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Firstrade Review

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1 Minute Review

Easy-to-use and quick to master, Firstrade offers new and veteran traders alike a simple way to start investing with rock-bottom pricing. Firstrade’s platform is simple and streamlined, and it extends this convenience to its mobile app. The company’s $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and even options make Firstrade especially appealing for frequent traders. Firstrade also offers margin trading, though rates are a bit more expensive than some competitors. Firstrade also currently doesn’t offer access to futures or forex trading, and some more advanced traders may dislike the broker’s simple platform.

Best For

  • New traders looking for a simple platform layout
  • Native Chinese speakers seeking research and education tools in Chinese
  • Mobile traders who needs a secure and well-designed app

Pros

  • Simple platform easy enough for even complete novices
  • Quick Bar tool for easy trading throughout the day
  • Free access to Morningstar trading reports and other news in both English and Chinese
  • Secure mobile app with enhanced security and trading features

Cons

  • Simple brokerage platform doesn’t include as many charting tools as competitors
  • No access to futures or forex markets
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Why Firstrade Brokerage Over Others?  

What are the biggest benefits of using Firstrade? Let’s take a look at 3 unique features that Firstrade offers over other brokers.

  • Quick Bar tool: Want to trade throughout the day without flipping back and forth from your brokerage tab? Firstrade’s persistent Quick Bar tool makes it simple to trade without leaving your current page.
  • Rock-bottom trading prices: In addition to $0 stock, ETF and mutual fund transactions, Firstrade is one of the only brokers to offer completely free options trading.
  • Information in both English and Chinese: Native Chinese speakers will appreciate Firstrade’s focus on inclusive trading — all of its pages and research information is also available in both traditional and simplified Chinese. 

Brokerage Quick Summary

Tradable assetsStocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds
PlatformSimple, straightforward, beginner-oriented
Mobile appFully operational, mirrors desktop web-trading platform
Account minimum$0
Available account typesTaxable, IRAs, custodian accounts for minors, specialty accounts available for corporate investors

Firstrade Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums (5 Stars)

There’s nothing better than free trades — and Firstrade specializes in offering some of the lowest rates of any broker online. You’ll pay $0 in commission when you buy or sell stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. Firstrade is also one of the only brokers to offer $0 commissions on options trades as well.

Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to pay when you trade with Firstrade. 

Stocks and ETFs$0 commission
Options $0 commissions
Mutual fundsAccess to over 11,000 mutual funds; all mutual funds are commission-free
Bonds$0 on most government-issued bonds
Account minimums$0

The only complaint about Firstrade’s pricing is its margin rates. Margin trading from Firstrade is available, and you’ll pay between 9.25% and 5% APR depending on how much you borrow. The lowest rates are extended to traders who borrow over $1 million in the margin. 

These rates are a bit higher than competitors like Robinhood and Interactive Brokers. However, in light of Firstrade’s $0 stock, bond, ETF and options commissions, we’re willing to overlook this charge and award Firstrade a full 5 stars for pricing. 

Firstrade Useability (5 Stars)

One area where Firstrade shines is within its organized and simple desktop trading platform, which is beginner-oriented and easy to master. When you log into your Firstrade account, you’ll see a summary of your current holdings, how your available balances currently perform and a quick summary of the market at large. 

From your desktop platform, you can search for stocks, ETFs and mutual funds by symbol, place orders and track prices. Though charting tools are rudimentary, casual traders will love the fact that the platform isn’t bogged down with infrequently-used tools and screeners. You can also view tax documents, research, education tools and more straight from your home page. 

Offering a one-stop-shop for everything an investor could need, Firstrade’s desktop trading platform is well-organized, comprehensive and easy to navigate. 

Looking for a streamlined way to trade without leaving your brokerage account open all day? Firstrade’s Quick Bar is a powerful tool that allows you to place and execute trades on a small pop-out window. Get a quote, search for stocks, place buy and sell orders and track performance all without leaving your current page or opening your brokerage account on a separate tab.

The Quick Bar tool is persistent, which means that it won’t automatically close if you navigate to another web page. You can also switch accounts shown on the Quick Bar — which means that if you’re logged into multiple accounts, you don’t need to go through your authentication process every time you want to make a trade. The Quick Bar tool may be especially useful for new traders who need additional market research and education tools open while they trade. 

The Firstrade Quick Bar is a powerful tool for investors, allowing you to place trades, view asset information and even track the latest headlines without exiting outside pages. 

Though the platform might be considered outdated when compared to other brokers like TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers, which focus on providing a wide range of screening tools, the basic layout can be a welcome change for new investors. 

Firstrade Education (5 Stars)

Firstrade also offers a wide range of education and research tools you can use to inform and improve your trading. Let’s take a quick look at 3 unique features Firstrade offers to account holders looking to improve their trading.

Morningstar Reports

Morningstar is a well-known stock and market analysis firm that produces asset reports detailing company characteristics, including changes in financial direction, market capitalization, dividend yield and more. Morningstar reports are easy to read and understand — even for very new traders and those still in the early stages of learning how to evaluate a stock or fund.

