Best Options Trading Platforms

Find the best broker to help you execute your strategy.

Options trading sometimes get a bad rap as being the realm of wild, “high risk, high reward” trading that is little more than gambling. Options are actually an important financial product, however, that can be used for everything from smoothing out consumer prices over time to generating extra income for your 401k.

Although options can be dangerously risky and wildly complicated, they don’t have to be, and most investors can find options strategies that will fit their portfolio. The first step, though, is finding the best options trading platform for you. With a low-commission options broker, you can generate extra income without losing too much of it to fees and other costs.

Here’s a glance at the best options trading platforms that could be right for you:

Best Options Trading Platforms
BrokerBest ForCommission/PricingAccount Minimum
Ally InvestLow minimum trade amount, user-friendly platform for all devices$4.95 per trade plus $0.65 per contractNone
Charles SchwabLots of research tools bundled with trading support4.95 per trade plus $0.65 per contract$1,000
eOptionLow price for trading options$3 per trade plus $0.15 per contract$500
FidelityProvides strong research tools for traders of all levels$4.95 per trade plus $0.65 per contract$2,500
Merrill EdgeSuite of tools provided for option trading$6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contractNone
TD AmeritradeLow minimum trade price, easy to use platform$6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contractNone
TradeStationComprehensive trading platform$5 per trade plus $0.50 per contract$500
Information current as of July 23, 2018.

Learn more about trading options and get started finding the best options broker for your portfolio.

What Are Trading Options?

Options are contracts between two parties that allow the person holding the contract to buy or sell something (usually a stock or commodity) at a specific price (known as the “strike price”) at some point in the future. “Put” options allow you to sell something at the strike price, whereas “call” options give you the right to purchase it.

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Which Options Trading Broker Is Right for You?

Although it is true that many options strategies are high-risk gambles, you can also deploy them in ways that have clear benefits even for a novice investor.

Even the most risk-averse investor can still find value in using a “protective put” — a put option used to hedge their position in a certain stock — or a “covered call” — selling a call option on shares they already own — to create an additional income stream for their 401k or individual retirement account. So, even if you’ve never traded options before, it might be worthwhile to shop around for the best options trading platform for beginners.

Here’s a deeper look at the best options trading platforms for beginners and experienced traders:

Ally Invest

  • Best for: Beginners
  • Cost: $4.95 plus $0.65 per contract

Ally Invest could be a great place to start experimenting with options trading. There are no account minimums, a competitive commission structure, user-friendly platform tools and low minimum trade amounts. So, it’s easier to get started with small trades before making any major commitment. And, if you find success and want to expand your trading, the fees drop to $3.95 plus 50 cents per contract if you make 30 or more trades every three months or have a daily balance of more than $100,000.

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Charles Schwab

  • Best for: Beginners and intermediate-level traders
  • Cost: $4.95 plus $0.65 per contract

Charles Schwab is right in line with the fairly standard transaction fee of $5 with 65 cents per contract — over half of the brokers in this list charge either $4.95 or $5 per trade. The broker offers a variety of tools and resources to help you learn about options trading and develop your strategy. And once you do, the optionsXpress tool provides specialized support for options trading, third-party research and expert insights.

eOption

  • Best for: Active traders, anyone interested in low-cost options trading
  • Cost: $3 plus $0.15 per contract

If you’re choosing to define the best options trading broker on cost alone, eOption would be your winner with its pricing at $3 plus 15 cents per contract. The broker also offers a range of tools and resources that can help you learn about investing and execute your options trades or set up automatic trades to take advantage of opportunities whether you’re watching at that moment or not.

Read: The Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners

Fidelity

  • Best for: Beginners and intermediate-level traders
  • Cost: $4.95 plus $0.65 per contract

In addition to a competitive commission structure and strategy and technical support on the platform, Fidelity’s price improvement can save you money on the price you get on each contract. Find the right Fidelity 401k for your investing strategy.

Merrill Edge

  • Best for: Experienced options traders
  • Cost: $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract

Merrill Edge is among the costliest platforms for options trading at nearly $7 a trade and another 75 cents per contract. The company boasts a number of tools to help you maximize the value of your trades, however, including access to independent research from Merrill Lynch, an options strategy builder to help you develop your approach to trading, and powerful screening tools to find the right options for you.

TD Ameritrade

  • Best for: Infrequent options traders
  • Cost: $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract

TD Ameritrade — like Merrill Edge — is in the top tier for transaction costs on options trading, meaning you will likely pay more to execute trades on its platform than others. But the company also has no trade minimums. Having a brokerage account with the company means having access to the thinkorswim platform, which advertises a package of elite tools to help you develop and execute trading ideas.

See: The Best Investment Brokers

TradeStation

  • Best for: Experienced options traders
  • Cost: $5 plus $0.50 per contract

TradeStation offers a robust platform with a variety of tools built by affiliate TradeStation Technologies to help you trade. And although analysis tools like RadarScreen can help you do real-time market scanning for trading opportunities, options traders will likely be most interested in the OptionStation Pro options analysis platform.

Click through to learn what exactly a brokerage firm does.

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