Firstrade

Best Online Brokerage Accounts for International Investors (Non-US Citizens)


Best brokerage firm for international clients/non-US investors. Online stock trading broker account for citizens of foreign countries.



International Brokerage Account


If you are a citizen of one of the following countries - Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom (Great Britain) - then click here and continue reading Firstrade Review below.

Citizens of all other countries click here.


Firstrade Overview


Firstrade is one of the very few U.S. brokerage firms that offer accounts to non-U.S. citizens. They recently lowered their pricing and now provide the lowest flat-rate commissions on stock and ETF trading - just $2.95 per trade. This makes them the top broker for international investors looking for an American brokerage firm.


Firstrade Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit


Firstrade charges only $2.95 for stock or ETF trades; options costing $0.50 extra per contract. Loaded mutual funds are free to buy and sell while mutual funds without a load cost $9.95 per transaction. Also free are real-time quotes, DRIP services, and e-statements.  Users will see additional fees in a markup/down format for all fixed income products and telephone trades will run a variable fee depending on the purchase

No minimum deposit is required to open a Firstrade account no minimum balance needs to be maintained. Additionally, there are no recurring fees for account holders such as a monthly usage fee.


New Account Setup


New account setup is straightforward and painless. This can be done entirely on the website which guides users through each step of the process. First off, you click on their promotion offer: Up to $300 Cash Rewards + 500 Free Trades. Once there, click the link to "Open an Account" and enter full name and email address. From here, one may choose their account type.

Also in the setup process, new users may choose between a margin or a cash-only account and may decide to add options trading as well. Live-chat and a helpline to contact Firstrade is available here as well.


Mutual Funds and ETF's


Firstrade uses Morningstar to list and describe mutual and exchange-traded funds available for trading. Users may also explore a range of prospectuses and reports while also adding funds to their "watchlist".

Firstrade has a fairly robust mutual fund screener that allows its users to screen by numerous variables such as YTD returns, total number of assets, and minimum possible purchase. While this screener can pull up all no-load funds it is unable to filter in no-transaction-fee funds. Of the 8,340 securities, 3,412 are no load securities.

Firstrade offers all exchange-traded funds all of which is pulled from Morningstar. Firstrade also can display information on ETF’s and allows the users to filter and search key-words relating to markets, prices, ratios. Screen saving is also made available.

Twelve ETF’s are available for trading free of commission. However, these must be held for one full month or Firstrade will charge equity commissions. Some of the funds available are the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Fund, VIG, and IVV.


Options Trading


For derivative traders Firstrade offers some great tools. First, a feature called OptionsPlay gives suggestions and tips for any stock. Second, there is a profit/loss simulating tool that offered in the program. Strategies for calls/puts is available near the bottom of the program on the trade bar.


Customer Service


At Firstrade customer service is made simple. Telephone service is available from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. During these same hours, there is also the option to chat with a live agent online, even for those who speak Cantonese or Mandarin. Traveling outside the U.S. should be no problem as Firstrade offers international numbers and the ability to receive a call directly from a Firstrade agent. Fax, mail, and email is also an option.

The only branch locations, however, are in New York and are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST. This makes it a bit difficult for those who wish to visit the location. They are also open select hours on Saturdays.


Trading Technology


Website

Firstrade’s website is very user-friendly. A trade bar at the bottom of the screen may be used to complete many tasks including gathering information on securities’ spreads, volumes, price etc. Orders involving limits, trailing, stops, and more can be made right from the trade bar. There is a built-in options feature that makes viewing options change and making put/call orders a breeze.


Firstrade Review


Information on a security, news, and graphs may be gained from the “More Info” link on the trade bar.

A dashboard is available near the “Home” tab which gives information on daily market trends, big movers, account information, and big news. The next tab provides account balance and position standings as well as a transaction history for the account.

Using the search tool one may locate bids, all fixed-income products, new issues, and a bond calculator.

Again, thanks to Morningstar, Firstrade users have access to market research on economic sectors, heat maps, treasury yields, and training videos.

Research on securities is prevalent on the Firstrade Website. Whether large cap or small cap, equity reports are made available via Morningstar.

Firstrade also offers a robust set of charting tools. Recent events, extended hours, trend visuals, technical indicators and studies (i.e. stochastic, MA, Williams) are all available here. As for charting styles, candlestick patterns, dot patterns, growth %, and dividend effects are all viewable and customizable. Even the cursor can be switched to show crosshairs that cover the chart or a simple circle/ball. Comparisons can be made and exported via a .csv file.


Firstrade Review - mutual funds


Mobile Trading

Firstrade offers a free mobile app compatible with all Apple and Android devices. Users can buy and sell securities, build and maintain their watchlist, and view market indexes.

Charting is available in the app and users can look back up to one year for any given security. Tick frequency, chart patterns, and technical indicators are all available on the mobile app and may be customized.


Firstrade Review - Mobile


International Accounts


Citizens of Australia, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom (Great Britain) can use Firstrade and a few customer service lines are offered in foreign languages.


Firstrade Pros


Firstrade is easily one of the most affordable brokers available with trading commissions set at $2.95 and options charges well below industry average. Other popular brokers may charge nearly twice as much to make trades.

The Firstrade "Trade Bar" is a slick tool available on the desktop website that places all the tools for trading in one place.

Firstrade waives commissions for any S&P 500 orders that take longer than a tenth of a second to execute.

Many promotions are available and are ever changing. Offers start for those who place a $2,000 deposit or more. Rebates on wire transfers and account transfer fees are offered in some circumstances and referral bonuses are prevalent.


