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Best Options Trading Platforms for June 2024

Review Updated
Matt Frankel, CFP®
Ben Gran

Our Brokerages Experts

Nathan Alderman
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Options can be used to generate income, hedge your risk, or add more fuel to your portfolio by increasing your exposure to certain stocks and indexes. But because options trading is inherently more complex than simply buying stocks or funds, options traders often need to be more selective in choosing the best options trading platform.

In the guide below, we'll share our top picks for the best options trading platforms and what you should look for when choosing the right options broker for you.

There are a lot of options to compare, even on this page. It can be overwhelming! If you're looking for a place to start, here are a few options trading platforms our experts recommend and why they like them:

  • Robinhood: Standout overall options trading platform. Robinhood offers $0 per contract fees on options trading, comes with an easy-to-use interface, and provides a good baseline of information on options trading for anyone who needs it. And all of its features are accessible via the app.
  • SoFi Active Investing: Exceptional broker for one membership ecosystem. SoFi has commissions-free options trading and a long list of other financial products you can access from one easy-to-use platform.
  • E*TRADE: Superb for active trading. Options trades are commission-free, and though a standard $0.65/contract fee applies, the rate is discounted to $0.50 per contract for customers who execute at least 30 stock, ETF, or options trades per quarter.

Our 8 Best Platforms for Trading Options for June 2024

Broker/Advisor Best For Commissions Next Steps
Best For:

Commission free options trading

Commission:

$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Best For:

Low fees

Commission:

$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts

Best For:

Options app trading

Commission:

Commission-free; other fees apply

Best For:

Active traders

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.60 per contract

Best For:

Commission free options trading

Commission:

$0 per trade

Best For:

Low option trading fees

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.15-$0.65 per contract

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Best For:

Options-first trading platform

Commission:

$0 for stocks, $1 per option contract (opening trades only), 1% per crypto purchase and sale

Best For:

Low options trading fees

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.50 per contract

A note from our Head of Product Ratings, Robin Hartill

When we researched online brokers to create this list of brokerages, some of the things we looked for were low costs, a variety of account types, and great customer service ratings. Everyone's investing journey is different, but I've found these three factors are important for anyone to have a great investing experience.

How do I choose an options trading platform?

Here are some of the main features to consider when picking the best platform to trade options below:

  • Commissions-free options trades: While price isn't everything, fees can play a huge role in deciding how much you gain or lose. Many of the best options trading brokers have commission-free options trading but may charge options trading fees per contract.
  • Platform usability: Some traders may see a full-featured platform as an asset, while beginner investors may see the complex interface as a liability. Find a platform that fits your specific needs and preferences.
  • Educational resources: Many of the best options brokers offer a full range of educational resources, which can be extremely valuable for investors who are new to options.

For example, Robinhood has no commissions for options trades whatsoever, but its platform is very light on functionality and features, which makes it appropriate for investors who don't necessarily need educational resources and just want to dabble in basic call and put trades. On the other hand, an options broker like E*TRADE charges commissions, but is packed with features and resources. This could be worth far more than the commission costs for many investors.

Robinhood
Open Account for Robinhood

On Robinhood's Secure Website.

Ratings Methodology

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

Robinhood is an efficient options trading platform that captures a spot as both one of the cheapest and one of the best options brokers. Commission-free options trading round out a feature set to trade stocks, ETFs, fractional shares, and cryptocurrency without commissions as well.

Fees:

$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer Circle with letter I in it. Earn a 1% bonus with no cap when you transfer your brokerage account to Robinhood, now through June 28, 2024. Terms apply.

Earn an uncapped bonus

Open Account for Robinhood

On Robinhood's Secure Website.

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

No fees is the name of the game with SoFi and that doesn't change when it comes to options. With fee-free options trading and a slew of other industry leading features, SoFi makes the list here.

