Interactive Brokers Review 2020

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Contents

Interactive Brokers Review 2020: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Interactive Brokers attracts active traders with low per-share pricing, an advanced trading platform, a large selection of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — and ridiculously low margin rates. Its new offering, IBKR Lite, offers commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs.

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

The bottom line: Active and casual traders alike will benefit from Interactive Brokers’ advanced execution, strong trading platforms and rock-bottom pricing.

Best Broker for Low-Cost Investing, Best Broker for Stock Trading Platform and Research

on Interactive Brokers’s website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers’s website

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Pros & Cons

Large investment selection.

Strong research and tools.

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

Website is difficult to navigate.

Inactivity fees on IBKR Pro.

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Compare to Similar Brokers

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minimum trade cost

Best Online Brokers

Full Review

Interactive Brokers has long been a popular broker for advanced traders, but in 2020 the company launched a second tier of service — IBKR Lite — for more casual investors.

With IBKR Lite, you get unlimited free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds that are listed on U.S. exchanges. If you’re interested in trading other investments, including options, futures, mutual funds, fixed income and more, you can do that on 125 markets in 31 countries with a Lite account, but the trading costs will be the same as what IBKR Pro investors pay.

As the name implies, IBKR Pro is geared toward advanced traders. If that’s you, you’ll probably like the broker’s per-share pricing of $0.005 per share (the minimum is $1), advanced trading platform, unmatched range of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — and ridiculously low margin rates.

Both tiers of service have a $0 account minimum and offer fractional shares of stock. IBKR Lite has no account maintenance or inactivity fees. IBKR Pro charges an inactivity fee, though it’s possible to skirt that if you trade relatively frequently.

Interactive Brokers is best for:

Casual and advanced traders.

Research and data.

Interactive Brokers at a glance

Stock trading costs

• IBKR Lite: Unlimited free trades on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs.

• IBKR Pro: $0.005 per share; minimum $1 and maximum 1% of trade value; volume discount available.

IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro: No base commission; 65 cents per contract with $1 minimum. Volume discount available.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

• IBKR Pro: $10/month commission minimum for accounts with $100,000 or less, and a $20/month commission minimum for accounts with $2,000 or less.

Number of commission-free ETFs

• IBKR Lite: Unlimited commission-free trades on all available ETFs.

• IBKR Pro: 98 commission-free ETFs.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options. • Futures. • Forex. • Metals.

IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro customers get access to Client Portal trading platform and powerful Trader Workstation platform.

Advanced features mimic the desktop app.

Research and data

Extensive research offerings, both free and subscription-based.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

24-hour phone, email and chat support, available six days a week.

NerdWallet users who sign up for IBKR Pro get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

$1,000 worth of commission credits for 1 million new customers who participate in IBKR’s simulated sports betting exchange.

Where Interactive Brokers shines

Low commissions: If you’re a casual investor, it’s hard to beat the free trades you’ll enjoy with IBKR Lite. But even advanced traders who opt for IBKR Pro will like the low stock and ETF commission structure at Interactive Brokers, which favors frequent, high-volume traders at just $0.005 per share. There’s a $1 minimum trade commission and a maximum of 1% of the total trade value, and exchange and regulatory fees are included. The broker also offers tiered pricing to lower rates even more: Investors who trade more than 300,000 shares a month can pay $0.002 or less per share, depending on trade volume, although exchange and regulatory fees are extra on this plan. Rates can go even lower for truly high-volume traders.

Options trading , too, is offered at competitive pricing, for both Pro and Lite customers, with a 65 cent charge per contract and no base, plus discounts for larger volumes. The minimum options trade commission is $1 per order.

Margin rates: Margin traders will also benefit from the low rates at Interactive Brokers. For IBKR Pro customers, the maximum margin rate is the benchmark rate plus 1.5% — and NerdWallet users get an extra 0.25 percentage point discount. For IBKR Lite, it’s the benchmark rate plus 2.5%. Those rates apply on balances up to $100,000; the rates drop at higher balances. The broker charges a blended rate based on the size of the margin loan, and has a calculator on its website to help investors quickly do the math based on their balance.

