Firstrade – Online Stock Broker Review USA [2018]

Firstrade: Recommended for Mid to Long Term Investors seeking super low commissions on stocks and options & an industry leading 700 commission Free ETF’s.

Full MorningStar access and 5-star customer satisfaction mean Firstrade is a good choice.

There is a lot to love about Firstrade.

Firstly they have very low commissions, one of only three brokers that have pushed their commissions per stock trade to below $3.-.  Their Options trades are also excellent and only $2.95 + $0.50 per contract.

What really stands out though is the unique offering of over 700 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.

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.

p.s. did we mention the 700+ commission-free ETF’s!

Review - Winner
Firstrade Stock Broker Review
Like Dislike
★ Very Low Commissions
★ 700+ Commission-Free ETF’s
★ Free MorningStar Research
★ Excellent Customer Satisfaction
✘ High Margin Rates

Round 1 – Trades & Commissions – Winner

Firstrade is also very competitive in the commissions’ area with a $2.95 flat fee per trade and $2.95 + $0.50 per options contract.

But what really separates Firstrade from the pack is the 700+ 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.

For those remaining ETF’s that not already commission free, you will pay between $2.50 and $4.50 which is extremely low also.

You can purchase Mutual Funds for $9.95 and Bond purchases are on a Net Yield Basis.

The only thing you cannot trade with Firstrade is Forex.

Finally, the Margin Commissions Percents are a higher than with Interactive Brokers or Worden2000 Brokerage.  If you are not buying on margin this is not a problem.

Round 2 – Trading Platform – Highly Recommended

Firstrade Stock Broker Review

Stock Broker Trading PlatformsFirstrade has completely rebuilt their 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 and if you have an account balance over $10,000 you will have complimentary access to Firstrade Navigator a downloadable more powerful trading experience.

Web Trading Platform – Heatmap & Sector & Industries Tool

firstrade-heatmap
FirsTrade – HeatMap

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 is 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 put a lot of effort into the Options Trading Platform OptionsPlay.  A first-class platform which 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.

Firstrade Optionsplay Ratings
Firstrade Optionsplay Ratings

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
Firstrade Optionsplay Dashboard Walkthrough
  1. Immediate feedback into the 1 month and 6-month trend for the stock.
  2. 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.
  3. The ability to then sort your list on the strongest score is excellent functionality
  4. 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 “How to Trade Options Like A PRO” Video from Firstrade

See OptionsPlay in action in this detailed video

Desktop Trading Platform – Firstrade Navigator

Firstrade Navigator is a very nicely designed and relatively powerful system.

It is very customizable and also has a selection of widgets that you can embed into the dashboard.  Studies and indicators are included.

Firstrade Stock Broker Review - Firstrade Navigator
The Clean & Intuitive Design of Firstrade Navigator

This is relatively newly developed and I expect more and more functionality to be released in the near term.

Round 3 Winner – Customer Support

Firstrade Stock Broker ReviewBrokers Customer Service Review

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 offer very low commissions they also add value through these services.

Round 4 – Brokerage Regulation & Account MinimumStock Brokers Financial Regulations

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 commision 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.

Open an Account with Firstrade

Firstrade Discount Broker Review USA – Master Data Sheet

BrokerageFirstrade Stock Broker Review
ResultReview Winner
Great for:Mid to Long Term Investors
Likes★ Very Low Commissions
★ 700+ Commission Free ETF's
★ Free MorningStar Research
★Excellent Customer Satisfaction
Dislike✘ High Margin Rates
Trades & Commissions
Direct Market Access DMA
Stock Trading
Stock Trading Fees$2.95
Per Share Trading Fees
Stock Trading Fees (Max)
Options
Options Trading Fees$2.95 + $0.50 per contract
Leverage Available
ETF Trades
Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)$2.50 to $4.50
Number of Commission Free ETF's700
Futures
Mutual Funds$9.95
Bond Purchase
BondsNet Yield
Forex Trading
Foreign Exchange (fx) Commission $ per 1,000
Margin Account Interest Charges4.75% to 9.%
Margin Costs Rating★★★
Trades & Commissions Score★★★★★
Trading Platform
Software ProviderFirstTrade
Trading Platform CostFree
Web Software
Desktop SoftwareFirsTrade Navigator
Options Wizard
Real-Time Watchlist
Mobile Software
LII Quotes
Indicators / Studies
Streaming Charts
Watchlists
Profit / Loss Graphs
Probability Calculators
Options Chains
Trading Platform Score★★★★
Customer Support & Research
Customer Support (Phone & Live Chat)
Customer Satisfaction Score*★★★★★
Research & Trade Ideas✔ MorningStar Free
News
Customer Support & Research Score★★★★★
Account & Company Details
Available for U.S. Citizens
Account Minimum$0
FINRA Member
SIPC Insurance - Assets
Regulated BySEC
-

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

How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash - eBook & Video Training
How to Avoid the Next Stock Market Crash - eBook & Video Training

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.

Review Methodology

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.

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