Fees:

$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer Circle with letter I in it. For new accounts: Customer must fund their Active Invest account with at least $10 within 30 days of opening the account. Probability of customer receiving $1,000 is 0.028%.

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account.

Open Account for SoFi Active Investing

On SoFi Active Investing's Secure Website.

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

Caters to active traders with multiple options trading platforms, while also appealing to long-term investors with thousands of mutual funds and ETFs that can be traded commission-free.

Fees:

Commission-free; other fees apply

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer Circle with letter I in it. Open a new eligible E*TRADE brokerage account, fund your account within 60 days of opening, and earn a cash bonus of up to $1,000, depending on the size of your deposit. Offer good for one use per customer, on a single account.

Open and fund and get up to $1,000

Open Account for E*TRADE

On E*TRADE's Secure Website.

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

One of the best options trading platforms that's designed for active traders and cost-sensitive investors. If you're willing to do the work to price each of the two commission schedules, you can often spend less than with other options platforms.

Fees:

$0 per options trade, $0.60 per contract

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer

New accounts with qualifying assets earn $50 to $5,000 using code FOOLAFSA

Open Account for TradeStation

On TradeStation's Secure Website.

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

Like Robinhood, Webull is essentially a no cost options broker that doesn't charge options trading fees for commissions or per contract. Additionally, the platform is easy to use and offers access to more than just stock options trading. If you're considering Robinhood, compare it to Webull as well.

Fees:

$0 per trade

Account Minimum:

$0

Open Account for Webull

On Webull's Secure Website.

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

The competitive base options commission and tiered per-contract pricing, alone, land Interactive Brokers a spot on this list. The otherwise robust feature set and low options trading fees also make it a solid platform to trade options.

Fees:

$0 per options trade, $0.15-$0.65 per contract

Account Minimum:

$0

Open Account for Interactive Brokers

On Interactive Brokers' Secure Website.

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

A true options-first broker that sprinkles in the ability to trade mostly stocks, ETFs, and futures. The standouts are its options trading platform and commission structure.

Fees:

$0 for stocks, $1 per option contract (opening trades only), 1% per crypto purchase and sale

Account Minimum:

$0

Open Account for Tastytrade

On Tastytrade's Secure Website.

Our Rating:

Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5 Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line

Impresses with a low option trading fees per contract, while also offering $0 stock commissions and $0 account minimums.

Fees:

$0 per options trade, $0.50 per contract

Account Minimum:

$0

Reviews of the best options trading platforms

Robinhood

Best broker for options traders who: Want a user-friendly place to cheaply buy and sell options.

Robinhood pioneered commission-free online trading, and this doesn't just apply to stocks -- it is one of the few brokers to offer options trading with no per-contract fees whatsoever. It offers an excellent easy-to-use mobile app, and while it isn't the most sophisticated trading platform by any definition, it can be a great way for beginners and seasoned options traders to buy and sell options.

Why options traders might love Robinhood:

  • No commissions on options trades
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • IRA investing is available

Why options traders might not choose Robinhood:

  • Access to many features only available with paid Robinhood Gold membership
  • No advanced trading features

Read our full review of Robinhood.

SoFi Active Investing

Best broker for options traders who: Want an all-in-one financial app that offers options trading.

SoFi, short for Social Finance, is an app-based platform that aims to not only disrupt the brokerage industry, but the entire banking business. Its app offers checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, as well as an excellent investment platform. While it isn't exactly packed with advanced trading tools, SoFi Active Investing offers several unique features, including commission-free options trading. If you're looking to start trading options, but like having all of your investments and other financial accounts in one place, SoFi deserves a spot on your list.

Why options traders might love SoFi Active Investing:

  • No commissions on options trades
  • All-in-one financial app that is extremely user-friendly
  • Many unique features like IPO investing

Why options traders might not choose SoFi Active Investing:

  • Doesn't have advanced trading tools and features
  • Some account types aren't available

Read our full review of SoFi Active Investing.

