Firstrade Review 2022: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

With free commissions on trades — including all mutual funds — and a $0 account minimum, Firstrade is among NerdWallet’s top picks for discount brokers.
Jan 13, 2022

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

In addition to free stock and options trading, Firstrade charges no commission for mutual funds, a deal no other broker matches. Options traders will appreciate that the broker charges no contract fee, also a rarity among brokers.

Firstrade
Firstrade
Fees
$0
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
Up to $200
in Transfer Fee Rebates

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • $0 contract fee on options trades.

  • All mutual funds are commission-free.

  • Chinese language options.

Cons

  • No 24/7 customer support.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Merrill Edge
E*TRADE
TD Ameritrade
NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.5

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Account minimum

$0

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account.

Promotion

Get up to $600 or more

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

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Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

Full Review

Where Firstrade shines

Trading platform: Firstrade has three trading platforms, including a desktop platform, Options Wizard and Firstrade Navigator, plus a highly rated mobile app for iOS and Android.

Options trading: Firstrade is among the few brokers we review that doesn’t charge a a per-contract fee for options trades.

Where Firstrade falls short

Investment choice: Professional investors may be disappointed that Firstrade offers no forex, futures or futures options trading to complement its rock-bottom pricing on option trades. But retirement investors have more than enough options to build and manage their portfolio with Firstrade.


Firstrade is best for:

  • Beginning investors.

  • Mutual fund investors.

  • Options traders.

  • Native Chinese speakers.

  • International investors.

Firstrade at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

$0 per contract.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

$0 inactivity/account fees; $75 full outgoing transfer fee; $55 partial transfer.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,700 commission-free mutual funds.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options.

Crypto availability

Firstrade doesn't offer access to cryptocurrencies, but clients can trade crypto-based products, such as Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

Trading platform

Three trading platforms: Desktop platform, Firstrade Navigator, Options Wizard.

Mobile app

Available for iOS and Android. Access to core account functions including tracking, quotes and trading.

Research and data

Research and reports from five third-party sources; good selection of trading tools.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website).

Online chat, email and phone support Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

More details about Firstrade's ratings

Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars

Beginning investors will appreciate Firstrade’s $0 account minimum, though requiring a minimum investment is now relatively rare among the brokers we review.

Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars

Firstrade was a pioneer in commission-free trading for stocks, options and ETFs before $0 trades were the industry standard. Prior to that, Firstrade was also the only commission-free broker to offer retirement accounts (unlike the original free-trade brokerage, Robinhood, which offers only taxable brokerage accounts).

Options trades: 5 out of 5 stars

Rare among brokers, Firstrade doesn’t charge any per-contract fees for options trades.

Account fees: 3 out of 5 stars

Firstrade has a $75 full outgoing transfer fee, which is fairly standard. However, it also charges a $55 partial transfer fee, a fee that isn’t as common among the other brokers we review. Still, the brokerage has no inactivity or annual account fees.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 4 out of 5 stars

Most brokers have a selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, but then charge from $5 to $49.99 for buying or selling funds not on that list. Not Firstrade. Uniquely among brokers we review, Firstrade doesn't charge a trading fee on any of the thousands of mutual funds it has on offer.

Tradable securities: 3 out of 5 stars

Firstrade customers have access to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and options. This investment selection is suitable for most investors; however, you won’t find forex or futures here.

Crypto availability: 2 out of 5 stars

Firstrade clients don't have access to cryptocurrencies directly, however the company does offer access to some crypto-based products, such as the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

Trading platform: 5 out of 5 stars

Firstrade has three trading platforms, including a desktop platform, Options Wizard and Firstrade Navigator.

Firstrade Navigator allows you to view your positions and balances and trade in your accounts all on one screen, with drop-and-drag customization of market-related information, charts and tracking.

A redesigned advanced screener helps narrow down your investment choices by categories like high-yielding quality stocks, large-cap growth stocks, “bargain basement” small-cap funds and dozens of other criteria. Options Wizard allows sophisticated analysis of potential losses and gains from options trading and more than 40 complex options strategies.

Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars

The Firstrade mobile app is highly rated by users and includes intuitive swipe actions, a consolidated portfolio dashboard and upgraded research with advanced charting capabilities. The app instantly syncs with desktop platforms, and users can trade, transfer funds among accounts, view order history and create a watchlist to follow trading opportunities. The app is available on both Android and iOS.

Research and data: 3 out of 5 stars

Clients have access to free research from Morningstar, Benzinga, Zacks and Briefing.com. Firstrade’s Market Heatmap gives a broad overview of the market trends, with bullish- and bearish-performing sectors visible at a glance. For options investors, Firstrade holds biweekly educational seminars to help newbies learn the ropes.

Customer support options: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Firstrade customer support is available through email and phone, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

Other features you should know

Open to international investors. Beyond the U.S., Firstrade also accepts clients from nearly 30 countries, including Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand, Israel and Mexico. A U.S. Social Security number or tax ID number are not required.

Chinese-language options. Native Chinese speakers will appreciate that Firstrade’s platforms are available in traditional and simplified Chinese.

Is Firstrade right for you?

Firstrade is an innovator in commission-free investing, which is one of the reasons it’s considered one of the best discount brokers we’ve reviewed. Beyond $0 commissions on trading stocks, ETFs and options, Firstrade also doesn’t charge trading commissions on any mutual fund, nor does it charge a per-contract fee on options trades. Native Chinese speakers will be drawn to Firstrade’s platform, which is available in both traditional and simplified Chinese.

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