Firstrade Review 2021

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Reviewed By

Updated on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Firstrade offers low-cost trading services and access to stocks, funds and bonds, including municipal bonds, as well as free options trading. Access to some over-the-counter (OTC) penny stocks is also available. You can open a taxable investment account or individual retirement account (IRA) with this broker, allowing for flexibility in how you trade.

Firstrade is generally best-suited for those who want access to a variety of stock and bond choices, desire a hands-on approach to portfolio building and have beginning to intermediate experience with trading. This Firstrade review will take a look at what to expect from the platform.

Firstrade Securities Inc.
Visit Firstrade Secured
on Firstrade’s secure website
The bottom line: Firstrade offers a variety of stock and bond trading choices for beginning to intermediate traders.

  • No commissions or trading costs on stocks, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds
  • Ability to create real-time streaming watch lists
  • Access to penny stocks

Minimum deposit$0
Account types
  • Individual taxable brokerage account
  • Joint taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Treasuries
  • Municipal bonds
  • Agency bonds
  • Market CDs (primary and secondary)
Fees
  • Trading and commission: $0
  • Bonds and secondary market CDs: Net yield basis
  • Primary market CDs: $30
  • Short-term redemption for mutual funds: $19.95
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Inactivity fee: $0
  • Full account transfer fee: $75
  • Partial account transfer fee: $55
Sign-up bonusNone offered at this time

What Firstrade offers and who it’s for

Firstrade is an online broker that offers a variety of trading choices that are well-suited for beginning to intermediate traders. In addition to offering the ability to trade stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, Firstrade makes it easy to trade options and bonds. You can also access certain penny stocks through this platform.

While the platform is relatively easy to use and there are some helpful research tools, it lacks some of the bells and whistles that other brokers offer. Advanced traders, especially those who want access to foreign exchange (forex) and cryptocurrency trading, are likely to find Firstrade lacking. Additionally, Firstrade is better suited for hands-on investors who want control over their portfolios, as there is no robo-advisor product available.

Pros

  • No trading fees or commissions: Firstrade doesn’t charge trading fees or commissions on stocks, options, ETFs or mutual funds. This includes charging no per-contract fee for options.
  • Real-time streaming watch list: You can create up to 10 different watch lists with up to 50 stock and fund symbols on each to watch what’s happening in real time. Watch lists offer access to the live trading charts page, so you can easily make a move after viewing the watch list.
  • Research tools: Firstrade traders get free access to Morningstar reports, as well as the ability to set up price alerts. You can also get help with options trading and see a variety of success probabilities with the Options Wizard tool.
  • Transfer fee rebate: If you incur a transfer fee from your old broker, you can get a rebate from Firstrade, up to $200.

Cons

  • Limited customer service chat availability: While Firstrade offers a variety of customer service choices, including chat and telephone, the online chat consists of automated responses and often directs you back to the service email. This is different from some other brokers. Ally Invest, for example, connects you to a person with online chat.
  • Can only trade in U.S. markets: For advanced traders hoping to access international markets, including forex trading, Firstrade doesn’t fit the bill. Other brokers, such as Interactive Brokers, provide access to international markets and a wider variety of assets.
  • No robo-advisor product: Many other brokers offer the choice to take a more passive approach with a robo-advisor, as with E*TRADE’s Core Portfolios, Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolios and Ally Invest’s Managed Portfolios. Firstrade doesn’t provide this service.

Firstrade fees and costs

Option trading fees$0
Stock trading fees$0
Mutual fund trading fees$0
Mutual fund short-term redemption fee$19.95
Bond trading feesNet yield basis
Annual fee$0
Account maintenance fee$0
Transfer fees$75 full, $55 partial

Firstrade is one of the most affordable brokers. There are no fees for trading stocks, options, mutual funds or ETFs. When trading bonds, however, you do pay a net yield basis. This indicates that the commission for the broker is included in the price, and Firstrade offers a handy bond calculator to help you figure out whether you’re buying at a premium or getting a discount. It’s important to note that even though you can buy mutual funds for free with Firstrade, there is a short-term redemption fee if you sell the fund within 90 days.

You are charged transfer fees for moving your money out of Firstrade. However, if you’re moving your money into Firstrade and the old broker charges transfer fees, you can receive up to $200 in rebates for those fees through Firstrade.

