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Firstrade Review

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Written by Blain Reinkensmeyer, Chris McKhann
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Sam Levine

Last updated September 26, 2022
Published January 10, 2022

Firstrade scored well in our 2022 Annual Review for ease of use, and is a great choice for Chinese-speaking investors. However, it lags behind the competition in certain areas, especially platforms, tools and education.

Firstrade
starstarstarstarstar_border Overall
  • Minimum Deposit: $0.00
  • Stock Trades: $0.00
  • Options (Per Contract): $0.00
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Commission-Free Trading on 700+ ETFs

Firstrade pros & cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Firstrade is an excellent broker for Chinese-speaking investors. There is 24/7 customer service for Chinese-speaking customers, as well as a variety of education (especially in options trading) and a morning market overview in Chinese five days a week.
  • Firstrade has bolstered its options trading capabilities and education around options. Options Trade Ideas (powered by OptionsPlay) provides trading ideas and reports on specific strategies. Options education is multi-tiered and offered in two languages. And there are no commissions.
  • The mobile app is appealing and easy to use and provides good charting.

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • Overall, the trading platform and tools are well behind the best brokers for 2022, especially industry leaders Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE.
  • Education is lacking. Firstrade offers a smattering of educational content, and it is laid out by category, but it is canned and one-dimensional.
  • While the Options Wizard is a cool tool, it was not sized to fit laptop screens, so much of the screen is unreadable. It is also very slow to load.

Overall summary

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Overall starstarstarstarstar_border
Investment Options starstarstarstarstar_border
Commissions & Fees starstarstarstarstar_border
Mobile Trading Apps starstarstarstarstar_border
Platforms & Tools starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Research starstarstarstarstar_border
Customer Service starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Education starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Ease Of Use starstarstarstarstar_border

Firstrade trading platform screenshots

Website:

Mobile app:

Customer service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research firm Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2022 Broker Review, 159 customer service tests were conducted over six weeks. Here are the results for Firstrade.

  • Average Connection Time: <1 minute
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 6.6 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 5.7 / 10
  • Overall Score: 6.7 / 10
  • Ranking: 9th of 13 brokers

How does Firstrade make money?

Like virtually all online brokerages, Firstrade makes money through payment for order flow, or PFOF. In this practice, a broker receives payment for routing its clients’ transactions through particular market makers. The practice is the subject of some controversy, but remains common industry practice. Fidelity is an exception in not accepting PFOF. (Learn more about PFOF.)

Is Firstrade safe?

Firstrade is an established broker and a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, or SIPC, which provides up to $500,000 of coverage of a client’s assets in the event of a broker bankruptcy. Its clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corporation, provides additional insurance.

Is Firstrade good for beginners?

Firstrade is easy to use and has a good mobile experience. For Chinese-speaking customers it is an excellent choice. Its lack of education, trading tools and research mean that most investors and traders will likely find a better fit among our top-ranked brokers for 2022.

About Firstrade

Founded in 1985 and headquartered in New York, Firstrade is a deep-discount online broker that offers $0 stock and options trades. Firstrade's focus on supporting Chinese-speaking American investors is a standout attribute.

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2022 Review Methodology

Our mission at StockBrokers.com is simple: provide thorough and unbiased reviews of online brokers, based on an extraordinary level of hands-on testing and data collection. Our ratings and awards are based on this data and our experts’ deep authority in the field; brokers cannot pay for preferential treatment. Here’s more about trustworthiness at StockBrokers.com.

For the StockBrokers.com 12th Annual Review published in January 2022, a total of 3,075 data points were collected over three months and used to score 15 top brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.

Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

Firstrade fees and features data

The data collection efforts at StockBrokers.com are unmatched in the industry. The following tables show a deeper dive into the offerings available at this broker. You can also compare its offerings side-by-side with those of other brokers using our Comparison Tool.

In addition to meticulous annual data collection by our in-house analyst, every broker that participates in our review is afforded the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile. We then audit each data point to ensure its accuracy.

Trading fees

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee $0.00
Options (Base Fee) $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.00
Futures (Per Contract) N/A
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $19.95

Account fees

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
IRA Annual Fee $0.00
IRA Closure Fee $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Partial) $55.00
Account Transfer Out (Full) $75.00
Options Exercise Fee 0.00
Options Assignment Fee 0.00

Margin rates

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Margin Rate Under $24,999.99 8.75%
Margin Rate $25,000.00 to $49,999.99 8.25%
Margin Rate $50,000.00 to $99,999.99 7.75%
Margin Rate $100,000.00 to $249,999.99 7.25%
Margin Rate $250,000.00 to $499,999.99 7.00%
Margin Rate $500,000.00 to $999,999.99 5.10%
Margin Rate Above $1,000,000.00 4.50%

Investment options

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Stock Trading Yes
Fractional Shares No
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes
Options Trading Yes
Complex Options Max Legs 4
Futures Trading No
Forex Trading No
Crypto Trading No
Crypto Trading - Total Coins 0
Mutual Funds (No Load) 13777
Mutual Funds (Total) 19027
Bonds (US Treasury) Yes
Bonds (Corporate) Yes
Bonds (Municipal) Yes
Advisor Services No
International Countries (Stocks) 0

