Ireland, a welcoming country of great people, natural beauty, and a bustling financial center for international mutual funds, is also home to a booming options trading industry. The Irish stock exchange, trading as ISEQ All Share, recovered from the Coronavirus pandemic in less than one year!
That means Ireland, or The Emerald Isle, is one of the most proactive and positive places for options trading, whether retail or institutionally. The country’s regulation favors both eurozone- and US-based trading, with access to all the industry’s best names.
We saw the need for a clear guide on options trading in Ireland: to summarize its leading brokers, their merits, and where they fall short. This article delves into our top five picks and why. Let’s get to it.
What Makes a Good Broker for Options Trading in Ireland?
Options brokers in Ireland keep up with the global standards set by the US, the world’s most active financial marketplace. Good brokers in Ireland have these seven virtues in common:
- Low account or trading minimums
- Competitive and transparent fees
- Many product options
- Multiple trading and analytic tools
- Support for news alerts
- Ample learning material
- The ability to trade real options and not CFDs on options (more about it on the differences between CFDs vs real shares)
Not every options broker will make our list, but it helps us determine the truly best brokers out there.
The Best Options Brokers in Ireland
Interactive Brokers | The globe’s award-winning default broker
With a history spanning more than 40 years, IBKR remains one of the most trustworthy brokers available and is unofficially the globe’s default broker, including Ireland. For options, there is a per contract fee going up to GBP 1.70 with EUR-based fees varying per country, but capped at EUR 3. Interactive Brokers also launched IBKR GlobalTrader, a modern mobile trading app for options, stocks, and ETFs, ideal for novice investors.
Saxo Bank | Premium online broker providing incredibly research and tools
While Danish online broker, Saxo Bank has prepared an incredible offering for residents of Ireland inclusive of listed options, forex options, commodities, futures, and more. They provide a tiered pricing system that balances monthly fees and trading commissions.
DEGIRO | Reliable low-cost options broker for global access
DEGIRO stands out as an options broker for the knowledgeable trader who knows what they’re doing and wants the right tools for succeeding across international markets. They provide a solid range of ETFs, stocks, bonds, futures, options, commodities, and more, while keeping to a per contract option fee of EUR 0.75.
Disclaimer: Investing involves risk of loss.
Freedom24 | Superb European options broker also offering stocks at IPO prices
Freedom24 is a great choice for options traders in Ireland who want to blend their options trading with exposure to stocks and, at that, the latest stocks at IPO prices. Their option trading fee is a competitive EUR 0.65 per contract.
Disclaimer: Investments in securities and other financial instruments always involve the risk of loss of your capital. Buying stocks at IPO prices may involve additional restrictions.
Tastyworks | Excellent discount broker, but US-focused
Tastyworks stands out as an up-and-coming options broker focusing on the retail trader who truly wants to hone their craft. They provide options trading in addition to futures, stocks, indices, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies while keeping to USD 1 per options contract (0 to close).
1# Interactive Brokers
IB at a glance
Subsidiary to the Nasdaq-listed IBKR, Interactive Brokers Ireland echoes its parent’s world-leading strength, offering, and product range–options included. They earned the trust of options traders and the top spot on our list of the best options brokers in Ireland through their commitment to global access and risk management.
The platform serves both institutions and individuals, beginners and professionals, by marrying global access to nearly all available asset classes–options included–with an accessible web platform and streamlined mobile apps. In particular, IBKR GlobalTrader leads the global industry in simplified stock and options, including Ireland.
They charge a leading commission rate of USD 0.65 per contract for American markets and GBP 1.70 for stock and index options based in the UK. They provide zero account opening fees and no minimum activity fees.
Interested? Read our comprehensive IBKR review.
2# Saxo Bank
Saxo at a glance
Our runner-up, Saxo Bank is a deeply research-oriented broker with a track record, like IBKR, spanning decades. They cater to all levels of experience with a variety of different platforms, but their focus on premium perks and design works best for intermediate to advanced options traders.
We find that SaxoTraderGO will work best for most traders, while those who operate professionally or daily could do even better with SaxoTraderPRO. The former is an award-winning platform that blends the sophistication of desktop-based trading alongside a powerful mobile app for 24/7 coverage.
Their pricing structure feels somewhat convoluted with three possible options, but fortunately, they explain the key details well. The basic “Classic” choice requires a minimum of EUR 2,000 and charges EUR 3 per European stock option contract, while the “VIP” choice provides the cheapest commission rate at EUR 1.
