|Firstrade Overall Rating|
|Trades & Commissions|
|Brokerage Trading Platform|
|Customer Support & Research Score|
|Account Opening Balance|
|Regulation FINRA & SIPC Insurance|
Firstrade - Great for Traders & Investors Seeking FREE ZERO Commissions Trading on Stocks & Options & an Industry Best 700 Commission-Free ETF's. Full MorningStar access and 5-star customer satisfaction mean Firstrade is a great choice for brokerage services.
Firstrade’s huge selection of stocks and over 2,200 ETF’s + Options all trade commission-free at $0, add to that an excellent platform and you have our winner.
Important Announcement: In 2018, Firstrade made the extremely bold move to commission-free trades. Firstrade was already our 2018 review winner and had amongst the lowest commissions in the industry, now they have officially the lowest in the industry with $0 commissions & fees. Although major competitors like TD Ameritrade, E-Trade & Schwab have in 2019 moved to no commission stock trades, Firstrade still leads the pack as you will see in our commission’s breakdown.
Previously their commissions per stock trade were below $3.-. Their Options trades were also excellent at only $2.95 + $0.50 per contract, but now its all free stock & options trades.
What really stands out though is the unique offering of over 2,200 commission-free Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’S) on offer. That is over twice as many as the next best competitor TD Ameritrade.
You also get completely cost-free access to the suite of Morning Star research, only 3 other brokers offer free research of this quality.
Also, the Firstrade Trading Platforms Firstrade Navigator, Options Wizards, and Real-time Watchlists hold up well against the competition.
And finally a 5-Star Customer Satisfaction Rating rounds of the package, for an excellent Brokerage for mid to long-term investors.
|★ $0 ZERO Commissions & $0 Fees|
★ 2,200+ Commission-Free ETFs
★ Free MorningStar Research
★ Excellent Customer Satisfaction
★ International Broker
|✘ Slightly High Margin Rates|
Firstrade – Fees & Commissions
Firstrade is still the outright winner in the commissions’ war with a $0 flat fee per trade and $0 per options trade and $0 per contract.
But what also adds to the appeal with Firstrade is the 2,200+ commission-free Exchange Traded Funds on offer. This is a huge selection, more than the total for all the other brokers reviewed in our Top 10 Brokers Review.
You can purchase Mutual Funds for $0 and Bond purchases are on a Net Yield Basis.
The only thing you cannot trade with Firstrade is Forex.
Firstrade Fee & Commissions vs. TD Ameritrade vs. E-Trade vs. Schwab vs. Fidelity
|Commissions & Fees||Firstrade||TD Ameritrade||E*Trade||Charles Schwab||Fidelity|
|Online Stock Orders||$0||$0||$0||$0||$4.95|
|Online Option Orders||$0||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract|
|Online Mutual Fund Trades||$0||$49.99||$49.99||$49.95||$49.95|
|& Options Trades||(+$0.50/contract)||(+$0.65/contract)||(+$0.65/contract)||(+$0.65/contract)||(+$0.65/contract)|
|Minimum Initial Deposit||$0||$0||$500||$0||$0|
Table 1: Firstrade Commissions vs Competitors
You can see that Firstrade has a very strong focus on having the best commissions in the industry. Even though TD Ameritrade, E-Trade & Schwab have now in 2019 been forced to join the $0 Zero commissions bandwagon, Firstrade still offers the best value.
Options Trading Fees Comparison – Firstrade vs. IB vs. Fidelity vs TDA vs E-Trade vs Schwab
|Commissions||Firstrade||Interactive Brokers||Fidelity||TD Ameritrade||E*Trade||Charles Schwab|
|Online Stock Orders||$0||$0||$4.95||$0||$0||$0|
|Online Option Orders||$0||$1 + $0.50/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract||$0 + $0.65/Contract|
Table 2: Stock Trades & Options Trade Fees
Specifically taking a look at broker fees for the 6 big players, Firstrade manages to maintain the lead even against Interactive Brokers (IB). Interactive Brokers also recently moved to $0 Zero fees for retail trades in North America, but still maintains a fixed fee of $1 per trade and a blended rate of $0.50 per contract.
