|Online Mutual Funds||$0.00|
|Broker Assisted Trade||$19.95|
|Number of Commission-Free ETFs||2,200|
Since Firstrade slashed their stock trading fee from $2.95 to $0.00, there are now three different levels of “Premiere Accounts:” Blue, Gold, and Platinum. The requirements are a minimum equity balance of $10,000, $50,000, and $100,000, respectively.
While Firstrade certainly doesn’t offer the level of customer service that larger brokerages like TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest do, $0.00 trades for stocks and ETFs are quite appealing. If you’re strictly focused on no-cost investing, and perhaps already use other trading platforms for analysis and research, it really is a compelling argument to use Firstrade.
Since Firstrade doesn’t support futures or forex trading, 24/7 customer support isn’t that important, which is a good thing, because Firstrade doesn’t offer it.
Although customer support is available over the phone or live-chat during normal trading hours, don’t expect to be blown away by Firstrade’s customer service. In our opinion, this isn’t where Firstrade shines. If you want to trade stocks for free, with more of a long-term plan and don’t need sophisticated trading tools and research, Firstrade will probably do the trick.
Overall, Firstrade’s website and platform is clean and simple, but seems a little out-dated and somewhat clunky, especially when compared to its competitors.
One of our favorite tools is Firstrade’s Options Wizard, which is available to everyone regardless of account balance.
If you’re looking for stock and ETF research tools, Firstrade provides syndicated research through one of the largest investment research providers, Morningstar.
One of our favorite features to use when trading on an intraday basis is real-time news. Breaking news stories always tend to have an impact on the market, and Firstrade provides an excellent real-time streaming news feature.
Overall Ease of Use
One of the biggest complaints we have with Firstrade is during the account opening process. I had to verify my identity by sending in a photograph of my passport.
This was not an enjoyable process, and having opened dozens of online brokerage accounts before, I never had to send in any identify verification beyond my SSN.
Moreover, if you don’t verify your identity within a specific time frame, something like 30 days, (which is hit and miss, we have heard stories of some users not having to verify their identity) your application will be rejected and you’ll have to re-open an account, which is a drag.
Firstrade vs Competitors
When we compare Firstrade to some popular online brokers, there are a few shortcomings that are quite noticeable. Namely, the lack of tradeable instruments (no penny stocks, futures, aggressive short selling or options strategies), as well as the lack of 24/7 customer service and feature-rich trading platforms.
$0 per stock
$0 per option
$4.95 per stock
$4.95 + $0.65 per option
$5 per stock
$1.00 per option
Firstrade used to offer free trades, a transfer fee reimbursement if you switched from another online broker, as well as a cash bonus. However, since trading is now free, the only promotional offer we were able to find is this one:
You get what you pay for with Firstrade, and for paying nothing, Firstrade does a decent job. But you shouldn’t expect a high-end investing experience.
For overseas investors, particularly those who only speak Mandarin, Firstrade is only of the only brokers that we know of to offer a seamless fully-translated investing experience from start to finish.