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Firstrade review 2023

Updated May 19, 2023
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Firstrade: Best for

  • Options traders
  • Research
  • Mobile app

Firstrade has a lot to offer both new and experienced investors and delivers a solid overall brokerage offering. You won’t pay commissions on stocks or ETFs, the industry standard, but Firstrade takes it a step further and eliminates the fees on options trades as well. You’ll also get access to independent research from Morningstar and other services. Beginning investors will benefit from Firstrade’s vast educational resources. The broker offers several different types of accounts, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding the one you’re looking for and you’ll be able to trade on the go with an easy-to-use mobile app.

The main drawbacks are its limited offering of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and the fact that it only offers fractional shares on reinvested dividends. If you’re looking for a wider offering of funds, consider Interactive Brokers or E-Trade. Investors looking for fractional shares and a great overall brokerage experience should check out Charles Schwab or Fidelity.

Firstrade: In the details

Broker logo
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Accounts & Trading
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Research and Education
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Customer Experience
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
About Bankrate Score
Minimum Balance
Cost per stock trade
Cost per options trade
$0 per trade and $0 per contract
Up to $4,000 in cash for opening and funding a new account
Commission-free ETFs
No-transaction-fee mutual funds
334 NTF mutual funds
Securities tradable
Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds and crypto
Customer service
Email and online help center. Phone is available M-F 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET.
Account fees
$75 transfer out fee
Mobile app
Firstrade offers the Firstrade mobile app on both Android and Apple

Pros: Where Firstrade stands out

Commission-free options trades

Firstrade customers will appreciate commission-free stock and ETF trades, which has become somewhat of an industry standard, but they will love the $0 cost to trade options. Options fees can add up quickly if you’re a frequent trader, so this feature is a big cost saver.

Commission-free trades for stocks and ETFs can be found at most brokers these days, but most brokers still charge fees for options. Firstrade charges no trading or contract fees, making it a standout for those looking to trade options.

Other brokers that offer commission-free options trading include Robinhood and Webull, two trading apps that have gained popularity in recent years.

Mobile app

In addition to being able to trade using Firstrade’s desktop platform, users will also be able to trade through the broker’s easy-to-use mobile app. You’ll be able to quickly place trade orders for stocks and ETFs, and options orders can quickly be changed or canceled in the app.

You can also keep up with market news and set alerts so that you don’t miss out on any key information while you’re on the go. Advanced charting tools are also available on the mobile app, giving you the opportunity to look into investment ideas at any time. 

Research and education

Firstrade also offers extensive research and educational materials that should appeal to both new and experienced investors. Customers looking to buy individual stocks will be able to research companies through individual stock pages and read up on company news and the latest financial information. They’ll also be able to access independent analyst reports from Morningstar to get expert opinions on companies and industries.

You can also use Firstrade’s calendar feature to remind yourself of important dates such as earnings announcements or annual meetings. Trade alerts can be set up to help you identify when a stock reaches a level where you’d like to buy or sell.

Beginner investors will benefit from a wide variety of educational content around topics such as stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds and more. Videos are available on everything from how to place an option trade to an overview of margin accounts. 

Types of accounts

Firstrade customers won’t have any trouble finding the type of account they’re looking for. The broker offers just about any account you could want to open, from traditional and joint brokerage accounts to a cash management account that can be used to consolidate your banking and brokerage needs in one place. You can even set up an international account if you aren’t a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

For those looking to save for retirement, Firstrade provides a number of different IRA options. You can open traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs as well as more obscure accounts such as SEP and SIMPLE IRAs.

If you have children, you can plan for their future educational needs through an Education Savings Account (ESA) or open a custodial account for their benefit.

Cons: Where Firstrade could improve

Minimal selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Firstrade only offers about 330 no-transaction-fee mutual funds, which is considerably less than what is offered at other leading brokers like Schwab and Interactive Brokers. Those brokers provide thousands of fee-free funds for investors to choose from, so Firstrade’s offering here is lacking.

However, Firstrade doesn’t charge a commission for mutual fund trading and investors will be able to choose from more than 11,000 funds available. There’s also an easy-to-use screening tool that can help you sift through all the different fund options.

Fractional shares

Firstrade does not offer fractional share trading, which could be a deterrent to some beginning investors who might not be in a position to afford the price of full shares of their favorite companies. You could end up holding fractional shares if you participate in dividend reinvestment programs, but the outright purchase of fractional shares is not currently offered.

The lack of fractional shares trading puts Firstrade at a disadvantage when compared to other major brokers such as Schwab and Fidelity, which have made their fractional share offerings a focal point of attracting new clients.

Account fees

Firstrade also comes in on the high side when it comes to certain account fees. You’ll be charged a $75 account transfer-out fee, which is fairly standard across the industry, but there’s also a $55 charge for a partial transfer. Outgoing wire transfers will run you $25, while receiving paper statements will cost $5 per statement. While the fees aren’t extreme and can sometimes be avoided, they eat into your account value and the returns you ultimately earn. Fees and expenses are always the enemy of investors.

Review methodology

Bankrate evaluates brokers and robo-advisors on factors that matter to individual investors, including commissions, account fees, available securities, trading platforms, research and many more. After weighting these objective measures according to their importance, we then systematically score the brokers and robo-advisors and scale the data to ensure that you are seeing the top options among a field of high-quality companies. Read our full methodology.