Firstrade investing tools and research

Real-time streaming watch lists

Create up to 10 watch lists with up to 50 ticker symbols. You can see the quotes streaming in real time with these watch lists and get an idea of when it’s time to make your move. Each watch list comes with one-click access to Firstrade’s live trading charts page.

Options Wizard

Provides options analytics that you can use to make decisions about your strategy. Includes profit and loss simulations, as well as the ability to implement complex options trading strategies and compare different strategies.

Morningstar reports

Firstrade users get free access to Morningstar stock reports. If you’re looking for daily reports on some of the best stocks and hoping to get in-depth analysis, you get it with well-regarded information and research from Morningstar.

Firstrade Navigator

This tool allows you to manage your portfolio and make trades from one screen. Additionally, there’s real-time quote streaming, and you can even customize your layout. Add different widgets and create an experience that works well for you.

Alerts

Customize alerts according to your own criteria. This allows you to receive information when certain requirements are met, reducing the need for you to be glued to your screen.

Firstrade user experience

Firstrade, in general, offers a user experience that allows you to trade efficiently. While the platform lacks some of the bells and whistles of other brokers, it’s easy to use and gets the job done. It’s possible to trade online using your desktop or the mobile app. The mobile app features syncing with the online and desktop platforms and is available for iOS and Android. Beginning and intermediate traders are likely to find the tools helpful as they improve their abilities. Advanced traders, however, may be frustrated by the lack of features.

There are a variety of customer service options, including phone, chat and email. However, customer service isn’t available 24/7. Phone service is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. The online chat also isn’t as robust as it is with some other competitors. Instead, it relies heavily on automated responses and is likely to send you to the email address if you have more complicated needs.

Firstrade investor education

Firstrade has been beefing up its educational offerings. Perhaps one of the most valuable tools is the free access to Morningstar stock reports. In addition to Morningstar, you can also access reports from Benzinga, Zacks and Briefing.com. Firstrade also has an extensive body of information related to options trading that can be helpful for beginning options traders.

You can see a variety of videos on different topics related to investing and trading, as well as get information about specific asset classes. The investment glossary is also a good tool for beginners. Another interesting education tool is a list of upcoming initial public offerings (IPOs). However, even though there are some solid educational resources, Firstrade doesn’t have the same body of educational resources that some other brokers, such as Fidelity, offer.

Firstrade security

  • Member of the FINRA
  • SIPC insurance
  • Security protocols and encryption

Firstrade is a member of FINRA and also has SIPC insurance, which protects its members for up to $500,000. On top of that, Firstrade uses Apex Clearing Corp. for its transactions, which means that it has “excess SIPC.” This provides added protection for up to $150 million in aggregate for cash and securities.

In addition to having this insurance, Firstrade also takes online security seriously with an encrypted website and transactions. On top of that, there is a dedicated team that monitors threats and works to prevent them from impacting your account.

Alternatives to Firstrade to consider

Firstrade is a low-cost option and offers access to a variety of assets, but it doesn’t offer access to forex trading or cryptocurrency. Additionally, even though it has some research and education tools, they aren’t as extensive as what you might get with other brokers. Here are a couple of alternatives to Firstrade.

 Cost per tradeMinimum depositBest for ...
Firstrade$0$0Beginning to intermediate traders
Robinhood$0$0Access to options and cryptocurrency trading
Fidelity$0$0Robo-advisor product and extensive investor education

Firstrade vs. Robinhood

Firstrade offers access to affordable pricing and free research reports from a variety of third-party sources. Additionally, Firstrade offers access to bonds and market CDs, while Robinhood doesn’t.

However, Robinhood’s trading platform is a little more intuitive, and it’s easier to trade options. On top of that, Robinhood offers access to cryptocurrency trading, which is something Firstrade lacks. You can also get cash management products with Robinhood that you can’t get with Firstrade.

Open a Robinhood account Secured
on Robinhood’s secure website

Firstrade vs. Fidelity

Firstrade makes it easy for beginners and intermediate traders to get started, and it offers truly fee-free trading for options. Fidelity charges a per-contract fee on options, while Firstrade doesn’t. Firstrade also makes it easier to buy a variety of mutual funds and bonds.

However, Fidelity is a full-service broker that offers access to planning services, as well as a robo-advisor product for those who want some help with portfolio management. On top of that, Fidelity has one of the most extensive investor education libraries.

Open a Fidelity account Secured
on Fidelity’s secure website

Rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.