About Us » Frequently Asked Questions

From funding your account to trading futures, we’ve got your questions covered. Find the answers you need here.

    • Learn more about our company and how we can assist you with all of your trading needs.

    • What is optionsXpress?
      optionsXpress is a pioneer in online stock, options and futures brokerage service to the self-directed investor. We were founded by an experienced management team dedicated to providing investors with an innovative, leading-edge trading environment.
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      How long have you been in business?
      We were founded in February of 2000, and we opened our web site on November 22, 2000.
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      Where are you physically located?

      Our main office is at the following address:

      150 S. Wacker, 12th Floor
      Chicago, Illinois 60606
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      How are accounts protected?

      optionsXpress is a member of SIPC, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which protects against losses caused by the financial failure of the broker-dealer, but not against losses resulting from depreciation in a security’s value. Your optionsXpress accounts are protected by SIPC up to $500,000—including up to $250,000 for cash claims.

      Additionally, on our own initiative and at no additional cost to you, optionsXpress has secured excess SIPC coverage offering your account additional account protection beyond the standard SIPC limits. optionsXpress' excess SIPC policy covers in the aggregate up to $100,000,000 subject to a maximum limit of $24,500,000 per customer, $900,000 of which may be cash.

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      Are the funds in the Deposit Accounts insured?

      Yes. Your funds will be swept into participating Deposit Accounts and eligible for deposit insurance by FDIC up to a total of $250,000 principal and accrued interest per depositor in most insurable capacities (e.g., individual, joint, etc.) when aggregated with all other deposits held in the same insurable capacity at a Bank. For example, funds in the Deposit Accounts at a Bank held by an individual are insured up to $250,000, and funds in the Deposit Accounts at a Bank held jointly by two or more individuals are insured up to $250,000 per joint owner ($500,000 per account).

      For IRAs and certain other self-directed retirement accounts, funds in the Deposit Accounts are eligible for deposit insurance up to $250,000 principal and accrued interest per depositor in the aggregate. For more information, please see our Cash Features.

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      How do I contact optionsXpress during business hours?
      You may call us at 888.280.8020 or 312.629.5455. You may also chat online with customer service or trading staff using our Live Help.
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    • Trade from your computer at home or on the go, and follow your securities in real-time.

    • Do you offer any trading advice?
      No. Our accounts are for self-directed investors. We employ brokers to assist you with technical questions, as well as other general questions relating to strategy and trading. Additionally, our representatives may provide educational assistance, and FREE broker-assisted trades, but they do not provide any trading recommendations.
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      What trading products does optionsXpress offer?
      We offer trading in futures, mutual funds, stocks, equity and index options, ETFs and bonds—all on ONE platform.
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      What types of educational services are available?
      In addition to a full range of FREE curriculum-based tutorials and on-demand webinars, we also offer live webinars and occasional on-site workshops.
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      Can I get streaming quotes?
      Yes. optionsXpress customers have access to unlimited tick-by-tick streaming real-time quotes for equities, options and futures.
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    • Opening an account is easy. Find out all you need to know before you begin.

    • Is there a minimum amount required to open an account?
      We have no minimum deposit required to open an account; however, the account must have enough buying power to pay for a trade before it is placed. Please review your trading strategy and fund the account to the appropriate level. Again, no minimum is required to open a cash account, but a $2,000 minimum is required to maintain a margin account.
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      How do I transfer an account into optionsXpress?
      An Account Transfer Form will need to be completed and returned to us with a copy of the most recent statement showing the title of the account, the account number, and an asset list. A signed account transfer form is required for each account being transferred to us. For more detailed information on transfers, please see the Account Transfer FAQ.
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      Do you open accounts for people outside the U.S.?
      Yes, upon our review and at our discretion we accept unsolicited accounts from non-U.S. residents. Although our account opening process is geared toward opening accounts for persons with a U.S. domestic address, we will review and open foreign accounts depending on the country of residence and at our discretion. Please note that we are a U.S.-based broker. We offer only U.S. exchange traded products and we accept only U.S. currency in our customer accounts.
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      Why do I have to disclose personal information to open an optionsXpress account?

      Due to regulatory requirements and the United States government’s efforts to fight terrorism and fraud, U.S. brokerages have been required to obtain, verify and record information about persons who open accounts and certain individuals related to them, including account signatories (in the case of entity accounts) and persons authorized to trade on behalf of accounts (LTAs).

      For more information please see the Customer Identification Program Notice from FINRA.

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      What are the requirements when I provide a government photo ID?

      All three of the following requirements must be met when providing a photo ID:

      • Valid non-expired government ID
      • Evidencing nationality or residence
      • And bearing a photograph or similar safeguard
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      What is the difference between a cash account and a cash/option account?
      The “Cash Account” does not permit options trading. The “Cash/Options” account will allow options trading, but only fully-paid-for options, like long calls or puts, cash secured puts, spreads, etc. Any IRA that trades options would be a cash/option account.
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      What level of options trading will a customer be approved for?

