Firstrade review 2023
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Firstrade: Best for
- Options traders
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TD Ameritrade4.5 Bankrate Score
TD Ameritrade still offers strong platforms and a range of research for its clients, making it a very solid pick for more advanced traders, even as it is about to merge with Charles Schwab. A wide range of tradable securities and plenty of commission-free mutual funds make this broker interesting for both new and advanced traders, as do the competitive commissions.
WellsTrade2.5 Bankrate Score
WellsTrade handles most of the basics well and could be a good fit for existing Wells Fargo customers looking to consolidate accounts in one place. However, active traders should likely look elsewhere for their brokerage needs due to high options costs and a barebones trading platform.
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
J.P Morgan’s Self-Directed Investing platform is a good fit for existing Chase customers who are looking for a low-cost way to trade stocks, ETFs and mutual funds while getting access to the bank’s easy-to-use mobile app. However, only a few account types are offered and If you’re looking to trade forex, futures or crypto, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Interactive Brokers5.0 Bankrate Score
Interactive Brokers keeps adding new features and improving its offerings year after year, and now has new mobile apps to pair with long-time strengths such as its wide number of tradable securities and access to global markets. Low margin rates, high interest rates on cash balances, and a leading number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds serve to make this broker a top pick.
E*Trade4.5 Bankrate Score
E-Trade is likely to be a suitable broker choice for many investors who will appreciate its low trading costs, high-quality research and education, and 24/7 access to customer service. However, if you’re starting small and looking to trade fractional shares, you’ll need to find a different option.
Ally Invest4.0 Bankrate Score
Ally Invest offers a solid brokerage with many of the features that investors have come to love, especially no-commission trades on stocks and ETFs, but it ups the game with low-cost options trades, too. All-hours customer support and an all-encompassing mobile app will make sure you get business done on your terms, though mutual fund investors may be a bit disappointed.
Merrill Edge4.5 Bankrate Score
Merrill Edge brings strong research and education to the investing space, offering a solid trading platform for stocks, bonds, options and funds. You’ll likely find some extra things to love here if you’re already a customer of parent Bank of America, with 24/7 phone support and in-branch service potentially making that relationship even more meaningful to clients.
Fidelity5.0 Bankrate Score
Fidelity Investments is back again with another blowout performance in Bankrate’s reviews. This broker seems to do it all right, from low costs to plenty of research to mutual funds to prompt and courteous customer service. And with so much under the Fidelity roof – banking, credit cards and more – you could capably run your financial life here.
Charles Schwab5.0 Bankrate Score
Charles Schwab is a great all-around broker, whether you’re just getting started investing or are more advanced, and it can bring the heat on almost anything you’re likely to need. Add on strong customer support, a wide investment selection, no-commission mutual funds, and tons of research, and you have the makings of a five-star broker.
Webull4.0 Bankrate Score
Webull offers a lot that investors will like such as commission-free trading, fractional shares and a slick mobile app that allows you to trade on the go or keep tabs on your favorite stocks. But only a few account types are offered and you won’t find the level of research that is available through other brokers.
Robinhood3.5 Bankrate Score
Robinhood has taken its game up a notch or two, pairing its traditional no-cost trading with new IRA accounts (and a special bonus match for clients) as well as improvements in customer service, including 24/7 chat. The mobile app remains an attractive place for options traders but is a no-go for those looking for mutual funds or a wide range of account types.
Vanguard3.0 Bankrate Score
Vanguard’s brokerage offering can handle the basics well and may be a good fit for long-term fund investors. But more active traders will be disappointed by the basic trading platform and high commissions for options trading.
TradeStation3.5 Bankrate Score
TradeStation’s brokerage offering is likely to suit active traders better than it does new investors or those just looking to save for retirement. Customers will get an advanced trading platform with low commissions, but you won’t find fractional shares and the mutual fund offering is limited.
SoFi Active Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
SoFi Active Investing is a low-cost broker that should meet the needs of new investors looking to only trade stocks and ETFs. More experienced investors may be disappointed by the lack of options or mutual fund trading and a limited research offering.
moomoo3.0 Bankrate Score
Moomoo joins a crowded field of discount brokerages with an appeal to individual traders, offering some atypical features, including access to U.S., Hong Kong and Chinese markets. Competitive pricing on stocks, ETFs and options will prove welcome with traders, though others may find the lack of account types, limited available securities and high transfer fees off-putting.
Zacks Trade3.5 Bankrate Score
Zacks Trade is a broker that should appeal to active traders with its advanced trading platform and ample research offering. New investors may be turned off by the high account minimum and fees for mutual fund trades.
Lightspeed3.0 Bankrate Score
Lightspeed is all about active traders who can deliver volume to the broker, and so everything is optimized around making the experience the best for them. That means discounted prices for high-volume trades and multiple high-power trading platforms, but it also means no concern for eliminating the nickel-and-dime costs that other brokers routinely slash.
tastytrade3.5 Bankrate Score
Tastytrade offers some of the lowest commissions around, whether you’re trading stocks, options or even cryptocurrency – and it actually caps your commissions on the latter two. Traders should find a lot to like here, among the commissions, trading platform and the variety of trading securities on offer, though long-term investors may bemoan the lack of mutual funds.