Interactive Brokers also offers an integrated cash management feature, which allows investors to borrow against their accounts with a debit Mastercard, also at low interest rates.

Fractional shares: The ability to purchase a portion of a company’s stock, rather than a full-priced share, makes it easier to invest in companies that have lofty share prices. That, in turn, makes it easier to maintain a diversified portfolio, especially for investors with smaller accounts. For example, rather than paying more than $260 for one share of Apple, you can divvy up that money among different companies.

Trading platform: The casual traders who find IBKR Lite appealing will find the Client Portal platform adequate for their trading needs. But both IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro traders seeking something more powerful can now enjoy access to Interactive Brokers’ Desktop Trader Workstation, which is considered one of the best trading platforms available for advanced traders. (Until recently, only IBKR Pro traders had access to the advanced platform.)

The platform is fast and includes standard features such as real-time monitoring, alerts, watchlists and a customizable account dashboard. An options strategy lab lets you create and submit both simple and complex multileg options orders and compare up to five options strategies at one time.

Other tools include a volatility lab, advanced charting, heat maps of sector and stock symbol performance, paper trading and a mutual fund replicator, which helps users identify ETFs that replicate the performance of a selected mutual fund but offer lower fees. InteractiveBroker’s For You notifications offer customized alerts about events that could affect a trader’s investments.

Worth noting: Another broker we review, Zacks Trade , offers its customers access to white-labeled versions of Trader Workstation. Zacks Trade charges higher trade commissions, but offers clients free calls with support reps, who are licensed brokers. It’s an option worth considering for traders who want the power of Interactive Brokers’ trading platforms alongside a bit more personal support.

Mobile app: The IBKR mobile app, available to both Lite and Pro customers, is Trader Workstation on the go, with advanced trading shortcuts, over 50 data columns, option exercise and spread templates, news, research, charting and scanners. Users can create order presets, which prefill order tickets for fast entry. Presets set up on Trader Workstation are also available from the mobile app.

Research: Interactive Brokers provides access to a huge selection of research providers and news services, many for free, including Fundamentals Explorer, which offers fundamentals data from Thomson Reuters on over 30,000 companies, plus more than 5,500 analyst ratings, and reports and newswires from 82 companies. Other research providers available to all clients include Zacks Investment Research, Morningstar Equity Ownership, Market Realist, 24/7 Wall Street and Seeking Alpha. Over 100 additional providers are also available by subscription.

Investment selection: Interactive Brokers offers something for everyone here: Advanced traders will love the huge selection of products, from standard offerings of stocks, options and ETFs to precious metals, forex, warrants and futures. The retirement-investor set will be happy with the broker’s impressive list of no-transaction-fee mutual funds — over 4,300 in all — and respectable selection of 98 commission-free ETFs (and Lite customers get to trade all U.S.-listed ETFs commission-free).

Interactive Brokers also has a robo-advisor offering, which charges management fees ranging from 0.08% to 1.5%. The service offers about 70 portfolio options, and 41 of those portfolios require just $1,000 to get started. (The management fees and account minimums vary by portfolio.)

Where Interactive Brokers falls short

Interactive Brokers’ shortcomings are primarily due to the company’s focus on advanced traders:

Inactivity fees: Interactive Brokers caters to active traders, and that focus shows up in its inactivity fees for IBKR Pro customers. Accounts with balances of $100,000 or less must meet a minimum of $10 a month in trade commissions, or Interactive Brokers will charge the difference as a monthly fee. Accounts with an equity balance of $2,000 or less must meet minimum trade commissions of $20. IBKR Lite doesn’t charge inactivity fees.

There is a break here for clients 25 or younger, who have a minimum monthly trade commission of just $3.

» Don’t trade that much? View our best online brokers roundup

Website ease-of-use. Interactive Brokers provides a great deal of information on its website, but finding and interpreting the information you want isn’t always easy. For IBKR Pro customers, the various commission and fee structures can make it hard to quickly identify what your costs will be. Portions of the website are dedicated to institutional, broker and proprietary trading accounts, and that can be confusing.

Is Interactive Brokers right for you?

