SEC and FINRA
Last Updated: June 8, 2021
SEC and FINRA
$0 (for a brokerage account)
individual, joint, custodian, partnership, trust, investment club
Firstrade has a lot going for them. For one, it has a long track record of being safe because it’s overseen by two top-tier regulators. Second, it offers Commission-free trading and has no account minimum. And thirdly, it’s a user-friendly platform for online trading with a streamlined experience. No wonder this company finds itself amongst brokers’ favorites.
If you are looking to trade stocks online and are considering Firstrade and want to know more, keep reading our detailed Firstrade review.
What Is Firstrade?
Firstrade Securities inc was founded in 1985 in Queens, New York. Initially, it was meant to service the needs of the local community, specifically ethnic Chinese immigrants. Today, Firstrade is known as a low-cost leader that stayed true to its original roots. The mission of the company is to provide easy tools for online trading for both its Chinese and English users. Numerous Firstrade reviews confirm our conclusion that it appeals to both beginners and veterans.
How to Use Firstrade
One of Firstrade’s selling points is its streamlined experience. From a hassle-free signup process to a platform with a great user experience and the option to use Firstrade to trade stock. Let’s take a deeper look at how it all works.
Firstrade’s platform is simple, easy to use, and functional. The sign-up process is straightforward, and you can do it online via its application. Here are the accounts you can set up:
- investment club
Your account can be cash only or a cash and margin account. If you’re ever unsure how to proceed, there is also a live chat available that can help you at any step during the process.
Creating an online trading account at Firstrade is very easy and completely free. You just need to fill out the forms on the website and send them. Alternatively, you can print out the forms and send them via mail. After this, you can expect to wait up to five business days for approval. If there are any problems, you will be contacted by Firstraid’s support team.
If you use your Firstrade referral code to refer a friend, and they create an online trading account, you can earn free stocks.
How To Start Trading
The online trading accounts are completely free since Firstrade doesn’t have a minimum deposit. To start trading, you will need to fund your account. You can fund your account in two ways: wire transfer or ACH transfer. With an ACH transfer, you have a settlement period of 2–3 business days. Wire transfers are similar to ACH, but your funds will be available immediately.
Once the funds are available, this is where the fun begins. With Firstrade, you can trade securities in short time intervals or hold for life. When trading, you can explore some of Firstrades best features like the tactical trading platform and 0% commissions trading.
What Can You Trade?
This Firstrade review wouldn’t be complete without analyzing the offered trading options.
Here’s what you can trade:
Firstrade allows trading with some of the most common types of stocks, and retirement investors can find many options to build their portfolio. If you are not sure about which stock to buy, take a look at our summary of best-performing stocks or use a stock screener.
Firstrade falls short in some investment offers. For example, can’t trade:
- Forex offers
- Futures or futures option trading
You cannot trade cryptocurrency directly at Firstrade. So if you came to Firstrade to trade bitcoin, you’ll be disappointed. There are some ways you can still invest in blockchain technology indirectly by buying stock in companies that invest heavily in it or by buying blockchain ETFs.
Is There a Client Portal?
Firstrade provides you with a customizable account dashboard. Here you can see and manage all your data. You just need to enter your username and password.
The biggest downside is the lack of two-factor authentication.
Firstrade offers three platforms to its users: Web/Desktop platform, Firstrade Navigator, and Options Wizard.
Web & Desktop platform
If you take a look at Firstrade reviews, you’ll see customers praising the streamlined experience. The user experience is clean and simple. Even beginners won’t have any trouble finding their way. The search function is good — you can search both by company name or asset ticker and expect relevant results.
The alert and notification tools are very useful. There are different criteria for setting alerts like last trade, trading volume, and price change or percentage change vs the previous close. And it even works for all Firstrade trading hours. You can also find portfolio and fee reports on the web platform.
To keep up with the market, there is the Market & News section. Here you can find live market trends and news to keep you updated. You can also have the option of Stock Reports and alerts to follow your stocks.
There are several order types you can place — including more sophisticated ones like One-Cancel-Other(OCO). There are order time options as well as day, pre-market, and even after-market since Firstrade allows after-hours trading.
This is Fistrade’s web-based platform. It’s only available to Premier customers, which means you need to have an account balance of more than $10,000. According to Firstrade, this platform allows you to experience trading at Firstrade Securities on a different level.
The platform has customizable widgets for quick access to the information you need. The layout is adjustable, so you can move panels and columns to adjust your experience. Convenient graphs for a quick glimpse into your account. Advanced technical charts so you can analyze and predict movement.
This platform provides instant feedback on the value of options trades you are considering. It is meant to assess the likelihood that the options trade will be profitable and help with making a good trading strategy.
It has one- to six-month trend indicators, 40+ complex trading strategies, and a trading strategy checklist. If you want to know more, Firstrade has a video tutorial on its website.
While most services are free, there is a variable account minimum depending on the type of account you want to open. Fortunately, the minimum to open a broker account is $0.
|Account minimum:||$0 brokerage account
$2,000 Margin account
$25,000 Fistrade day trading account
|Trade costs:||stocks $0 per trade
$0 options trade per contract
|Annual margin rates for stocks:||8.8% — volume tired (bigger account lower rates)|
|Mutual fund purchase:||$0|
|Fee for Broker assisted trades:||$19.95|
|Outgoing transfer fee:||full transfer $75
partial transfer $55
Firstrade Mobile App
In their Firstrade reviews, customers describe the app as simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Since the initial launch, the app has improved drastically and now facilitates high-speed trades backed up by powerful technology. It is available on both Android and iOS.
