Summary

Recommended for beginners and investors looking for zero-commission trading, focusing on the US market

Firstrade is a US discount stockbroker regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The company was founded in 1985 under the name First Flushing Securities.

Firstrade is considered safe because it has a long track record and is overseen by top-tier regulators.

Firstrade pros and cons

Firstrade offers free stock, ETF, mutual fund, and options trading. Non-trading fees are low. Research is high-quality with a lot of tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data. The broker offers great educational tools, including videos and webinars.

No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets available for money transfer. The product portfolio covers only the US market. Customer service is slow, support is available only 24/5 and there is no live chat.

Pros Cons
Free stock, ETF, fund and options trading No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer
Solid research tools You can trade only on US markets
Quality educational tools No live chat or 24/7 availability
Firstrade main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulation USA
💰 Trading fees class Low
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $0
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
🎮 Demo account provided No
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond, Options

Firstrade review
Fees

4.5
To find out more about its trading and non-trading fees, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade has low fees. It offers free stock, ETF, funds, and options trading with low non-trading fees. However, margin rates are high.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High margin rates
Low non-trading fees
Free stock, ETF, fund and options trading
Firstrade fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low $0 per trade
EURUSD - Not available
Mutual fund Low $0 per trade
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

We ranked Firstrade's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, and non-trading fees.

In the sections below, you will find Firstade's most relevant fees for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing, commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared Firstrade's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Fidelity and E-Trade. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Firstrade alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Firstrade, let's start with the trading fees.

Firstrade trading fees

Firstrade's trading fees are zero. The fee structure is transparent and easy to understand: only bonds require a bit more attention. 

Stock fees and ETF fees

Firstrade offers free stock trading. 

Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
US stock $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

If you prefer stock trading on margin, you should check Firstrade's margin rates.

Trading on margin means that you borrow money from your broker thus you can purchase more shares than you could with the funds available in your account. You have to pay interest on this borrowed money – the interest rate is called the margin rate. This rate can account for a significant portion of your trading costs.

Firstrade's margin rates are high.

Firstrade annual margin rates for stocks
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
USD margin rate 8.8% 8.3% 9.0%

Firstrade's margin rates are volume-tiered. There is a base rate plus a premium depending on the financed amount. The base rate is set at Firstrade's discretion. At the time of our review, the base rate was at 6.75%.

Firstrade - annual margin rate tiers
Debit balance Rate% Base rate + / -
Under $10,000 8.75% Base rate + 2.00%
$10,000 - $24,999 8.50% Base rate + 1.75%
$25,000 - $49,999 8.25% Base rate + 1.50%
$50,000 - $99,999 7.75% Base rate + 1.00%
$100,000 - $249,999 7.25% Base rate + 0.50%
$250,000 - $499,999 7.00% Base rate + 0.25%
$500,000 - $999,999 5.10% Base rate  - 1.65%
$1,000,000 or more 4.50% Base rate - 2.25%


Fund fees

The financing rates above are also applied for options trading, not just stocks. 

Mutual fund investing is also commission-free. 

Commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Mutual fund $0.0 $37.5 $20.0

Firstrade charges a $19.95 selling fee if mutual fund shares are held for less than 90 days.

Bond fees

Firstrade's bond fees depend on the type of bonds you wish to trade. Treasury bills, notes, bonds, municipal bonds, agency bonds, zeros & strips are free, but the charges are net yield based. Here we have tested "regular" treasury bonds.

Commission for a $10,000 government bond trade
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

There's a $30 minimum commission for primary CDs. 

Options fees

Similarly to stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, options trading is also commission-free.

Stock index options commission of 10 contracts
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
US stock index options $0.0 $6.5 $6.5

Non-trading fees

Firstrade has low non-trading fees. There is no account fee or inactivity fee.

There is no withdrawal fee, if you use ACH transfer. However, withdrawals to other domestic banks using wire transfer cost $30, while foreign outgoing wire transfers cost $35. We tested ACH, so we paid no withdrawal fee.

Firstrade non-trading fees
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Firstrade review
Account opening

4.2
To experience the account opening process, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Account opening is fully digital and user-friendly, and is open to some international customers as well. On the flip side, the process was slow for us, taking almost 3 business days.
Pros Cons
Fully digital Slow account verification
No minimum deposit
Low minimum deposit

Can you open an account?

Visit broker

Firstrade is a US broker, but some non-US clients can also open an account. The list of countries from where the broker accepts customers includes Germany, UK, China, Singapore and Hong Kong, to name but a few.

What is the minimum deposit at Firstrade?

The minimum deposit is $0 for both U.S. and international clients. However, you will need to transfer a set amount of funds if you trade on margin or prefer investing in portfolios.