Interactive Brokers has always been a great choice for active traders, especially those who can move into the broker’s cheaper volume-pricing setup. Now, with the availability of free trades with IBKR Lite, even casual traders might find Interactive Brokers a strong contender. But beginner investors might prefer a broker that offers a bit more hand-holding and educational resources.

Interactive Brokers Review 2020

Summary

Recommended for traders looking for low fees and a professional trading environment

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1978 and is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers. The broker is regulated by several financial authorities globally, including top-tier ones like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As it has licenses from multiple top-tier regulators, the broker is considered safe. Also, having a long track record and publicly disclosed financials while being listed on a stock exchange are also great signs for its safety.

We selected Interactive Brokers as Best online broker, Best broker for day trading and Best broker for futures for 2020, based on an in-depth analysis of 57 online brokers that included testing their live accounts. Check out the complete list of winners.

Interactive Brokers pros and cons

Interactive Brokers has the widest selection of markets and products among online brokers, with a lot of great research tools, and it is regulated by a lot of financial authorities.

On the other hand, most users can only make deposits and withdrawals via bank transfer. We recommend this broker for advanced traders, as the account opening process is complicated and the desktop trading platform is not user-friendly.

Pros Cons
• Wide range of products • Extremely complex desktop trading platform
• Many great research tools • Complicated account opening process
• Regulated by several authorities • High inactivity fee
Interactive Brokers main features and highlights
��️ Country of regulation UK, USA, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong
�� Trading fees class Low
�� Inactivity fee charged Yes
�� Withdrawal fee amount $0
�� Minimum deposit $0
�� Time to open an account 1-3 days
�� Deposit with credit card Not available
�� Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
�� Number of base currencies supported 19
�� Demo account provided Yes
��️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFD, Crypto, Warrants, Structured Products, Indices, Metals

Gergely Korpos

Author of this review

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

Interactive Brokers review
Fees

Interactive Brokers has low trading fees and for US clients, stock and ETF trading is free. On the negative side, there is a high inactivity fee for non-US clients.

Pros Cons
• Low trading fees • Inactivity fee
• Low stock and ETF fees
• Low financing rate
• Free stock and ETF trading for US clients

Interactive Brokers fees snapshot

Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low $0.005 per share, min. $1, max. 1% of trade value. Free for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.
EURUSD Average Trade value less than $1,000 million: 0.2 bps * trade value with $2 min.
Mutual fund Average $14.95 per transaction or 3% of trade value, whichever is lower
Inactivity fee High $20 per month if you have less than $2,000 account balance and if you don’t generate minimum $20 in commissions. $10 for accounts having at least $2,000 account balance, while no inactivity fee for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.

We ranked Interactive Brokers’ fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let’s go over some lingo related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

  • Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates or conversion fees.
  • Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of Interactive Brokers for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared Interactive Brokers’s fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Saxo Bank and Degiro. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of Interactive Brokers alternatives.

To have a clear overview of Interactive Brokers, let’s start with the trading fees.

Interactive Brokers trading fees

Interactive Brokers’s trading fees are low. Because of this, it is also recommended if you a lot of trades frequently.

You can choose between Interactive Brokers’s fixed rate and tiered price plans:

  • The fixed rate price plan typically charges a fixed rate per contract or share. This charge covers all commissions and exchange fees.
  • The tiered price plan charges fees based on your monthly trading volume. The more you trade, the lower the commissions are. However, exchange, regulatory and clearing fees may be charged additionally.

Since the end of 2020, clients from the US can choose a new service plan, called IBKR LITE. With this service plan, you can trade US-listed stocks and ETFs commission-free without any inactivity fees.

In this review, we tested the fixed rate plan.

Stock fees and ETF fees

Interactive Brokers has generally low stock and ETF commissions.

Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock $1.0 $10.0 $0.6
UK stock $7.2 $9.6 $2.4
German stock $4.4 $11.0 $5.4

The Interactive Brokers stock trading fee is volume-based: either per share or a percentage of the trade value, with a minimum and maximum. ETF fees are the same as stock fees.

