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What Is the Best Options Trading Platform?

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 4/21/2023 12 min read

The best options trading platform is the one that fits your trading style and fulfills all your needs. So, there’s really no one “best options trading platform” for everyone.

In fact, it’s fine if you don’t have one best trading platform. You can deploy different options strategies on different brokers.

You need to know the ins and outs of each trading platform before picking one — that’s what I’m here for. Read on for a list of some of my favorite platforms for options trading!

Our Criteria for Selecting Options Trading Platforms

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There’s no perfect options trading broker that fits everybody. It’s about knowing your trading style and needs, and finding a broker that fits them.

That said, there are three things that all good brokers for options trading do:

  1. Give you access to lots of stocks.
  2. Execute trades punctually at your chosen strike price.
  3. Not get in your way while trading.

Here are some criteria I use for selecting the best brokerages for options trading:

Trading Fees and Options Commissions

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Most online trading platforms waive options commission fees. But that doesn’t mean retail options trading is free. You still need to pay per-contract fees that cost up to $0.65 per contract. Bigger trade volumes sometimes mean lower options trading fees, though…

Zero commission fees are nice to have, but it’s not essential. You can still profit while paying a small platform commission. If you can’t profit because of fees, there’s probably something wrong with your trading strategies.

You should also keep an eye out for hidden costs. Check reviews and examine a platform’s cost breakdown before trading.

Learning Resources

Trading is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn. Options trading has an even steeper learning curve than penny stock trading. It’s natural that options trading can be confusing for a newbie.

Great options trading platforms should have comprehensive educational content and FAQs. These resources can help beginners start their trading journey. They’re also good for experienced traders. Knowledge is your best weapon on the trading battlefield.

Mobile Platform

I prefer desktop trading platforms because they offer more functionality. If nothing else, the charts are bigger, which is helpful for spotting patterns.

But my needs might not be the same as yours. If you’re frequently out of the house, you might need a mobile platform for trading. They’re usually inferior to desktop apps, but at least they let you watch your trades on the go.

Trading Levels

Most online brokerage firms won’t let you trade options right off the bat. They do this because options trading has unlimited risk.

Instead, they give you gradual access by assigning you an options trader level. The higher your level, the more strategies you can access.

Research the details of your prospective broker’s options tiering system. Remember when I said you don’t want to let your broker get in your way? Even if that isn’t true now, you want to make sure your broker will fit you when you gain experience too.

Check my guide on options trading levels to learn which level fits your strategy. 

Customer Service

You don’t really appreciate the importance of customer service until you need it. FAQs and chatbots won’t cut it when your money’s on the line — you’ll want to talk to an actual person.

Many online brokers deliver subpar customer service. You’re basically left to fend for yourself when something goes wrong.

Don’t let this happen to you — find a broker with excellent customer service.

Options Platform Security

A good trading platform protects its customers’ money. You want an options trading platform that takes your money seriously. This means the broker should have robust security measures.

Some common measures include two-factor authentication and fraud protection.

What Model is Best for Options Trading?

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The “best” options trading model is the Black-Scholes pricing model — that’s the model used for stocks. But this question leads you in the opposite direction from my K.I.S.S. (keep it short and simple) philosophy.

I leave the pricing questions to the economists — we’re here to trade.

Want to learn more about options trading? Check my guide about buying to open in options trading. I also have an article about how options trading works.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best Options Trading App

My top 5 picks for best options trading app are:

Which options trading app is the best? I can’t answer that because only you can. But I do like some platforms more than others.

Here are five of my favorite options trading apps…

1. Interactive Brokers’ Trader Workstation — The Experts’ Options Trading App

My first pick for best options trading app is Interactive Brokers’ Trader Workstation.

Most options brokers are made for beginner traders, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But advanced traders want something with more meat on their bones.

That’s where IB Trader Workstation comes in. It’s a trading platform packed with a wide range of features fit for sophisticated traders. It’s a strong choice for new and experienced traders, too.

Why We Like It

Interactive Brokers actually caters to retail traders of all experience levels. It does this by offering multiple packages, with differing trade fees and execution quality. Newbies gravitate toward IBKR Lite, while professional traders tend to use IBKR Pro.

Both run on the same Trader Workstation desktop app, so they’re equally powerful. There’s also an IBKR Mobile app for active traders on the go.

IBKR Lite also has zero trading commissions for stock options, besides for the $0.65 contract fee.

2. Power E-Trade — The Fast Executions Options Trading App

My second pick for best options trading app is Power E-Trade.

E-Trade is one of the brokerage platforms I frequently use for stock trades. It’s far from the only broker I use, but I use it enough to know its ins and outs.

