Best SEP IRA Account Company



Overview of Individual Retirement Accounts at OptionsHouse

Besides low fees and commissions, OptionsHouse also offers Individual Retirement Accounts. An IRA with the firm comes with the same great pricing schedule as a regular brokerage account. Nonetheless, there are certain areas when the broker falls short in the retirement category compared to several of its rivals. Let’s make a detailed analysis of OptionsHouse’s retirement selections, and see if opening an IRA with the broker would be a wise move.


Varieties of IRA’s

There are four IRA types that OptionsHouse offers. These are Roth, Traditional, Rollover, and SEP accounts. The Roth is designed for retirement savers who expect to be in a higher tax bracket after work, while the Traditional is intended for those who expect the opposite. The Rollover account is a good option for people who have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and would like to convert it to an IRA. Finally, the SEP IRA is designed for small businesses.


Account Minimums and Fees

A retirement account at OptionsHouse can be opened with no deposit. There is also no annual fee, no inactivity fee, and no maintenance fee of any kind. The broker does not charge anything for a low balance. It’s a very simple fee structure.

However, when you’re finished with your IRA, OptionsHouse has a few surprises for you. Closing a retirement account costs $60, and transferring a full account carries a $75 fee. Partial transfers cost $25.


The Cost of Trading

The broker’s pricing schedule applies to retirement and non-retirement accounts alike. This includes $4.95 trades for stocks, options, and ETF’s. There is an additional 50¢ charge for each option contract in a trade.

OptionsHouse has representatives who can help clients submit an order over the phone. Using this service tacks on an extra $25.

Penny stocks are available at OptionsHouse, but the broker imposes a 0.05¢ surcharge per share. Equities priced above $1 are exempt.

Option exercises and assignments are charged at the broker’s regular $4.95 commission.


Mutual and Exchange-traded Funds

All US-listed ETF’s are available at OptionsHouse. The broker does not offer any commission-free; although at just $4.95 per trade, infrequent traders will find a good value here. Unfortunately, OptionsHouse doesn’t have in-depth information on ETF’s.

There is no OptionsHouse mutual fund screener, and the website doesn’t have any educational materials for mutual fund investors. There are no NTF funds, either. However, all mutual fund transactions at OptionsHouse cost low $20.

Another advantage of the broker’s fund offerings is that short-term redemption fees won’t be found here. Investors can trade funds as frequently as they wish without paying any fees (to OptionsHouse) for doing so.

Target-date mutual funds are available at OptionsHouse. These securities are designed for long-term retirement savers. As the target date approaches, the fund’s portfolio becomes more conservative by shifting investments from higher-risk assets into fixed-income products. As mentioned above, transactions are $20 each, but there are some funds that have no load. A few of the available fund families include Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, and JP Morgan Chase.


IRA Tools, Calculators, and Education

Retirement education is on the slim side at OptionsHouse. There are no IRA videos or articles on the broker’s website. Investors will not find a single retirement calculator on the OH site. There are no planning or learning tools available to the broker’s clients. While retirement customers can receive low fees at OptionsHouse, they won’t find much guidance.


Trading Futures in an IRA

While the broker seems rather weak in research and education, one advantage of an OptionsHouse IRA is the ability to trade futures. The brokerage house is one of the few in the industry to offer futures contracts in addition to the normal range of securities. Investors who want to trade futures must submit a separate application form.

As with securities, OptionsHouse provides low commissions for futures traders. One contract is just $1.50 per trade.


Technology

Both securities and futures can be traded on the broker’s very nice desktop platform. Even better, the software carries no account minimums or trading requirements. In fact, the website does not have any trading capability. It is used primarily for account management, providing broker information, hosting FAQ’s, and so forth.


Best SEP IRA Plan


The platform is launched from the website and creates a separate window. It displays positions, account information, and market news in article format. There are also windows for watchlists and working orders.

Trades for all securities, including mutual funds, can be submitted on the platform. Futures can also be traded on it. The software has an excellent charting function. There are technical studies, drawing tools, and comparisons. The graph is very customizable, with different cursors and display patterns available.

A mobile app can also be used free of charge. It has more limited charting than the desktop platform, but options trading, market news, and watch lists are all available. A new OptionsHouse app has just been released. However, it has no information on funds transfer yet.


Best SEP IRA Mobile App


All three OptionsHouse platforms offer paper trading. This feature would be ideal for retirement savers who need some extra practice before making their own trading decisions.


IRA Promotion

Opening a new IRA at OptionsHouse with at least $5,000 qualifies for 100 free trades. These freebies must be used within 60 days. They are not valid for futures trading, however. The offers' link: Open and fund an OptionsHouse account to get up to $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days.

If you have an existing IRA at another broker, OptionsHouse will pay up to $100 to cover any ACAT fees the old firm charges to move the account. Just call customer service and mention “$100 ACAT cash credit” to qualify for the rebate.


Comparison

With just four IRA types, OptionsHouse doesn’t offer a lot of variety. Investors who need a SIMPLE IRA will have to go elsewhere.

OptionsHouse doesn’t offer financial advice, retirement planning, or portfolio management services. Pensioners who need some extra assistance won’t find it here. Other brokers do offer these services for an additional cost. Ally Invest and Fidelity are good examples.

While OptionsHouse's biggest flaw seems to be the lack of educational materials for IRA account holders. Many other on-line discount brokers have large libraries of videos and articles for retirement savers.

TD Ameritrade, and Merrill Edge both have many publications to help their clients do a better job of retirement planning. These instructional materials are especially important for self-directed accounts.

On the bullish side, OptionsHouse’s fee schedule is very generous. Not charging an annual account fee is an attractive policy, especially for accounts that will be open for several years. Other brokers do have a yearly fee for IRA’s. TradeStation, for example, charges $35. Edward Jones clients must pay $40 per annum, while Ally Invest is at $50. Ally Invest’s fee can be avoided with a $2,500 account balance.

Requiring no minimum opening deposit for an IRA is also appealing. Schwab, by comparison, requires a $1,000 deposit to open a retirement account, or a $100 monthly direct deposit. Other firms have no minimum requirement. These brokers include Firstrade and TD Ameritrade.

The $60 IRA closeout fee is above average by industry standards. Some brokers today charge nothing to close a retirement account. Vanguard and TD Ameritrade are two examples. Merrill Edge customers pay $49.95, while Firstrade assesses a $50 fee.

OptionsHouse’s $75 transfer-out fee is also a little steep. Schwab traders pay $50, while Vanguard assess no fee at all. Some brokers charge more than OptionsHouse, however. WellsTrade customers, for example, must pay $95.


Best SEP IRA Plan Summary

OptionsHouse has several strengths that IRA account holders can take advantage of. These primarily lie in super low pricing and trading technology which makes it one of the best SEP IRA accounts in the industry today.


Open OptionsHouse SEP IRA Account


Open and fund an OptionsHouse account to get up to $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days.



Article was updated on 3/27/2017.




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