Interactive Brokers stock fees

Belgium, France, Xetra, Italy, Netherlands

Market Commission Min Max
North America
$0.005 / share $1 1% of the trade value
CAD 0.01 / share CAD 1 0.5% of the trade value
0.1 % of the trade value MXN 60 No
Europe
UK up to £50,000 trade volume £6.00 £6 £6
UK more than £50,000 trade volume £6.00 + 0.05% of trade value £6 £29
0.1% of the trade value €4 €29
Switzerland 0.1% of the trade value CHF 10 No
Spain 0.1% of the trade value €4 No
Austria 0.1% of the trade value €4 €120
Poland 0.1% of the trade value PLN 15 No
0.05% of the trade value NOK/SEK 49 No
0.15% of the trade value €6 No
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania 0.2% of the trade value €10 No
Hungary 0.1% of the trade value HUF 200 No
Asia-Pacific
0.08% of the trade value AUD 6 No
0.08% of the trade value HKD 18 No
0.08% of the trade value JPY 80 No
0.08% of the trade value SGD 2.5 No
India 0,01% of the trade value INR 6 INR 20

If you prefer stock trading on a margin or short sale, you should check Interactive Brokers’s financing rates.

What is the financing rate? Financing rates or margin rates are charged when you trade on margin or short a stock. This basically means that you borrow money or stocks from your broker to trade, for which you have to pay interest. This is the financing rate, and it can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

Interactive Brokers financing rates are low. The financing rates vary based on your account base currency and the amount you borrow.

Interactive Brokers annual financing rates for stocks, futures and options

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
USD margin rate 2.6% 3.1%
GBP margin rate 2.0% 1.9%
EUR margin rate 1.5% 0.8%

As of March 2020, the rates for different debit balances in USD ranged between 2.15-3.35%.

Interactive Brokers annual financing rates, USD

Debit balance Rate%
$200,000,000.01 – 1.39%
$3,000,000.01 – $200,000,000 1.39%
$1,000,000.01 – $3,000,000 1.59%
$100,000.01 – $1,000,000 2.09%
Under $100,000 2.59%

Forex fees

Interactive Brokers’s forex fees are average, with higher fees for the most-traded EURUSD.

To have a clear picture of forex fees we calculated a forex benchmark fee for major currency pairs. This catch-all benchmark includes commissions, spreads and financing costs for all brokers.

Forex benchmark fee of a $20,000 30:1 long position held for one week

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
EURUSD benchmark fee $17.9 $15.5
GBPUSD benchmark fee $13.6 $12.8
AUDUSD benchmark fee $12.0 $13.7
EURCHF benchmark fee $7.1 $4.6
EURGBP benchmark fee $13.0 $10.2

When you trade forex, IB charges a volume-based commission. The higher the volume of your trades, the lower commission you pay.

Interactive Brokers forex commissions

Monthly traded amount Commission Min
USD ≤ 1,000,000,000 0.20 basis point of the trade value $2.00
USD 1,000,000,001 – 2,000,000,000 0.15 basis point of the trade value $1.50
USD 2,000,000,001 – 5,000,000,000 0.10 basis point of the trade value $1.25
USD > 5,000,000,000 0.08 basis point of the trade value $1.00

Fund fees

Interactive Brokers’s mutual fund fees are average. We calculated the fees for US mutual funds.

Interactive Brokers commission for a $2,000 fund purchase

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank Degiro
Mutual fund $15.0 $0.0 $10.3

The mutual fund fees are different among ranges. The fee structure is percentage based and can have a minimum and a maximum.

Interactive Brokers fund fees

Country Commission Min Max
US 3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower
US funds with no transaction fees 0% $0 $0.00
Europe 0.1% of the trade value €4 €29.00
Global 3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower

Bond fees

Interactive Brokers has generally low bond fees.

Commission of a $10,000 government bond trade

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US Treasury bond $5.0 $88.0
EU government bond $10.0 $88.0 $10.5

Interactive Brokers charges a volume-based commission with a minimum amount.

