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How to Trade Options on Schwab

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 3/31/2023 8 min read

Learning how to trade options on Schwab means you’ll have the biggest broker in the world on your side. And it’s about to get even bigger.

Charles Schwab and Co., Inc. recently acquired TD Ameritrade. This means the powerful thinkorswim trading platform will be coming to Schwab within the year — giving Schwab traders one more tool at their disposal.

That also means that TD Ameritrade options traders should pay attention to Schwab’s options rules. The smaller broker is merging more and more of its services into the Charles Schwab establishment.

How do you choose the right broker? First you need to learn about your options — which is what this article is about.

Read on to learn more about Schwab and see if it’s right for you.

Trading on Charles Schwab

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Schwab is a reliable broker fit for any kind of trader or investor. Whatever your experience level, you’ll find something to like on Schwab. It offers numerous assets to trade and invest in. It offers stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, options, and more.

It’s got a good reputation, too. Schwab manages over $7 trillion worth of client assets. This means a lot of people trust Schwab with their money.

What makes Schwab a favorite among its customers? Here’s a list of its most prominent features:

  • No minimum deposits
  • Commission-free trading
  • In-depth research tools
  • Fractional share trading
  • 24/7 email, phone, and chat customer support
  • In-person support at branch offices
  • Multiple desktop and mobile platforms
  • Various tradable assets

Curious about other brokerages? Read my reviews of Questrade, Interactive Brokers, and E-Trade.

Benefits of Trading Options Using Schwab

The benefits of trading options on Schwab start with the mega-broker’s size. There are plenty of bonuses that come with that…

Great Website Security and Performance

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Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. has one of the safest and best-performing websites in the brokerage industry. Even though every U.S. brokerage account comes with SIPC protection, there are levels to the kind of trustworthiness brokers bring. Schwab is near the top.

Reliable Option Trade Execution

Schwab provides fast trade executions with its “Schwab Order Execution Advantage,” promising an average execution speed of 0.03 second. This is one of the biggest differences between brokers, and Schwab acquits itself well.

Low Transaction Costs

Like most brokers, there are no commissions for ETF, stock, and options trading on Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. You still need to pay a $0.65 contract fee on options, which is standard for most full-service brokers.

Dedicated Options Trading Software

Schwab’s StreetSmart Edge provides an advanced trading platform for options traders. Some time in 2023, Schwab will also provide its traders with access to thinkorswim, the powerful trading platform currently available to TD Ameritrade traders. This will give Schwab users a choice between two of the best options trading platforms in the business.

But if you’re shopping for trading platforms, get StocksToTrade in the mix. It’s my favorite trading platform (and the one I helped design).

Give StocksToTrade a try today — a 14-day trial is only $7!

Helpful Customer Support

One of the advantages of an established full-service broker like Schwab is its top-notch customer support. Schwab offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat assistance. You can also visit a branch office during the weekdays for in-person customer support.

Access to an Options Specialist Team

Need help with your options trades? You can contact Schwab’s options professionals during trading hours. They have decades of trading experience and will help you to make the best use of your Schwab account.

Steps to Start Trading Options on Schwab

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Ready to trade options on Schwab? Here are the four basic steps:

1. Open a Schwab Account

The first thing to do is open a Schwab brokerage account, which takes around 10 minutes. It’s free, with zero service fees and no minimum balance required.

2. Log in to a Schwab App

Once you have an account, log onto the website, StreetSmart Edge, or the Schwab Mobile trading app. Make sure to fund your account before proceeding. Schwab doesn’t have a minimum deposit, just make sure you have enough to trade.

3. Select Options on the App

You need to apply for approval before you trade options with Schwab. Complete Schwab’s options agreement and approval questionnaire. Schwab usually takes 5 to 10 business days to approve your options application.

Schwab will assign you an options approval level depending on your experience. Schwab’s approval levels range from 0 to 3. Each subsequent level gives access to more advanced strategies.

Users at level 0 can use basic strategies like covered calls and puts. Higher-level traders can access advanced strategies like spreads and uncovered calls.

4. Start Trading Options

Once you’re approved, you’re ready to trade options! Go into the stock positions page and select Option Chains. Select your option type and expiration date, then double-check your trade ticket.

Trading options is easy — it’s becoming profitable that’s hard. Here are my rules for working towards that goal:

  • Don’t copy other traders’ options trades. No one has the same goals, risk, and strategy you have. You need to understand their lessons and adapt them to yourself, which comes in the next point…
  • Learn from experienced options traders. Join online communities and share options strategies with traders of various experience levels. This will help you understand what makes a successful trader.
  • Make your own stock watchlists. Watchlists help you spot potential trade opportunities easier and prepare you to execute them.
  • Record every options trade to learn how you can improve. Review each trading day to determine what went wrong and what went right

Learning from successful options traders is an especially important tip. This can help you cut out some trial and error, and get a head start on your trading journey.

If you’re searching for a mentorship program, check out my former student Mark Croock’s Evolved Trader. He’s taken my penny stock strategies and applied them to options trading — making $3.9 million in career earnings in the process!

Here’s a sneak peek of Mark’s curriculum:

Sign up for the Evolved Trader program today and start your journey towards becoming a self-sufficient options trader!

How to Trade Options on Charles Schwab FAQs

Learning how to trade options on Schwab is a piece of cake. Let’s get some of the vegetables out of the way…

How much money do I need to trade options on Charles Schwab?

You can trade options on Charles Schwab without a minimum investment. But you’re limited to basic strategies like buying and writing covered options.

You’ll need a margin account for higher levels of options trading, with a $2,000 minimum deposit.

Is options trading on Charles Schwab free?

Options trading on Charles Schwab isn’t free. There are no commissions, but you still need to pay the $0.65 contract fee, which is an industry-wide standard.

Can I day trade options on Schwab?

Schwab allows you to day trade options.


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Author card Timothy Sykes picture

Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (205) 851-0506 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”