When it comes to Commissions & Fees, Firstrade is a real winner. There are no commissions on U.S.-listed stock, option, and ETF trades. There’s not even a per-contract charge on options! There are also plenty of Account Options, from taxable individual or joint accounts to several types of IRAs. However, there are no robo advisor or banking accounts like you’ll find at some other brokers. There are also plenty of Investment Options available, too. We give Firstrade high marks for the variety of Tools & Resources you’ll find as a customer. And the broker also scores high when it comes to its Website/App/Ease of Use — you can do everything from your desktop computer or mobile phone. However, unlike some other brokers that have a team on call 24/7, Firstrade offers Customer Service only during business hours, Monday through Friday.
If you’re looking to open a brokerage account in the near future, Firstrade is worth consideration. The company was founded in 1985 with a mission to bring affordable stock trades to regular investors. Now, with commission-free trades, Firstrade has become one of the most accessible brokers in the industry.
In this Firstrade review, we’ll take a close look at this brokerage’s features to help you decide if it’s the right choice for your portfolio.
|Commissions & Fees||$0|
|Mutual Fund Trades||$0|
|Types of Investments||Stocks, Penny Stocks, Options, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds|
|Types of Accounts||Taxable, Joint, Custodial, Trusts, Partnerships, Retirement Accounts (Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA), College (Coverdell)|
|Managed Portfolio Option||No|
|App Availability||iOS, Android, Mobile Optimized Website|
|Customer Service||Phone: M-F 8-6; Live Chat: M-F 8-6; Email; Branch Office|
|FINRA CRD#||CRD#: 16843|
|SEC Registration Number||SEC#: 8-34642|
|Current Promotions||Up to $600 Cash Bonus|
- International Accounts. Most brokers cater only to investors who are citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. (and living there). However, Firstrade offers international accounts that allow citizens of more than 140 countries or territories to invest in U.S.-listed securities.
- Dividend Reinvestment Plans. Firstrade offers dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) that automatically reinvest your cash from dividend payouts into additional shares (or fractional shares) of the underlying stock.
- Tax Center. The Firstrade tax center can help you organize your investment-related tax documents and filings. It provides a dedicated place for your forms, such as the 1099-B. It also provides information and research on topics like capital gains, wash sales, short sales, etc.
- Options Wizard. With the Firstrade Options Wizard, you can access professional-grade research and analytics to maximize your options trades.
What Is Firstrade?
Although its history stretches back to the ’80s, Firstrade first went online in 1997. That makes it one of the oldest online stock brokerages. The company differentiates itself from the competition by offering investment products for international investors (more on this below).
Firstrade offers more than 11,000 mutual funds, no-fee IRAs, mobile trading, and free streaming quotes and requires no minimum deposit to open an account. The broker also offers inexpensive stock and investment trades, powerful investing tools, and an educational center to help investors make the right decisions for their individual situation.
How to Get Started with Firstrade
Opening an account with Firstrade is easy to do and should take only a few minutes.
You’ll need to supply the usual personal information: your name, address, Social Security number, employment information, financial information, etc.
Funding Your Firstrade Account. There are plenty of options for funding your Firstrade account. You can complete an ACH electronic fund transfer, wire funds from a domestic or international bank, initiate a transfer from another bank, or mail in a paper check.
Transferring Money. Transferring money from another financial institution to Firstrade is a simple process if your bank or other financial institution participates in the Automatic Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS). The transfer can be done completely online and takes about five to seven business days to complete. If the institution does not participate in ACATS, you can fill out and sign a paper form and either upload it to the Firstrade site, fax it in, or email it to the Firstrade team.
How Does Firstrade Work?
Firstrade offers a variety of investment options for investors to take advantage of, including extended-hours trading. You can quickly and easily link your Firstrade account to any number of outside financial accounts, including banks and other investment accounts, making it quick and easy to transfer funds to and from your investment account.
You can also sync your Firstrade account to third-party apps and aggregators to help better manage your overall investment portfolio. For example, you can easily sync your account to Personal Capital, our favorite online investment management app (best part – Personal Capital is free to use!).
Research & Investment Tools
Firstrade offers investors a full suite of investing services and tools to make informed investment decisions. These tools include stock market and news updates, stock reports, alerts, the Firstrade Navigator (see below), a real-time streaming watchlist, Options Wizard, expert commentary, retirement calculators, customizable stock and fund screening tools, interactive charts, and more.
Firstrade Navigator Investment Trading Platform
One of the more popular tools is the Firstrade Navigator, a fully customizable tool that streams real-time quotes as the market updates and allows you to track stocks – up to 10 separate watch lists, each containing up to 50 different tickers. The streaming charts and real-time technical analysis give you the information you need to be a better investor.
Firstrade Navigator allows you to manage your investments, perform research with real-time streaming data, and trade stocks from one screen. The layout is customizable, allowing you to collapse or expand columns as desired. You can also drag and drop widgets to arrange them in the order that gives you the information you want when you need it.
The tool is rounded out with advanced technical charts and graphs to help you better visualize the investments in your account or the stocks and other equities you’re tracking.
Firstrade Options Wizard
The Firstrade Options Wizard provides investors with professional-grade options analytics. These tools give you insight into your potential options trades and allow you to test outcomes before you pull the trigger on your trade. These features include trading strategy checklists, trend indicators, profit and loss simulations, technical rankings, fundamental rankings, support and resistance levels, more than 65 technical indicators, and more than 40 complex options strategies.
Firstrade offers customers access to GainsKeeper, which will help you track and visualize your tax situation by giving you real-time access to your realized gains and losses. GainsKeeper makes it easy to track your long- and short-term capital gains, cost basis, losses, and wash sales, as well as the ability to generate IRS forms. You can easily export this information to Quicken, TurboTax, or other money management software programs.
