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Written by Matthew Cerminaro on January 5, 2021
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How Does Firstrade Work For Beginners?

Online brokers can only be beneficial if you understand how to use them and overall how they work. With so many different features and aspects of today's tech-savvy online brokers, it is important to take a step back and ask the question "how does it work?" We at Investing Simple want to help you answer this question. 

By providing a high-level overview of Firstrade including how it works, its features, safety, and how the broker makes money, we hope you gain a better understanding of the platform! So without further ado, let's get started analyzing the online broker, Firstrade! 


What is Firstrade? 

Firstrade is a broker that offers online $0 commission trading capabilities on stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs while on a highly technical trading platform. Committed to excellence and low costs, Firstrade is a superstar in the trading services industry. 

A Leading Online Broker 

From the outside looking in, Firstrade can simply be classified as an online broker. But those who give the broker a shot and experience some of its fantastic features will find that Firstrade stands out amongst its peers. Don't believe me? You can open an account for free! But, before making the leap of faith onto the platform, it is first important to understand how Firstrade really works. Let's take a look. 

How Does Firstrade Work? 

The process of opening an account is made as easy as possible by Firstrade. With easy account opening procedures and maintaining a low fees, Firstrade appeals to both beginners and veterans involved in the investing game. 

Easy Account Opening Process 

To open an account, simply fill out the online forms on the company website and send Firstrade the online forms via email or print and send as documents. You don't need to commit any money when opening a Firstrade account! The process is completely free. After you submit your forms, expect to wait at a maximum of five business for approval. If there are any complications, Firstrade will reach out immediately to get them sorted out. 

Setup Initial ACH Profile Online 

The process of setting an ACH Profile for your Firstrade account can be summarized in 3 steps: 

  1. Download Firstrade's "Electronic Funds Transfer (ACH) Agreement" and fill out your personal information 
  2. Add a bank statement or voided check to your profile to ensure the validity of your bank provider 
  3. Fax or email these documents to Firstrade, email: [email protected] Fax: 1-718-961-3919

Fund Your Account 

Once your account is open, it is time to fund it. Remember that this is optional, there is in no way an obligation to put money into your account! If you are interested in trading, however, this step is required. You have two options: an ACH transfer or a Wire Transfer. ACH transfers allow you to directly deposit money from your bank account to your brokerage account. There will be a settlement period when this money arrives, typically between 2-3 business days. Wire transfers are similar to ACH, but these funds typically can be accessed immediately. You do not need a set up for wire transfers. 

firstrade advantage

Get Educated

While some of you may be seasoned veterans in the investing game, beginners should not trade without proper education. Lucky for you, Firstrade has educational resources for free on its website! Whether you want to learn about the basics of stocks, order types to optimize profits, managing risk, options, and so much more, Firstrade has you covered. 

Start Trading 

Now it's time for the fun part, starting to trade! Whether you are planning on holding for life or instead trading securities in short time intervals, Firstrade supports both initiatives! Choose from Firstrade's thousands of stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options that it offers on its platform. And, begin to explore some of Firstrade's features that make it truly stand out including its $0 commission trading policy, tactical trading platform, and so much more. Speaking of features, let's take a look at some of the most notable ones now. 

Be Patient 

Remember, investing is a long-haul game. As Warren Buffet famously said, the best holding time for a stock is forever. If you lose early, be patient and understand it takes time and experience to become a great investor. You may want to start small in the beginning to begin learning and increase your position sizes as you learn more. Whichever way you decide, simply remember that patience is the name of the game when it comes to investing, and sitting tight on your investments through thick and thin has been proven to produce the best results! 

Firstrade Features 

The process of opening an account seems easy enough, but what about Firstrade's actual features? What are they like? Questions you may be asking, and questions that will be answered as we take a deep dive into Firstrade's features! 

