Best American online stock brokerage firm investing/trading accounts for Chinese, Taiwan and Hong Kong citizens

Best Broker For Chinese People

Firstrade is a well-known United States brokerage firm which is run by people of Chinese origin. The company offers website and customer service in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Unlike almost all other brokerage firms, they accept as customers not only U.S. citizens but also citizens of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. If you are one of them then click here and continue reading below to find out more.

Firstrade Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit

Stocks and ETFs $2.95
Stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds broker assisted $19.95
Options $2.95 + $0.50 per contract
Mutual funds $9.95
Treasury Bills, Notes, Municipal and Agency Bonds, Zeros & Strips net yield basis
CDs $30 for primary market CDs, net yield basis for secondary market CDs

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, ETFs
Firstrade minimum deposit to open account $0
FeesFirstrade fees
Promotion linkFirstrade promotions

Firstrade Mutual Funds

We will begin Firstrade review with a look at mutual funds offerings. Firstrade clients will find 8,340 mutual funds available for purchase on the broker's website. Of these, over 3,200 have no load. There are approximately 300 funds at the company that have no transaction fee. The broker does have a screener to navigate through these choices. It can be used to search for no-load funds. Other criteria that can be selected include manager tenure, return history, Morningstar rating, portfolio turnover, and total assets. The screener's results can be sorted by all of these criteria. Other mutual fund resources on the Firstrade website include one article on mutual funds and a glossary that includes mutual fund terminology.

Firstrade (member of SIPC) has no charge for mutual funds with low balances. However, the firm does impose a $19.95 charge for selling any mutual fund less than 3 months after buying it. Moreover, sales of any fund held for any length of time will also incur a $19.95 charge if the proceeds are less than $500, unless the entire fund balance is under $500. Funds that carry a transaction fee cost $9.95 to buy and sell. Load funds are always free to trade.

Firstrade Website/Trading Platform/Tools


Firstrade website review

We like how the Firstrade website is designed, with intuitive, clean look. We could usually find everything there reasonably quickly.

Firstrade’s mutual fund research tool pulls data from Morningstar. The broker has screeners for ETF’s, mutual funds, and stocks. The screener for mutual funds does not have an option to search for no-transaction-fee funds, making NTF funds at Firstrade difficult to locate.

Firstrade review - mutual funds

Mobile Trading

The iPhone and Android apps, and the mobile trading site ( are available with a lot of functionality. Both apps are rated by the users of the Google Play and iTunes at about 3.7 stars out of 5.

Firstrade review - mobile trading

Firstrade Advantages

  • The lowest flat-rate stock, ETF, and mutual fund commissions
  • $0 minimum to open an account
  • No account maintenance or inactivity fees
  • No annual or setup fees for IRA accounts
  • Free dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)
  • Easy to use, clean website
  • 12 ETFs are available commission free

Customer Service

Customer service can be contacted via an on-line chat system, phone, fax, e-mail, and snail mail. The chat and phone service is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM EST.

Firstrade offers customer service to both English and Chinese speakers. Phone service is available in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. The web site and trading platform are available in English, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.


Firstrade Summary

Firstrades' flat rate $2.95 per trade commission for stocks and ETFs is the lowest in the industry. Placing a trade with a living, breathing broker is available, and tacks on an extra $13.

Firstrade offers 12 ETF’s from Vanguard, iShares, and Powershares that are free to trade. There is a 10 share minimum with these commission-free ETF’s, and the shares must be held at least 30 days. One of the 12 ETF’s is IVV, iShare’s passively-managed S&P 500 index fund, which carries a very low 0.07% expense ratio.

Mutual funds that carry a load have no transaction fee. Funds that are no-load come with very low $9.95 transaction fee on both the buy and sell ends. Some mutual funds have neither load nor transaction fee (NTF program), making them free to trade.

Firstrade now offers cash management services with the required account equity of $25,000. This cash management account comes with checks and a Visa gold debit card.

The online broker does have some basic educational resources for the self-directed investor. Clients will find a glossary, videos, e-books, and podcasts on topics ranging from options to margin.

In summary, Firstrade now offers the lowest commissions on stocks, mutual funds and ETF's. We recommend the broker for equities and mutual funds investors who are citizens of China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Open Firstrade Account

Open Firstrade Account

Best ETFs for China to Buy

With China becoming a stronger economic force within the world economy with every passing year, it is no small wonder that many investors are looking to find the best ETFs for China. Buying stock in a Chinese company can sometimes seem like a feat in itself. After all, to truly trade on the Hong Kong Exchange, you must be a resident, at least if you want to invest in Class A stocks. An ETF simplifies the process. An exchange traded fund or ETF that focuses on Chinese investments allows you to invest in the explosive growth that China is experiencing without the challenges that exist when it comes to dealing with finance and business in China, like tax laws, trade barriers, and the unique traditions of the Chinese people. In other words, with an ETF, you can expose your portfolio to the Chinese market.

China and ETFs

When it comes to investing in China, investors are at a loss because they have everything from tax rules to Chinese traditions working against them to prohibit them from cashing in on a market that is experiencing phenomenal growth. One way to get this type of exposure for this market is with an ETF like FXI from iShares FTSE/Xinhua China. This ETF tracks Chinese sectors like communications, energy, construction, and banking with just one investment.

Investing in the BRIC Market

When some investors hear their friends talking about the BRIC market, they may be confused. The BRIC market encompassed Brazil, Russia, India, and China. It represents regions that are quite popular on the investment scene, and as such, there are now BRIC investments that invest solely in products and companies from this area. A BRIC ETF can help you to gain exposure to China as well as the other three countries in this block to increase your overall foreign exposure at the same time.

Emerging Markets ETF

Another way to invest in China via ETFs is to invest in an emerging market ETF. This is often a better choice for those investors who find the BRIC to be a bit limited or who want to focus on emerging markets. Emerging market ETF that follow Chinese assets are a good bet. For instance, the PXH contains Chinese stock as well as stock from Taiwan, Korea, and Brazil.

Asian Markets

You can invest in an Asian market fund to gain exposure to the entire Asian region. These ETFs allow you to focus on this region of the world while also investing in China. One such fund to consider if you are looking for an Asian ETF is the AAXJ from iShares. This fund targets investments with direct Asian ties.

International Bond Funds

You can also increase your foreign investment exposure and diversify your portfolio with China-related and other regions with an international bond fund or ETF. This type of ETF is ideal for investors looking to hedge Chinese interest rates. For creating a steady stream of income, this is also a great investment choice for the most part.

Chinese Currency Funds

Funds that directly include the Yuan are also available. These ETFs can actually help to protect your Chinese investments if you have risks in the Chinese interest rate or in the Yuan. Some currency ETFs only track the Yuan, but there are some ETFs that focus other currencies, and are known as broad or wide currency ETFs. A currency ETF that gives you exposure to the Yuan as well as other currencies in a single investment is a desirable choice here. For example, you might buy into CEW or WisdomTree Dreyfus Emerging Currency ETF. This ETF tracks the currency in sixteen regions, and includes the Yuan. Although doing business in China can be difficult, investing in the Chinese market does not have to be a huge challenge. As with any other type of investment, talk with your broker about the ins and outs of Chinese ETFs prior to sinking your investment dollars into one. It is also important to remember that not all ETFs are profitable, and not all are a good choice. Your broker can help you understand the financials for each of the ETFs that interest you, and can also help you to make a sound judgment call on which would be the best bet for your particular investing goals.

Updated on 10/13/2017.

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