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.
Firstrade went online in 1997, making it one of the oldest online stock brokerages. The company differentiates itself from the competition by offering investment products for international investors, including Chinese language support (more on this below).
Firstrade Brokerage Account Review
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.
Firstrade has been recognized in many industry reviews, offers inexpensive stock and investment trades, powerful investing tools, and an educational center to help investors make the right decisions for their individual situation.
Firstrade Pricing, Types of Investments, & Investment Accounts Offered
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.
Additional Pricing / Features:
- Low Margin Rates
- Free Dividend Reinvestment
- No Account Minimum or Minimum Deposit
- No Inactivity Fees or Maintenance Fees
- No Hidden Fees
Types of Investments Available at Firstrade:
- Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
- More Than 11,000 Mutual Funds
- Free Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs)
- Upcoming IPOs (Initial Public Offerings)
Types of Accounts Available at Firstrade:
- Taxable (individual and joint)
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- Rollover IRA
- SEP IRA
- SIMPLE IRA
- Coverdell ESA
- Custodial Accounts
How Does Firstrade Compare to Similar Brokerages?
Firstrade has the following features:
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.
Additional tools are listed below:
- Customizable Account Dashboard
- Fast Access QuickBar
- Mobile Trading Solutions
- Advanced Order Types
- Real-time Streaming News & Quotes
- S&P Stock Reports, 5-Star Portfolios
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, giving you the ability 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. Some of 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.
Keep Track of Your Taxes
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 it easy to download or print your forms 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, which accounts and investments are right for your situation, and even a dedicated tax center to help you make the best tax moves 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
Mobile Trading With Firstrade
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 just about everything you can do 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 Services & Third-Party Accounts
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!).
Customer Service & Account Security
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, 8am – 6pm ET
- Live Chat: M-F, 8am – 6pm ET
- Fax (for submitting documents and forms)
- Branch Office Hours: M-F, 8:30am – 5:30pm ET; Sat. 10am – 2pm ET
Firstrade is a member of SIPC, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, 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.
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 20 countries are able to enjoy the same low commissions and features as U.S.-based investors.
There are, however, some limitations on who can open an account, based on where the individual lives or other factors. The Firstrade website states, “We are unable to open accounts of certain countries due to geographic location and/or risk profile.” You’ll need to visit the Firstrade website or contact the customer service center for more specific information regarding eligibility.
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 Sign Up Bonus for New Customers & Transfer Rebates
New Customer Bonus
New Fristrade customers can enjoy several nice bonuses when opening a new account. These include
- 500 Free Trades with a $2,000 Minimum Deposit
- $100 plus 500 Free Trades with a $25,000 Minimum Deposit
- $200 plus 500 Free Trades with a $50,000 Minimum Deposit
- $300 plus 500 Free Trades with a $100,000 Minimum Deposit
- Learn more about the Firstrade sign up bonus
Downsides to Firstrade
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.
My Thoughts on Firstrade
Firstrade isn’t a perfect online trading system, but then again, you can find something wrong with just about any brokerage. There are some brokers that have a flashier interface. But Firstrade is one of the longest-running online brokers, which is a testament in this day and age of consolidation and flashy marketing.
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/