      Clients will be authorized to trade options after being reviewed based on experience and financial background among other criteria. Accounts will receive one of the following option trading levels:

      Trading Level Basic Definitions
        -1 0 1 2 3 4 5
      Trading Disabled ×            
      Trading Stocks / Bonds / Mutual Funds   × × × × × ×
      Covered Call Writing / Short Stock Sales     × × × × ×
      Buying Calls and Puts / Covered Put Writing       × × × ×
      Debit Spreads         × × ×
      Credit Spreads / Equity Put Writing           × ×
      Naked Equity Call Writing / Naked Index Put & Call Writing             ×
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      How are accounts protected?

      optionsXpress is a member of SIPC, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which protects against losses caused by the financial failure of the broker-dealer, but not against losses resulting from depreciation in a security’s value. Your optionsXpress accounts are protected by SIPC up to $500,000—including up to $100,000 for cash claims.

      Additionally, on our own initiative and at no additional cost to you, optionsXpress has secured excess SIPC coverage offering your account additional account protection beyond the standard SIPC limits. optionsXpress’ excess SIPC policy covers in the aggregate up to $100,000,000, subject to a maximum limit of $24,500,000 per customer, $900,000 of which may be cash.

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      If I open an account online, do I still need to send in paperwork?
      optionsXpress does not currently have a paper application. The initial account process begins online and will prompt you to print out and sign the application at the end. Please note that optionsXpress may request additional information, such as a photo ID, to set up your account. On October 1st, 2003, new U.S. government regulations came into effect requiring that we verify your identity.
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      Can I fax or email my account paperwork?

      Most of our account documents are accepted via fax. Certain forms may require originals:

      Accounts – General
      Account Overview (Account Application)
      Account Transfer Forms (ACATs)
      Non-ACAT Transfers
      Affidavit of Domicile
      Birth Certificate
      Death Certificate
      Divorce Decree
      Identification Cards (Photo IDs)
      IRS W-8
      IRS W-9
      Letter of Instruction (LOI) & Letter of Authorization (LOA)
      Letters Testamentary
      Margin and/or Option Updates
      Marriage License
      Statements (for Account Transfers)
      Transfer on Death Agreement
      Business – Entity Accounts
      Articles of Incorporation
      Corporate Resolution
      Trust Agreement
      Trust Certification / ERISA
      Cashiering
      Bank Statements
      Letter of Authorization
      Limited Power of Attorney (LTA) & Full Power of Attorney (FPA)
      Stock Power of Attorney
      Verification of Deposit
      Retirements
      5304 – SIMPLE
      5305 – E (for Coverdell Education Savings accounts)
      5305 – SEP
      Coverdell Education Savings
      Designation of Beneficiary
      IRA Distribution Form
      Roll-Over Certification
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      What types of accounts do you offer?
      The three main types of accounts available for trading at optionsXpress are cash accounts, margin accounts, and futures accounts. We also offer multiple types of retirement accounts, including traditional, Roth, SEP and simple IRAs.
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      When will an account be ready for trading?

      An account is ready to trade when the account number and appropriate trading level has been assigned, and funds and/or assets have settled in the account. Domestically, most US persons can qualify for Electronic Signature applications for personal and retirement accounts, meaning they can be opened that same business day. Otherwise, accounts are generally opened within one or two business days of our receipt of the signed new account application documentation.

      It is important to note that while funds from an incoming bank wire, cashier’s check, or bank draft check are made available the next business day after they’ve been deposited, personal checks and ACH deposits are subject to a three business day hold. The cut-off for any deposit is 12:00 PM Eastern. Please see the Transfer Funds FAQ for more information.

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    • We offer quick and easy ways to deposit or withdraw funds from your account.

    • How do I deposit checks into an account at optionsXpress?

      We accept personal checks where the registration on the check is the same as the optionsXpress, Inc. account.

      We accept cashier’s checks where the remitter’s name is pre-printed on the check by issuing bank only. The remitter’s name must be the same as the optionsXpress, Inc. account.

      Please note that we do NOT accept certain forms of deposits including (but not limited to) cash, credit card or line-of-credit checks, starter checks, traveler’s checks, money orders, third-party deposits such as United States Treasury Tax Refund checks, or checks payable in foreign (non-U.S.) currency.

      The name on the check to be deposited must match the registration on the optionsXpress account. We do NOT accept third party deposits (i.e. We do not accept checks payable to optionsXpress from non-account holders or checks where a recipient makes an endorsement over to optionsXpress).

      Please make sure the account name and optionsXpress account number are printed on each check. For an IRA check deposit, please indicate contribution year.

      If your check is for a new account, please attach your signed Account Application and any applicable supporting documents.

      If you already have an account number, Printable Deposits Slips are available (login required).

      Once the check is received by optionsXpress, an e-mail confirmation will be sent with deposit details.