Firstrade minimum deposits by account types
Trading preferences Minimum deposit
Brokerage account $0
Margin account $2,000
Day trading account $25,000

 

Account types

Firstrade offers several account types:

Firstrade account types
Account type Short description
Regular Investing account (Individual & Joint) Investing account owned by a single person or more individuals
Retirement accounts (Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, etc.) Individual retirement accounts, only in the US
Business accounts Account is owned by a legal entity, only in the US
Education Savings Account Savings account for quality educational purposes, only in the US
Custodial account Special accounts for custodial purposes, only in the US
Firstrade Cash Management account Brokerage and banking services consolidated in one account
International Accounts Investing account for non-US clients

How to open your account

The account opening is fully digital and user-friendly. The online application took us roughly 15 minutes, but verification is a bit slower. It took 3 business days until our account was verified.

Here are the nine steps of Firstrade's account opening process:

  1. Enter you phone number to receive the verification code
  2. Enter your personal information and email address
  3. Choose the account type, state your options and day trading preferences
  4. Provide more personal information and details for account verification, such as your Social Security Number
  5. Enter your personal phone number and choose a security question
  6. Disclose your employment and financial information
  7. Specify your investment profile and trading preferences
  8. Set your funding preferences and connection
  9. Review and submit your application

It is important to underline that there is a minor difference between US and non-US client applications. If you are a non-US client, you have to upload the agreed Online Service Agreement and the W-8 BEN tax form (Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding and Reporting for Individuals) with a copy of your passport. Firstrade does not disclose any specific limitations regarding international account services.

Firstrade review - Account opening

Firstrade review
Deposit and withdrawal

2.0
To find out more about the deposit and withdrawal process, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
We liked Firstrade's user-friendly deposit and withdrawal process. There is no deposit fee and transferring money is easy. At the same time, there is still room for improvement: you can use only bank transfers and a high fee is charged for wire transfer withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly Only one account base currency
High outgoing wire transfer fee

Account base currencies

At Firstrade, the only available base currency is USD.

Base currencies at Firstrade vs similar brokers
  Firstrade Fidelity E*TRADE
Number of base currencies 1 16 1

If you have a personal bank account in a currency other than USD, then you will be charged a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. These usually offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates, as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account takes only a few minutes on your phone.

Compare digital banks

Deposit fees and options

Firstrade charges no deposit fees. Are you a US client? If yes, you can use checks, ACH payments, and wire transfers for the deposit. Unfortunately, at the time of our test credit/debit cards and electronic wallets were not available.

Firstrade deposit options
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No

We tested the ACH transfer and it took 2 business days. You can only deposit money from accounts that were previously linked to your brokerage account.

Firstrade review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

Firstrade withdrawal fees and options

Firstrade charges no withdrawal fees if you use ACH withdrawal. US domestic wire transfers cost $30, while international bank transfers cost $35.

Firstrade withdrawal fees and options
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No Yes No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

How long does it take to withdraw money from Firstrade?

We tested the bank transfer withdrawal and it took 2 business days. You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

How do you withdraw money from Firstrade?

You can withdraw money from Firstrade by following these steps:

  • Log into the account
  • Go to the "Accounts" menu
  • Select "Deposit/Transfer" 
  • Choose the withdraw transfer type and your previously connected external account
  • Add the amount you wish to withdraw and set the frequency and date of the withdrawal
  • Preview and initiate the withdrawal

Compare to other brokers

Firstrade review
Web trading platform

4.3
To try the web trading platform yourself, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade's web platform has a straightforward design, making it easy to use even for beginners. On the negative side, it lacks a two-step login and the customizability of the main sections is quite limited.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report
Good search function
Firstrade platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 stars Yes
Mobile 3.8 stars Yes
Desktop - No

We tested Firstrade's own trading platform. The web trading platform is available in English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Look and feel

Firstrade's web trading platform is user-friendly, offers a satisfying user experience and the design is clear and straightforward. On the negative side, its customizability is limited. You can change the order of the tabs in the dashboard (called Investor Home), but other tabs aren't customizable.

Firstrade review - Web trading platform

Login and security

Firstrade provides only a one-step login authentication (username, password, PIN). A two-step login would be safer.

Search functions

The search functions are good. You can search by both company name or asset ticker and the results are relevant.

Firstrade review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

 Firstrade has several order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop
  • Stop limit
  • Trailing stop

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

There are also many order time options you can use:

  • Day
  • Good Till 90 days
  • Pre Market
  • After Market
  • Day + EXT 
Firstrade review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts by different criteria:

  • $ or % change vs previous close
  • Last trade
  • Trading volume

The platform notifies you via your preset email. You can find the alerts under the 'Research & Tools' menu.

