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Updated on Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Firstrade is an online-only broker that offers the ability to trade Stocks, ETFs, Mutual funds and Options at no cost. While its customer service features and trading platform aren’t as robust as some competitor offerings, the commission-free trades and $0 minimum balance make Firstrade a sound choice if you’re looking to invest at rock-bottom prices.
Firstrade also offers a wide variety of accounts, including different types of IRAs as well as Joint taxable and Individual taxable accounts, Coverdell Education Savings Account(ESA), and custodial accounts. Plus, you have access to Morningstar stock reports, among other helpful research tools, so you can get the support you need to pick investments.
All of this means that when you invest with Firstrade, you’ll have the flexibility to choose the account you need and invest your money in a wide mix of assets to build a diversified portfolio at a low cost.
Who should consider Firstrade?
If you want to manage your own investments and pay the minimum amount possible to trade securities, Firstrade is an ideal choice.
While many competitors charge $3.95 or more to trade Stocks and offer only a limited number of commission-free ETFs or no-load Mutual funds, Firstrade charges no commissions on Stocks or ETFs. You also can trade Mutual funds at no cost as long as you don’t incur a $19.95 short-term redemption fee that’s assessed if you sell the fund less than 90 days after purchase.
Firstrade doesn’t offer a robo-advisor option, however, so you’ll need to be hands-on with your investments. And the trading platform isn’t nearly as feature-rich as some competitor offerings, especially compared to brokers such as TradeStation and TD Ameritrade. If you want the most comprehensive web and mobile apps for trading, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Firstrade fees and features
|Stock trading fees|
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email|
Strengths of Firstrade
- Firstrade is one of the most affordable choices among online brokers. There’s no minimum deposit required, and you’ll pay no commissions to trade most investments, including Stocks, ETFs, Mutual funds and Options. Competitors typically charge for trades on all but a limited number of commission-free ETFs and no-load Mutual funds.
- Firstrade offers helpful research tools. These include Morningstar stock reports, video commentary from analysts, and a Market Heatmap to provide a broad overview of the market so you can spot trends at a glance. Screening tools also can help you narrow down which investments are best to add to your portfolio.
- If you incur a fee to transfer funds to Firstrade, you could be eligible for a rebate. Firstrade offers up to $200 in rebates for transfer fees when you switch from another broker and up to $25 in rebates for wire transfer fees when your wire is $25,000 or more. This can help defray the cost of switching from another brokerage firm.
Drawbacks of Firstrade
- Its customer service isn’t on par with many competitor offerings. Many brokers have local branches — E-Trade offers more than 30 — but Firstrade has none. Plus, Firstrade’s online chat is nowhere near as helpful as the chat options many of its competitors offer. Firstrade provides only automated answers via its online chat, which often aren’t responsive to questions. If you’re looking for answers to specific queries, the online chat simply will provide you with a link to email Firstrade. Competitors such as Ally connect you with a real person via online chat who actually provides answers, even to complicated questions.
- Its trading platform isn’t as full-featured as competitor platforms. While Firstrade allows you to trade directly from your account dashboard, its trading platform doesn’t provide the same level of control competitors such as TradeStation offer.
- There’s no robo-advising option. Many competitors offer the option to have your funds managed by a robo-advisor for a small fee. Robo-advising options such as E-Trade’s Core Portfolios and Ally Invest’s Managed Portfolios provide a more hands-off way to diversify your investments.
Is Firstrade safe?
Firstrade is an established investment firm that FINRA’s BrokerCheck confirms is in compliance with regulatory requirements. It also is an SIPC member, which means investors are insured against losses that might occur if Firstrade experiences financial trouble and can’t repay invested funds.
However, when you buy investments in your Firstrade account, including Stocks, ETFs and Mutual funds, these investments come with inherent risks. You could lose money by investing your assets, and you should understand that investments don’t always perform as expected.
If you don’t have a ton of money to start investing and are looking for a brokerage with no minimum balance requirements and no fees to buy assets, Firstrade is a solid option. But if you want more advanced trading tools, competitors such as TradeStation may a better choice. If you’d prefer a robo-advisor option, you’ll need to look elsewhere.