Similar to Interactive Brokers, E-Trade has two trading platforms. E-Trade Web is the basic, streamlined platform for beginners. Power E-Trade has many of the tools that experienced traders are looking for.

Why We Like It

E-Trade has lightning-fast execution times. It promises a 0.14-second trade execution, so you know your trades will be filled quickly.

This is especially important if you’re trading volatile options contracts. Fast execution times also help beat the clock when trading options near expiry.

3. TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim — The Merging-with-Schwab Options Trading App

My third pick for best options trading app is TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim.

When TD Ameritrade fully merges with Schwab in late 2023, its thinkorswim platform will be available to Schwab traders (at that point, TD Ameritrade will cease to exist independently). That’s a good thing for Schwab traders — thinkorswim is a great platform.

Why? It has robust scanners and trade planners. You can even get thinkorswim on mobile devices, perfect if you’re frequently out of the house.

Check out my detailed review of TD Ameritrade to learn more about this broker.

Why We Like It

TD Ameritrade has quick and solid trade executions — one of my most important criteria. The stock market can shift in the blink of an eye, so your trades need to be done just as quickly.

TD Ameritrade is undergoing a merger with Charles Schwab, another great trading platform. This merger might result in an even better app.

4. Webull

My fourth pick for best options trading app is Webull.

Are you a beginner trader? Webull is a robust, newbie-friendly options trading platform with a user-friendly interface.

But that doesn’t mean it leaves intermediate traders wanting more. On Webull, experienced traders have advanced analytical tools like in-depth charting and technical indicators.

Why We Like It

Webull doesn’t have deposit limits like many other platforms. You can start trading and get your feet wet with just a few bucks. It’s especially helpful if you’re still on the fence about options contract trading.

5. Fidelity Investments

My fifth pick for best options trading app is Fidelity Investments.

Fidelity’s well-rounded trading platform is great for new and experienced traders alike. It’s also got robust 24/7 online and phone customer service.

Fidelity has a big collection of educational material. You can learn about options trading from articles, videos, and webinars. It’s even got options trading lessons from the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE).

Why We Like It

Fidelity is a top broker, and they have a top-rated platform. What’s not to love?

What is the Cheapest Options Trading App?

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The “cheapest” options trading apps are Robinhood and Webull, thanks to their lack of the standard options contract fees. Regulatory fees and per-contract fees on certain options still apply though.

This isn’t where you should put your focus. Any trading strategy that can’t turn a profit because of minimal fees isn’t much of a strategy at all.

Options Trading Platforms With Paper Trading

Paper trading can help you get your feet wet if you’re still undecided about options trading. But it won’t teach you the emotional control needed when real money is on the line.

Paper trading is also useful for experienced traders. It lets you test new strategies before deploying them in a real trading environment. You can also use it to review past options trades and see what could be improved.

Here are some options brokers with paper trading:

1. Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers lets you practice trading in a simulated environment. It gives you the full suite of features to ensure your trading experience is as real as possible. They give you $1 million in virtual cash, which allows you to experiment with large account strategies as well as the small account strategies I teach.

2. Webull

Like the others, Webull paper trading features real-time stock data. You have unlimited virtual cash, if you want to try out strategies that need even more than cash… Check out Jack Kellogg’s $283k score (starting stake $553,775) for an example of how those work!

3. TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade’s PaperMoney lets you practice trading with a more “realistic” amount of starting capital. You can sign up for a practice account and trade $100,000 virtual dollars on the thinkorswim platform.

Final Thoughts

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There’s no “best” options trading platform for everyone. You have to find the best fit for you.

There’s no downside to trying interesting programs out. You can even use multiple trading platforms — which actually gives you an advantage if you’re under the PDT. The pattern day trader rule limits traders with less than $25,000 in their accounts to three day trades per week, and it applies to stocks as well as options.

Multiple trading accounts give you multiple times the PDT!

But remember, trading platforms don’t make trades — people do. Always apply my trading principles:

  • Study strategies from experienced options traders.
  • Don’t copy other people’s options trades.
  • Make your own stock watchlists.
  • Build — and stick to — your trading plan.
  • Record every trade for future review.

Success in options trading depends on studying hard and building trading experience. The good news is that a great teacher will help you improve faster. And I don’t know a better options teacher  than Mark Croock.

Mark is my former student who made most of his $4 million trading options. He evolved my penny stock trading strategies and made them work in options.

Want to learn options trading from my favorite options trader? Sign up for Mark’s Evolved Trader course!

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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

* 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 (888) 878-3621 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”