Portfolio and fee reports

Firstrade provides clear portfolio and fee reports. You can find them under the 'Accounts' menu in 'History'.

Visit broker

Firstrade review
Mobile trading platform

3.8
To try the mobile trading platform yourself, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade's mobile platform is user-friendly with a great search function. On the other hand, two-step login is not available and you can't trade mutual funds or bonds.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Good search function Mutual funds and bonds are not covered
Good variety of order types

In our review, we tested the iOS version of Firstrade's in-house developed mobile trading platform. It is also available for Andriod devices.

Similarly to the web trading platform, the mobile trading platform is available in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

On the mobile trading platform, you can only trade stocks, ETFs and options, which is limited compared to the web trading platform.

Look and feel

Firstrade's mobile trading platform is user-friendly and well designed.

Firstrade review - Mobile trading platform

Login and security

Firstrade provides only a one-step login. A two-step authorization would be more secure.

If you have an iOS device, you can enable biometric authentications: both face and touch IDs are available.

Search functions

The search functions are good, you get relevant results quickly. We liked the integrated third-party analysts' opinions and the news feed. 

Firstrade review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use the same order types and order time limits as in the web trading platform.

Firstrade review - Mobile trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

Firstrade has upgraded its mobile trading platform to support price alerts, which you can turn on by going to Account and tapping on App Settings. 

Visit broker

Firstrade review
Desktop trading platform

Firstrade does not offer a desktop trading platform.

Visit broker

Firstrade review
Markets and products

2.5
To dig even deeper in markets and products, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade offers a good variety of asset classes, from stocks to options. However, the products cover only the US market and you cannot trade futures or forex.
Firstrade asset classes
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex No No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures No No Yes
CFD No No No
Crypto No No Yes

Firstrade has an average mutual fund, bond, and option selection, but it lags behind in stock and ETF lineups, compared to all reviewed brokers.

Stock and ETF

Firstrade covers only the US market. Its portfolio is similar to that of E-Trade, but not as wide as Fidelity's selection, which gives access to international stock exchanges, as well.

Firstrade stock and ETF selection
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Stock markets (#) 5 22 5
ETFs (#) 2,300 80 2,300

You can trade stocks on 5 different markets.

  • NYSE
  • NASDAQ
  • AMEX
  • OTCBB
  • OTC Pink

Fund

Firstrade provides a lot of mutual funds, but still somewhat less than Fidelity or E-Trade.

Firstrade mutual fund selection
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Fund providers (#) 420 550 520

Bond

Firstrade has an average bond selection. It lags behind its closest competitors, Fidelity and E-Trade.

Firstrade bond selection
  Firstrade Fidelity E-Trade
Bonds (#) 38,500 108,000 88,000

The bonds include both government and corporate bonds.

Options

Firstrade covers CBOE and other US options exchanges, but does not disclose which ones.

Firstrade review
Research

4.7
To check the available research tools and assets, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade has great research tools, including trade ideas, interactive charts, screeners, detailed fundamental data, heatmap, P&L analysis and an economic calendar.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart None
Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals

The research tools are under the 'Research & Tools' tab. Similarly to the trading platforms, the research tools are available in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

Trading ideas

Firstrade provides trading ideas for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. We liked the integrated features:

  • preset peer group comparison
  • plotting of data

The trading ideas are from third-party providers, such as Morningstar.

Firstrade review - Research - Recommendations

Fundamental data

Firstrade offers a wide range of fundamental data. You will find data on several assets, from stocks to funds.

Fundamental data also includes financial statements for 5 or 10 years, peer group companies, dividend calendar, etc.

Firstrade review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

Firstrade has good charting tools. You can easily edit the charts and use 32 technical indicators.

Firstrade review - Research - Charting

News feed

The news function could be improved. It is easily readable but lacks visual elements, like charts or pictures. If you find Benzinga, Briefing.com, or Zacks useful, you will be happy with the Firstrade news channel as its news flow is provided by these third parties.

Other research tools you will enjoy

There are great and sophisticated screeners for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.  You can use a wide range of filters, from basic company information to technical indicators,.

We liked the Option Wizard in the 'Education' menu. It is developed by OptionsPlay.com and is a great tool, if you are into options trading.

Firstrade review - Research Tool

Compare research pros and cons

Firstrade review
Customer service

0.3
To find customer service contact information details, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade's phone and chat support are slow and do not provide relevant information most of the time.
Pros Cons
Email support No live chat
No 24/7 support
Slow support
Irrelevant answers
Phone support didn't connect anyone

You can contact Firstrade via:

  • email
  • Help Center
  • phone

Firstrade's mail support is average. We got semi relevant answers via email, but the phone support was very slow and we failed to get through to anybody who could answer our questions.

