OptionsXpress vs Firstrade

OptionsXpressIf you’re on the lookout for a new broker you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compared two of the best known brokers Firstrade and OptionsXpress to find out which one is the most appropriate for you and your trading style.

We’ve compared their level of service, platform functionality and price. So take a look at the comparison tables below and you’ll soon get a pretty good idea which broker will suit your trading strategy and experience best.

Products & Services

Broker OptionsXpress Firstrade
Rating [rating:5/5] [rating:3/5]
website Visit the OptionsXpress Website Visit the Firstrade Website
Our Review Read Our OptionsXpress Review Read Our Full Firstrade Review
Bank Deposits Bank Deposits
Bonds Bonds
Certificates of Deposits Certificates of Deposits
Day Trading Day Trading
Services Extended Hours Trading Extended Hours Trading
Mutual Funds Mutual Funds
Trading Community Trading Community

 Services Overview

This comes as a bit of a surprise but it’s the smaller broker that offers the most comprehensive services, Firstrade who’ve been around since 1981 offer the complete product set, everything from stocks to certificates of deposits (CDs).

OptionsXpress offer a lot more than just options however; they offer 99.9% of what most traders need, only missing out on CDs. That’s not such a big deal since most people I know obtain CDs from their local bank.

It’s always difficult to separate brokers by their services alone. Most brokers these days pretty much have all the bases covered. If we’re really going to separate them we need to look at trading platforms and price.

Trading Tools

OptionsXpress Firstrade
Automated Trading Automated Trading
Investor Resource Center Investor Resource Center
Mobile Trading Mobile Trading
Online Advisor Online Advisor
Trading Tools
Profit & Loss Calculator Profit & Loss Calculator
Streaming Charts Streaming Charts
Stock & Fund Screeners Stock & Fund Screeners
Tables & Graphs Tables & Graphs
Training & Education Training & Education
Virtual Trading Virtual Trading

 Trading Tools Overview

Had I written this review 18 months ago OptionsXpress would’ve been a clear winner in terms of platforms. Firstrade’s platform used to be pretty second rate, it lacked most of the things you’d expect from a modern trading platform, including stock screeners and live charts.

All that changed in October 2010 when Firstrade responded to the criticism and released their all new platform, XStream. XStream addresses most of the problems of their original platform. It now has all the tools you’d expect from a front-line broker.

But it’s still not cutting edge, it feels a little basic in terms of charting tools and advanced screeners and it doesn’t have one click trading like most of the better platforms have today.

It’s not a bad platform for beginners though, only trouble is they still haven’t developed a virtual trading platform to go along with it. So it’s not perfect by any means but it’s a lot better than it used to be.

OptionsXpress on the other hand have always had a top notch platform; Xtend really is as good as it gets from a retail broker. It’s got all the tools you’ll ever need and yet remains completely intuitive to use. I’ve used this platform for over two years and have no complaints with it.

Fees & Commissions

OptionsXpress Firstrade
Account Minimum $0.00 $0.00
Margin Account Minimum $2000 $2000
Stocks & ETFs $9.95 $6.95
Options Base $12.99 (1- 40 contracts) $6.95
Options Per Contract $0.00 $0.75 per contract
Account Management Fee $0.00 $0.00
Broker Assisted Trades $9.95 $27.00
Mutual Funds $9.95 $9.95
Bonds $5.00/bond ($9.95 minimum) Net Yield (Included in Price)
IRA Annual Fee $0.00 $0.00


In summary, if you’re looking for an all round broker to build a well balanced portfolio you could do a lot worse than join OptionsXpress. They have one of the best platforms around along with exceptional customer service.

They’re perfect for managing your IRA or advanced options trading. If you’re new to options they also have some excellent options training, including live seminars and a great video series.

Firstrade can’t really compete against that. Yes they’re a little bit cheaper, but to be honest the OptionsXpress platform is more than worth the difference.

If you’re looking for a small broker with a good level of personal service and you operate a small account, Firstrade might be worth a look. But to be honest you’ll get the same level of service from OptionsXpress without having to sacrifice any platform functionality.

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