Originally founded in 1985 as the discount broker First Flushing Securities, the company capitalized on the growth of the internet and its application of online trading. As a result, Firstrade.com was launched in 1997. It has since become a premier brokerage with a reputation for having some of the lowest fees in the industry along with a wide range of tools and resources.
Firstrade operates under FINRA regulations. As a Member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”), Firstrade provides protection for its customers up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash). Firstrade Securities also has additional insurance via its clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corporation, to supplement SIPC protection. Additional protection for securities and cash up to an aggregate limit of $150 million is provided with this insurance.
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|Primary market CDs
|Secondary market CDs
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Firstrade offers different types of online brokerage accounts to fit different types of clients and their different investment objectives. Standard investing, IRA Retirement, and custodial accounts are available for individual traders. International accounts are available for clients outside the US. And business accounts are available for business entities. Below is a list of the types of available accounts:
|IRA (Traditional & Roth)
|Joint (WROS & Tenants in Common)
|Custodian – for a Minor
|Education Savings (Coverdell ESA)
|Profit Sharing Plan
|Corporate & LLC
|Money Purchase Plan
|Partnership & LLP
|Trust, Estate, Conservatorship
Below is a list of details and features for Individual Trader Accounts.
|Zero spread account
|$25,000 to day trade
Firstrade offers to 500 commission-free trades for new accounts with a $2,000 initial deposit. There are no minimum balance fees, and traders/investors can get $100 in free trades when they open even a small new account. There is no minimum requirement to open an online trading account. Clients are required to have cleared funds in their account prior to placing a trade. Day trading activities require a minimum balance of $25,000.
Funding a Firstrade account can be accomplished via bank transfer or check. Bank transfer transactions take up to 2 to 4 business days. There is no minimum deposit for a bank transfer. There is a $30 charge for normal withdrawals and a $50 charge for withdrawals that require international wire transfers.
Opening an account with Firstrade is usually completed within 5-business days. Documents required are a valid ID (i.e. passport, driver’s license, or national ID), and proof of address (i.e. bank statement, utility bill, or tax invoice dated within the last three months and issued to your name and address).
Web & Desktop Trading Platforms
Firstrade provides its clients with two trading platform options, and a mobile application. The Dashboard trading platform is a very easy-to-use application that provides all the tools a trader needs to make trades in one page. Its designed to give traders two separate columns to make the daily, weekly and monthly account and market activity easier and faster to read. One column gives a snapshot of the account with a dynamic display while the other focuses on market movers, indices and news.
DashBoard Trading Platform Screen Shot
Firstrade’s Navigator trading platform is for the more sophisticated advanced active trader that demands more in-depth analysis and advanced charting and technical analysis. Traders can manage their account and trade from one screen. Quickly place and manage orders, view positions and balances and track the market. Provides real-time streaming account and market data. Dozens of powerful technical studies for to analyze and predict stock movement, convenient graphs and pie graphs provide a quick glimpse of account information.
Navigator Trading Platform Screen Shot
|Stop loss Orders
|Expert advisors (EAs)
|Virtual private server
|Direct market access
In the Education section of Firstrade, you can find Stocks, Options, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income, Margin Loans, an Investment Glossary and an upcoming IPO list. However, the content on Firstrade is created with experienced traders in mind, so you should expect an overview rather than a thorough investigation of most topics.
Options traders of all levels can learn from Firstrade’s many learning tools, such as e-books, calculators, tips on different trading strategies and podcasts. Firstrade also has a YouTube channel that provides updates on the market consistently.
Unfortunately, Firstrade does not offer newsletters, webinars or courses. There are several broken links on the Firstrade education page too. Numerous advice and recommendations need to be updated and are of little use today.
Articles and videos on the Firstrade website are only sometimes up-to-date or directly relevant to Firstrade’s platforms and products because they are created by third-party companies and organizations like the Options Industry Council, Morningstar, Briefing.com, Zacks and Benzinga.
To help investors, the broker has Firstrade Navigator, which provides superior technical charting, market data, research widget customization and graphing capabilities. Firstrade also offers a more advanced options strategy modeling tool called the Options Wizard, which includes more than 65 technical indicators.
There is also OptionPlay, a real-time options trading and spread analysis application for traders. While helpful, this feature is buried in the options chain sheets and can only be accessed by a knowledgeable user.
In addition to those specific research tools, Firstrade provides an extensive investment library. A few articles outline the fundamentals of Firstrade’s direct investments, including stocks, ETFs and bonds.
Before putting real money at risk, you can use a paper trading program to see how well an investment strategy works.
Firstrade offers several customer service options, including live chat with a registered customer service representative Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or clients can use the Firstrade Chatbot (named Sammi), which is available 24/7. International clients can call toll free Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Customer support is also available in traditional and simplified Chinese, with representatives who speak both Cantonese and Mandarin. Email, fax, or mail are also options for client contact.
Firstrade protects your personal information by maintaining physical, electronic and procedural measures that adhere to statutory regulations. It safeguards your account information by putting it behind high-quality firewalls and encryption technologies on its computer systems.
Firstrade servers have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology enabled to prevent unauthorized parties from reading the nonpublic personal information that you provide or access during a secure session,
It also uses digital certificate services to encrypt the data sent back and forth between Firstrade.com and you. The broker also uses a PIN as a second authentication method to offer extra security to your account access.
Due to the rollout of fully-integrated mobile security, the broker currently uses Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on all devices. Once 2FA is turned on, you will be asked for a code every time you log in unless you select the option to “trust this device for 30 days.”
You can now securely access Firstrade’s apps and services from any device thanks to the addition of Mobile 2FA to the already robust protection. However, in contrast to other market leaders, it does not provide voice recognition on its voice customer support line.
Firstrade clients can take advantage of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation’s (SIPC) minimum coverage of $500,000, an additional $37.5 million in securities coverage and $900,000 in cash coverage provided by insurance purchased by Firstrade’s clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corporation.
What two-factor authentication (2FA) apps work with Firstrade?
Several 2FA apps work with Firstrade, including Google Authenticator for iPhone and Android. Authy for iOS and Android and Microsoft Authenticator for iOS and Android.
How much do I need to deposit into my Firstrade account to start?
You don’t need a certain amount of money to open a Firstrade online trading account. However, before placing your first order, you must have cleared the funds in your account.
What is the PIN for my document?
Your E-Document PIN is the final four digits of the Social Security Number or Employer Identification Number you use to enroll in E-Documents. If you use an international account, your PIN is based on the month and year of your birth (e.g., June 1980 = 0680).
How do I withdraw funds from my Firstrade account?
The three ways to withdraw money from your account are wire transfer, check and electronic funds (ACH).
What do I need to read before I can trade options?
Before buying or selling an option, you must read the Characteristics & Risks of Standardized Options, also referred to as the options disclosure document (ODD).
- Low cost discount broker offering 0% commission trades for stocks, options and ETFs
- Easy to use platform
- Good educational section for beginners, also provides access to news and analysis from Morningstar and Briefing.com
- Customer support also offered in Chinese
- Product portfolio limited to stocks, ETFs, options and bonds
- Limited charting and other tools
Expert advisors (EAs)
Virtual private server
Direct market access
Major Stock markets (US UK Germany)
Hong Kong stocks
Listed on Stock Exchange
Zero spread account