Firstrade Commission Free ETFs & Mutual Funds
|Number of Commission-Free ETFs||2200+||300+||93||200+|
|Number of ETF providers||100||8||2||13|
Table 3: No Fee ETF Selection
Exchange-Traded Funds, usually play a role in any well-balanced portfolio. This is what I also appreciate with Firstrade, the fact that all “loaded” and “no-load” funds are actually zero fees. With over 2,200 funds to choose from, the selection will meet most people’s needs.
Also part of the package is the Morningstar investment research service, which will keep you up-to-date with developments in the funds and the fund performance.
Firstrade Margin & Financing Commissions vs TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity vs E-Trade vs Interactive Brokers
Online Options orders have zero commission while the major competitors still charge $0.65 per contract. Firstrade also has the largest selection of free to trade ETFs and Mutual Funds.
|Margin Balance||Firstrade||TD Ameritrade||Fidelity||E*Trade||Interactive Brokers|
|$500,000 ~ $999,999||5.60%||8.25%||5.25%||8.00%||4.35%|
|$250,000 ~ $499,999||7.50%||8.25%||7.58%||8.50%||4.35%|
|$100,000 ~ $249,999||7.75%||8.50%||7.83%||9.00%||4.35%|
|$50,000 ~ $99,999||8.25%||8.75%||7.88%||9.50%||4.35%|
|$25,000 ~ $49,999||8.75%||9.75%||8.83%||10.00%||4.35%|
|$10,000 ~ $24,999||9.00%||10.00%||9.33%||10.25%||4.35%|
|$0 ~ $9,999||9.25%||10.25%||9.33%||10.50%||4.35%|
Table 4: Firstrade Margin Rates vs. Competitors
Firstrade goes head to head with the major competitors on margin rates also. Firstrades financing rates are at least 1% to 2% lower on every tier of funding versus TD Ameritrade, Fidelity or E-Trade. However, if margin is absolutely critical to your trading, Interactive Brokers is still the industry leader with 4.35% across the board for an IBKR Lite account, if you open a PRO account you will get on average 3.35% or less depending on your balance.
In summary, the Margin Commissions fees are higher compared to Interactive Brokers, but still a lot lower than TD Ameritrade and the other mainstream retail brokers.
Firstrade Trading Platforms
Firstrade has completely rebuilt its trading platform from scratch, and the improvement is dramatic. Gone are clunky java programs, replaced by a fast HTML 5.0 platform. This platform is future-proofed and highly scalable. The user experience is clean, intuitive and easy to learn.
Also, what we like is its price – Free
The trading platform has a number of components. The web-based platform is available for all clients. If you have an account balance over $10,000 you will have complimentary access to download the Firstrade Navigator software, this is a very powerful trading experience that runs locally on your PC or Mac.
New for 2019 is the Firstrade App for Android & IOS with 2 cool features:
- Swipe left to quickly Buy or Sell right from the Positions page or Watchlist
- Face ID and fingerprint recognition feature ensures that you’re the only one who can access your account
Firstrade Web Trading Platform – Heatmap & Sector & Industries Tool
To be able to find a potential opportunity to trade, you can start with the big-picture view of the market and drill down from there. The heatmap is designed for short-term traders who need to see where the price action and volatility are on any given day.
Alternatively, you can utilize the sectors and industries tool to evaluate past performance and select a sector to review in more depth.
Web Trading Platform – Advanced Screener, Fundamental Data & Event Calendar
No product set would be complete without the ability to scan and screen for stocks based on the fundamental data. Firstrade attempt at this is pretty good. It does not match the offerings from TradingView or TC2000, but it is adequate for most investors.
A new event calendar is also available, which is neatly broken into tabs for Earnings Announcements, Dividends, Ratings Changes, Economic Indicators, IPOs & Splits.
Web Trading – OptionsPlay
Firstrade has put a lot of effort into the Options Trading Platform OptionsPlay. A first-class platform that focuses first on what kind of options strategy you want to implement. You can drill down through industries and sectors and you instantly get a technical analysis for the stock, the bullish or bearish score. You can even sort your watchlist based on the bullish or bearish score.
The image to the right shows the OptionsPlay Bullish and Bearish Ratings based on three scenarios based on if you are feeling bullish or bearish about the stock or index.
