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Firstrade review

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Free trades and a suite of research tools — but its mobile app isn’t well received.

finder.com’s rating: 3.9 / 5.0

★★★★★

Firstrade is an online brokerage serving commission-free trades alongside a comprehensive suite of research tools. But it doesn’t offer forex or cryptocurrency trading and customer support is limited.

  • Consider Firstrade if you’re a new or experienced investor looking to trade commission-free stocks, options and mutual funds.
  • Look elsewhere if you’re interested in futures, forex or cryptocurrency trading.

$0

Stock trade fee

0%

Annual fee

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

Asset typesStocks, Options, Mutual funds, ETFs
Intro or bonus offerFund your account with a deposit of $5,000 or more and receive a cash bonus of $25 to $600 depending on how much you deposit.

Overview

Fees

★★★★★ 4.75/5

Commission-free stocks, ETFs, options and mutual funds set this platform apart.
Available securities

★★★★★ 4/5

It offers all the standard securities apart from forex and crypto.
Customer support

★★★★★ 4/5

There are two ways to quickly reach help.
Mobile app

★★★★★ 3.2/5

Investors complain of frequent app crashes and a complex user interface.
Research and tools

★★★★★ 3.5/5

It offers a respectable lineup of research and analytics tools.
Reliability

★★★★★ 3/5

Investors report mobile app crashes.

To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.

What investments does Firstrade offer?

While you can’t access the forex market or swap cryptocurrencies, Firstrade offers a respectable lineup of securities:

  • Stocks and ETFs. Trade commission-free stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, Nasdaq Stock Market and OTC markets, including the OTC Bulletin Board and Pink Sheets.
  • Options. Buy and sell options with no commissions, contract or exercise fees.
  • Mutual funds. Browse over 11,000 load and no-load mutual funds.
  • Fixed income. Invest in municipal and corporate bonds, CDs and fixed-income securities.

Who is Firstrade best for?

Firstrade offers a range of commission-free securities on a user-friendly platform, making it best for:

  • New investors. The straightforward trading platform, accessible tools, free educational resources and $0 account minimum make it more approachable for new investors.
  • Day traders. Free stock, option and mutual fund trades and extensive trading tools allow day traders to make informed decisions without losing money to brokerage fees.
  • Retirement investors. Firstrade’s selection of retirement accounts, dividend reinvestment plans and financial planning calculators can help you prepare for the future. Long-term investors can choose from traditional, Roth, Rollover and SEP IRAs with access to a variety of financial planning calculators.

How easy is it to use?

It depends on where you’re trading and how useful you find its tools. The platform has a number of bells and whistles that can clutter up the interface if you’re not using them, and reviews suggest that it performs better on desktop than it does on mobile. The good news is that trades are generally executed quickly, and many investors looking for an easy-to-use desktop platform will be able to learn their way around Firstrade easily.

Signing up for an account can be done in minutes from the Firstrade website. After entering some basic personal information, including your name, residential address and Social Security number, simply fund your account to begin trading. Accounts are accessible by web browser, or you can download Firstrade’s free mobile app for Android and iOS.

What research does it provide?

Research and reporting tools on the Firstrade platform are powered by global financial services titan, Morningstar. Investors have access to:

  • Sectors and industries. Compare performance data across sectors, industries and companies.
  • Stock market heatmap. Pull up bullish and bearish color maps for an overarching view of market performance.
  • Dynamic screeners. Hone in on individual stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.
  • Enhanced news. Keep up with the latest from Morningstar, Briefing.com, Zacks, Benzinga and PR Newswire.
  • Analyst reports and ratings. Review analyst reports and Morningstar ratings.
  • Full coverage calendar. Get a snapshot of your earnings, dividends, IPOs and splits from a single dashboard.
  • Options wizard. Explore trend indicators, technical rankings, profit and loss simulations, complex options strategies and over 65 technical indicators.

Pricing and fees

Firstrade’s commission-free stocks are an undeniable perk, but unfortunately don’t do much to set it apart from competitors — commission-free stocks are an increasingly popular offering among investment platforms. Where Firstrade shines is its lack of contract fees on options trading. Most platforms, including TD Ameritrade, Chase You Invest, Tastyworks and Ally Invest, charge between $0.50 to $0.65 per contract.

Firstrade also offers commission-free mutual funds — another rarity in the industry. You also won’t pay a minimum initial deposit, although you can earn a cash bonus of up to $600 when you fund your account with $5,000 or more.

Minimum deposit to open$0
Annual fee$0
Stock trade fee$0
ETF trade fee$0
Options trade fee$0
Mutual funds trade fee$0
Margin ratesBase rate – 2.25% to Base rate + 2%
ACH transfer$0
Outgoing domestic wire transfer$30
Outgoing international wire transfer$35
Account transfer fee$75

Is Firstrade safe?

