Firstrade vs Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade vs Firstrade


Firstrade against TD Ameritrade - which is better in 2017? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.



Firstrade vs. TD Ameritrade Rivalry


TD Ameritrade is a large well-known broker that advertises a lot. Firstrade, on the other hand, is a small brokerage house that is not well known and does not advertise very much. And there are many other differences between these two firms. Let's compare and contrast them and see if one is the better - TD Ameritrade or Firstrade.

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Firstrade $2.95 $9.95 $2.95 + $0.50 per contract $0 $0
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Firstrade
TD Ameritrade


Technology


TD Ameritrade customers have a large selection of trading tools to choose from; and all of them are free. The first is the website, which is very sophisticated, but easy to navigate. Charting has several nice features, including the ability to save a chart. There is a trading bar called SnapTicket, which sits inside the web browser. Trades can be placed directly from it, and a small graph can be displayed on it as well.

Trade Architect is a browser-based trading platform, and thinkorswim is a much more advanced desktop platform with very sophisticated tools. CNBC streams live on both free of charge.

Firstrade also has a user-friendly website, although it has less material on it. The Firstrade site has a trading ticket that sits at the bottom of the window, like TD Ameritrade's. Both trading bars have similar features and capabilities.


Firstrade vs Ameritrade


Unlike TD Ameritrade, Firstrade does not offer any trading platforms, so the website is it. Charting on Firstrade's site includes many technical studies and several graph styles, although thinkorswim has more.

TD Ameritrade wins the first category.


Ameritrade versus Firstrade


Mobile Apps


Firstrade provides a mobile app that can be used on an Apple or Android tablet or phone. Trades for stocks, ETF's, and options can be placed on it. Mutual fund trading is not available. There are no security research tools on Firstrade's app, and it also doesn't have check deposit or funds transfer.

TD Ameritrade customers have a total of three apps to choose from. A basic app can place orders for mutual funds and deposit paper checks. The other two apps are more sophisticated; they have live streaming of CNBC and advanced charting tools. TD Ameritrade also has an app for Apple Watch, which Firstrade doesn't offer.

Firstrade fails here, too.


Customer Support


Investors at TD Ameritrade have access to customer service over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The broker offers Spanish and Chinese language speakers in addition to an international phone number for customers who are outside the United States. The brokerage house does not offer on-line chat, but there is a robo-chat feature on its website that does a good job of answering most questions. Clients who prefer in-person service will find it at one of TD Ameritrade's 100+ brick-and-mortar locations.

A Firstrade associate can be reached over the phone Monday through Friday from 8 o'clock in the morning until 6 o'clock in the evening, EST. During these hours, the website hosts a convenient on-line chat feature. Unfortunately, there are no weekend service hours, and the broker does not have a nationwide network of branch locations. Firstrade does offer Chinese language websites, in both Traditional and Simplified versions, plus Chinese language phone support. Like TD Ameritrade, Firstrade has an overseas number.

Overall, TD Ameritrade offers the better package.


Trading in Funds


TD Ameritrade's mutual fund screener generates over 11,000 products that are available for purchase by new investors. Over 2,000 of these funds have zero load and zero transaction fee. Many criteria can be selected on the screener. These include NAV return, transaction fee status, and Sharpe ratio.

TD Ameritrade customers must pay $49.99 for non-NTF funds, and the charge is applicable on both the buy and sell sides. If the fund is an NTF security, there is a $49.99 short-term redemption fee if the fund is sold in under 180 days.

Firstrade clients have access to roughly 8,400 mutual funds that are available for purchase. Over 3,200 have no load; but there is no way to know for certain how many funds have zero transaction fee because the Firstrade screener lacks the ability to look for NTF funds.

If a fund at Firstrade has a load, then it has no transaction fee. On the other hand, if the security has no load, then there is a $9.95 transaction fee, and it's applied to purchases, sales, and exchanges. Firstrade customers must also pay $19.95 for selling a fund within 90 days after purchase. Furthermore, the broker charges a $19.95 fee for redemptions under $500, unless the entire position is valued at less than $500.

For ETF traders, TD Ameritrade has over 250 funds from several families that cost nothing to trade. Selling one of these securities less than 30 days after purchase incurs a $19.99 charge, which is scheduled to drop to $13.99 in late 2017.

Firstrade offers twelve ETF's without trading fees. There are three fund families: PowerShares, Vanguard, and iShares. The broker-dealer requires a minimum of ten shares per trade, and there is a minimum hold period of one month. The broker's short-term redemption fee is a much lower $2.95.

TD Ameritrade has the larger selection and better search tools, but Firstrade has the better fund pricing. We'll call it a draw here.


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Firstrade: Up to $300 Cash Rewards + 500 Free Trades.



Commissions and Account Minimums


Investment accounts at both Firstrade and TD Ameritrade have no on-going fees, such as low-balance, inactivity, or annual fees. Neither broker-dealer has a minimum opening deposit requirement.

For stock and ETF trades, TD Ameritrade charges $6.95, which today is above average. Firstrade is at a very low $2.95, which is below average. Options at TD Ameritrade cost 75 cents on top of the stock commission. Firstrade clients pay just 50 cents.

Firstrade succeeds in the final category.


Firstrade vs TD Ameritrade - Results


TD Ameritrade (read review) won 3 categories, Firstrade (read review) was successful in one category, and there was one tie. TD Ameritrade is the winner. Despite the outcome, Firstrade would be a wise choice for budget-conscious traders.


Updated on 11/6/2017.




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