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With a vision of serving the local community in Queens, mainly the ethnic Chinese immigrant community, Firstrade Securities was established in Queens, New York in the year 1985. In over three decades Firstrade has established itself as an online discount broker with an array of instruments and resources which include some exclusive features.
Staying true to its vision, the website is available for trading in Chinese as well as English. Firstrade provides low fees trading options such as a stock trade at $2.95, an options contract at $0.50 and up to 500 no-commission trades or new accounts with a starting deposit of 2,000$. They do not have a minimum balance fee and the traders can get 100 dollars for opening even a low-key new account. After-hours trading, variety of market orders, selection of mutual funds and access to an array of fixed income products are among the few unique features that Firstrade has to offer.
- Reasonable Pricing
- No minimum deposit
- Diverse Portfolio
- Fast Execution of Trades
- Securities Lending Income Program
- Chinese Customer Support
- A non-intuitive mobile platform that is short of security methods such auto –timeout or security token etc.
- Does not provide robust research, idea generation, and educational tools
- No 24/7 Customer support, the service is available only during market hours
- Does not support Forex trading
Products & Fees
A variety of instruments such as US-listed stocks, mutual funds, commission-free ETFs, fixed –income markets, inclusive of treasuries, municipal, corporate bonds and CDs (Certificates of Deposit) are available at Firstrade. In addition to the formerly mentioned instruments, simple and complex equity options are available to the traders. Firstrade has partnered with OptionPlay to provide the traders with different options strategies.
The traders can experiment with various combinations and see how they score based on OptionPlay’s internal results. Firstrade also gives traders an option to enter conditional orders. What’s more? The trades are priced at a uniform $2.95 per trade even after hours, the only condition being; only limit orders are offered that rate.
Firstrade Securities Trust
Firstrade is regulated both, under equity and fixed income market under the jurisdiction of FINRA and SIPC. In addition to abiding by FINRA requirements, the broker also uses Apex Clear Corp (Clearing Firm); this provides an added layer of protection. Being regulated by SIPC, Firstrade’s securities accounts are covered up to 500,000 dollars, including 250,000 dollars worth of cash claims.
For the more active traders, Firstrade’s Navigator platform was developed in-house, and its offers integrated all-in-one screen navigation with superior technical charting. The platform also offers sophisticated orders that give the traders absolute control of their positions, which extends to comprehensive trailing stops, conditional orders and complex options strategies.
Firstrade believes in providing an utilitarian desktop experience to its traders without the bells and whistles that most of the other online brokers provide. This means you don’t have to pay to access those features. The research and educational section that Firstrade provides is thorough however, some effort may be required to locate the section on the site. It has also recently developed its own platform, called the Navigator, which has a single page layout with modules. This platform is fully customizable.
Firstrade provides all a robust mobile application to its traders, available on IOS & Android. The application comes with features such as advanced charting options, a portfolio dashboard and equity ratings for the main investor. However, we have found mobile application to be quite difficult to navigate unless you’re accustomed to it. To our disappointment mobile app does not allow access to account features or make money transfers, something that the majority of competitors have in stock.
The customer support at first trade is available from Monday to Friday for 10 hours each day and can be contacted via live chat, email or calls. They also offer a call-back option. Firstrade has thorough FAQs covering most of the groundwork.
Research & Insights
Firstrade boasts of a selection of robust research tools such as analyst reports, fundamental analysis and technical indicators to name a few. What the platform lacks are some technical analysis signals and market sentiment indicators.
Firstrade provides with thorough educational material such as instructional videos for beginner and advanced traders. These videos include tips on how to use the platform, investment products and basic strategies. It also includes material on retirement accounts, tax planning and margin loans.
The Cash Management Account provided by Firstrade facilitates banking and brokerage services from one account as an integrated system; This enables traders to trade, invest and spend one’s money within the same account. No fees are charged by Firstrade for incoming transfers. Any fee charged on wires of $25,000 or more will be rebated by the broker.
Firstrade is an online discount broker suitable for traders of all levels. Some of its noteworthy features are – commission-free EFTs and its Securities Lending Income Program, which lets traders, earn extra cash from the fully paid shares of stocks in their accounts. It is suitable for someone looking for self directive trading, but not so much for some looking at hands-off investment or more extensive tools choices.