You can find tools for technical analysis of stock, charts, information, and news. Experienced investors often use the technical analysis feature to find entry and exit points for stocks when trading. Fast and robust charts from MultiChart (TradingView) are available in the app.
Unfortunately, news from Morningstar and Briefing.com are not available within the app. There are no screening and research tools, you can’t set alerts, and you can only trade stocks, ETFs, and options.
Firstrade Customer Service
Although it doesn’t offer 24/7 support, the customer service at Firstrade is knowledgeable and responsive. Customer support is available only during business hours from 8 AM to 6 PM EST. The thing that gives them an edge over others is the fact that customer support is available in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.
Firstrade is considered one of best rated online stock trading companies for beginners and veterans. Still, it does have competition. Here are some of the bigger names in the industry and how they compare.
Firstrade vs Robinhood
Firstrade brokerage accounts offer more advanced controls for your orders on the financial markets, suitable for users who follow more complex strategies. One of the main selling points of Robinhood is the option to buy cryptocurrencies and ‘fractional shares,’ i.e., quantities less than one share. However, these are illiquid outside of the platform and aren’t transferable to other brokers. Both offer cash management and bank-like services.
Firstrade vs Interactive Brokers
Firstrade has a wider range of US financial instruments on offer with a $0 commission compared to Interactive Brokers’ Lite variant, which is aimed at and suitable for novices. In addition to its US financial market offerings, Interactive Brokers provide its users access to global markets and exchanges. Advanced traders/investors may find their PRO tier useful, though more costly. Interactive Brokers is a public company listed on NASDAQ. Firstrade withdrawal fee is $0, while IB has varying fees depending on the type of withdrawal request you make.
Firstrade vs TD Ameritrade
In terms of fees, both companies have a $0 account minimum, so it costs nothing to open an account and compare the experience. While both companies offer commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs, Ameritrade charges a $0.65 options trading fee.
When it comes to user experience while trading, Ameritrade’s desktop platform is slightly better.
Firstrade vs Webull
Both Firstrade and Webull are SIPC members, which offers protection in the event of a brokerage default or financial instability. Webull offers international securities on its platform but lacks Firstrade’s municipal US securities. However, Webull supports longer pre-market hours trading.
While performing research for our extensive Firstrade review, we concluded that the company is valued for its cost-efficiency, trustworthiness, and beginner-friendliness. The process of opening an account is simple and completely free. The company offers a streamlined trading process at a low cost with $0 commission policies.
- 0% commission for stocks, options, mutual funds, or ETFs
- Solid research and education tools
- Support in traditional and simplified Chinese and English
- Simple and easy trending experience on mobile and web platforms
- Customer service is limited to business hours
- No crypto, forex, or futures
- No automated or advisor-assisted accounts
Is Firstrade safe?
In short: yes, it is. The company behind Firstrade, Firstrade Securities Inc, is registered with the Federal SEC and the self-regulatory organization FINRA. You can review information about the company at the FINRA BrokerCheck Report. This brokerage is not suspended by any regulator and there are details about all disclosure events (regulatory actions, proceedings, criminal or financial matters, etc.) in which the company has been involved.
How does Firstrade make money?
Firstrade makes money through broker-assisted orders for stocks, ETFs, options, and no-load funds. Firstrade also earns through margin rates (interest charged for the purchase of financial instruments on margin). There are also various bureaucratic and operational charges (mailing, banking, transfer, securities processing, reorganization charges) and account-specific charges (account opening and annual fees for company accounts), which provide a source of income for the company. Firstrade calls these 'exception fees' — you can find a list of these on their pricing page under 'Special Services.'
Is Firstrade a good broker?
Yes. Firstrade fees are either very low or non-existent for trades; there are multiple ways to fund your account, and you can send limit orders during extended hours trading (pre-and after-market hours). In addition, Firstrade allows its users to access multiple financial instruments easily and conveniently. It offers an educational section on the website to better inform its users and interested parties of the types of financial instruments offered through its platform and to help traders navigate the financial markets and the Firstrade Navigator.
How do I fund my Firstrade account?
You can deposit money to your account via Firstrade's deposit and withdrawal system. You can fund your account through electronic funds transfer (Automated Clearing House) by wiring funds into your account via a domestic and/or international transfer or via a check deposit.
How do I withdraw money from Firstrade?
You can use the electronic ACH system, check, and wire transfer. You just need to go to the Deposit/Transfer page on your account and select the right option. Just keep in mind that the wire withdrawals are subject to a $30/domestic or $35/international wire fee. The withdrawal procedure is free, but Firstrade does have a $100 withdrawal minimum.
Is Firstrade free?
The platform is free to use, and Firstrade has no commission fee, but some fees may still apply, depending on how you use and what you trade on the platform. In addition, some you may be charged some mandatory fees by governmental bodies, as directed by state and federal laws. There are fees associated with certain actions you take on the platform, ex. 'Short Term Redemption Fee,' which is billed when you sell mutual funds shares held less than 90 days. Firstrade is also not free if you place broker-assisted orders or margin trade. But as we mentioned in this Firstrade review, the price sheet is clear and concise, even reading the fine print is easy.