Firstrade Review

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Easy to use and quick to master, Firstrade offers new and veteran traders 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 broker has recently added a wealth of new app features that make options and stock trading faster as well. 

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 with new lowered rates. 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.

  • Best deal for options traders: Firstrade offers some of the most affordable rates on options trading, which can mean major savings for frequent investors.
  • 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 minimumTradable assetsStocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds
PlatformSimple, straightforward, beginner-oriented
Mobile appFully operational, mirrors desktop web-trading platform
Account minimumTradable 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
Available account typesTaxable, IRAs, custodian accounts for minors, specialty accounts available for corporate investors
Available account typesTaxable, IRAs, custodian accounts for minors, specialty accounts available for corporate investors

Firstrade Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums

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 Usability

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. 

Create 1-day spark charts for stocks with just a few clicks and customize your positions view by position name, price, unit cost and more. You can also access advanced order presets and customization options depending on your experience investing.

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

Firstrade has recently introduced a wealth of new features that make using its platform simpler and easier than ever before. For example, Firstrade now offers real-time charting to enhance scalping and day trading abilities, which isn’t found with all competitors. The Firstrade team is constantly working to keep the app up-to-date, and new features are always being added.

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
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

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

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

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 has also introduced a host of new features to its mobile platform to make options trading more intuitive. Redesigned options chains allow you to view calls and puts directly from a single screen, while the new Order Basket feature allows you to instantly keep track of changing bids and asks. The all-new Risk/Reward Profile option even allows you to instantly learn more about your maximum potential gains and losses. Close, begin and execute even complicated orders with just a few taps.

Options trading isn’t available to every trader with a brokerage account. To begin trading options contracts, you’ll need to apply for this when you open an account at Firstrade or you may request for it later. Request automatic risk review by clicking a single box when you apply for options trading access, or request access directly from your app.

Firstrade Mobile App

1 of Firstrade’s most unique inclusions as a broker is its comprehensive yet simple mobile app. The broker’s app has recently undergone a massive overhaul to provide investors and traders with a wider and even more complete set of tools to optimize the investing experience. Let’s explore a few of our favorite features that come along with the new and improved Firstrade app. 

Intuitive Order Placement

Placing orders on Firstrade’s app is fun and easy using Firstrade’s new and improved smart menu system. 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. From here, you can click on a symbol or any part of the row to view a contextual menu or more information. Swipe, tap and place orders with just a few clicks of your mobile device for easy ordering. 

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.

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. iOS and Android platforms also update in real time, which can provide you with an enhanced level of synchronization if you use multiple platforms. The ability to request margin and options trading privileges has also been added to the broker’s app in the most recent release. To track what’s coming new with each release, check out the “What’s new” tab in your account.

Advanced Charting Options

Looking for a more comprehensive mobile trading experience? Firstrade’s improvements on its charting options will make executing more complex orders on-the-go easier. There are over 80 technical indicators that you can use to customize your investments, and you can even save your settings to return to them at a later date. 

Enhanced Customization Options

Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of customization options found on most brokers’ mobile platforms? If so, Firstrade’s newly reimagined app might be a great option for you. The company has introduced a range of new customization features for mobile, including:

  • Preferred default options: Customize your mobile trading platform by setting your own default transaction or order types for both stocks and single-leg options.
  • Edit columns and group positions: Positions can now be sorted by asset type or alphabetically, and you can customize how your data is presented when doing your market research.
  • Improved indexes: View all of your holdings at once and minimize information that you aren’t currently using for a more streamlined view. You can also use contextual menus to create Smart Action Menus specially suited for your unique needs and trading style.

Advanced users can even further customize their platform by skipping order preview screens for faster investments. 

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

Firstrade Overall Rating

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. 

Related content: Interactive Brokers vs. Firstrade

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