Firstrade vs. TradeStation

(July 2024)


In This Article

Our Verdict


Firstrade is the victor in this difficult comparison; staying ahead of TradeStation by providing high-quality research and education resources.

Firstrade, established in 1985, is one of the oldest online brokerage platforms in the United States, offering a range of investment services such as Stocks and ETFs (listed on AMEX, NYSE, Nasdaq and OTC markets), options, and over 11,000 mutual funds.

Unlike TradeStation, Firstrade can be recommended to beginner traders due to its simple and intuitive user interface. If you’re a trader relying heavily on comprehensive research and educational materials, you might find Firstrade to be a more suitable option.

The platform also offers a compelling combination of commission-free trading, diverse investment options, a user-friendly interface, language support, and responsive customer service.

On the other hand, you may consider TradeStation if you seek a comprehensive range of advanced trading technology, online brokerage services, and educational resources that allow you to trade in stocks, ETFs, options, or futures.

By implication, TradeStation isn’t suitable for beginners considering its range of advanced platform features. For TradeStation Select, you need a minimum of $2,000 deposit. You also pay a monthly fee of $99.95, although it is waived if you meet any of the following conditions: Trade 50 contracts, maintain a balance of $10,000, or trade 5,000 shares.

Meanwhile, both platforms charge $0 commission on trades, $0 fees on option contracts, and zero minimums for account opening.

For clarity’s sake, check out the following points to see where Firstrade outshines TradeStation:

  • Offers commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds, helping you to save on trading costs.
  • Has a long-standing reputation in the industry since 1985.
  • Provides access to a wide range of investment products including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and bonds, helping you to diversify your portfolio.
  • Has an intuitive and user-friendly online trading platform and mobile app, making it easy for you to invest.

However, the decision between Firstrade and TradeStation depends on your specific needs, preferences, and trading goals. So, take time to compare both platforms—and beyond—thoroughly and consider how well they align with your specific requirements before making a decision.

Why Choose Firstrade

Who’s Suitable for Firstrade

Consider the Firstrade investment platform if you’re an investor or trader who:

  • Seek a Commission-Free Trading Platform: Firstrade offers commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds, so you can save on trading expenses.
  • Speak Chinese Language: If you’re a Chinese-speaking investor, Firstrade caters to you by offering services and support in Chinese, making it a convenient option for your preferred investment journey.
  • Need a User-Friendly Platform: Unlike TradeStation which offers an advanced trading system, Firstrade provides an intuitive and easy-to-use online trading platform and mobile app where you can research, trade, and manage your investments efficiently.
  • Use Educational Resources Often: While Firstrade may not be the best in terms of offering extensive educational resources as some competitors, it still provides a range of education materials and tools to help you learn about investing, trading strategies, and market analysis.
  • Want a Responsive Customer Service: The platform is known for its responsive customer service team, available via phone, email, and live chat during market hours to assist with account-related inquiries and provide support when needed.
  • Need a Trusted Trading Platform: Firstrade has been in the game for a long time, since 1985. Its ability to stay this long offers assurance of stability, reliability, and trustworthiness.

Who’s Not Suitable for Firstrade

Don’t consider the Firstrade investment platform if you’re an investor or trader who:

  • Seek 24/7 Customer Support: While Firstrade offers assistance via phone, email, and live chat during working hours, their support is not available around the clock. Firstrade’s customer support operates during market hours, typically from Monday to Friday.
  • Trade on Forex and Futures: If you’re a professional investor, you may be disappointed to know that Firstrade doesn’t offer trading on forex, futures, and futures options.
  • Seek a More Economical Trading Experience: For every outgoing transfer you make, you pay $75. You also pay $55 charges for a partial transfer fee—a rare feature among most brokers. If your account is unused for a long time after receiving a warning note from Firstrade, you pay a $100 fee to keep your account active.
  • Need a Professional Trading Platform: Firstrade’s platform isn’t so much a standard platform to stay especially if you love copy trading and a working algorithm.

Why Choose TradeStation

Who’s Suitable for TradeStation

Consider the TradeStation investment platform if you’re an investor or trader who:

  • Seek Cutting-Edge Trading Platform: TradeStation provides a state-of-the-art platform for your trading. You get advanced features and intuitive interfaces such as customizable layouts, real-time data, and more.
  • Want Sophisticated Tools: The platform equips you with a suite of advanced tools to enhance your trading experience. You’re getting tools such as advanced charting capabilities, customizable indicators, back-testing functionality, and more.
  • Want to Join an Active Trader Community: You can join TradeStation’s traders’ community where you share insights, strategies, and experiences with other traders. That way, you can connect with like-minded individuals who help you stay on market trends.
  • Desire Extensive Research Resources: TradeStation offers a wealth of research resources to help you make informed decisions. For market analysis, economic indicators, sector reports, and more, the platform’s got you covered.
  • Seek a Recognized Trading Platform: TradeStation has received numerous awards and accolades for its trading platform and services, making it one of the leading brokerage firms in the industry.

