Firstrade

Scottrade vs Firstrade


Compare Firstrade versus Scottrade - who is the better broker in 2019? Cost, IRA accounts, online trading platforms, mutual fund offerings comparison.



Scottrade is now TD Ameritrade


Scottrade has been assimilated into TD Ameritrade which does run a new client incentive right now.


Promotions


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

Firstrade: $0 commissions + up to $200 in transfer fee rebates.



Outline


Firstrade and Scottrade are two low-cost brokers that have several similarities, but some important differences as well. Scottrade advertises more frequently, so it's the better known of the two. The following article will try to see if one of these brokers is the better firm.


Technology


Handy menus appear at the top of Firstrade’s website. They make navigation quick and simple. A useful trade bar is at the bottom of the browser. It can be used to quickly find important security data and to place a trade for stocks, ETF's, or options. Charting on the site includes several technical studies and graph styles. Unfortunately, a chart cannot be expanded full screen or detached into a separate window. An advanced platform is available for traders who want something more than the website, although it carries frequent trader requirements.

Scottrade's website is also easy to use. Charting is more user-friendly compared to Firstrade. A graph can be detached into its own window, although the time scale doesn't fill the entire screen. Red and green are used to show down and up patterns. Strangely, users can't log onto the Scottrade website with a user-created ID. Like Firstrade, Scottrade has a trade ticket. Scottrade's appears in the lower-left corner, and unlike Firstrade, it can be detached. Scottrade also has a sophisticated desktop platform, and it too has account requirements.

Both firms offer mobile apps that are free of charge. They can be used on Apple and Android devices. Scottrade also has a mobile web site. Neither broker offers live streaming of business news or a platform for Apple Watch. The Firstrade app doesn't have bill pay, mobile check deposit, or funds transfer. Scottrade's app has all three.

Scottrade wins the first category.


Funds


The Scottrade website has more than 11,300 mutual funds that are open to new investors. Over 2,000 of these funds carry no load and no transaction fee. The broker charges $17 to buy and sell funds with transaction fees. Load funds are free on the buy side, although there is a $17 charge to sell. Regrettably, there are no commission-free ETF's at Scottrade.

Firstrade clients receive 12 ETF’s that are free to trade. The available fund families are Vanguard, iShares, and PowerShares. There is a minimum purchase amount of ten shares, and they must be held at least 30 days; otherwise a $6.95 charge is assessed.

Firstrade's mutual fund screener returns over 8,300 funds that are open to new investors. More than 3,200 have no load. Oddly, the screener does not have the ability to search for funds without a transaction fee. A Firstrade mutual fund information page shows 329 funds that come with no load and no transaction fee. The broker's 5,000+ load funds always have no transaction fee. No-load funds that come with a transaction fee are $9.95 per trade. Firstrade also charges $19.95 for sales of fund shares that are held less than 90 days. Redemptions less than $500 also incur a $19.95 fee. The broker does make an exception if the entire value of the fund is less than $500.

Overall, it's pretty even here.


Customer Service


Firstrade has representatives on the phone during the weekday from 8 am to 6 pm, EST. The broker's website also has an on-line chat service during those hours. Saturday and Sunday hours are not available. The broker does have office hours at its headquarters in Flushing, New York during the week and four hours on Saturday.

Unlike Firstrade, Scottrade has a nationwide network of branch locations. Currently, there are more than 500 Scottrade offices located in 47 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Representatives on the phone are available Monday through Friday from 5 am to midnight, and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm. Scottrade customers can also receive assistance on the broker's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This category goes to Scottrade.


Commissions and Account Requirements


Trading stocks and ETF's at Scottrade costs $6.95 per transaction. Option traders pay an additional 70¢ per contract. Firstrade is charging $4.95 for equity transactions and 65¢ for derivatives.

Brokerage accounts with both firms come with no maintenance, annual, low-balance, or inactivity fees. Firstrade has no minimum opening deposit requirement, while Scottrade customers must deposit $2,500 or more to open an account.

Firstrade wins here.


Cash Management


Scottrade operates an FDIC-insured bank. The company's brokerage customers can open a checking or savings account if they have at least $500 in a securities account first. Checks and a MasterCard debit card are free of charge. Firstrade customers can add checks and a debit card to an existing brokerage account, too. However, the broker requires a staggering $25,000 account balance for checks and $50,000 for a debit card. Both come with fees, too.

Scottrade easily wins here.


Firstrade vs Scottrade: Results


Firstrade (read review) was successful in one category, Scottrade (read review) triumphed in three categories, and there was one tie. Scottrade wins comfortably.

Update:

Scottrade was acquired by TD Ameritrade last year. TD Ameritrade plans to fully integrate Scottrade by September of this year. For this reason it makes more sense to open an account with TD Ameritrade directly and skip possible transition inconveniences. New customers could take advantage of TD Ameritrade's promotion that allows them to trade for free for two months and gives up to $600 bonus.


Promotions


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

Firstrade: $0 commissions + up to $200 in transfer fee rebates.



Updated on 9/3/2019.