Pros & Cons
- Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.
- $0 contract fee on options trades.
- All mutual funds are commission-free.
- Chinese language options.
- No 24/7 customer support.
Compare to Similar Brokers
Firstrade appeals to experienced investors with $0 trading costs and no per-contract fees for options trades, while beginning investors will appreciate its $0 account minimum to begin investing. Investors looking for long-term investments enjoy commission-free trades for all mutual funds.
With three trading platforms and a recently redesigned mobile app, Firstrade offers a strong brokerage experience whether you are a day trader or a retirement investor looking to open an IRA.
Firstrade is best for:
- Beginning investors.
- Mutual fund investors.
- Options traders.
- Free commissions.
- Native Chinese speakers.
Firstrade at a glance
|Stock trading costs||$0|
|Options trades||$0 per contract|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)||$0 inactivity/account fees; $75 full outgoing transfer fee|
|Commission-free ETFs||All ETFs are commission-free.|
|No-transaction-fee mutual funds||All mutual funds are commission-free.|
|Tradable securities||• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options.|
|Trading platform||Three trading platforms: Desktop platform, Firstrade Navigator, Options Wizard|
|Mobile app||Available for iOS and Android. Access to core account functions including tracking, quotes and trading.|
|Research and data||Free|
|Customer support options (includes website transparency)||Online chat, email and phone support Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.|
|Promotions||Transfer fee rebate of up to $200; $25 wire transfer rebate|
Where Firstrade shines
Commission-free trades: Firstrade was a pioneer in commission-free trading for stocks, options and ETFs before a broker price war at the end of 2019 made $0 trades the industry standard. Prior to that, Firstrade was also the only commission-free broker to offer retirement accounts (unlike the original free-trade brokerage, Robinhood, which offers only taxable brokerage accounts). Rare among brokers, Firstrade doesn’t charge any per-contract fees for options trades — only Robinhood has a similar deal.
Free trades on all mutual funds: Most brokers have a selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, but then charge anywhere from $5 to $49.99 for buying or selling shares of funds not on that list. Not Firstrade. Uniquely among brokers we review, Firstrade doesn’t charge a trading fee on any of the thousands of mutual funds it has on offer.
Trading platform: Firstrade has three trading platforms, including a desktop platform, Options Wizard and Firstrade Navigator.
Firstrade Navigator allows you to view your positions and balances and trade in your accounts all on one screen, with drop-and-drag customization of market-related information, charts and tracking.
A redesigned advanced screener helps narrow down your investment choices by categories like high-yielding quality stocks, large-cap growth stocks, “bargain basement” small-cap funds and dozens of other criteria. Options Wizard allows sophisticated analysis of potential losses and gains from options trading and more than 40 complex options strategies.
Research and education: Clients have access to free research from Morningstar, Benzinga, Zacks and Briefing.com. Firstrade’s new Market Heatmap gives a broad overview of the market trends, with bullish- and bearish-performing sectors visible at a glance. For options investors, Firstrade holds biweekly educational seminars to help newbies learn the ropes.
Mobile app: Firstrade launched its redesigned mobile app in July, which now includes intuitive swipe actions, a consolidated portfolio dashboard and upgraded research with advanced charting capabilities. The app instantly syncs with desktop platforms, and users can trade, transfer funds among accounts, view order history and create a watchlist to follow trading opportunities. The app is available on both Android and iOS.
Open to some international investors: Beyond the U.S., Firstrade also accepts clients from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and Mexico. (International investors must provide a foreign tax ID number and passport information to open an account.)
Chinese-language options: Native Chinese speakers will appreciate that Firstrade’s platforms are available in traditional and simplified Chinese.
Referral program: Firstrade is offering new and existing customers a free stock for themselves and a friend they refer to the brokerage. One out of every 100 has a chance to receive a free stock in Apple, Facebook or Microsoft, the company says.
Where Firstrade falls short
Investment choice: Professional investors may be disappointed that Firstrade offers no forex, futures or futures options trading to complement its rock-bottom pricing on option trades. But retirement investors have more than enough options to build and manage their portfolio with Firstrade.
The bottom line
Firstrade is an innovator in commission-free investing, which is one of the reasons it’s considered one of the best discount brokers we’ve reviewed. Beyond $0 commissions on trading stocks, ETFs and options, Firstrade also doesn’t charge trading commissions on any mutual fund, nor does it charge a per-contract fee on options trades. Native Chinese speakers will be drawn to Firstrade’s platform, which is available in both traditional and simplified Chinese.