DEGIRO at a glance
There’s a lot to love about DEGIRO. We would rank this broker first place for options trading in Ireland if the main priority was cost. DEGIRO is Europe’s leading broker for low-cost options trading through an advanced desktop platform, or streamlined mobile app, providing access to European and American options.
The platform operates an extensive blog catering to beginners and intermediate traders, or anyone who wishes to brush up on the basics before diving into options trading. You can immediately feel that DEGIRO, while championing the “do-it-yourself” ethos, also has “safety first” in mind. This is not a discount brokerage that sees you as a number and wants you to succeed.
From a cost perspective, it’s extremely competitive at EUR 0.75 plus a flat EUR 5 for “connecting” to relevant options exchanges. The broker does cover the necessities for active trading, such as charting, news alerts, and analyst views, but the research may not be deep enough for value- or fundamentals-based investors. A solid third place entry.
Interested? Read our comprehensive DEGIRO review.
Freedom24 at a glance
Freedom24, officially Freedom Finance Europe Limited, is a perfect choice for options traders in Ireland who want to blend their options exposure with stocks or ETFs. Freedom24 focuses on stocks, ETFs, options and futures–maintaining a competitive edge by being the default broker of choice for buying the latest stocks at IPO prices.
The broker’s desktop and mobile app platforms are both user-friendly and intuitive. However, they are not customizable, which could lead to a slight headache for serious options traders. Freedom24’s two key selling points remain its access to IPO prices for new stocks and its “Investideas” feature, offering detailed stock analyses from proven analysts.
In addition to its 30-day promotional offer of zero fees, Freedom24 provides four account types. Almost all options traders in Ireland will be happy with “Smart in EUR,” charging EUR 0.65 per US stock option contract and EUR 0.02 for a stock or ETF based in Europe, USA, or Asia. However, the fees for IPO participation can climb to 5% of the traded amount.
Interest? Read our comprehensive Freedom24 review.
Tastyworks at a glance
Based in the US, Tastyworks is a relatively new options trading firm that caters to “do-it-yourself” traders who avoid algorithms or robo-advisors. They offer access to stocks, options, futures, indices, commodities, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. In fact, their trading platform was built by the same engineers who devised TD Ameritrade’s “thinkorswim.”
Tastyworks provides a comprehensive trading platform across both desktop and mobile interfaces. However, there is a learning curve wherein beginners should learn the basics of delta, gamma, and so on, before diving into Tastyworks. Once you’re past that, they allow you to follow leading or popular options traders.
For stock options, they charge USD 1 per contract for opening a position and nothing to close. They also offer complete transparency by detailing each possible fee. They are competitive but lack the research and educational material of IBKR.
The bottom line
Options trading is robust and extremely competitive in Ireland, with world-leading providers and low fees. Selecting the best options broker as an Irish resident is still going to be a difficult choice as interest in retail trading continues to grow. We’ve narrowed down the selection to five leading choices based on our criteria.
Each of our recommended options brokers in Ireland excels at certain aspects. Do you want European and American options? DEGIRO. Do you prefer an established, global platform known for its reliability and low fees? IBKR.
Need more recommendations? Check out our platform finder.
Can you buy options in Ireland?
Absolutely! Ireland is one of the world’s leading economies and financial centers. However, some options brokers may be limited to US stocks and stock options.
What is an options broker?
Usually related to “full-service brokers” that try to provide all the necessary tools for an intermediate or professional trader, an options broker is an online intermediary between you and the exchanges that enables the trading of options. The best options brokers in Ireland offer stock options, futures, and options on futures.
How do you open an options trading account?
While the process changes per options broker, it remains relatively straightforward. Simply be ready to provide digital copies of official IDs (i.e., passport, driving license, etc.) and proof of address, and transfer an opening sum through ACH or wire, for example. The options broker, like IBKR, may want to verify your age as well.
How do you buy options?
Thanks to advances in web and mobile trading platforms, trading options remains largely intuitive. Almost all mobile apps guide you through the purchase (opening) process and the selling (closing) process. Web platforms may have a learning curve and require an introductory tutorial. This is the case for some users who use IBKR, for example.
However, we recommend at least a beginner options course to walk you through calls, puts, strategies, opening, closing, and margin trading.
What are the risks of buying, trading, and selling options?
Since options trading almost always includes the use of margin or borrowed funds, the risks generally are much greater than trading stocks or commodities with only the cash you own. This is referred to as leverage. Again, we recommend completing a basic course in options trading, which is almost always provided by brokers serving Ireland.