Review of First trade Broker

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.

Markets Offered

Firstrade offers its clients a large array of tradable assets across multiple classes including stocks, EFTs options, bonds, and mutual funds. Commissions will vary on assets depending on trade size. Firstrade also offers after-hours trading. Below is a list of instruments available for trading at Firstrade:

Tradable Instruments

Asset classNumber of instrumentsCommissions/Spreads fromMargins from
StocksUS markets$0 Commission50%
ETFsUS markets$0 Commission50%
OptionsUS markets$0 Commission50%
Mutual Funds11,000+Free50%
BondsUS Govt.Net Yield Basis50%
Municipal BondsUS marketsNet Yield Basis50%
Agency bondsUS marketsNet Yield Basis50%
Zeros and stripsUS marketsNet Yield Basis50%
Primary market CDsUS markets$3050%
Secondary market CDsUS marketsNet Yield Basis50%

Account Types

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:

Investment Accounts Retirement Accounts
Individual IRA (Traditional & Roth)
Joint (WROS & Tenants in Common) Rollover IRA
Custodian – for a Minor SEP IRA
Education Savings (Coverdell ESA) SIMPLE IRA
Investment Club Profit Sharing Plan
Corporate & LLC Money Purchase Plan
Partnership & LLP
Sole Proprietorship
Trust, Estate, Conservatorship

Below is a list of details and features for Individual Trader Accounts.

Account TypeStandard
ScalpingNo
HedgingNo
Demo accountNo
Micro accountNo
Standard accountYes
Zero spread accountNo
VIP accountNo
Managed accountNo
Islamic accountNo
Min trade$500
Max tradeNone
Min deposit$25,000 to day trade
Automated TradingNo
Account SetupFree
Trading PlatformsDashboard/Navigator

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

Below is a table summarizing the features of the DashBoard and Navigator trading platforms:
Platform FeatureDashBoardNavigator
Stop loss OrdersYesYes
Limit ordersYesYes
One-click tradingNoNo
Trailing stopsYesYes
Expert advisors (EAs)NoNo
Virtual private serverNoNo
Direct market accessNoNo
STP brokerYesYes
ECN brokerNoNo
Market makerYesYes
Price alertsYesYes
Signal tradingNoNo
WatchlistsYesYes
Charting toolsYesYes
iOS  AppYesYes
Android AppYesYes
Windows  AppYesYes

Education

The education section of Firstrade’s website provides its clients with instructional videos covering investment products, use of the platform, and basic investing strategies. Also provided detailed information on margin loans, retirement accounts, and tax planning. For beginner traders, there is a detailed investment glossary, including a breakdown of key concepts and phraseology.

Customer Service

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.