Firstrade is a member of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and is covered by Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance. It’s recognized by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with its own BBB page and has no registered complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

It was founded in 1985 and launched its online brokerage in 1997, becoming one of the first online brokerages available to consumers. Today, the company is headquartered in New York City and holds about $2.3 billion in assets and has won a handful of awards for its ease of use and fee schedule.

How does Firstrade keep my money safe?

Firstrade is covered by SIPC insurance, which provides up to $500,000 in coverage — including $250,000 for cash balances. However, this only protects your money from fraud and bankruptcy of Firstrade, meaning losses due to trading and market fluctuations are not covered.

Firstrade servers employ Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology and digital certificate services to encrypt all of the information you share with Firstrade.

Firstrade reviews and complaints

Firstrade reviews are mixed — investors appreciate commission-free trading, but say its interface isn’t intuitive. Firstrade isn’t accredited by the BBB, but it holds an A+ rating, which considers time in business, complaint history, transparency and more. As of October 2020, its BBB page has just one complaint and one review, with just 1 out of 5 stars in light of the $75 fee to transfer Firstrade funds to another brokerage account — an account fee that’s fairly commonplace for most platforms.

There isn’t much Firstrade chatter on Reddit, but a few investors mention jumping ship from Robinhood to access Firstrade’s more sophisticated options trading. The platform’s mobile app receives mediocre scores, sporting a 3.2 out of 5 on Google Play and 3 out of 5 in the Apple App Store. Common complaints include app crashes, a complicated user interface and delays in quote updates.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Commission-free trading. It’s free to make stock, option and mutual fund trades.
  • Extended hours. Trade eligible stocks between 8 a.m. and 9:25 a.m. and 4:05 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
  • Mobile app. Manage your portfolio, make trades and more on your phone.
  • Tools and research. Resources include research from Morningstar and an options wizard for options trading.
  • Account options. Choose from options for retirement, international trading and more.
  • No minimum deposit. Deposit any amount to open an account.
  • Referral program. Refer someone to Firstrade, you and your referral will receive a free stock, valued between $3 and $200.

Cons

  • Limited securities. You can’t trade forex, crypto or futures options with this platform.
  • Customer service. Phone support isn’t available on weekends.
  • No managed portfolios. Unlike some of its competitors, Firstrade doesn’t offer portfolio management or robo-advising.

How do I sign up?

You can sign up for Firstrade online through its straightforward application process:

  1. Visit Firstrade’s website and click Open an Account.
  2. Enter your first and last name, email address and click Get Started.
  3. Select your account type, add optional features and click Continue.
  4. Fill in your personal information, including your full name, Social Security number, date of birth and residential address. Click Continue.
  5. Enter your employment and financial information, then click Continue.
  6. Fill out the investment profile and answer all questions, then click Continue.
  7. Link your funding account and click Continue.
  8. Review your information and submit your application.

How do I contact Firstrade support?

If you need assistance, there are three ways to get in touch with customer service:

  • Live chat. You can connect with Firstrade’s chatbot 24 hours a day, but the information it provides is limited.
  • Phone. Call 800-869-8800, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.
  • Email. Contact Firstrade at service@firstrade.com for an email response from the support team.

Compare with other stock trading platforms

Name Product Stock trade fee Asset types Option trade fee Annual fee
Vanguard
$0
Stocks, Mutual funds, ETFs, Forex
$1
$20 per year
Get a personal advisor when you open an account with at least $50,000.
Robinhood
$0
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
$0
0%
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.
Interactive Brokers
$0
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual funds, Index funds, ETFs, Futures, Cash
$0 + $0.65/contract, $1 minimum
0%
IBKR Lite offers $0 commissions, and IBKR Pro offers advanced tools for professional traders.
Sofi Invest
$0
Stocks
N/A
0%
A free way to invest in stocks, ETFs and crypto.
TD Ameritrade
$0
or $25 broker-assisted
Stocks
$0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 broker-assisted
TD Ameritrade features $0 commission for online stock, but watch out for high short-term ETF and broker-assisted trading fees.
Tastyworks
$0
Stocks, Options, ETFs, Futures
Stocks & ETFs: $1/contract to open, $0 to close, $10 max/leg
Futures: $2.50/contract to open, $0 to close
0%
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures on mobile or desktop with this advanced platform.
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Bottom line

Firstrade is an online brokerage with resources and tools to help facilitate trades for new and experienced investors. There’s no minimum deposit to open an account, and stock, option and mutual fund trades are commission-free.

However, you can’t trade forex, crypto or futures and there’s no portfolio management or robo-advising available. Compare your trading options if you don’t think Firstrade is the right fit for you.

Frequently asked questions

How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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