      Certified funds will be available next day. Personal checks are normally available in 3–5 business days. However, deposits may be held up to 10 business days or longer depending on various circumstances.

      Check deposit mailing address:

      optionsXpress, Inc.
      Attn: Cashiering
      P. O. Box 2197
      Chicago, IL 60690-2197

      Delivery by courier service which requires signature or delivery confirmation:

      optionsXpress, Inc.
      Attn: Cashiering
      150 S. Wacker, 12th Floor
      Chicago, Illinois 60606
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      How do I do a wire transfer into an account?

      General Instructions

      Please note before wiring funds, a new account application must be received, processed, and an account number assigned.

      We do NOT accept third-party wires or wires from third-party money transfer services. Wires must be generated from a financial institution at which you have an account where the registration matches to your optionsXpress account.

      Funds may NOT be wired into an IRA account.

      Funds must be in USD ($) only. Applicable instructions, depending on currency and country of initiation, are noted below.

      Funding will generally be available same day after wire receipt.

      Please note the wire instructions cannot be used for ACH transactions.

      Wire Instructions

      Wire Instructions for accounts that clear through optionsXpress, Inc.:

      JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA
      ABA # 021000021
      A/C 707660205 optionsXpress, Inc.
      F/C/T [your name here]
      A/C# [your 8 digit account number]
      Bank Address (wires only—do NOT mail funds)
      1 Chase Manhattan Plaza
      New York, NY 10081
      Swift Code
      CHASUS33
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      How do I establish ACH service for accounts at optionsXpress?

      The ACH set-up process can be initiated by clicking the Establish ACH link on the Transfer Funds page. Once we receive the signed ACH application, we will notify you through a series of e-mails of the steps needed to verify your link. The final email will also supply you with more detailed instructions on how to use the service.

      Once ACH is established, a request to deposit funds can be made on the Transfer Funds page under the Account tab.

      All ACH deposit requests must be received by 3:30pm ET to be processed same business day. All other requests will be processed on the following business day.

      ACH deposits will be available for trading on the third business day after processing.

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      How do I use on-line billpay to deposit funds at optionsXpress?

      Please note before transferring funds, your optionsXpress account application must be received, processed, and an account number assigned.

      You must enroll for On-line Bill Pay at your bank or financial institution. Once you have signed up, you may use On-line Bill Pay to complete electronic funds transfers to optionsXpress. Please note that the bank account registration must match to your optionsXpress account.

      Log into the bank account you wish to make your transfer and input optionsXpress as the Payee and address or zip code if required of 150 S. Wacker, 12th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606. In the Payee account number field, input your optionsXpress account number in the following format 1111-1111. For an IRA contribution, please add the year directly after your account number with no spaces or dashes (ie. 1111-11112009).

      It takes 1-2 business days for funds to be available in your optionsXpress account when you use electronic Bill Pay. Please note your Bank may initiate your first online billpay to a new payee as a check sent through the U.S. postal system. Please allow up to 10 business days for the billpay to reflect in your account.

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      How do I deposit a security certificate into an account?

      To mail a stock certificate for deposit into an account, follow the instructions below:

      1. Sign your name on the back of the certificate exactly as it is spelled on the front of the certificate. All names listed on the certificate must endorse the back. View sample stock certificate.
      2. You will then need to appoint our clearing agent, optionsXpress, Inc., as the attorney to transfer on the back of the certificate, where it states “… I do hereby irrevocably constitute and appoint __________ Attorney to transfer …”
      3. Write the optionsXpress account number under your endorsement. For new accounts, please include your username. Please note: everything else on the certificate should be left blank.

      For added security, we recommend that you send your certificate(s) using a method that can be tracked (e.g. FedEx, UPS, Registered or Certified Mail). Please mail your certificates to:

      optionsXpress, Inc.
      150 S. Wacker, 12th Floor
      Chicago, Illinois 60606
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      How do I withdraw or transfer funds from an account?

      You have several options when withdrawing or transferring funds from optionsXpress.

      By Check
      You can request a check simply by logging into the account and clicking on the Transfer Funds link under the Account tab. From there you will see a Check link below “Withdraw from optionsXpress” where you can select to have a check mailed to the address of record.
      By Wire Transfer
      A wire can be initiated by logging into the account and going to Transfer Funds under the Account tab. Clicking on the Wire link under “Withdraw from optionsXpress” will lead you to the Wire Requests form. All required information will need to be completed.
      Automated Funds Transfer (ACH)
      If you have a U.S. bank account, you may establish a link between an optionsXpress account and a bank. You will need to complete the ACH Application, sign it, and return the original to us. Once we receive your signed ACH Application, we will notify you through a series of e-mails of the steps to verify your link. The final email will also supply you with more detailed instructions on how to use the service.
      Internal Funds Transfers
      These can be requested via the Transfer Funds link under the Account tab between individual and joint accounts with common Tax ID’s. All other internal transfer requests require a Letter of Authorization.
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