OptionsXpress is an online retail brokerage service that offers some interesting features. They were busy in 2009, acquiring Options E-Cry and Optionetics as they ready themselves for 2010. This seemed like a good time to take a closer look at OptionsXpress.
INVESTMENT MAY BE BACK IN STYLE!
Okay, investment never went out of style with many of us. For some, though, the massive drop in stock values during the recession led them away from stock, stock options and futures investing. When you watch your 401k lose half of its value in a matter of weeks, it’s hard to get too thrilled about buying stocks, after all.
Well, based on recent numbers and some bullish predictions, it looks like buying stock and options will be more attractive to many of the “once bitten” people in 201o. The stock market rallied like crazy in 2009 and things could continue to improve. MSN’s Charley Blaine notes:
Predictions for 2010 are fairly wide. But, using the S&P 500 as our proxy for the market, a 10% gain is possible if everything falls into place nicely.
While not everyone shares that enthusiasm, at least a few billionaires seem to agree. Forbes asked a handful of honest-to-goodness billionaires to weigh in with their 2010 predictions and two of them offer very reassuring perspectives on 2010:
Time Square tycoon Leon Charney predicted a 12% return in 2010. John Catsimatidis, another American who made a fortune largely in supermarkets and gas stations, concurs, stating that the market has to go up and will probably double over the next seven years. The biggest surprise of 2010? “The market hitting 12,000,” Catsimatidis said.
I don’t know how anyone could guess overall market performance for a full year, but at least it sounds like a few people in the know are optimistic. That’s very different from what we were hearing just a year ago and it is a reason to believe that more people will be willing to test the market’s waters in the coming year.
If you count yourself in that group, you need to decide how you’re going to make your trades. That leads us to OptionsXpress.
WHAT IS OPTIONSXPRESS?
If you haven’t heard of OptionsXpress, that’s not entirely surprising. They’re a well-established, award-winning online brokerage with a loyal client base. However, they don’t have an aggressive TV advertising campaign with a creepy talking baby. OptionsExpress isn’t a household name–yet.
OptionsXpress has been around for a full decade now. Wikipedia provides a nice overview of OptionsXpress:
OptionsXpress Holdings, Inc. is a retail, online brokerage firm, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, that provides brokerage services for options, stock, futures, mutual funds, and fixed-income investments in the United States and internationally. Its browser-based technology provides trading tools, enabling retail and professional investors to identify, analyze, and execute a range of investment strategies.
There are plenty of online brokerages out there who could easily be described in similar terms (including the one with the talking baby). What makes OptionsXpress stand out? Let’s look at a few areas in which the company distinguishes itself.
EDUCATION, INSTRUCTION AND ASSISTANCE FOR CLIENTS
You may be a lot smarter than me when it comes to playing the market. If you are an expert, you may not be as concerned with how effectively an online brokerage assists its clients. However, that can be a big deal for the rest of us! It’s also an area in which OptionsXpress really excels.
One review of OptionsXpress describes the overall approach:
This company understands what it is like to enter the world of investments without much prior experience. They provide you with the necessary tools to understand trading and become successful in your investing practices. The entire website is designed to be exceedingly user friendly with intuitive trade screens and a simple ordering process. You will learn your way around the Optionxpress website without having to spend an exorbitant amount of time educating yourself about their tools.
OptionsXpress focuses (as their name would suggest) on options trading more than most other online brokerages. If you’re not up to speed on the options game, they’ll help prepare you. Investing School notes:
In addition, the online broker also has the most comprehensive options education available for its clients that I have seen. From the very basics to advanced topics, OptionsXpress has very easy to follow videos that guide and teach you.
The various lessons and explanations are extremely helpful for new investors, but the part of the OptionsXpress system I really enjoyed was their virtual trading tool. You can use their system and some “funny money” to learn the ropes without risking your nest egg. The virtual trading tool is free for anyone with an OptionsXpress account.
WHAT DO YOU GET WITH AN OPTIONSXPRESS ACCOUNT?
You get a full-featured brokerage at your fingertips. Don’t let the name fool you. OptionsXpress does make life easier for options investors, but they offer a full range of services. They do so while providing an account that’s competitive with others in the same market space.
All accounts include:
- free real-time or streaming quotes
- free broker-assistance on trades
- no-charge standard withdrawal/deposit options
- zero maintenance costs, regardless of your account’s balance
- no inactivity fees
- low options commissions
- free access to nearly 20 trading tools
- no minimum account balance requirement
- competitive fees for trades
In addition to a solid account, you also get impressive ease of use and access to some great tools. OptionsXpress offers an intuitive, attractive, clean, easy-to-use interface. It’s also customizable. Obviously, you don’t want to overvalue aesthetics when choosing a brokerage, but ease of use should be a consideration and OptionsXpress does very well in that regard.
WHAT ARE OTHERS SAYING ABOUT OPTIONSXPRESS?
OptionsXpress is getting solid reviews across the board.
Investing School’s overview of OptionsXpress states:
With very low commissions and no inactivity and maintenance fees, it makes sense for me to keep the account open and trade options when there are opportunities show up.
The account is free and opening process as quickly as 5 minutes, why not?
Stock Trading Brokers says OptionsXpress is “Not bad. Not bad at all,” as it concludes its positive review. Exchange Traded Funds supplied a very positive review of the service which included great things to say about their customer service and support.
IvestorTrip lines up in favor of OptionsXpress, as well, stating:
We like OptionsXpress a lot. Their customer service and trading tools are at the top of the heap. Though their competitors sometimes offer lower commission rates, we think OptionsXpress makes up for the difference in customer service, trading tools, and additional investment services.
OptionsXpress is more like a mix between Full Service and discount brokerage: they provide full service broker services at a discount broker rate.
SWEETENING THE OPTIONSXPRESS POT
Right now, OptionsXpress is willing to give you $100 if you open an account. Obviously, there are some conditions involved, but it’s a really nice opportunity to make more money (or to test the online brokerage waters with a little more security). As My Money Blog states, “That’s a pretty sweet return on $500 in exchange for you trying out their service.”
You can get more info about the free $100 from OptionsXpress.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON OPTIONSEXPRESS
If you’re interested in trading options, there’s probably no better online brokerage choice. If you’re planning to focus on other options, they’re still a very strong choice. They’re reliable, stable and full-featured. The virtual trader and other educational tools make OptionsXpress particularly attractive to non-expert investors.
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