E*TRADE

Best broker for options traders who: Want a full-featured broker with options trading tools for beginners and experienced investors.

E*TRADE, which is a part of Morgan Stanley, is a solid choice for investors who want to trade options. It offers tons of account types, investment choices, educational resources, and more. One of the best parts of E*TRADE is that it offers several different trading platforms, including the Power E*TRADE platform, which is a favorite among active options traders. There are even two mobile apps, one designed for everyday trading and investing, and a mobile version of Power E*TRADE to provide maximum functionality on the go.

Why options traders might love E*TRADE:

  • Excellent trading platform for both experienced and newer traders
  • Tons of investment options and educational resources
  • Research and screening tools

Why options traders might not choose E*TRADE:

  • $0.65 per-contract fee is on the higher end
  • Margin interest rates are among the highest in the industry

Read our full review of E*TRADE.

Ally Invest

Best broker for options traders who: Want a discount brokerage that offers low-cost options trading.

Ally Invest offers low-cost options trading (as well as many other investment options) in an easy-to-use app based platform. There's no minimum deposit requirement to open an account, and both its web-based and app-based trading platforms make it easy to get started with options trading, although they are light on advanced trading features.

Why options traders might love Ally Invest:

  • Reasonable $0.50 per-contract fee
  • Easy to get started buying and selling options
  • No minimum to open an account and start trading

Why options traders might not choose Ally Invest:

  • Investment platform doesn't have advanced trading tools
  • Some app-based rivals don't have per-contract fees

Read our full review of Ally Invest.

TradeStation

Best broker for options traders who: Want to get started with options trading and need a platform for both beginners and experienced traders.

TradeStation is an excellent combination of a feature-rich platform for advanced options traders and a good place for beginners to dip their toes into options trading. There are several different trading platforms available to meet everyone's needs, and there are many different types of investments available. TradeStation's biggest downside is its commission structure, which isn't exactly expensive, but there are several rivals that could be more cost-effective for options trading.

Why options traders might love TradeStation:

  • Plenty of investment choices
  • Top-notch desktop trading platform
  • Beginner-friendly

Why options traders might not choose TradeStation:

  • Commissions are higher than many top rivals
  • Margin rates are on the higher end, especially for smaller balances

Read our full review of TradeStation.

Webull

Best broker for options traders who: Want free options trading in an app-based platform with advanced trading tools.

Webull isn't the only app-based broker, but it's unique in the sense that it's an app-based platform designed for active traders. That means it combines the ease of use you'll get from a trading app with features like advanced charting tools and the ability to place complex options orders. Webull is also one of the few brokers that offers options trading with no per-contract fees. It also allows investors to open IRAs to invest for retirement, and also has some of the best margin interest rates in the industry.

Why options traders might love Webull:

  • Easy-to-use mobile app with advanced trading tools
  • No per-contract commissions
  • Can place complex trades

Why options traders might not choose Webull:

  • Few educational resources for beginners
  • Doesn't offer several account or investment types

Read our full review of Webull.

Interactive Brokers

Best broker for options traders who: Want a high-powered trading platform and low commissions.

Interactive Brokers is a well-rounded brokerage platform for all investors, but it is best-known for its powerful trading platforms and its low commissions. It is especially cost effective for active traders who use the IBKR Pro platform, which gives commission discounts based on trading volume. There are excellent web-based, desktop, and mobile trading platforms, including IB Trader Workstation, which is a feature-packed platform that is designed for experienced and active traders.

Why options traders might love Interactive Brokers:

  • Commissions as low as $0.15 per contract for high-volume traders
  • Some of the lowest margin rates anywhere
  • Several excellent trading platforms

Why options traders might not choose Interactive Brokers:

  • Complicated commission structure
  • Trading platforms can be intimidating for beginners

Read our full review of Interactive Brokers.

Tastytrade

Best broker for options traders who: Want a top-notch technology platform specifically designed for options.