Summary


Firstrade is great for traders with any account balance. Their low pricing makes them the best broker for international investors wanting to invest in United States markets.


Open Firstrade Account




Open Firstrade Account








All Other Countries Residents


If you are an international investor from one of these countries - Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam - then read SureTrader Review below.


SureTrader - Day-Trading Specialist


SureTrader offers a range of high-end features and tools designed for the seasoned day-trader. That is traders who buy and sell on a same, or intra-day, basis. SureTrader is appealing because it offers preferable regulatory benefits while maintaining competitive prices. However, there are some areas where SureTrader is lacking. Here we will outline the features of SureTrader and make a recommendation on its usefulness.


Suretrader Commissions


SureTrader charges commissions based on the number of trades made on a given account. The monthly rate varies from $1.95 to $50 based on the number of U.S. equities trader per month. There are additional fees for trading non-DTC eligible securities and options trading carries base fees of $4.95 plus a $0.50 charge for each contract. This charge is reduced to $2.00 base and $0.10 less on the option commission when more than 100 contracts are traded.

One great feature of SureTrader is that it does not charge any fee for simply holding an account and they never charge fees for routing money. Additionally, users will not see any maintenance or minimum balance fees. There is, however, a fee for inactivity for those who trade less than 15 times each quarter. This fee is $50 per quarter if this threshold is not met.

The customer service of SureTrader is easily accessible as agents are available by phone to take order submissions. $25 dollars will be charged for each telephone trade and every derivative assignment and exercise. Like all accounts, the FINRA and SEC charges are covered by the trader and should the account fall under 50%, SureTrader will slap on a fee for a margin call.


Technology


Desktop Platform

The available desktop trading software is phenomenal and highly technical. Once a user logs into their account there is an option to trade in “demo mode”. This is a great way to learn the software without using real money. The range of features covers Level II, call and put options, and tons of charting tools. Users can even see news right from the program, though, no video news features.

The program has an easy to use layout with multiple windows within the main program window. Traders can monitor stock indexes in the market view window and place unlimited market, limit, and stop orders at the same time. Expiration on orders can even be set down to the minute.

While the platform itself is not too customizable, the charting features are quite robust. With a vast array of color palettes, one can orient their graphs and cursors in any way they please. Technical indicators and Fibonacci patterns can be placed on or above the chart and can be adjusted to fit as needed. A big con of the platform is the inability to compare indexes and/or stocks side by side.

Training videos are prevalent through the easily accessible YouTube link in the SureTrader window. Users can train themselves through detailed instructions available online. From beginner to expert, PC or Mac, these videos have it covered.

Another great time saver on the program is the alert icon which is shaped like a bell. Users can set alerts for any sort of stock movement they wish for any given stock. This includes volume thresholds, trade price, Level II alerts, and technical crossovers. Even the sound of the alert can be customized and users can upload their own sounds!


SureTrader Review


Mobile Platform

The mobile platform is only available for iOS devices and is, therefore, only the mobile site (mobile.suretrader.com) is available on Android, Windows, or other mobile devices. The mobile application is fairly slimmed down with only four technical analysis available. Charting, options chains, Level II, news, order statuses are available via the iOS app.


SureTrader Mobile Review


SureTrader Minimum Deposit and Account Opening


SureTrader makes it easy for low income or beginner traders to use its platform. It offers a very low $500 minimum to open and maintain an account. The account activation itself has no fees and the tiered commission fees are competitive which is accompanied by several charges for low rates of use and inactivity.

To apply, simply visit SureTrader.com and fill out the online application. A PDF download of the application is also available to submit via postal or fax. The application is fairly straightforward and requires information on education, work history, and historical financials.


Promotion



Customer Service


There are several ways to contact SureTrader customer service. Namely, email, Skype, and VoIP (for U.S., U.K., and Australian citizens). For U.S. and Canadian citizens, telephone and fax numbers are made available. SureTrader has a public address in the Bahamas and will accept overnight deliveries to this location.


Deposits and Withdrawals


Another major difference between SureTrader and traditional U.S. based brokerage firms is the ability to accept deposits from credit and debit cards. The first deposit is free and following users will incur a 3.5% fee for this service. While deposits from a card are accepted, gains made through trading cannot be withdrawn from SureTrader to a credit or debit card, however, the original deposit amount can be. For example, if a user deposits the $500 minimum into their account and receives net gains of $50, they may only withdraw the original $500 back onto their card, leaving the $50 in their account available to transfer or wire to an active bank account.

To the dismay of its users, SureTrader requires a minimum withdrawal amount of $100 and charges fees for most withdrawal types. $40 will be charged for each ACH, wire transfers, and E-wallet withdrawal.

The transfer time for withdrawals from SureTrader is painstakingly slow. Plan for a solid ten days to receive withdrawn funds, three business days for the initial request and an additional week for the funds to clear.


Investment Products


While many traditional means of trading are available, such as penny stocks, standard stocks, and options, many other securities are not. Mutual funds, futures, bonds, and forex, for example, are absent.


Managed Accounts and Financial Advice


Users of SureTrader are left to their own understanding or day-trading as the program offers zero training and education.


SureTrader Review Summary


SureTrader, with its streamlined operating platform and charting features, can be very appealing to seasoned day-traders. Offering reasonable commissions, low fees, and a $500 minimum balance, the broker makes it easy for users to trade frequently and with little or no cash. While the structure and convenience of most U.S. based brokerage firms tend to outperform SureTrader, the ability to day-trade with less than the SEC required $25k is a huge reason to sign-up.


Open SureTrader Account



Open SureTrader Account


Updated on 10/20/2017.




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