Interactive Brokers bond fees

Bonds Volume Commission Min Max
US Corporate Face value ≤ 10,000 0.10% * face value $1 $250 or 1% of trade value, whichever is lower
US Treasuries Face value ≤ 1,000,000 0.02% * face value $5 No
Europe Trade value ≤ 50,000 0.10% * trade value €2 No
Hong Kong Government Trade value ≤ 15,000,000 0.08% * trade value HKD 18 No

Options fees

The options fees at Interactive Brokers are generally low.

Stock index options commission of 10 contracts

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock index options $7.0 $40.0 $5.0
UK stock index options $20.4 $36.0
German stock index options $12.1 $44.0 $9.9

You pay options fees depending on the number of contracts you trade.

Interactive Brokers options fees for stock index options

Market Commission Min
North America – all options
US, monthly contracts Stock index futures commission of 10 contracts
Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
US stock index futures $8.5 $40.0 $5.0
UK stock index futures $20.4 $36.0 $27.5
German stock index futures $22.0 $44.0 $8.3

Similarly to options, you pay a commission based on the number of contracts you trade.

Interactive Brokers futures fees for stock index futures

Futures Commission
North America
US $0.85 / contract
Canada CAD 2.4 / contract (min CAD 2.4)
Mexico MXN 20 / contract (min MXN 20)
Europe
Belgium €4.5 / contract (min €4.5)
France, Germany €2 / contract (min €2)
Italy, Netherlands, Spain €3 / contract (min €3)
Switzerland CHF 4 / contract (min €4)
UK GBP 1.7 / contract (min GPB 1.7)
Asia-Pacific
Australia AUD 6.25 / contract (min AUD 6.25)
Hong Kong HKD 30 / contract (min HKD 30)
Japan JPY 500 / contract (min JPY 500)
Singapore SGD 4 / contract (min SGD 4)

CFD fees

Interactive Brokers charges low CFD trading fees.

To have a clear understanding of CFD fees we calculated a CFD benchmark fee for the selected products. This catch-all benchmark includes commissions, spreads and financing costs for all brokers.

CFD benchmark fees, for a $2,000 long position held for one week

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
S&P 500 index CFD fee $3.6 $2.2
Europe 50 index CFD fee $2.9 $2.1
Apple CFD fee $3.5 $22.2
Vodafone CFD fee $8.2 $21.3

We calculated with 20:1 leverage for stock index CFDs and 5:1 leverage for single stock CFDs.

In the case of stock index CFDs, all fees are incorporated into the spreads. When you trade stock CFDs, you pay a volume-tiered commission.

Interactive Brokers stock CFD fees

CFDs Monthly traded amount Commission Min
US share CFDs ≤ $300,000 $0.005 per share $1.0
European share CFDs ≤ €10,000,000 0.05% €3.0
Australian share CFDs ≤ AUD 10,000,000 0.05% AUD 5.0
Hong Kong Share CFDs ≤ HKD 300,000,000 0.05% HKD 12.0
Japanese Share CFDs ≤ 9,000,000,000 0.03% JPY 100.0
US 500 index CFD 0.005% $1.0
UK 100 index CFD 0.005% GBP 1.0
Japan 225 index CFD 0.01% JPY 40.0
Forex CFD ≤ 1,000,000,000 0.20 basis points * trade value $2.0

Crypto fees

You can trade cryptocurrencies through futures and ETNs (exchange-traded notes).

  • You can trade with Bitcoin futures on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE). The commission on one Bitcoin futures contract is $10 at the CME and $5 at the CBOE.
  • Bitcoin and Ether ETNs are available on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. IB charges a 0.05% fee when you trade on the Stockholm Stock Exchange and the minimum amount is SEK 49.

If you want to learn more about crypto trading, check out our crypto blogpost.

Asset management service

Interactive Brokers provides an asset management service, called Interactive Advisors. It is a mix of mutual funds and a robo-advisor. It’s suitable for you if you don’t want to manage your investments on your own or just need a bit more confidence in investing.

Besides the usual brokerage commissions, there is an annual management fee ranging from 0.08% to 1.50%, depending on the amount you invest. The required minimum investment amount is $5,000.

