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Recently moving into a new area in Colorado, I had to find a new gym to start going to. I usually don’t like going to commercial gyms because they are mostly filled with meatheads in stringers and “fitness chicks” who stare at you aggressively as they do awkward hip thrust. You need to shop around though because you want to find a gym at a good price that has everything you want. After looking at multiple gyms, I ended up going with a 24-hour fitness because they had all the equipment I wanted, at a reasonable price per month. While I will not be wearing stringers, I hope to challenge a few fitness chicks to some stare down hip thrust to see how awkward we can make it.

There are plenty of trading platforms out there just like gyms and you need to find the one that best suits your need. In today’s article, I’m going to be breaking down the differences in trading platforms and recommending what I would go with if you are just starting out.




Let’s first take a look at a comparison of 10 of the major brokers you can chose from.

  •  Fees

 Options HouseFidelityTrade KingTDE*TradeOptions ExpressCharles SchwabScottradeFirstradeTradestation
Base Fee
Per Contract
Exercise & Assignment
$4.95$7.65$9.95 & $4.95 $19.99$19.99$8.95$0$7.95$14.95$14.95
Assisted Orders
Margin Rates7.75% - 3.25% 8.575% - 3.75% 9.00% - 4.25% 9.25% - 6.5% 8.19% - 4.14% 8.25% - 6.00% 8.50% - 6.00% 8% - 5.25% 7.75% - 4.50% 8.50% - 6.25%

  • Minimums/Ease of Use

 Options HouseFidelityTrade KingTDE*TradeOptions ExpressCharles SchwabScottradeFirstradeTradestation
Minimum InvestmentNo
Platform Ease of Use100%90%95%100%95%85%95%90%80%85%
Mobile AppYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Investor Education 90%90%85%100%100%90%90%90%65%70%
Paper TradingYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesNoYes
Broker SupportNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNo


Here are some questions you should ask yourself when looking at the table.

  • How many trades do I plan to execute per month?
  • Will I be trading options?
  • Do I plan on using margin? (borrowing from the broker)
  • How often do I think I will be trading on my mobile device?
  • How important is a support team if I need help with a trade?
  • How much research do I want to have access to?
  • How important are the charting tools to me?

These are just some general questions that getting you thinking what platform may be more advantageous based off of your own preferences and intentions with the account.


My Suggestions When Starting Out


I have hand tested many of these platforms. For someone just starting out, I recommend going with Optionshouse just because you will be exposed to the cheapest commissions for your trades. There trading platform decent and executing trades is very simple. At the same time, I recommend that you download TD’s ThinkorSwim platform as well because it is one of the best trading platforms for research and charting tools in my opinion. It is free and there are no account minimums so there is no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of it. You can perform your research on ThinkorSwim and then execute your trades from Optionshouse where you will be getting the cheaper commission.

As You Grow


As you continue to grow your account you will want to looking at getting an account with Interactive Brokers. Their account minimum is 10k but they have the cheapest commissions and margin interest rates that you can find

  • Commissions: $0.005 per share
  • Margin Interest: 1.66%

Their system is different in that they charge per share rather than a standard rate but it really saves you a ton of money on commissions. Last year I executed over 600 trades and only paid $1,339 in commissions. That’s only $2.23 per trade! If I had executed that many trades at a place like Charles Schwab, I would have spent $5,370 dollars just on commissions alone!


I hope this table narrows your search and I plan to update as changes occur in the future.


Homework: Analyze the table and compare the different platforms based of your goals and expectations for the account. Check out each brokers websites for additional detail.