It's tough to talk about the best choices for options traders without including Tastytrade in the conversation. The entire brokerage platform was specifically designed with options traders in mind and was founded by several pioneers of online options trading technology. It has an excellent commission structure, especially for those who trade large numbers of contracts, and its trading platform is feature-packed and has several tech features that are above and beyond what the competition offers.

Why options traders might love Tastytrade:

  • Top-notch technology platform
  • Commissions are only charged on opening trades and are capped
  • Several different account types available

Why some investors might not choose Tastytrade:

  • Designed for experienced traders, not beginners
  • Some competitors don't charge commissions at all

Read our full review of Tastytrade.

How to open an options trading account

The process for how to open an options trading account is similar to opening a brokerage account. Here's how:

  1. Choose which options trading platform you want to use.
  2. Apply for an account online. You can apply for some options trading platforms with some of the links on this page.
  3. Provide necessary identification, such as your Social Security Number and driver's license.
  4. Sign any additional required forms for trading options.
  5. Get approval from the broker to trade options -- brokerages will ask you questions about your income, net worth, and investing experience. You might not be approved immediately to trade options at the level that you want; you might be limited to a lower amount of money that you can use for options trading.
  6. Fund your options trading account. This can be done via electronic funds transfer (EFT) from your bank account, by check, or by wire transfer.

Many options trading accounts can be opened online in just a few minutes. But it might take a few days to get your account funded via bank transfer so you can actually start trading options and making investments.

How to get started trading options

After your options trading platform account is approved, open, and funded, here's how to start trading options:

  1. Decide what options you want to trade. Options are contracts based on the future price of stocks, and the most common types of options are "call" and "put" options. When you buy a call option, you are expressing the belief that the price of a stock will go up, while buying a put option means that you believe the price of a stock will go down.
  2. Do research and analysis. Trading options is not simple and it's not for everyone; it's an advanced trading strategy that's often used by more sophisticated investors to manage risk or capture additional upside that might not be possible just from buying and selling stocks. The best options trading platforms offer research tools and statistical analysis so you can make better-informed decisions about which options to buy and sell -- and when to make trades.
  3. Review the list of available options trades on your brokerage. Your options trading platform will offer a list of options trading ideas for various stocks -- this list of possible trades is called an "option chain." Different stocks will have different options contracts with a variety of expiration dates and strike prices (the predetermined price that options traders agree to buy or sell the stock).
  4. Choose a "strike price" for your options. Buying options gives you the right (but not the obligation) to buy or sell a stock in the future at a predetermined price, called the "strike price." For example, if the stock of company XYZ is currently trading at $50 per share, but you believe the company is likely to become more successful in the next few months, you can buy a call option at a strike price of $75 per share and an expiration date in six months, at a premium of $5 per share. Options contracts include 100 shares, so you would pay a $500 premium for the future rights to buy 100 shares. This gives you the option to buy that stock at a higher price -- if company XYZ's share price goes up, you can make more money with a successful call option than you would've made just by purchasing shares.
  5. Make your options trade. Once you choose which option you want to trade, you can go into your options trading platform account and buy (or sell) the options contract of your choice. A trade ticket will be opened within your account, and you can then pay the premium and any other commissions or trading fees.

Our pick for the best beginner options trading platform is SoFi Active Investing. SoFi doesn't charge a contract fee, which makes it budget-friendly for the active trader, and the platform has a lot of educational materials for beginners to learn from.

What can you trade options on?

Options are contracts that let investors speculate on the future price of something, typically stocks. In its simplest form, an options contract lets -- but never requires -- the options buyer to purchase or sell stocks at a predetermined price by a set date. If the buyer decides to exercise their contract, the seller must follow through.

Options can be broken down into two basic types.

Call options

Call options let options buyers buy stock at a predetermined price (the "strike price"). When investors buy call options, they're often speculating that a stock's price will rise before the options contract expires. If they're right, they can buy their shares of the stock at the lower strike price.