There are two ways to invest with Interactive Advisor:

  1. Answer a couple of questions, based on which Interactive Advisor will compile a portfolio that is automatically rebalanced.
  2. Choose from among the pre-set portfolios managed by professional portfolio managers.

Non-trading fees

Interactive Brokers has average non-trading fees. There is no account or deposit fee. The first withdrawal each month is also free of charge, while subsequent withdrawals carry a fee.

On the negative side, the inactivity fee is high. The amount of inactivity fee depends on many factors.

Interactive Brokers non-trading fees

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee Yes Yes No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The inactivity fee depends on your account balance, your age, and there are waivers which might apply:

Interactive Brokers’ inactivity fee

1) First three calendar month it’s waived

2) Total assets’ value is more than $100,000

1) First three calendar month it’s waived

2) Total assets’ value is more than $100,000

*If you generate a commission in the calendar month, then it’ll be the difference between the commission you generated and the inactivity fee. For example, if you generate a $15 commission and have an account balance of less than $2,000, then the monthly inactivity fee is $5.

Interactive Brokers review
Account opening

IB’s account opening process is fully digital and the required minimum deposit is low. On the negative side, the online registration is complicated and account verification takes around 2 business days.

Account balance less than $2,000 Account balance above $2,000 Account owner is younger than 25 years old
Monthly inactivity fee $20* $10* $3*
Potential waivers Not applicable
Pros Cons
• Fully digital • Not user-friendly
• No minimum deposit for most accounts types • Confusing messages throughout the process

Can you open an account?

Interactive Brokers is present on every continent, so you can most likely open an account. Only countries with highly unstable political or economic backgrounds are excluded, such as North Korea.

What is the minimum deposit at Interactive Brokers?

The required Interactive Brokers minimum deposit is $0 . However, there is a $2,000 minimum if you would like to trade on margin or short sale. Trading on margin means that you are trading with borrowed money, also known as leverage.

Account types

Interactive Brokers offers many account types, which fall into two big groups:

  • accounts for individual traders and investors
  • accounts for institutions

As an individual trader or investor, you can open many account types. A few of them, like an IRA account, are available only for US clients.

Interactive Brokers account types

Account types Short description
Individuals Account is owned and used by a single individual
Joint Account is owned and used by two individuals
Trust Account is held by a Trustee (separate legal entity) for your benefit
IRA Individual retirement account, which is only available for US clients
UGMA/UTMA Account for clients who are minors, which is only available for US clients
Friends and Family Account for a client group of up to 15 members
Family Office Account for an individual who is a Family Office Manager
Small Business Account for small corporations
Advisor Account for an individual who manages both client administration and the client’s money
Money Manager Account for an individual who is hired on behalf of another advisor.

Besides the various account types, you can choose from the IBKR PRO and IBKR LITE service plans if you are a US resident. They differ in pricing and available trading platforms.

Comparison of IBKR LITE and IBKR PRO

Features IBKR LITE IBKR PRO
Commission US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs are commission-free, while other products have fixed or tiered pricing Fixed or tiered pricing for all products
Account fee No account fee Up to $10 account fee per month
Trading features Client Portal, IBKR Mobile and IBot are available, but the desktop trading platform is not All platforms are available, including the desktop trading platform

Integrated Investment Management

Interactive Brokers has expanded the account features for US residents with the introduction of the Interactive Brokers debit card, and the Integrated Investment Management program. Such new features include:

  • Direct debit card deposits
  • Borrowing
  • Paying bills without checks through Bill Pay

All US cash and margin accounts are eligible for application. To apply, go to your Client PortalTransfer & Pay, then Debit Card menu.

How to open your account

The account opening process is fully digital but overly complicated. After your online registration, the account verification takes around 2 business days, which is a bit slower than the usual account verification time for most brokers.

At first, you have to go through a 5-step registration process, which takes roughly an hour. We experienced a few bugs and errors throughout the process, such as disappearing information and various error messages. It was complicated, with confusing and unclear messages.

During the account opening process, you have to provide some personal information and there are also questions about your trading experience.