The Firstrade tax center also maintains copies of your investment-related tax forms, such as your 1099-B/DIV/INT/R, Form 5498 (IRA Contribution Information), Form 5498-ESA (Coverdell ESA Contribution Information), Form 8606 (Nondeductible IRAs), and 8949 (Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets). This makes downloading or printing your forms easy when you file your taxes each year.
Education Center & Powerful Financial Calculators
The Firstrade education center features investment guides and other resources to help you better understand your investment options and decide which accounts and investments are right for your situation.
Firstrade offers investors a variety of investment and other financial calculators to help you run scenarios, plan for retirement, and understand your financial progress. Some of these calculators include:
- Net Worth Calculator
- How Much to Save for College
- How Much to Save for Retirement
- Are Your Current Retirement Savings Enough?
- How Long Will It Take to Become a Millionaire?
- IRA Contribution Calculator
- Retirement Income From IRA or Other Retirement Accounts
- Roth IRA Conversion Calculator
- What Your Qualified Retirement Plans Will Be Worth at Retirement?
- Asset Allocation
- Return on Real Estate Investments
- Specialized Stock Trading Calculators and Tools
International Investment Accounts
Firstrade allows international customers to use the investment platform to invest in U.S.-based markets or exchanges and mutual funds. International customers from more than 140 countries are able to enjoy the same low commissions and features as U.S.-based investors.
Documents needed to open an international account:
- Brokerage account application
- Valid passport photocopy
- Proof of foreign residency (if the mailing address differs from the permanent address)
U.S. residents living abroad can open a domestic Firstrade account and trade as normal. There are no additional restrictions.
Firstrade offers an exhaustive menu of investment options that should meet any investor’s needs. These include:
- exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
- more than 11,000 mutual funds
- free dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs)
- upcoming IPOs (initial public offerings)
You can open a number of different accounts, including:
- taxable (individual and joint) accounts
- traditional IRAs
- Roth IRAs
- rollover IRAs
- SEP IRAs
- SIMPLE IRAs
- Coverdell ESAs
- custodial accounts
Firstrade has some of the simplest pricing in the industry — $0 for stock, ETF, options, and mutual fund trades. There’s not even a charge for options contracts. If you wish to make a broker-assisted trade, the cost is only $19.95 (plus 50 cents per contract if it’s an options trade). That’s way lower than the industry standard.
Firstrade iPhone, iPad, and Android Apps
Firstrade allows investors to check balances, perform research, and even make stock trades on the go. The company offers apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android smartphones.
These apps are full-featured and allow you to do almost everything on the website, including viewing your entire investment portfolio, tracking your gains and losses in real-time, reading advanced charts, tracking your favorite stocks, and more.
Firstrade Customer Service
Firstrade offers live chat on the website, which is a convenient way to have quick questions answered. You can also access customer service through phone and email. There’s also a New York City branch office where you can stop in with questions or if you need assistance with your trading account.
- Phone: M-F, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET
- Live Chat: M-F, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET
- Fax (for submitting documents and forms)
- Branch Office Hours: M-F, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. ET; Sat. 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET
These hours seem pretty generous, but keep in mind that other brokers such as Ally Invest have phone lines staffed 24/7.
Firstrade is a member of SIPC, the Securities Investor Protection Corp., which protects the securities of its members up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash). The company also maintains additional insurance through its clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corp., which supplements SIPC insurance. SIPC coverage protects members if the brokerage firm were to become insolvent.
Firstrade Pros & Cons
- Commission-Free Trading. You’ll pay nothing when you invest in U.S.-listed stocks, options, and ETFs. There’s not even a per-contract price on options!
- No Minimum Deposit. There’s no set amount you need to deposit in order to open an account and start investing.
- International Investing. Firstrade is rather unique with its international investing capabilities. You can use the platform to trade U.S.-listed securities even if you’re a citizen of another country.
- Tools Aplenty. Firstrade offers a plethora of calculators and tools to help you maximize your investing experience.
- No Associated Robo Advisor. Many online stock brokers offer robo-advisor services for investors who don’t want to DIY. Unfortunately, Firstrade doesn’t offer this option yet.
- Limited Customer Service Hours. A number of other brokers offer 24/7 customer service. With Firstrade, you’ll need to call in during business hours, Monday through Friday.
Current Firstrade Promotions – Get Up to $600
New Fristrade customers can enjoy a nice bonus when they open and fund an account if they deposit at least $10,000. Here’s the amount you can receive:
- $50 Cash Bonus with a $10,000 Minimum Deposit
- $100 Cash Bonus with a $25,000 Minimum Deposit
- $200 Cash Bonus with a $50,000 Minimum Deposit
- $300 Cash Bonus with a $100,000 Minimum Deposit
- $600 Cash Bonus with a $250,000 Minimum Deposit
Firstrade Review – Conclusion
Overall, Firstrade is a very solid investment platform. It features low-cost commissions and fairly powerful investment tools. That said, there are some other brokerage firms that offer different features, including full-service banking, more advanced stock trading tools, and managed investment services.
Many investors have begun utilizing managed investing services provided by either investment managers or robo advisors. Many brokerages have taken note by rolling out their own versions of these managed services. Firstrade doesn’t offer a managed investment platform at this time.
That isn’t a downside to someone who is a true DIY investor. But it’s something to note if you want to have some input from an investment manager, or if you want to have computer software manage certain trades for you.
I would equate Firstrade to a dependable old truck – not the flashiest, but strong enough to get the job done. That’s good enough for the average investor. For more information, visit https://www.firstrade.com/.