Firstrade review summary
Firstrade is a US discount broker regulated by the top-tier SEC and FINRA. 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. It is a good choice for beginner investors. 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.
BrokerChooser gave Firstrade a 4.5/5 rating based on analyzing 500+ criteria and testing via opening a live account.
Firstrade is a regulated broker, it is overseen by a top-tier financial regulator in the USA . Firstrade is also covered by investor protection and it offers negative balance protection in selected jurisdictions. We at BrokerChooser always test brokers with real money, including the withdrawal process.
Firstrade pros and 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 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 has low fees. It offers free stock, ETF, funds, and options trading with low non-trading fees. However, margin rates are high.
|• Low trading fees||• High margin rates|
|• Low non-trading fees|
|• Free stock, ETF, fund and options trading|
|Assets||Fee level||Fee terms|
|US stock||Low||$0 per trade|
|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.
First, let's go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.
- Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees.
- Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.
In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Firstrade for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing the most important fees are commissions.
We also compared Firstrade's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, TradeStation and Interactive Brokers. 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's trading fees are zero. The fee sructure in transparent and easy to understand, only bonds require a bit more attention.
Stock fees and ETF fees
Firstrade offers free stock trading.
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.
|USD margin rate||12.3%||11.5%||5.3%|
|GBP margin rate||-||-||4.5%|
|EUR margin rate||-||-||2.8%|
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 9.75%. Financing rates are also applied for options trading, not just stocks.
|Debit balance||Rate%||Base rate + / -|
|$0 - $24,999||11.50%||Base rate + 1.75%|
|$25,000 - $49,999||11.25%||Base rate + 1.50%|
|$50,000 - $99,999||10.75%||Base rate + 1.00%|
|$100,000 - $249,999||10.25%||Base rate + 0.50%|
|$250,000 - $499,999||10.00%||Base rate + 0.25%|
|$500,000 - $999,999||8.10%||Base rate - 1.65%|
|$1,000,000 or more||7.50%||Base rate - 2.25%|
Mutual fund investing is also commission-free.
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. We tested "regular" treasury bonds.
|US Treasury bond||$0.0||$20.0||$5.0|
|EU government bond||-||-||$10.0|
Similarly to stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, options trading is also commission-free.
|US stock index options||$0.0||$0.0||$6.5|
|UK stock index options||-||-||$19.2|
|German stock index options||-||-||$16.8|
Firstrade does not charge commissions for crypto trading. There is a 100-basis point (1%) spread on either side of a crypto trade. This markup covers all the costs associated with crypto transactions and storing crypto.
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 using domestic or international wire transfer cost $25. We tested ACH, so we paid no withdrawal fee.
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.
|• Fully digital||• Slow account verification|
|• No minimum deposit|
|• Low minimum deposit|
Can you open an account?
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.
|Trading preferences||Minimum deposit|
|Day trading account||$25,000|
Firstrade offers several 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:
- Enter you phone number to receive the verification code
- Enter your personal information and email address
- Choose the account type, state your options and day trading preferences
- Provide more personal information and details for account verification, such as your Social Security Number
- Enter your personal phone number and choose a security question
- Disclose your employment and financial information
- Specify your investment profile and trading preferences
- Set your funding preferences and connection
- 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.
Deposit and withdrawal
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.
|• No deposit fee||• Credit/Debit card not available|
|• User-friendly||• Only one account base currency|
|• High outgoing wire transfer fee|
At Firstrade, the only available base currency is USD.
|Number of base currencies||1||9||23|
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.
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.
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 withdrawal fees and options
Firstrade charges no withdrawal fees if you use ACH withdrawal. Both domestic and international wire transfers cost $25.
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
Web trading platform
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.
|• User-friendly||• No two-step (safer) login|
|• Clear fee report|
|• Good search function|
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.
Login and security
Firstrade provides only a one-step login authentication (username, password, PIN). A two-step login would be safer.
The search functions are good. You can search by both company name or asset ticker and the results are relevant.
Firstrade has several order types:
- 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:
- Good Till 90 days
- Pre Market
- After Market
- Day + EXT
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'.
Mobile trading platform
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.
|• 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.
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.
The search functions are good, you get relevant results quickly. We liked the integrated third-party analysts' opinions and the news feed.
You can use the same order types and order time limits as in the web trading platform.
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.
Desktop trading platform
Firstrade does not offer a desktop trading platform.
Markets and products
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 has an average mutual fund, bond, and option selection, but it lags behind in stock and ETF lineups, compared to all reviewed brokers.
Stocks and ETFs
Firstrade covers only the US market.
|Stock markets (#)||5||5||83|
You can trade stocks on 5 different markets.
- OTC Pink
Firstrade has a great mutual fund selection.
|Fund providers (#)||450||55||400|
Firstrade has an average bond selection.
The bonds include both government and corporate bonds.
Firstrade covers CBOE and other US options exchanges, but does not disclose which ones.
Firstrade clients can trader 38 of the most popular coins, starting with an investment as low as $1.
Firstrade has great research tools, including trade ideas, interactive charts, screeners, detailed fundamental data, heatmap, P&L analysis and an economic calendar.
|• 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.
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 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 has good charting tools. You can easily edit the charts and use 32 technical indicators.
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's phone and chat support are slow and do not provide relevant information most of the time.
|• Email support||• No live chat|
|• No 24/7 support|
|• Slow support|
|• Irrelevant answers|
|• Phone support didn't connect anyone|
You can contact Firstrade via:
- Help Center
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.
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.
|• 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
- 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 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.
|• 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 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.
In addition, Firstrade's clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corporation, has an additional insurance policy through a group of London Underwriters to supplement SIPC protection. This additional insurance policy is limited to a combined return to any customer from a Trustee, SIPC and London Underwriters of $37.5 million, including cash of up to $900,000.
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.
Firstrade is one of the biggest discount US stockbrokers and it 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.
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.