Now that virtually all online brokers have gone commission-free, how do you decide which one to choose? It may seem like everyone is flocking to Robinhood, but there are a few reasons to consider other brokers.
One of those other brokers is Firstrade. They get their edge from offering completely fee-free options trading, great analytical tools, and lots of high-quality educational content. In this article, we’ll go over why you might want to give Firstrade a try.
- Completely free options trading (no per-contract fee)
- Commission-free mutual fund trading
- Does not offer wealth management services
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Who Is Firstrade?
Firstrade provides free online trading for a wide range of investment instruments. Firstrade first launched in 1985 as First Flushing Securities. Today, they are headquartered in Flushing, NY.
What Do They Offer?
Firstrade provides an easy to use platform (called Firstrade Navigator) for trading stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, mutual funds, and fixed income.
You can trade through their website or their excellent mobile app. Some of its notable features include:
- Commission-free trading
- Wide-range of educational content and market commentary
- Phone support
- Extended Trading hours (8am-8pm EST)
- Ability to short stocks
- News sources from Benzinga, Morning Star, Zacks, and Briefing.com
Many brokers today offer commission-free trading on stocks, options, and ETFs. But Firstrade goes a step further by also charging no commissions on any of the 11,000+ mutual funds that are available to trade on its platform.
Some platforms like to say their options are commission-free but then charge a per-contract fee. Charging $0.65 per contract seems to be the most common. So if you bought five contracts, you’d pay a fee of $3.25.
But at Firstrade, in addition to charging no commissions on options, there are no per-contract fees. It also doesn’t charge any exchange, exercise, or assignment fees.
Firstrade provides one of the best options trading platforms available. They didn’t cut anything out on their options tools to make up for commission-free options trading. Even the mobile app provides access to options chains. The platform is also integrated with OptionsPlay, which provides lots of options trade ideas and allows you to better analyze your own options trades.
It should be noted that some options trades do require margin. These trades will also have minimum equity requirements, which you can see below.
In addition to taxable accounts, Firstrade is available for the following retirement accounts:
Firstrade also offers Coverdell ESAs and custodial accounts for parents who would like to open an account to save for their child’s education or other financial goals.
Depositing Money Into Your Account
Firstrade provides three ways for depositing money into your account:
- Wire — fastest and most costly.
- ACH — 2-3 days and free.
- Check – slowest
Firstrade doesn’t charge for incoming wires but your bank most likely will. Wire fee are typically around $25. However, if you need to get money into your account on the same day, this is the only way to do it.
ACH must first be set up through two deposits from Firstrade. Factor this time in since it will be around 2-3 to complete. Once your ACH has been set up, transfers will take 2-3 days each.
Checks will be the slowest form of deposit since you have to mail them in. There’s also the chance of a check getting lost. Cashier’s/bank checks will be available immediately but most banks charge a fee for issuing those checks.
Personal checks will be available on the 5th business day of deposit. New deposits will be held for ten business days and you cannot withdraw funds during this period.
Firstrade offers a ton of first-rate educational content for beginners to advanced traders. They provide both video and text tutorials. Some of their videos provide market commentary while others are step-by-step walk-throughs of the platform.
Firstrade’s mobile app has everything you need for trading on the go. In addition to executing and managing trades, there’s a research section. It includes the following for each stock being researched:
The mobile app even has graphs that can be adjusted to fit different time frames. It’s available for both iOS and Android.
Are There Any Fees?
There are fees on outbound wire transfers. These are $30 for domestic and $50 international. Margin rates start at 8.75% for accounts of $9,999 or less and go down to 4.50% for $1 million or greater.
How Do I Open An Account?
You can visit https://www.firstrade.com to open an account. Firstrade says that it only takes a few minutes to get your account up and running. There is also no minimum deposit requirement.
Is My Money Safe?
Yes – deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 per depositor and investments are SIPC-insured up to $500,000. Firstrade’s clearing firm, Apex Clearing Corporation, has also purchased an additional insurance policy that provides extra protection for up to an aggregate limit of $150 million.
Is It Worth It?
For those that are comfortable executing their own trades and doing research without assistance, Firstrade’s platform provides great value for the price. Compared to Robinhood (one of the only other brokers that doesn’t charge a per-contract fee on options trades), Firstrade offers better analytical tools, educational material, and customer support
Just know that Firstrade is a fully DIY platform. There are no human financial advisors or robo-advisors available to help you manage your portfolio. If you’re looking for wealth management options in addition to commission-fee trading, you may want to consider one of the full-service discount stock brokers, such as E*Trade or TD Ameritrade.
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