Firstrade is a solid choice amongst the dizzying array of brokerages in the market; all fees are set to mirror (or beat) robo-advisor pricing. In fact, Firstrade offers free trades on most of what it offers.
1 Minute Review
If you pivot from the “household name” traditional discount brokers and check out Firstrade, you’ll notice right off the bat that the company’s offerings are competitively priced.
- Self-directed small investors
- Those comfortable with trading online
- If you want free trades without using a robo advisor
- No minimum initial account deposit
- Free trades for most offerings
- Excellent for international investors
- No managed portfolio option (with an advisor)
- Firstrade Navigator platform is fairly simple; could use some updates
What Firstrade Offers
Firstrade covers a wide swath of investment options, and the company also offers a user-friendly interface as well as extended-hours trading. Tools and resources for investors also puts the company squarely in the “pro” column.
Investment products include:
- Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
- Mutual funds
- Bonds/CDs/fixed incomes
- Margin investing
- Dividend reinvestment (DRIP)
- Securities Lending Income Program
- Regular investing
- International accounts
- Business accounts
- ESA educational planning
- Custodial accounts
- Cash management accounts
- Banking (with free check writing and debit card privileges with a required minimum account balance of $25,000). Note: Savings accounts, mortgages, and home equity lines of credit are not offered.
Firstrade’s Premier accounts offer exclusive benefits to those who qualify. If you’re a Firstrade investor with some substantial investments, you’ll qualify for a blue ($10,000 or above), gold ($50,000 or above) or platinum account ($100,000 or above). Targeted representative assistance is one of the best benefits to Firstrade’s Premier accounts.
Firstrade Commissions and Fees
- Investments - Commissions and fees
- Stocks - $0
- Options - $0
- No transaction fee mutual funds - Free
- No-load mutual funds - Free
- Load mutual funds - Free
- Treasury bills, notes and bonds - Net yield basis
- Municipal bonds - Net yield basis
- Agency bonds - Net yield basis
- Zeros and strips - Net yield basis
- Primary market CDs - $30
- Secondary market CDs - Net yield basis
For more information about margin rates, check out Firstrade’s website. You can also view a broker comparison on the website, which showcases a comparative side-by-side snapshot of what Firstrade offers compared to other brokerages such as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, and E-Trade.
Firstrade Platform and Tools
A streaming watchlist is the first of a line of options available to you through Firstrade. You’ll be able to react to market conditions in a flash with Firstrade’s real-time streaming quotes, and it’s compatible across all browsers. You can:
- Analyze indices, including the DOW, NASDAQ and S&P 500
- Auto-sync across all platforms – Mobile, Navigator, and more
- Create 10 different watchlists with up to 50 symbols per watchlist
- Easily gain access to the live trading charts page
- Chinese-speaking investors who want to trade U.S. markets also have the option to view the website in simplified Chinese.
Firstrade’s website allows you to find investment products based on your own filtering criteria. For example, you can build your own screener using criteria such as market segment, fundamentals, price performance, earnings, and dividends. Also, according to Firstrade’s website:
- You can choose the asset type you want screened (the screener works with both stocks and ETFs).
- You can pick from dozens of screening criteria to help you narrow down your choices.
- According to the website, the screener is fully integrated with the Order Entry Bar to make screening and subsequent buying a snap.
- Your criteria choices will also be saved for future reference, so you don’t have to recreate your search on every visit.
- You’ll get up-to-the-minute information and instant results.
- Morningstar’s analysts will be right in your back pocket, as Firstrade offers plenty of access to all that Morningstar has to offer.
Firstrade’s platform offers the following:
- Manage and trade from one screen
- Adjustable layouts
- Customizable widgets
- Advanced technical charting
- Helpful graphs
- Position simulator
- Guides and podcast available for education purposes
- In addition, Firstrade offers a smattering of videos that you can access to help diversify your education (and hopefully, your portfolio, too!)
The Options Wizard
If you’re an options trader, you’ll want to check out the Options Wizard, which provides comprehensive analytics. The Options Wizard includes:
- Strategy checklists and strategies
- One-month trend indicators
- Six-month trend indicators
- Over 60 technical indicators
- Technical and fundamental rankings
- Profit-and-loss simulators
You can monitor your portfolio’s performance easily with the Firstrade mobile trading app, which offers a more dexterous option compared to a desktop. You’ll be exposed to a touch ID screen for iOS devices, equity ratings and fundamental data, advanced charts, comprehensive dashboard and improved research and trading interface.
Firstrade Customer Service
Firstrade offers varied customer service options, including live chat with a registered customer service representative Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or you can use the Firstrade Chatbot (named Sammi), which is available 24/7.
You can call toll free in the U.S. 1-800-869-8800 or overseas 1-718-961-6600 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Customer support is also available in traditional and simplified Chinese, with representatives who speak both Cantonese and Mandarin.
Email (email@example.com), fax or mail are also options for client contact.
Firstrade & Its Ease of Use
Since the advent of Firstrade’s fairly recent Navigator, it’s possible to manage your account, place orders, get market updates and do research, all almost simultaneously. The single screen allows traders to immediately intuitively grasp Firstrade Navigator’s account dashboard. Take note, however, that a lot of the options available on Navigator are geared toward active traders.
In short, Firstrade makes any trade simple to execute, and as any trader knows, quick execution is imperative, and Navigator’s lightning-fast speed is the stuff of legend.
Final Thoughts on Firstrade
Firstrade’s innovative move toward commission-free trades really kicked the company’s competitiveness up a notch. The company’s philosophy, “Wealth management at no-cost to low-cost” resonates with a multitude of customers.