Executions and Routes
Research and Tools
Firstrade.com is an online discount brokerage that offers competitive rates and promotions for traders and investors. This website offers access to trading in stocks, options, exchange traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and bonds as well as servicing of retirement plans.
- Zero commissions for stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, and crypto
- Firstrade Navigator platform offers plenty of charting and analytics tools
- Powerful mobile app means you can leave your computer at home
- Good fundamental stock screener for swing traders and investors
- Margin requirement window updates to help you avoid being squeezed
- Great customer service
- Web platforms can be a resource hog on slower computers
- No direct order routing
Firstrade.com is an online discount brokerage offering competitive rates and promotions for traders and investors. This broker offers commission-free trading on stocks, options, exchange traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, cryptocurrencies, and bonds. There are no account fees for standard brokerage accounts or IRA accounts, and the broker’s trading platforms are better than average.
So, is Firstrade the right discount broker for you? Keep reading our Firstrade review to find out.
Firstrade launched in 1985 in Flushing, New York as First Flushing Securities. It’s original customer base was the local Chinese community. Firstrade was renamed First Trade Securities, Inc. and launched Firstrade.com in 1997. The platform still provides versions of its website in Mandarin and Cantonese in addition to English.
What Can You Trade at Firstrade?
Firstrade offers trading on:
- US stocks, including OTC stocks
- 2,200+ ETFs
- 11,000+ mutual funds
- 38 cryptocurrencies
- Bonds, including treasuries and corporate bonds
Extended hours trading is available from 8am to 8pm. Firstrade does not offer forex or futures trading at this time.
Firstrade Commissions and Fees
Firstrade is a discount broker with zero fees for most services.
First, there are no software fees or account maintenance fees. You can open an individual brokerage account or a traditional or Roth IRA. All accounts come with $500,000 of protection from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
There are no commissions for trading stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, or cryptocurrencies. It’s noteworthy that even options and mutual fund trades are free at Firstrade, since this isn’t the case at discount brokers. For example, TradeZero, which offers zero-commission stock trades, charges $0.59 per options contract.
Keep in mind that “free” can come with a hidden cost. Many discount brokers receive payment for order flow, which can lead to worse executions for clients. While this may not affect many casual traders and investors, highly active traders tend to prefer direct access brokers.
There are no deposit or withdrawal fees at Firstrade, but the broker does charge $75 if you want to transfer your securities to another brokerage. If you only want to transfer a portion of your holdings, the fee is $55.
Firstrade regularly offers competitive special promotions to new customers. In the past, the broker has offered up to $900 in cash for meeting a specific minimum deposit. It’s a good idea to check Firstrade’s website regularly for new promotions.
Firstrade Trading Platforms
Firstrade has three different trading platforms available for different trading styles and preferences.
Firstrade Investor Center
The Investor Center is accessed from the Firstrade homepage. The various tabs let you access services like trading, research, and retirement planning. There is also an education section with good learning content, especially for newer traders.
Order entry options are very basic. You can buy, sell, or buy to cover for stocks.
The Investor Center is best-suited for new users and for the investor who wants to place an occasional quick trade. It’s not meant to be a serious trading platform, but it’s very convenient.
The more powerful Firstrade Navigator platform offers in-depth tools and features for traders.
This online trading platform has a solid arsenal of tools to help organize many tasks on a single screen. Users can pick various widgets like watch lists, news feeds, scanners, and charts and arrange them in a customizable workspace. I like the simple Gains/Loss and Cash Vs Holdings meters that offer a quick look at your performance and buying power.
The advanced charts include more than 50 indicators such as candlesticks, moving averages, volume bars, momentum oscillators, and Bollinger Bands. Chart colors and timeframes can be configured to suit your preferences. The charts can also be popped out for full-screen viewing or to view multiple charts in a single window.
Order entry in Navigator is still relatively basic and limited to market and limit orders. There is no Level 2 data available, so it’s more suitable for swing traders than intraday traders. Still, when you compare Navigator to the charting and order entry tools available from commission-free brokerages like Robinhood, it’s clear that this is a major step up.
Firstrade Mobile App
The Firstrade mobile app for iOS and Android is very easy to use. The interface is clean and offers straightforward menus to access market data, your account balance, and information about your positions. You can place stock and options trades on the app as well as retrieve news and research. The convenience and flexibility of having your portfolio and advanced charting tools on my phone anywhere you go is hard to beat.
