Generic Trade is the first online futures broker I have seen to create obvious transparency for traders when they go to the company’s website to get more details. The website is somewhat basic and straight to the point – no bells, no whistles.

Commission Rates

Commodity traders love low commissions and that is normally one of the first things they check when they look at an online futures broker. The commission rate is 59 cents per side plus exchange fees. They provide a link right next to the commission rate to check the total fees on each market. On the popular E-mini S&P futures contract, the total round turn cost is $3.50, which beats most brokers. However, you do have to factor in the $59 monthly cost if you want use the Firetip trading platform.Rates on other markets and futures options are also at the low end of the scale compared to other discount brokers. The small retail trader will have a dificult time finding a better commission rate, but large and very active traders can find slightly better rates at a few online brokers.

Trading Platforms

Generic Trade has two trading platforms available. The first is a web based platform that is very generic, as many are. It has realtime quotes and charts (must be refreshed) at no cost, news and the normal portfolio information. Trades can be placed and monitored through the online platform. I wouldn’t want to use it to actively trade futures, but I’m told that some active traders like to use it. There is no cost for the web based platform.

The other trading platform is the desktop version called Firetip. This trading platform works very well and has most of the features traders want. There is a $59 monthly fee for Firetip, which you have to factor into your trading costs. Many brokers charge a platform fee and some waive it if you do enough trades each month. The $59 monthly fee does cover the exchange fees for realtime quotes from the exchanges. That alone can often cost well over $100 a month for multiple markets.

Traders who choose to use the Firetip platform also have access to the online platform. This is a nice feature where you can check futures quotes and charts, get portfolio updates and place trades from any computer with internet access.