Firstrade has a Help Center where users can browse through a long list of articles answering a wide range of questions. We missed 24/7 support availability. You can contact customer support from 8 am to 6 pm EST, between Monday and Friday.

Firstrade review - Customer Service

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Firstrade review
Education

3.5
To check the available education material and assets, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Are you a beginner or do you believe in lifelong learning? Then Firstrade is clearly a good match for you. They offer great educational articles, a useful glossary, a bunch of platform videos and webinars. However, there is no demo account.
Pros Cons
Trading platform tutorial No demo account
Educational videos

We found the following educational tools at Firstrade that might be handy for you:

  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • Webinars
  • Educational articles

The platform tutorial videos are well placed, you can easily notice the relevant videos.

The general educational videos and the archived webinars have good content quality, ranging from stock trading to options trading. In our test, we found it hard to download the materials or to catch a live webinar.

Besides videos, you can also listen to podcasts and read Ebooks. Most of these features are accessible under the 'Education' menu.

Firstrade review - Education

Visit broker

Firstrade review
Safety

To find out more about safety and regulation, visit Firstrade

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Firstrade is regulated by top-tier financial authorities, such as the SEC and FINRA. Clients enjoy a high investor protection amount of $500,000, which includes $250,000 for cash. On the other hand, negative balance protection is not provided.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection Does not hold a banking license
Not listed on stock exchange

Is Firstrade regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Is Firstrade safe?

To be certain, we highly advise you to check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

Firstrade serves its clients through Firstrade Securities Inc. Firstrade is regulated by the SEC and FINRA, and all customers are covered by the US investor protection scheme, called SIPC.

The SIPC investor protection scheme protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most investor protection schemes provide. 

Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments, such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

Background

Firstrade was established in 1985 under the name First Flushing Securities. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

The fact that is has been in operation for a long  time and it is regulated by a top-tier regulator are all great signs for Firstrade's safety.

Find your safe broker

Firstrade review
Bottom line

Visit Firstrade if you are looking for further details and information

or
Compare to its best reviewed alternative: J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

Firstrade is one of the biggest discount US stockbrokers and is regulated by top-tier regulators.

Firstrade offers free stock, ETF, mutual funds and options trading. It doesn't charge inactivity and account fees, and there are lots of quality research and educational tools you can use.

Their services have some drawbacks, though. Firstrade doesn't accept credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer. The product portfolio covers only the US market. Customer service is only available 24/5 and you can't contact them via live chat. 

As it has low fees and no inactivity fee is charged, feel free to try Firstrade.

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Firstrade review
FAQ

We recommend Firstrade for beginners and investors looking for zero-commission trading, focusing on the US market.

Below you can find links to all aspects of Firstrade in this comprehensive collection.

Lower fees, lower costs?

We detailed this in our Firstrade fees article.

What about the minimum deposit?

Our ultimate guide to the Firstrade minimum deposit is updated regularly.

How to start your Firstrade account?

Look no further than our evaluation of the Firstrade account opening.

How's their trading app?

Here's our expert view after checking the Firstrade trading app.

Is the quality of customer service satisfactory?

All you need to know about the Firstrade customer service.

Legit or scam?

Is Firstrade legit features all the key aspects you need to look at to see if a broker is safe and legit.

Free or premium? Or both?

A glance at actual costs and whether Firstrade is really free.

Is this broker good for beginners?

We checked it in Is Firstrade good for beginners.

Should you buy your silver bullets on Firstrade?

Research for silver bugs in the Silver buy on Firstrade guide

I want to trade options, are they available at Firstrade?

We explored the topic in Can you trade options on Firstrade?

What is the minimum account balance at Firstrade?

Check out the current account balance requirements at Firstrade in our What is the minimum account balance at Firstrade article.

Looking for commission and fees data for Firstrade?

We collected them in Firstrade commission and fees.

How do you withdraw money from Firstrade?

We tested it and collected the options and costs in How to withdraw money on Firstrade.

Author of this review

Edith Balázs

Author of this review

Edith is an experienced financial journalist having worked for 15+ years as a correspondent for Bloomberg, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal covering macroeconomics, stock, currency and fixed income markets. She holds a master's degree in American Studies and Journalism.

Edith Balázs

Senior Editor

Edith is an experienced financial journalist having worked for 15+ years as a correspondent for Bloomberg, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal covering macroeconomics, stock, currency and fixed income markets. She holds a master's degree in American Studies and Journalism.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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