Key features of the Firstrade app include:
- Portfolio management
- Easy to use trading tools
- Advanced options orders
- Top stock lists (e.g. Most Active)
- Beautiful candlestick charts
- Order management tools
- In-app account funding
While the mobile app can’t replace a full-featured web or desktop platform, Firstrade has done a good job of creating an easy-to-use mobile solution with all of the essential features for trading.
Margin and Leverage
Firstrade allows margin trading with an account balance of at least $2,000 USD. Accounts that meet pattern day trading (PDT) requirements (i.e. that have a balance greater than $25,000 USD) are grated 4-to-1 intraday buying power and 2-to-1 overnight buying power.
One neat feature within Firstrade is the margin requirements window. This provides margin information in real-time for each stock you trade and it’s extremely useful when short-selling volatile stocks.
Firstrade Research and Tools
Stock, ETF, and Mutual Fund Screeners
Firstrade offers screeners for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. The stock screener makes it easy to sort out potential trades and investments based on a wide range of financial ratios, such as price/earnings, price/book, price/cash flow, debt/total capital. There are also some pre-made screens you can use and you’re able to save your own custom screens. The screener tools can be accessed through the online Investor Center.
Firstrade provides access to educational videos from Morningstar. These videos generally discuss current market conditions and potential trade ideas. They’re not groundbreaking, but they can be useful for new traders and investors.
Firstrade offers news from a handful of reputable services, including:
The news service includes daily press releases as well as a calendar feature. This helps you keep track of earnings dates, dividend payouts, analyst ratings changes, and more.
Firstrade Customer Service
Firstrade customer service can be reached via phone, live chat, and email from 8am to 6pm Eastern, Monday to Friday.
Additional Firstrade Features
For most traders, the main appeal of Firstrade will be the free trades. It’s helpful that the company also provides access to some great trading platforms, especially compared to what other discount brokers offer. Here are a few other things we like about Firstrade:
Executions and Routing
Firstrade doesn’t offer direct order access routing for customers. All routing is handled internally. That said, Firstrade goes out of its way to say that the broker has fast order executions. The company claims that orders are executed in 0.068 seconds. They also claim that 99.37% of the firm’s market orders are executed at a price better than the National Best Bid/Offer (NBBO).
This is another way that Firstrade stands out from competing brokers like Robinhood, which tends to have mediocre execution speeds.
Borrows and Locates
We’ve found that Firstrade is quick to borrow shares for shorting most widely held stocks. In addition, the broker’s customer service team is quick to find locates when requested. This was a pleasant surprise as we hardly expected a free broker to be helpful when it comes to short locates.
Firstrade.com allows for international accounts for non-U.S. residents. They offer services to residents of Japan, France, China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. International accounts must be funded in USD and applications must include a completed W-8 BEN Form, which are available on the site. Chinese versions of the site are available in Mandarin and Cantonese. Customer support is also available in Chinese.
What Type of Trader is Firstrade Best For?
Firstrade has a surprising amount to offer for a discount broker. First, it really is commission-free across the board. Traders won’t pay anything for stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, or cryptocurrencies. The lack of forex and futures might drive some traders away, but the free mutual fund trading is something investors won’t find at many other brokerages.
Compared to other commission-free brokers, Firstrade offers outstanding trading platforms. The Investor Center and mobile app are convenient, even if they’re relatively basic. For traders that want more analytical firepower, Firstrade Navigator provides it. This isn’t as powerful as, say, Thinkorswim, but it’s a serious trading platform that can handle the needs of many active traders.
For traders outside the US who want to trade US securities, it’s a no-brainer to use Firstrade. Almost no other commission-free brokerage in the US accepts non-US residents right now.
Advanced traders might find that Firstrade is still a little too basic for their needs. There’s no Level 2 data and no direct order routing. For day traders who want a discount broker with more powerful tools, check out Etrade.
Is Firstrade a Chinese company?
Firstrade is a US brokerage founded in New York. It accepts registrations from traders outside the US, including from China, Japan, France, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. Firstrade also has Chinese-language versions of its website in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Is Firstrade safe?
All Firstrade accounts are insured by the SIPC up to $500,000 in value. The broker has been operating for more than 35 years.
What is the minimum deposit at Firstrade?
Firstrade does not require a minimum deposit to open an account.