- Strategy 1 – Selling 100 Shares of the stock – A Bearish Strategy – Cost would be $6764 – with a mediocre score of 96 for the trade
- Strategy 2 – Buy the June 9th Put Options – Bearish – Cost $185 – Low probability Rating of 74
- Strategy 3 – Buy June 9th Put Vertical – Bearish – Cost $147 – High Probability Rating of 104
I really like the implementation here, simple and implementable.
Firstrade OptionsPlay Trading Platform Walk-through
See how the whole OptionsPlay functionality works in the image below to get an overview of the functionality.
Firstrade Optionsplay Dashboard Walkthrough
- Immediate feedback into the 1 month and 6-month trend for the stock.
- This particular fund is has a rating of 88 for a bullish strategy, but only a 35 rating for a bullish options strategy. The beauty of this is you can compare where you should buy the stock or utilize an options strategy.
- The ability to then sort your list on the strongest score is excellent functionality
- Finally, the Profit & Loss simulator is really good as it enables you to try to predict what your profits would be depending on how much you invest in the strategy.
Watch the “Options Wizards Platform Walkthrough” Video from Firstrade
See OptionsPlay in action in this detailed video
Firstrade Navigator is a well designed and powerful system with a lot of important information instantly available, this allows you to drill down into the details.
It is very customizable and also has a selection of widgets that you can embed into the dashboard. Studies and stock chart indicators are of course also included.
This is relatively newly developed and I expect more and more functionality to be released in the near term.
Firstrade Customer Support
Firstrade does very well in this round. They provide a full email, chat and telephone coverage and are quick to answer. They have also had zero negative tweets or negative TrustPilot reviews in the last 12 months. Additionally, customers rave about the service which is unusual, this means a 5-star customer satisfaction rating.
What I also like is they throw into the mix free access to Zacks Research, Morningstar Research & Ratings, Breifing.com & Benzinga (although not the real-time Benzinga PRO version). These third-party services are quite valuable and considering Firstrade offers very zero commissions they also add value through these services.
Brokerage Regulation & Account Minimum
Is the company well established, well funded and well regulated? This is the main object of this round of comparisons.
Any U.S. based Broker should be a member of the following institutions.
Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) Membership.
FINRA is a nonprofit organization established to protect investors and ensure that the members are complying with the law and the Securities and Exchange Commission rules. They audit all members regularly.
Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) Membership.
The SIPC is there to protect and hopefully recover any money lost if a Brokerage firm fails. Although Broker failure is rare, it can happen and SIPC membership ensures that your account is protected up to $500,000.
Firstrade has all the protection required in the U.S.A, they are fully registered in the FINRA Database and have SIPC insurance.
Firstrade Discount Broker Review USA – Master Data Sheet
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Read our Review of the Best US Online Stock Brokers Comparison, or our Best Penny Stock Brokers or Best Brokers In-Depth Review
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- TC2000 Brokerage Broker Review
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Notes on the Review
Customer Satisfaction Score (Star Ratings)
The customer satisfaction score was compiled using the following methodology.
The Twitter Accounts of the Brokers was scanned back for the 1 year for any negative feedback from customers. Also, TrustPilot UK and USA were reviewed and any negative comments counted against the broker. These two sources of information were combined to provide the star rating you see below.
★★★★★ – No Complaints & Positive Recommendations (1 year)
★★★★ – No Complaints (1 year)
★★★ – < 10 Complaints (1 year)
★★ – 10 to 20 Complaints (1 year)
★ – > 20 Complaints (1 year)
Partnerships & Special Bonus
Liberated Stock Trader has partnerships with most of the service providers in this review. This means if you find the review useful and purchase any of the services mentioned we will receive a small payment which goes towards funding the research and work we do.As a thank you for using our reviews and purchasing any of the services mentioned we would like to offer you a special bonus of the highly rated Liberated Stock Trader "How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash" eBook and Video Course worth $29.-. Simply contact us specifying which service you signed up for and we will send you your gift.
Over 2000 data points were collected during this review. Brokers change services, terms, and commissions on a regular basis. If you represent a Brokerage House or are a client and you spot an inaccuracy, please leave a comment or contact us here and we will endeavor to correct it.