Firstrade

1 800 869 8800, 1 718 961 6600
Flushing, New York, United States

Founded in 1985, Firstrade was a pioneer in online brokerage and has been highly rated ever since launching their site in 1997. Pledging to “offer the most for the least,” the firm simultaneously provides customers relatively low fees and a wide selection of financial products. At $6.95 per trade, their flat commission rate is competitive, though a bit higher than some discount brokers. For this, investors can trade in stocks, bonds and options, as well as ETFs – ten of which are commission-free – and over 11,000 mutual funds. This selection beats many of Firstrade’s lower-priced competitors, although not the slightly-more-expensive E*Trade, which boasts almost ten times the number of commission-free ETFs.

Firstrade’s website receives high marks from customers and is frequently described as clean and user-friendly. Each client’s dashboard is customizable and features streaming quotes. Should the website prove less intuitive for some, however, the brokerage’s customer service receives mixed reviews from members. Many complain of receiving misinformation from representatives or long waits to receive withdrawn funds. The firm does outpace its competition, though, by offering phone assistance in Mandarin and Cantonese, in addition to English. While many of its competitors won’t shell out for the licensing to make themselves available to investors outside of the United States, let alone offer them easy-to-understand customer service, Firstrade caters to its international clients.

Firstrade recently launched a revamped research section on its website, including reports from Morningstar – the site previously lacked third-party research – and an enhanced news section. The site also expanded the data available in its stock screener, among other tools. For $19.95 per month, users can access Level II quotes and advanced charting options through the site’s X-Stream Level II service. However, former subscribers suggest that the content is still less impressive than what some competitors offer.

International customers should make Firstrade among their top choices for a brokerage. Some domestic investors may prefer a firm with lower commissions or better research tools, but others will find Firstrade’s selection of products and trading platform just right for the price point.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • "Simple and straightforward." -Barron's
  • Offers commission-free ETFs
  • Commission per trade is below $10
  • Account minimum is below average
Cons
  • Broker-assisted market orders are an additional $20 per trade
Founded in: 1985
Licensed:
Platforms: Website
Capital:
Fees:
Broker: 6.95
Exchange:
Withdrawal:
Minimum Deposit: 0

Mobile Trading

User Reviews

RubyW

There's not much of a delay in them getting back to emails or waiting to talk to someone on live chat or the phone. Emails are typically answered within two days, at most from my experiences with FT.

I had some extremely important paperwork to process with FT, and uploaded these forms onto the online form upload center. I highly recommend that you upload whatever documents they need that contains sensitive information on it in the form upload center instead of emailing it, for security reasons. It took them about two days to process my documents, and then my issues were cleared up within four days.

I spoke with at least four reps at Firstrade through phone, live chat and email.

Live chat - It's kind of unprofessional when the reps don't bother to capitalize their sentences correctly, but the reps were able to answer my questions and give me the right information. However, I did get different answers from several people (all of which were viable options, but still).

Email - Fast reply. I actually emailed them this morning trying to sell off my worthless stocks (penny stocks, thankfully) for a penny for a lot, and they got back to me in about four hours.

Telephone - The phone reps are okay. Not TOO helpful but at least they could answer my questions.

Commissions at FT are about $6 per trade. I've been a customer since 2008 and have not had really significant problems with them. They have a good resource center, and the website design is very appealing and well done.

Ted

Takes forever to get an answer on anything. If anything is slightly out of the ordinary their answer is we'll get back to you in a few days. Reps are incompetent and have very limited knowledge. Go with a better firm that actually knows what they are doing.

DJW

Joined this entity in April 2015, transferred to Fidelity February 2016. Reasons for frustration are for the most part the same as other reviews.

Yes, they are relatively easy to contact by phone or through their online communications portal ("chat") and do respond to emails within 2 days. However, that is true of our other broker and, in fact, that broker is faster to respond, if needed and always with an accurate solution or answer.

Regardless, FirsTrade can never answer even the simplest questions without "we'll look into it and get back to you within 1 to 2 business days" (sometimes 3-4 days later!). While we have had several, what may be considered, small issues, those "small" issues add up to major problems, needless frustrations and bottlenecks for our active trading and investments lifestyle.

In all fairness to this small shop, the problem may be it's size; it's too small to cope with high trading volumes or a high volume of traders, in addition to its seemingly inexperienced staff (compared to the larger houses).

If you want a firm for the simplest, the most basic transactions, for instance, 2-3 investments (vs. "trades" with "investments" defined as long term and static, versus a highly active trading or dynamic) per month then Firstrade might work for you. In other words: invest, park 'em, let 'em sit there and you may be satisfied. Conversely, your needs would be better served looking elsewhere if you are a highly active investor, trader or for other more sophisticated tools (options, etc).

David

Firstrade was my first brokerage. I picked them because of low fee's and they were highly recommended by financial periodicals. What you save in low fee's, you make up in aggravation. Customer service always seemed rushed - like they wanted to get me off the phone as soon as possible. There seemed to be language barriers with word pronounceciation. I had a lot of trouble buying a I.R.A. thru them. If you're not an experienced investor or quick learner, do not expect any hand holding. I counted 66 e-mails between us just to settle a few basic isuses. Only when my accounts were transferred to another brokerage did they call to ask if there was a problem. I told them I was disappointed in their service. If you just want low fees or live in the N.Y.C. area and want bi-lingual language, Firstrade may be a good option ( get it ) otherwise there are other brokerage houses with much better service.

SatinderPalS

Poor service, delay in response and worst quality of software. The owner should've joined any other brokerage firm before opening this Frustrade Securities. Really its not Firstrade its Frustrade...

Noby

I had been a client for over three years till this month.

1099 delay might not be helped because of tax system change. But the
"live chat" I tried a couple of times to ask about 1099 is awful. Excuse &
Irresponsibility. They didn't know when we would get that.

Anyway I transferred my account to another online broker as soon as
I got 1099.

christopher

No frills broker.

The low-cost trades are certainly a draw, roughly $7 for stocks and $10 for funds, but the customer service will kill ya if you have any problems.

They generally take 3 days to respond to inquiries. On at least one occasion, they never responded at all to a time-sensitive inquiry. Very maddening.

The online balance information is rarely accurate in real time. It often takes hours after the market closes before the information is updated to reflect actual holdings.

One feature that initially attracted me to the broker was rave reviews about its retirement resources that turned out to be overblown hype. You're on your own here. Customer service is of little help in this area and the website is not that helpful in this regards.

I like the new website's look and usability, thanks to a 2010 acquisition, but that's it.

CSH

A quick disclaimer, I work at this brokerage firm. I'm here to provide some facts.

I'm not going to give my personal opinion about the customer service, it recently received 4/5 stars from Kiplinger's magazine, and the service aspect has always been well reviewed.

On the new platform, all of the balances are displayed in real time to customers who have signed the real-time quote agreement. The balances are real time, as are the buying power calculations.

Finally, there was NO 2010 acquisition. The new Firstrade was built in-house, with the latest technologies.

Donna

Oh my gosh! I can't believe how bad Firstrade is. I was trying to rollover money into my existing account with them and asked for their guidance on how to proceed. They misguided me EVERY step of the way causing close to a month of delays. Each interaction with them was slow and like pulling teeth. I am moving all my money out of my IRA because it is obvious that their incompetence could do more harm to my account than I realize in the long term. BEWARE OF THIS FIRM - THEIR INCOMPETENCE COULD CAUSE YOU HARM.

Dan

Love it.