Who’s Not Suitable for TradeStation

Don’t choose the TradeStation investment platform if you’re an investor or trader who:

  • Prefer Deposit by Bank Card: Know that TradeStation does not facilitate deposits via bank cards, which may inconvenience you, especially if you’re accustomed to this payment method.
  • Need to Trade on Forex: Keep in mind that TradeStation does not offer forex trading options which could be a drawback especially when you’re interested in foreign currency exchange.
  • Seek Topnotch Customer Support: As reported by some users on renowned review platforms like ConsumerAffairs and Trustpilot, TradeStation needs to improve in terms of responsiveness and support quality.
  • Want Straightforward Pricing: TradeStation is known for its sophisticated user interface. If you’re new to trading, you may find the pricing structure quite confusing.

Main Differences

Firstrade TradeStation
Ideal For

Beginner traders who are not yet familiar with advanced trading tools.

Investors seeking low charges or pricing.

Advanced traders who’re conversant with sophisticated trading tools such as customizable indicators, advanced charting capabilities, backtesting functionality, and many more.

Traders who invest with big capital.


Meanwhile, both platforms charge $0 commission on trades, $0 fees on option contracts, and zero minimums for account opening.

You’re required to have a minimum of $2,000 deposit.

Additionally, there's a monthly charge of $99.95, but this fee is waived if you fulfill any of the following criteria: Execute 50 contracts, trade 5,000 shares, or maintain a lance of $10,000.

Eligibility Criteria

To trade on Firstrade, you must be 18 years old or above and have a means of identity verification such as Social Security Number, Tax Identification Number, address, and more.

Also, you must have an account with Firstrade to execute trades.

You need to sign up with TradeStation before trading, and must be 18 years or above.

If you have little capital, TradeStation might not be the one for you.

Standout Features



Supports Options Trading

Firstrade has enhanced its options trading capabilities with Options Trade Ideas powered by OptionsPlay, where you can leverage trading ideas and strategy reports.

Charges $0 Trading Commission

This platform offers commission-free trading on stocks, options, ETFs, and mutual funds, allowing you to save on trading costs.

Takes No Fees on Mutual Funds

Unlike many other brokerages, Firstrade doesn’t charge fees for mutual fund trades, making it an attractive option for your mutual fund investment desire.

Supports Chinese Language

If you’re a Chinese-speaking investor, Firstrade offers services and support in the language.

Offers a User-Friendly Mobile App

The platform has a mobile app you can use to access comprehensive features, including intuitive navigation and useful charting tools.

>>>PRO TIPS: Firstrade Review



Offers a Wide Range of Features

Keep in mind that TradeStation is designed primarily for active and sophisticated traders, providing several features tailored to your preference.

Provides Various Securities

You can find a robust trading platform with diverse securities offerings, and advanced tools that cater to the needs of your demographic.

Competitive Commissions

TradeStation also offers competitive commissions on stock ETFs, and options trades, along with trading platforms equipped with a plethora of technical analysis tools.

Focuses on Active Traders

If you’re an active trader, keep in mind that TradeStation squarely targets active traders, providing features and tools specifically designed to meet your needs.

Emphasizes Trade Execution

TradeStation places a strong emphasis on trade execution, prioritizing speed and accuracy in order execution.

Pros and Cons of Firstrade

  • Provides commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and options.
  • Offers Chinese language support option.
  • Takes no commission for mutual funds.
  • Requires $0 contract fees for options trades.
  • Extends its services to those living in 28 countries outside the United States.
  • Offers outstanding support for Chinese-speaking investors.
  • Has a responsive mobile app that offers helpful charts.
  • Offers no round-the-clock customer support.
  • Provides low-interest rates on cash not invested.
  • Does not offer fractional share trading, especially if you prefer to invest smaller amounts in high-priced stocks.

Pros and Cons of TradeStation

  • Provides great web and mobile trading platforms.
  • Offers topnotch tools for research and education.
  • Comes with excellent investor protection.
  • Allows you to customize your trading experience according to your preferences and trading style.
  • Provides a vibrant community of active traders.
  • Provides access to asset classes such as stocks, options, futures, cryptocurrencies, and forex.
  • Lacks certain features such as fractional shares and non-transaction-fee mutual funds.
  • Has relatively limited research and education resources.
  • Doesn’t allow deposits via bank card.
  • Offers no forex trading.
  • Has poor customer service.

