Firstrade review

Firstrade Review

Firstrade has been around since 1985 and have watched more than a few brokers come and go. They have recently updated their platform to provide a more robust service to their customers, but do they still command a place among the best in the eyes of investors? Read on to find out…

What they offer: $6.95 per trade, no fee IRA accounts, education savings plans, wide selection of mutual funds, service in English and Chinese (Cantonese & Mandarin), new mobile trading apps and social media features. Member of FINRA & SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation). International accounts are available for some countries outside the U.S., but not for Canadians right now.

PROS CONS
  • Fast trade executions (3 second guarantee).
  • Low margin rates.
  • No minimum deposit to open an account, no monthly fees.
  • 11,000 mutual funds on offer.
  • Watch lists set up on website sync with iPhone app.
  • Expensive for broker assisted trades ($26.95).
  • More expensive for stocks priced under $2 or orders of 5,000+ shares.
  • Education center is a thin compared to other brokers
  • Complex spreads (more than 2 legs) must be placed with a live broker.

The Verdict: If Mandarin or Cantonese is your native language, Firstrade is probably going to be your top choice. They offer a great selection of mutual funds, but stocks under $2 and large orders are more expensive. Also, their platform could be better suited for options traders and their education resources could use an upgrade. Unless you’re specifically after low margin rates and a wide range of mutual funds, you might want to have a look at OptionsHouse, OptionsXpress or TradeKing and compare them before you decide to go with Firstrade.

Where to join: Open an account at Firstrade now and get 250 free trades!

In-Depth Firstrade Review

Setting Up An Account:

The application is a simple 3 step process. Apply online, then send the required documents (SSN or Taxpayer ID #, Date of Birth, and Employer Information) via fax or snail mail. You can fund your account via ACH or check (but there is no minimum deposit to open an account).

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Fees/Commissions:

Stocks, ETFs: $6.95 (unlimited shares)
Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract (no minimum)
Mutual Funds (No transaction fee & load funds): $0
Mutual Funds (No load funds): $9.95
$19.95 fee if fund is held for less than 180 days.
For orders where the stock price is under $1.00 and over 5,000 shares, add 1/2 cent per share for the entire order.

Investments Offered:

Equity stocks (NYSE, AMEX, NASDAQ, OTC), ETFs, Bonds/CDs/Fixed Income Investment Vehicles, Mutual Funds (over 11,000 funds to choose from), Equity options, Free automatic dividend reinvestment plans.

Ease Of Use:

We like the general platform because it’s easy to maneuver. It won’t win any awards for “cool factor”, but it will certainly get the job done for you whether you’re a beginner or more advanced.

Trading/Investment Tools:

  • Streaming quotes, real time charts.
  • Stock reports from S&P analysts.
  • Streaming news updates.
  • In depth ETF research info.
  • Ability to filter investments to fit your personal criteria.
  • Extended trading hours for eligible stocks (8am – 9:25am & 4:05pm – 5:30pm).

Customer Service/Support:

Firstrade is known for having quick and friendly customer service, and as we mentioned, they provide service in both English and Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese). If you need to get ahold of a customer service rep, you can use their 24/7 live chat, Facebook, Twitter, phone or email.

Awards:

4 Stars in Customer Service (Kiplinger’s 2011)
2005 Smart Money “Best Deal”
2006 Kipplingers “Top Clean Hands Firm” & “Clear Winner in the Mutual Fund Category”

The Final Word…

The general consensus seems to be that Firstrade is a solid broker, and it will get the job done for you. This broker is a great choice if your first language is Mandarin or Cantonese. The prices are good, the margin rates are low, tools are handy, and the customer service is great. In the coming years, we’d like to see better options trading tools and beefed up education resources.

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Current Promo Codes:

Also Read: Firstrade reviews by SmartMoney, Kiplinger’s and Barrons.

Disclosure: Some of the links included in our reviews are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive a commission.

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