Firstrade offers premium Morningstar reports free of charge to all traders who have an active brokerage account. Market reports for major stocks are updated daily and are available in English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.

Market and News

Firstrade offers a comprehensive daily market news and updates page complete with a host of free tools and screeners. From the Market and News page, you can read more about the day’s top-moving stocks from news reports representing a host of reliable sources. Sort stocks by net movement, percentage gained or lost, most active, total yield and more with just a few clicks. You can also view a summary of how major industries are trending today, with each major index color-coded for your convenience.

Basic Education for Beginners

Are you still gaining your footing in the market? If so, you may want to begin with Firstrade’s basic market education center. The education center includes introductory articles and videos on basic investing topics. Some topics include general information on stocks, the differences between order types and explanations of some common investing abbreviations you’ll see throughout the site. Though the information in the education center tab is a bit basic, brand-new investors will appreciate its simple language and easy-to-follow formatting.

All research and education tools from Firstrade are available in English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese. Research and education tools are free to Firstrade account holders, and you may need to be logged into your account to access select pages and reports.  

Firstrade Customer Support (4 Stars)

Firstrade offers traders a few different methods to contact customer service.

  • Phone: To contact customer service by phone, dial 1-800-869-8800. Customer service representatives are available by phone Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.
  • Online chat: If you have a short, simple question you need answered, you may want to contact Firstrade through the broker’s chatbot — Sammi Bot. To get in contact with Sammi Bot, visit Firstrade’s customer service page and click on the button labeled Chat With Us. Chatbot assistance is available 24/7 with no wait times.
  • Email: Send a message to service@firstrade.com to contact Firstrade’s customer service team by email. To get a faster response, include a summary of your concern in the subject line of your email.

There is currently no specific customer service option available for people with hearing limitations. 

Firstrade’s Offerings (4 Stars)

As an online brokerage platform, Firstrade provides self-directed investors with a variety of assets and securities to invest in. Firstrade currently supports the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options contracts and CDs.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can invest with Firstrade’s platform and how much you can expect to pay.  

Firstrade Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds 

Firstrade offers complete access to the major U.S. stock markets, including the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ Stock Market, AMEX Market and even over-the-counter (OTC) markets such as the OTC Bulletin Board or Pink Sheets. Firstrade also offers full access to the ETF market with over 30 screening tools to find your next major investment. All purchases are available with $0 commissions.

Firstrade also offers access to over 11,000 professionally-managed mutual funds to complement your portfolio. Firstrade is one of the few brokers that offers $0 commissions on all mutual funds available on its platform. This makes it an ideal choice for retirement investors or long-term investors looking for steady returns over time. 

Firstrade Options

Firstrade offers rock-bottom options pricing at $0 commission and $0 per-transaction fees. Trading options is easy with Firstrade’s platform. You don’t need to enter the strike price, symbol and expiration date yourself on Firstrade’s platform — simply click, find and execute. You can even execute complex, multi-leg options orders on Firstrade’s Quick Bar.

Options trading isn’t available to every trader with a Firstrade account. To begin trading options contracts, you’ll need to apply through your broker. Availability will depend on the average asset balance in your account as well as your experience level trading.  

Firstrade Mobile App (5 Stars)

Firstrade’s mobile app mirrors the platform’s simple layout and intuitive design. Even new investors will quickly master Firstrade’s layout and make trades with ease. Let’s take a look at a few of the unique features that make the Firstrade mobile app easy to use.

Intuitive Order Placement

Placing orders on Firestrade’s app is fun and easy. Just search for the stock or fund you want to buy, enter the number of shares you’d like, select your order type and place your order. You can view a complete list of pending orders from your app home screen and you can quickly edit or cancel orders by swiping on your pending orders.

Simple Account Funding

Firstrade makes it easy to connect and transfer between your bank account and your brokerage account. Firstrade’s app offers native connectivity with over 2,000 banks, including HBIC, Santander, Bank of America, Chase and more. Enter your account information and get started trading in as little as an afternoon.

  • Landscape mode. Want to view a longer price change history of a certain stock or fund? Flip your phone to landscape mode to view a longer candlestick chart with ease.

Firstrade’s mobile app offers enhanced security features, including 2-factor authentication, facial recognition technology and thumbprint scanning to ensure that you’re the only one who can access your account — even if your phone is lost or stolen. 

Firstrade’s mobile app is available as a free download for both iOS and Android platforms. 

Firstrade vs. Competing Brokers (4.5 Stars)

Though not as well-known as competitors like Robinhood or Ally Invest, Firstrade is a powerful and affordable brokerage platform. The broker’s desktop trading platform, though a bit outdated, is easy enough for even total beginners to use. Both new and veteran traders will appreciate Firstrade’s unbeatable $0 commissions, as well as its free access to research and Morningstar reports. The corresponding mobile app is also equally as comprehensive, with an intuitive and streamlined interface.

There isn’t much to complain about wish Firstrade. Some traders might wish for access to the futures or forex markets, considering Firstrade’s rock-bottom pricing. More advanced traders may also prefer a platform with more native screening and charting tools like TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim. However, for a beginner or an infrequent trader looking for the most affordable way to step into the world of investing, Firstrade is a force to be reckoned with. 

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