Put options

Put options let options buyers sell stock at an agreed-upon strike price. When investors buy put options, they're often speculating that a stock's price will fall before the options contract expires. If they're right, they can sell their shares of the stock at the higher strike price.

To understand these basic types, let's look at two examples.

Let's assume Stock AB has a share value of $50. You have good reason to believe Stock AB will appreciate by 20% over six months and will at that time be worth $60 a share. To act on that belief, you could buy 100 shares of Stock AB for $5,000. Or, if you didn't want to wager $5,000, you could buy call options of $50 for $2 a pop (or $200 total for 100 shares).

If you're right and the stock appreciates to $60 within six months, you would earn $10 on each option, for a total of $1,000. Minus the $200 you paid for your options, you'd be left with a profit of $800. Not bad for an initial investment of $200.

Now, let's assume another investor believes Stock AB will depreciate over six months. In this case, they could buy a put options contract with a strike price of $60 for $2 a share and 100 shares total (or $200). If they're right and the stock falls to $36, they would make $24 a share for a total of $2,200 in profit ($2,400 minus the $200 for the put contract).

How much money do you need to start trading options?

Many options brokers have minimum deposit requirements for options trading. If you're interested in level one option trading, which usually includes covered calls and secured puts, the minimum requirement may be less than $1,000. But certain options strategies, such as net credit spreads, may require a much higher minimum account balance -- sometimes as high as $10,000 or more.

Options trading is subject to the "pattern day trading" rule, which classifies any investor who makes four or more day trades within five business days as a day trader. If you're classified in this way, you must keep a minimum equity balance of $25,000 in your account on any day that you're trading (check with your online broker as they may have different requirements). In options trading, a day trade is defined as closing a contract on the same day you open it.

But as long as you meet the minimum balance requirements for your options trading platform account, the good news is that trading options doesn't cost much money. Many of the best options trading brokers have commission-free options trading, but may charge options trading fees per contract (some charge $0.65 per contract). Robinhood and Webull are the few free options trading platforms that have 100% free options trading -- both have a $0 commission and no per-contract fees for online trades.

What are the risks of options trading?

Options trading can be risky -- even riskier than just buying and selling stocks. All options trading is leveraged investing, which inherently carries greater risk. You could face unlimited losses with certain options trading strategies, such as selling naked calls.

Buying call or put options typically isn't as risky as the most extreme scenarios of options trading, because the most you can lose is the amount you spent to buy the options contract. A typical risk that an options trader might face would be having their options expire without ever reaching the target strike price, thus becoming worthless. For example, if an investor buys a call option contract for $5 per share that expires without paying off -- this options trader would lose $500 for the money spent on the options premium, but would not be risking any additional losses.

However, selling call and put options is much riskier than buying them -- because in this case, the options trader can be exposed to bigger losses than just a one-time premium cost. If you sell an option and the stock price goes past the strike price, you could be on the hook to pay whatever price is required to fulfill the option contract.

Buying options, instead of selling options, is often a safer way to be an options trader, especially for beginners who want to learn more about the stock market. But all options traders need to be savvy and have a well-informed point of view about "why" they're trading options in a particular stock -- ask yourself:

  • Do you believe the company's stock is undervalued, or overpriced?
  • Why do you think the situation will change, and how soon?
  • Can you stomach the risks of being wrong?

Options trading is a flexible way to invest, because it lets investors exercise bullish, bearish, or neutral strategies. Trading options can also be used as a way to hedge your risks. If you are buying a large stock position, with the theory that the stock price is likely to go up, you can also buy put options for that same stock to help protect yourself from downside risk in case the stock price declines.

But no matter what options trading strategy you use, make sure you do careful research and understand the trades you make. Even the best informed, most experienced options traders can still make mistakes and experience bad luck in the markets, but understanding how options work can help reduce your chance of loss.

What is an options trading platform?

