Firstrade (The Lowest Cost Options Brokerage)

Firstrade rating

Options Cost: $0 base, $0 per contract, $0 exercises and assignments
Minimum to open: $0 for a cash account, $0 for an IRA.

Firstrade is the cheapest brokerage company for options traders. They priced all options trades at $0. Yes, it's really zero and there is no catch. In 2022 awarded Firstrade "The Lowest Cost Broker for Options Traders" title.

Firstrade customers can buy and sell option contracts either on the broker’s website or mobile app. Option chains can be located on the website by going to a stock profile and clicking on the ‘Option Chain’ link at the top of the site. A large window will generate from the trade bar at the bottom. Here, contracts can be viewed. Firstrade’s software offers calls and puts plus a few multi-leg strategies, such as long straddle and vertical call spread. Index options can be selected as well.

Firstrade Trading Review

The best tool Firstrade offers in this category is OptionsPlay. Available on the website under the link ‘Options Wizard,’ this software is able to suggest bullish and bearish trades for any entered ticker symbol. Profit and loss diagrams are shown, and there are more multi-leg strategies than the website offers.

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2 free stocks & $0 fees on all mutual fund, stock, ETF, & option trades.

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Webull (The Lowest Cost Options Brokerage)

Webull Rating

Option commissions: $0 base, $0 per contract, $0 exercises and assignments
Minimum to open an account: $0 for a cash account; $2,000 for margin account

In 2022, Webull has been named by "The Lowest Priced Broker for Options Traders". The firm charges nothing for options contracts, assignments, exercises, and tickets. With Webull, you are really trading options for free.

Webull offers a customizable trading platform which is constantly updated with new features.

Webull options

The first level of options trading at Webull is long puts and long calls. Selling cash-secured puts and covered calls is available at the second level, although a margin account is required.

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What Option Traders Should Look For in the Top Options Brokers

Buying and selling option contracts requires specific trading tools, which may not be available at all brokers. Traders who are interested in options would also benefit from educational resources, such as videos and webinars. These types of services for derivative investors can vary widely from one brokerage house to another. The following categories are particularly important for option traders.

Customer Service for Option Investors

Not all brokers provide the same level of customer support. Because option trading is a very esoteric financial strategy, having a brokerage firm that offers customer service specifically for derivative traders can be a big help.

Most brokers don’t have representatives who specialize in option trading. Ally Invest, for example, does not offer option specialists over the phone. Other brokers do provide access to agents who specialize in derivative trading. Interactive Brokers, for instance, has a stock and option trading desk, although its number isn’t toll-free.

Derivative traders may also need customer service available over the phone and via on-line chat. While all brokers have customer service over the phone, not all of them offer an on-line chat feature. Vanguard, for example, does not; although E*Trade does.

Best Options Brokers

Option Pricing

If you’re going to trade options, obviously the commission schedule for derivatives will be an important factor to consider. Like the other topics in this article, there is wide variation from broker to broker on option commission schedules. Some firms are on the low end of the pricing schedule, charging $0 for contracts and base charge. This is Webull’s and Firstrade's schedule.

Other firms, like Vanguard, are on the opposite end, charging as much as $1 per contract.

Many brokers also charge for option exercises and assignments. WellsTrade clients, for example, must pay $25 plus the broker’s regular equity commission, which is either $2.95 or $5.95. Schwab, on the other hand, charges just its regular stock commission, which is $0. Because wide variation exists in the industry on this issue, be sure to learn your broker’s pricing for assignments and exercises.

Option Research & Education

Having adequate learning materials is of paramount importance to trade any security, and derivatives are no exception. Some brokers have a large amount of educational and research materials for option contracts, while other firms have nothing. Sofi Invest, for example, does not even offer trading in options, so naturally the broker has no resources for option traders.

Best Options Brokers

Fidelity has an extensive educational section on its website, and there are plenty of materials for option traders. The broker hosts articles, videos, and webinars that cover many derivative trading strategies. One article discusses seven common mistakes that option traders commonly make. A video demonstrates how to place a bull call spread, while a webinar covers income strategies with options. The broker has nearly 100 option materials. Beginning option traders would obviously be much better off at a broker like Fidelity rather than WellsTrade.

Option Trading Technology

Once you’re ready to start placing option trades, you’ll need a broker that has sufficient trading tools. Some brokers offer just a website with a simple order form that is produced after clicking on a price within an option chain. Vanguard is one example. Other brokerage firms will offer much more sophisticated trading tools.

TradeStation client, for example, have access to OptionStation Pro. This is a desktop platform designed to trade derivative contracts. It has advanced option analysis with 2-D and 3-D graphs. Option searches can be performed with results that are ranked by various characteristics, such as expiration date and strike price. A unique feature is SpreadMaster, which can open and manage multiple spreads simultaneously.

Some brokers will also provide a paper trading platform where you can practice buying and selling options before committing real money. TD Ameritrade, for example, offers both a desktop and a mobile platform where option contracts can be traded with a virtual currency. Called thinkorswim, the software is very sophisticated, so learning to trade any product first is a good idea before placing real trades.

Best Options Brokers Summary

Having the right tools is an essential part of any investment strategy, and perhaps even more so with options. Make sure to do thorough research on any potential broker to determine if it has everything you need to be a successful trader.


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