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.
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:
|Asset class||Number of instruments||Commissions/Spreads from||Margins from|
|Stocks||US markets||$0 Commission||50%|
|ETFs||US markets||$0 Commission||50%|
|Options||US markets||$0 Commission||50%|
|Bonds||US Govt.||Net Yield Basis||50%|
|Municipal Bonds||US markets||Net Yield Basis||50%|
|Agency bonds||US markets||Net Yield Basis||50%|
|Zeros and strips||US markets||Net Yield Basis||50%|
|Primary market CDs||US markets||$30||50%|
|Secondary market CDs||US markets||Net Yield Basis||50%|
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|
|Trust, Estate, Conservatorship|
Below is a list of details and features for Individual Trader Accounts.
|Zero spread account||No|
|Min deposit||$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
Below is a table summarizing the features of the DashBoard and Navigator trading platforms:
|Stop loss Orders||Yes||Yes|
|Expert advisors (EAs)||No||No|
|Virtual private server||No||No|
|Direct market access||No||No|
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.
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.