Compare Firstrade versus ZacksTrade: IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of Firstrade and Zacks Trade

If you’re interested in opening an account at Zacks Trade or Firstrade, keep reading. We’re going to reveal each broker’s strengths and weaknesses, and then you’ll know which one to choose.

Broker Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Firstrade $0 $0 $0 per contract $0 $0
ZacksTrade $1+ $27.50 $0.75 per contract $0 $0


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


Firstrade: Get a transfer fee rebate.

ZacksTrade: Stocks and ETFs as low as $1 and transfer fee reimbursement.

Investment Products

Firstrade clients have access to fixed-income securities, options, stocks, ETF’s, and mutual funds. Zacks Trade customers get to buy and sell all of these plus foreign stocks on multiple exchanges.

Zacks Trade is our choice in the opening category.

PC Trading

Zacks Trade offers multiple avenues for desktop trading. The first is a very basic portal that delivers a simple order ticket for uncomplicated trades. One step up is the broker-dealer’s browser platform, which delivers direct-access routing but not much in the charting category.

Zacks Trade vs Firstrade

Finally, Zacks has a desktop program that offers many pro-level features. Charting, for example, is very advanced with full-screen mode and many tools. There are lots of security analysis tools, and the trade ticket is quite advanced.

Moving onto Firstrade, we get a website with a very good trade bar. It can submit orders for stocks, ETF’s, and options, and even do a minimal amount of security research. Other securities can be traded on the company’s website, which is sufficient for many needs. Unfortunately, Firstrade does not have a desktop platform.

Firstrade vs Zacks

This category is awarded to Zacks Trade.

Mobile Apps

The Zacks Trade mobile platform has a lot of great features. During our testing, we found an artificial intelligence named iBot that can answer some questions. Charting has technical indicators, multiple graph styles, and horizontal mode. The trade ticket has several advanced order types.


Over at Firstrade, charts can also be displayed horizontally; and there are several graphing tools. As with Zacks’ app, options can be traded; but there are no multi-leg strategies, nor is it possible to build a multi-leg order.

Firstrade mobile app

Zacks takes another victory.

Extended-Hours Trading

It’s possible to place trades outside of regular market hours at both brokerage firms in this investigation. Firstrade clients get to start at 8 o’clock in the morning, EST. The broker’s late-night period closes at 8:00 pm.

Zacks Trade clients get to start much earlier than Firstrade customers with an opening time of 4 in the morning. Zacks’ after-hours period closes at the same time as Firstrade’s.

Another success for Zacks.

Level 2 Quotes

Zacks Trade offers Level 2 quotes (for a fee), while Firstrade customers don’t get them at any price.

Zacks takes another victory.


Margin accounts are available at both companies in this survey. Zacks Trade follows Regulation T guidelines, which impose 50% and 25% as initial and maintenance margin requirements. Firstrade raises the 25% to 30%. As for borrowing rates, Zacks Trade charges between 4.7% and 5.9%, while Firstrade is between 5.5% and 9.75%.

Zacks is the better choice here.

Option Tools

At Zacks Trade, option contracts can be traded on any of the broker’s platforms. Although pre-built strategies are missing on the mobile app, it is possible to build your own custom multi-leg trade. The firm’s browser system has multi-leg trades built in; while the desktop software delivers many professional-level derivative tools, such as a probability lab and Greek values.

Firstrade customers get to use OptionsPlay. Available on the broker’s website, this very useful software program is able to build option strategies based on bullish or bearish sentiment on an entered ticker symbol. The website by itself is able to deliver Greek values plus chains (some multi-leg strategies included).

Overall, we think Zacks does a better job here.

Other Services

Investors at both Zacks and Firstrade can sign up for a Dividend Reinvestment Plan; although Zacks customers must pay for the service.

IRA’s can be opened at either firm, but only Firstrade offers the SIMPLE plan.

Firstrade customers can sign up for auto investing of mutual fund shares. Zacks Trade does not offer this service.

Firstrade wins its first category.

Our Recommendations

For beginners, we think Zacks Trade is the better pick. The broker has a human chat service on its website that is consistently staffed. During our testing, we received accurate answers. Firstrade has replaced its human chat with a robo chat service. During our testing of it, we didn’t get the same quality answers.

For long-term buy-and-hold investing (and retirement saving) we have to propose Firstrade over its rival. Same goes for mutual fund investing.

For stocks and ETF’s, either broker can be recommended. If commissions are most important to you, go with Firstrade. If software is what you need, pick Zacks.


Firstrade: Get a transfer fee rebate.

ZacksTrade: Stocks and ETFs as low as $1 and transfer fee reimbursement.

ZacksTrade vs Firstrade Summary

Zacks Trade was the overall better performer in this investigation. Despite the outcome, Firstrade is a very good choice for budget investors who search for the best value.


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