Customer Reviews

Judging from customer reviews, Firstrade seems to take the lead. Firstrade holds a 4.5-star rating on Bankrate based on factors such as cost, customer experience, mobile responsiveness, and availability of research and education resources. TrustPilot thinks differently about Firstrade, thereby giving the company a 3.1-star rating. Forbes tends to share the same sentiments with TrustPilot as it gives Firstrade a 3.4-star rating.

TradeStation, on the other hand, did pretty poorly on TrustPilot with a 2.4-star rating. While Forbes tends to be favorable give the broker a 3.7-star rating. Bankrate, however, seems to favor TradeStation, by giving the company a 4.0-star rating.

From these reviews, people’s opinions on these brokerages differ, and everyone is entitled to their opinions.

Choosing between Firstrade and TradeStation depends on your individual preferences, trading style, and specific needs. It’s essential to assess your trading priorities and research each brokerage’s features and offerings thoroughly before making a decision.




Invest in Fidelity if you seek a comprehensive range of investment solutions and exceptional customer service. With over seven decades of experience, Fidelity offers a diverse array of investment products such as mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts.

You can also leverage Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro and Wealthscape which come with robust research, analysis, and trading capabilities.

This platform also allows you to enjoy personalized financial advice and planning services through its team of financial advisors, helping you to navigate complex financial decisions.


Go with Vanguard if you’re seeking a globally recognized investment management company with a long-lasting commitment to providing low-cost investment options and client-focused services. If you’re an investor who believes in the principles of mutual ownership and client-first philosophy, Vanguard is your guy.

Keep in mind that the company is renowned for pioneering the concept of index investing and introducing the first index mutual fund to individual investors.


Choose Robinhood if you want to invest in fractional shares in stocks and ETFs with as little as $1. Just like many brokerage platforms, Robinhood offers commission-free services through its user-friendly interface.

Do take note that Robinhood does not trade on mutual funds and individual bonds. So, if this is a crucial part of your investment journey, you can simply seek professional help.

It is important to bring to your notice that Robinhood has faced criticism and controversies, particularly related to its business practices and handling of the GameStop short squeeze incident in early 2021.

In addition to stocks and ETFs, Robinhood also offers options trading and cryptocurrency trading. With these instruments, you can diversify your investment portfolios and access alternative investment opportunities.


Pick TD Ameritrade if you need a platform that offers advanced charting tools, technical analysis features, and customizable trading strategies that accommodate both novices and experienced traders.

TD Ameritrade continues to be your preferred choice if you’re seeking a comprehensive and responsive platform.

Just like other brokerages, you have access to a wide range of financial instruments, including stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and futures.

The platform also provides good customer support through 24/7 phone and email access, with more than 175 branches for in-person help.

Charles Schwab

Consider Charles Schwab if you seek affordable and transparent investment solutions with a wide range of products and services tailored to meet your diverse investment needs.

Known for its robust trading platforms, the company offers four free platforms with no minimums or fees, commission-free stock, options, and ETF trades.

The platform also comes with a large fund selection, cutting-edge research tools, and personal financial advice offered through its team of dedicated professionals.

>>>GET SMARTER: Vanguard vs. Webull

Pro Tips

  • Stay updated on market news, economic indicators, and company developments.
  • Use stop-loss orders and position sizing to limit potential losses and protect your capital.
  • Be patient when trading and avoid chasing quick profits.
  • Utilize the technical analysis tools such as charts, and indicators.
  • Identify potential entry and exit points of trades.
  • Seek professional help if stuck in the process of trading.
  • Avoid unrealistic expectations of overnight success.
  • Never risk more than you can afford to lose on any single trade or investment.
  • Define clear investment goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon before making trades.
  • Spread your investments across different assets, industries, and geographic regions to mitigate risks.
  • Avoid making impulsive trading decisions.
  • Analyze your past mistakes and learn from them.
  • Stay curious and open to learning new trading strategies, techniques, and market dynamics to stay ahead of the curve.


Evaluate your investment needs, trading style, and preferences before choosing a platform to work with.

If you’re a beginner trader, Firstrade is the best place to begin as it provides a simple and intuitive user interface. With the platform, you get a combination of commission-free trading, language support, and responsive customer service.

Conversely, TradeStation should be your best pick between the two, especially if you’re an experienced trader. The platform comes with advanced trading technology that allows you to trade in stocks, ETFs, options, and futures.

In a nutshell: Firstrade is most suitable for beginners, while TradeStation is for experienced traders. You can do further comparative analysis on their websites to be sure what you’re choosing.

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