An options trading platform is an online brokerage that offers the ability to trade options as part of its investment offerings. Not every online brokerage offers options trading. But some of the best stock trading apps also offer options trading.

You need an options trading broker to access the market, so you cannot trade options without one. Many of the best options trading apps and platforms allow you to practice options trading, including E*TRADE and TradeStation.

Broker/Advisor Best For Commissions Next Steps
Best For:

Commission free options trading

Commission:

$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Best For:

Low fees

Commission:

$0 for stocks, $0 for options contracts

Best For:

Options app trading

Commission:

Commission-free; other fees apply

Best For:

Active traders

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.60 per contract

Best For:

Commission free options trading

Commission:

$0 per trade

Best For:

Low option trading fees

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.15-$0.65 per contract

Award Icon 2024 Award Winner
Best For:

Options-first trading platform

Commission:

$0 for stocks, $1 per option contract (opening trades only), 1% per crypto purchase and sale

Best For:

Low options trading fees

Commission:

$0 per options trade, $0.50 per contract

Our brokerage rating methodology

At The Motley Fool Ascent, brokerages are rated on a scale of one to five stars. We primarily focus on fees, available assets, and user experience; however, we also take into account features like research, education, tax-loss harvesting, and customer service. Our highest-rated brokerages generally include low fees, a diverse range of assets and account types, and useful platform features.

See our full methodology here: Ratings Methodology

FAQs

  • Many options brokers have minimum deposit requirements for options trading. If you're interested in level one option trading, which usually includes covered calls and secured puts, the minimum requirement may be less than $1,000. But certain options strategies, such as net credit spreads, may require a much higher minimum account balance -- sometimes as high as $10,000 or more.

  • Trading options can be risky. You could face unlimited losses with certain trading strategies, such as selling naked calls. However, buying call or put options isn't as risky, because the most you can lose is the amount you spent to buy the options contract.

    All options trading is leveraged investing, which inherently carries greater risk. Ensuring you do careful research and understand the trades you make can reduce the chance of loss.

  • You need an options trading broker to access the market, so you cannot trade options without one.

  • Many of the best options trading apps and platforms allow you to practice options trading, including E*Trade and TradeStation.

  • Call options give you the right (but not the obligation) to buy a certain stock at a certain price by a specific date. Call options provide another way to profit on the rising price of a company's stock without buying shares. In options trading, each contract gives you the right to buy 100 shares at a given price, so if the stock price goes up before your option expires, you can profit.

    Put options give you the right (but not the obligation) to sell stock at a certain price in the future. If you believe a company's shares will go down in value, put options let you profit on that assumption.

  • No, not all online brokers offer options trading. If you're interested in holding options in your portfolio, it's important to check that the broker you're interested in will let you trade them before you sign up.

  • Options trading is subject to the "pattern day trading" rule, which classifies any investor who makes four or more day trades within five business days as a day trader. If you're classified in this way, you must keep a minimum equity balance of $25,000 in your account on any day that you're trading (check with your online broker as they may have different requirements). In options trading, a day trade is defined as closing a contract on the same day you open it.

Brokerages we evaluated for consideration on this page: Acorns, Ally Invest, Axos Self-Directed Trading, Betterment, Cash App Investing, Charles Schwab, Delphia, Domain Money, Ellevest, Empower, eToro Brokerage, E*TRADE Core Portfolios, E*TRADE, Fidelity, Fidelity Cash Management, Fidelity Go®, Firstrade, FOREX.com, Interactive Brokers, J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing, M1 Finance, Magnifi, Marcus Invest, Merrill Edge® Self-Directed, Moomoo, NinjaTrader, Personal Capital, Plynk, Prosperi Academy, Public, Robinhood, Rocket Dollar, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, SoFi Active Investing, SoFi Automated Investing, Stash, Stockpile, Tastytrade, Titan, Tornado App, TradeStation, Tradier, Vanguard, Vanguard Digital Advisor®, Wealthfront, Webull, Zacks Trade.