$0 Commissions 

Firstrade's most unique feature is its low-cost pricing model for trading. You can trade stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs on Firstrade all with no extra commissions. This lets you keep your cost down when investing and overall increase your potential return. While some brokers offer no commissions on stocks and ETFs, it is rare to find one with no commissions on options as well! Do this all on Firstrade's tactical trading platform which (you guessed it) can be downloaded free of charge. 

$0 Account Minimum 

Among Firstrade's most convenient features is its $0 account minimum. This means you can open up an account with Firstrade seamlessly, check out some of its features, and if you don't like it, ditch it! You don't have to put any money down in this process and it gives you a chance to check out the platform for yourself. Don't take it from me, open an account for yourself, and see how you like it! No risk and no harm is done if it's not for you. 

Firstrade UI

Tactical Trading Platform 

Firstrade offers a tactical trading platform for its users to make trades on. Here you will find charts, tools for technical analysis, important news flow, and many other features that will give you an edge in the market. Technical analysis is a tool often used by professional investors to find entry and exit points for stocks when trading. I recommend you take full advantage of these tools if you decide to open an account! And, if you don't fully understand technical analysis but want to learn more, you can visit Firstrade's educational platform to begin learning! 

IRA Calculator 

Firstrade gives its users the choice to open traditional, Roth, and Rollover IRA accounts with the supplement of a contribution calculator. Saving for retirement is extremely important, and an IRA account allows you to do it in the most efficient tax-free way possible. This is where the IRA calculator comes in. Select your age, contribution per year, the age that you want to retire, rate of return (10% is the standard market rate based on statistics from S&P 500), and Firstrade will do the calculation for you. 

Firstrade Safety 

Firstrade has done its best to make its platform safe. Mainly, Firstrade details all of the safety protocols that it recommends users to abide by, but infrastructure has been implemented in the platform to enhance safety. For example, there is a complete page dedicated to online security on Firstrade's website. From data protection to personal information protection, to firewall protection, Firstrade has enacted as many features as possible to protect its users. 

Customer Service 

Firstrade's customer service is very well-regarded among brokers and available in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. Firstrade's customer service associates are highly skilled and well-trained, ready to answer any of your questions. Firstrade can be reached during its business hours of 8 AM - 6 PM EST. 

How Does Firstrade Make Money? 

You've learned how to use Firstrade and some of its main features. So you know that Firstrade does a great job at keeping its costs for users low. Regardless, there are still some ways that Firstrade makes money that you should be aware of. 

Margin Fees 

The main way Firstrade makes money is by charging an interest rate on the margin taken out by its users. While the interest rates vary based on several factors, you should be aware of this if you decide to trade on margin. 

firstrade margin rules

Middle Man Transaction Fee 

Yes, Firstrade has $0 commissions on all of its financial securities, but Firstrade still pockets fractions of pennies on each of your transactions. This is how it works. Because Firstrade is an intermediary in your stock transactions, when you buy or sell, Firstrade goes to a financial institution that carries the financial instrument and executes the order. In this process, Firstrade will bid slightly lower than your order price so it pockets fractions of a penny on each transaction. Because of the high levels of volume that Firstrade can inhibit through its industry-leading $0 commission policy, the broker is still able to make substantial money due to the sheer flow of transactions daily. 

Firstrade For Beginners: Conclusion 

Firstrade is an online broker that is easy to use, beginner-friendly, all while being highly cost-efficient. The process of opening an account is easy, simply by submitting forms on its website and waiting (at most) 5 business days. Funding your account couldn't be more convenient, with instant deposits from wire transfers and an easy-to-setup ACH funding system. lastly, trading is made seamless at a low cost, with Firstrade's $0 commission policies and technical charting capabilities. 

Check out more articles like this one on our website. Thank you for reading! 

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Article written by Matthew Cerminaro
Matt is currently attending Union College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He participates in the student investment fund and is a member of the Union College football team. Matt runs his own personal finance Instagram page and market-related blog where he writes about economics and general wealth accumulation tips.

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