If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have reviewed countless brokers for options trading. Yes, I have created an actual account with all of the well known ones.
Tastyworks is the best firm when it comes to these three categories:
Commissions and fees: $1 per option contract to open, $0 to close. No hidden fees, like real-time data fees, order cancellation fees, inactivity fees. (I won’t mention those that do have those fees . . . actually, I’ll mention one: Interactive Brokers).
Customer Service: I have never witnessed better customer service with a brokerage firm than with Tastyworks. Their support desk really understands options trading and they know how to tailor their services to help traders become successful.
Futures Options Support: It was long awaited for Tastyworks and now they do shine in this arena. Most brokers have either no support for futures options, or it is very limited and hokey. Tastyworks has rolled out solid support with low commissions; though the selection isn’t far reaching (no lean hogs, live cattle, sugar, etc.), most of the highly liquid products are there.
However, there is one thing I believe Tastyworks needs to do in order to be the king of all brokers in this modern trading landscape: Provide a public API
In this new era of options trading, custom software solutions are a big deal. While traders need to learn strategies and develop their own personal trading plan, having code that streamlines their process and gives them better information for decision making is a major advantage.
Now, I’m not necessarily talking about auto trading, though that would certainly provide a steady stream of commissions income for the brokerage (which is another good reason to provide an API). No, I still think it is good to have the final veto power on making a trade and allow instincts and experience to have a say instead of letting the computer pull the trigger without the trader knowing.
Yet, having a custom solution that presents the specific data a trader needs, when they need it, provides a distinct edge. You can read my post Why I build my own trading software for an example of a personal trading solution that includes strategy specific alerting and Apple Watch face complications.
However, these solutions are most effective if the broker provides an API (Application Programming Interface) which lets software send secure messages to the broker’s server.
Currently, TD Ameritrade has a good API, yet it does not support futures options at all. I actually do use TD Ameritrade’s API to pull equity option data into my portfolio management solution, even though my account is in Tastyworks and I execute my actual trades in the Tastyworks platform.
But when Tastyworks rolls out their API capability, there will be no question about which firm is king.