Order types

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Order Type - Market Yes
Order Type - Limit Yes
Order Type - After Hours Yes
Order Type - Stop Yes
Order Type - Trailing Stop Yes
Order Type - OCO Yes
Order Type - OTO Yes
Order Type - Broker Assisted Yes

Beginners

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Education (Stocks) Yes
Education (ETFs) No
Education (Options) Yes
Education (Mutual Funds) No
Education (Bonds) No
Education (Retirement) Yes
Retirement Calculator Yes
Investor Dictionary Yes
Paper Trading No
Videos Yes
Webinars (Archived) Yes
Progress Tracking No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes No

Stock trading apps

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
iPhone App Yes
Android App Yes
Apple Watch App No
Trading - Stocks Yes
Trading - After-Hours Yes
Trading - Simple Options Yes
Trading - Complex Options Yes
Order Ticket RT Quotes Yes
Order Ticket SRT Quotes Yes

Stock app features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Market Movers (Top Gainers) Yes
Stream Live TV No
Videos on Demand No
Stock Alerts No
Option Chains Viewable Yes
Watch List (Real-time) Yes
Watch List (Streaming) Yes
Watch Lists - Create & Manage Yes
Watch Lists - Column Customization Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields 47

Stock app charting

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Charting - After-Hours No
Charting - Can Turn Horizontally Yes
Charting - Multiple Time Frames Yes
Charting - Technical Studies 81
Charting - Study Customizations Yes
Charting - Stock Comparisons No

Trading platforms overview

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Desktop Trading Platform No
Web Trading Platform Yes
Paper Trading No
Trade Journal No
Watch Lists - Total Fields 47

Trading platform stock chart features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Charting - Adjust Trades on Chart No
Charting - Indicators / Studies 102
Charting - Drawing Tools 8
Charting - Notes No
Charting - Index Overlays Yes
Charting - Historical Trades No
Charting - Corporate Events Yes
Charting - Custom Date Range No
Charting - Custom Time Bars No
Charting - Automated Analysis No
Charting - Save Profiles No
Trade Ideas - Technical Analysis No
Charting - Study Customizations 6
Charting - Custom Studies No

Day trading features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Streaming Time & Sales No
Streaming TV No
Direct Market Routing - Stocks No
Ladder Trading No
Trade Hot Keys No
Level 2 Quotes - Stocks No
Trade Ideas - Backtesting No
Trade Ideas - Backtesting Adv No
Short Locator No
Order Liquidity Rebates No

Investment research overview

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Research - Stocks Yes
Research - ETFs Yes
Research - Mutual Funds Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes
Research - Bonds Yes
Screener - Stocks Yes
Screener - ETFs Yes
Screener - Mutual Funds Yes
Screener - Bonds Yes
Misc - Portfolio Allocation Yes

Stock research features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Stock Research - PDF Reports 1
Stock Research - Earnings Yes
Stock Research - Insiders Yes
Stock Research - Social No
Stock Research - News Yes
Stock Research - ESG No
Stock Research - SEC Filings Yes

ETF research features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
ETFs - Strategy Overview Yes
ETF Fund Facts - Inception Date Yes
ETF Fund Facts - Expense Ratio Yes
ETF Fund Facts - Net Assets Yes
ETF Fund Facts - Total Holdings Yes
ETFs - Top 10 Holdings Yes
ETFs - Sector Exposure Yes
ETFs - Risk Analysis Yes
ETFs - Ratings Yes
ETFs - Morningstar StyleMap Yes
ETFs - PDF Reports Yes

Mutual fund research features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Mutual Funds - Strategy Overview Yes
Mutual Funds - Performance Chart Yes
Mutual Funds - Performance Analysis Yes
Mutual Funds - Prospectus Yes
Mutual Funds - 3rd Party Ratings Yes
Mutual Funds - Fees Breakdown Yes
Mutual Funds - Top 10 Holdings Yes
Mutual Funds - Asset Allocation Yes
Mutual Funds - Sector Allocation Yes
Mutual Funds - Country Allocation Yes
Mutual Funds - StyleMap Yes

Options trading overview

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Option Chains - Basic View Yes
Option Chains - Strategy View Yes
Option Chains - Streaming No
Option Chains - Total Columns 8
Option Chains - Greeks 5
Option Chains - Quick Analysis No
Option Analysis - P&L Charts No
Option Probability Analysis No
Option Probability Analysis Adv No
Option Positions - Greeks No
Option Positions - Greeks Streaming No
Option Positions - Adv Analysis No
Option Positions - Rolling Yes
Option Positions - Grouping No

Banking features

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Bank (Member FDIC) No
Checking Accounts Yes
Savings Accounts No
Credit Cards No
Debit Cards Yes
Mortgage Loans No

Customer service options

Feature Firstrade logoFirstrade
Phone Support (Prospect Customers) Yes
Phone Support (Current Customers) Yes
Email Support Yes
Live Chat (Prospect Customers) Yes
Live Chat (Current Customers) Yes
24/7 Support No

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About the Author

Blain Reinkensmeyer
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets.


Chris McKhann
Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.


Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.


Sam Levine
Sam Levine

Sam Levine is a longtime writer, investor and educator with nearly three decades of experience in the investing industry. His specialty is making even the most complicated investing concepts easy to understand for beginning and intermediate investors. He holds two of the most widely recognized certifications in the investment management industry, the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.


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