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- Firstrade is an online brokerage providing various investment and retirement accounts for both US-based and international investors.
- Firstrade offers commission-free trading on everything, including stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds.
- The brokerage also provides customer service and online trading for Chinese-speaking investors.
- Firstrade is best for DIY investors and active traders looking for low costs; it doesn’t offer any automated or advisor-assisted accounts.
- Click here to open an account with Firstrade.
Firstrade is a discount online brokerage offering investing, retirement, custodial, and cash management accounts for active traders and investors. But it doesn’t stop there. The brokerage also lets you trade almost all of its investment products for free, and this applies to both US-based and international investors.
As for pricing, Firstrade charges $0 for all stock, ETF, option, and mutual fund trades. It offers more than 2,200 commission-free ETFs and 3,400 commission-free mutual funds, and you’ll only run into fees for some of the brokerage’s fixed income investments (for example, primary market CDs cost $30). And while most brokerages typically charge $0.50 to $0.65 for options contracts, Firstrade charges $0. Firstrade is also the only brokerage that charges $0 for all mutual funds.
Firstrade offers international trading in more than 65 regions, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and more. And the brokerage even provides toll-free customer support and online trading for Chinese-speaking customers.
Like many other brokerages, Firstrade also provides investment research and analysis. In addition to its education articles, the company gives you access to free research from Morningstar, Zacks, Benzinga, and Briefing.com.
Firstrade’s four trading platforms — the web platform, mobile app, Options Wizard, and Firstrade Navigator — all offer access to account information, investment performance, and market data. However, Options Wizard specifically offers tools and insights to simplify options trading. Firstrade Navigator lets you manage all of your trades, orders, and account balances on one screen.
This brokerage is a competitive option for active traders, mutual fund investors, options investors, stock and ETF traders, and international investors. Firstrade offers something that most brokers don’t: commission-free trades on everything. And if you ever lose internet connection or need help purchasing an investment, broker-assisted trades only cost you up to $19.95 (Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade both charge $25 for broker-assisted trades).
One downside to consider is that Firstrade doesn’t offer any automated or professionally managed investing accounts. Brokerages like Merrill Edge and TD Ameritrade offer both self-directed and automated investing accounts, but Firstrade primarily caters to active investors.
You also won’t have access to 24/7 customer service or specialty investments like cryptocurrency, futures, and precious metals.
Bottom line: Firstrade could be a good brokerage choice for US residents and international investors looking to actively trade multiple investment types for free. It may not be a good fit for you if you’re looking for professionally managed accounts or robo-advice.
Firstrade pros and cons
- No fees for stocks, ETFs, options, or mutual funds
- Options have no contract fees
- International investing accounts for non-US investors
- Chinese language support available
- No automated or advisor-assisted accounts
- Limited investment choices
- Customer service only available during the week
Self-directed brokerage accounts
Firstrade offers individual and joint investing accounts for US-based and international investors. Each account includes commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, and options. And, unlike many online brokerages, Firstrade doesn’t charge any options contract fees.
You’ll also pay $0 for Firstrade’s load, no-load, and no-transaction-fee mutual funds. The brokerage’s other investment choices include treasury bills, notes, bonds, CDs, and other fixed income investments.
If you’re not a US citizen or permanent resident, and you don’t have a Social Security or tax ID number, you can sign up for an international account.
You can set up any of Firstrade’s IRAs without having to worry about minimum opening deposits or account fees. In addition, Firstrade says it uses IRA specialists to help new clients with rollovers.
Education savings accounts (ESAs)
Firstrade’s Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) lets you set aside money for children or designated beneficiaries under the age of 18. You can open multiple ESA accounts, and any withdrawals you make for your ESA are tax-free (you can currently make up to $2000 in non-deductible contributions per child).
You can also set up a custodial investment account for your child as long as they haven’t reached your state’s age of majority (usually 18 or 21). Firstrade’s custodial accounts don’t have any contribution limits, custodian income limits, or minimum deposit requirements.
Firstrade is an online investment platform offering self-directed brokerage accounts and commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. The company also offers international investing accounts, cash management accounts, investment research and tools, and customer support for Chinese-speaking clients.
Firstrade was founded in 1985 as First Flushing Securities. In 1997, the company launched Firstrade.com to provide online brokerage and trading services.
Headquartered in Flushing, New York, Firstrade has earned recognition and awards over the years. In Kiplinger’s Best Online Brokers of 2019 ranking, the company recognized Firstrade as the #1 brokerage for ETFs, active investors, and commissions and fees.
Firstrade is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation.
Rickie Houston is a wealth-building reporter at Personal Finance Insider who covers investing, brokerage, and wealth-building products.