading Tools

A great tool that OptionsXpress offers is their Virtual Trade, a practice platform that allows traders to simulate trading stocks, ETF’s, options, and futures. This is a neat little tool that could be a great benefit to investors who are interested in options or futures, or even stocks and ETF’s, but don’t have any experience trading the products. Customers can use Virtual Trade to get their feet wet before diving into the deep end with real money.

A user friendly Java-based streaming chart offers tick-by-tick trades along with a range of technical indicators. The chart can pop out into its own window, and trades can be placed from the chart.

Optionsxpress review

OptionsXpress Review: Mobile Trading

OptionsXpress has applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, and mobile web. The interface is easy to navigate. User will find the all-in-one trade ticket, charts, option chains, and the Idea Hub and Dragon trading tools. Unfortunately, there is no mobile check deposit, no ability to transfer funds, and no customer service contact.

Optionsxpress review

OptionsXpress Review: Pros

  • No account minimum
  • No fee IRAs
  • Wide selection of investing options
  • Great variety of trading and web-based research tools
  • Excellent educational resources. Live workshops and webinars
  • User friendly Java-based streaming charts
  • Free Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs)
  • Great customer services
  • Virtual trading

OptionsXpress is one of the few brokerage firms in the U.S. that offer futures, forex, and options all in one account. Preferred stock is also available to trade, giving its customers a lot to choose from. Its selection of research and trading tools, combined with no account minimum, gives prospective clients plenty of reason to open an account and practice trading.

Optionsxpress review

OptionsXpress Review: Cons

  • Higher than average commissions on stocks, ETFs and options
  • No commission-free ETFs offered
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds offered
  • No mobile check deposit feature and mobile transfer funds
  • Lack of customer service contact via mobile App


OptionsXpress Review Summary

OptionsXpress’s standard commission of $4.95 is higher than some its rivals, such as Scottrade ($0) and Ally Invest ($0), both of which are known to be quality firms. Furthermore, OptionsXpress’s charge for options ($1.50 per contract with a $14.95 minimum) is significantly higher than its major options rival, Optionshouse, which charges only $0 plus $0.50 per contract.

The lack of commission-free ETF’s is a major gaffe, at a time when many brokers have jumped on this bandwagon. Ameritrade, for example, offers all ETFs commission-free, which was ranked by Forbes as the best for investors who are looking for the most liquid and lowest cost ETFs.

Moreover, the lack of no-transaction-fee mutual funds is hard to forgive when many other brokers have a wide selection of such securities. The Scottrade brokerage account, for example, has more than 2,600.

OptionsXpress offers a range of products all in one account that some investors will find enticing. Fund investors can do better elsewhere.


OptionsXpress Commissions and Fees

Stocks and ETFs$4.95
Options$14.95 for up to 10 contracts, $1.50 per contract for over 10 contracts
Options Active Traders$12.95 for up to 10 contracts, $1.25/contract for over 10 contracts
Mutual funds $9.95
Bonds$5 per bond, $9.95 minimum
Forex$0. Optionsxpres receives compensation through the bid/ask spread.
Options on Futures $3.50 per contract
Spreads, Straddles & Combos 2-10 contracts - $12.95 flat (active traders) $14.95 flat (non-active traders); 1 0 + contracts - $1.25 per contract (active traders); $1.50 per contract (non-active traders).


OptionsXpress IRA Account Fees

IRA Setup Fee$0
Annual IRA Fee$0
IRA Termination Fee$50
Full Account Transfer Out$60
Partial Account Transfer Out$25
Outgoing Wire Fees (Domestic)$15
Outgoing Wire Fees (International)$30

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