In the end, you have to verify your identity and residency by uploading the required documents:

  • Verification of identity: passport / national ID / driver’s license
  • Verification of residency: bank statement / utility bill / driver’s license / credit card statement / other document

This is a standard process, which in financial lingo is called a KYC (know-your-customer) process. This is required to make sure you are truly identifiable.

Interactive Brokers review
Deposit and withdrawal

Interactive Brokers offers many account base currency options and one free withdrawal per month. The main drawbacks are that you can only use bank transfer and the process is not user-friendly.

Pros Cons
• No deposit fee • Credit/Debit card not available
• Several account base currencies • Not user-friendly
• First withdrawal each month free

Account base currencies

Interactive Brokers provides a lot of account base currencies, which is great if you trade with assets in various currencies.

Interactive Brokers account base currencies

Australian Dollar British Pound Canadian Dollar Chinese Yuan
Czech Koruna Danish Krone Euro Hong Kong Dollar
Hungarian Forint Israeli Shekel Japanese Yen Mexican Peso
New Zealand Dollar Norwegian Krone Russian Rouble Singapore Dollar
Swedish Krona Swiss Franc US Dollar

Compared to its competitors, you can see that IB’s selection is similar to that of Saxo Bank, while Degiro offers less base currencies.

Base currencies at Interactive Brokers compared to similar brokers

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Number of base currencies 19 19 9

Why does this matter? For two reasons. If you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account or you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you don’t have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.

Deposit fees and options

Interactive Brokers deposits are free of charge. However, deposit options are limited, as neither credit/debit cards nor electronic wallets can be used.

If you reside in the US, however, you have multiple extra options, such as:

  • ACH (Automated Clearing House)
  • Check
  • Online bill payment
  • Direct Rollover (IRA accounts only)
  • Trustee-to-Trustee (IRA accounts only)

Also, since early 2020 Interactive Brokers introduced direct debit card deposits as part of their Integrated Investment Management account. This is only available for US residents.

Australian clients can also use BPAY as a deposit method.

Interactive Brokers deposit options

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No Yes No
Electronic wallets No No Yes

A bank transfer can take 2-3 business days to arrive. You can only deposit money from sources that are in your name.

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fees and options

The first withdrawal each month is free of charge, while subsequent withdrawals have a fee.

Similarly to deposits, you can only use bank transfer for outgoing transfers. US residents can also withdraw via ACH or check.

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fees and options

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The fee for subsequent withdrawals after the first free one depends on the currency and the method you use for withdrawal.

Interactive Brokers withdrawal fee

Withdrawal’s currency Wire BACS/GIRO/ACH/EFT/SEPA
USD* 10 1
EUR 8 1
GBP 7 1
CAD 12 2
CNH 60 7
HKD 95 8
NZD, SGD 15 1
AUD 15 N/A
CHF 11 N/A
CZK 300 N/A
DKK 30 N/A
HUF 6,000 N/A
ILS 30 N/A
JPY 1,600 N/A
NOK, SEK 50 N/A
MXN 100 N/A
PLN 40 N/A
RUB 330 N/A
ZAR 200 N/A

*Check payments are also available in USD and they carry a $4 fee.

How long does it take to withdraw money from Interactive Brokers? We tested it and it took 2 business days. While you wait, a new feature since early 2020 lets you track your withdrawal in real-time on the Client Portal.

How do you withdraw money from Interactive Brokers?

  • First, log into the Client Portal then click on ‘Transfer & Pay’ and ‘Transfer funds.’
  • Select the account you want to use for the transaction.
  • At the top of the page, click on the ‘Withdraw Funds’ tab.
  • Select the currency of your withdrawal, then the withdrawal method.
  • Fill out the required information.
  • Submit your withdrawal request.
  • You can see the status of your request in ‘View Transaction History.’

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Interactive Brokers review
Web trading platform

Interactive Brokers’s web platform is simple and easy to use even for beginners. On the negative side, it is not customizable.

Pros Cons
• User-friendly • Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
• Clear fee report
• Two-step (safer) login
Interactive Brokers platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4.3 / 5 stars Yes
Mobile 3.5 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop 3.0 / 5 stars Yes

When you trade online at IB, you can choose between two web platforms: the Client Portal and Webtrader. In this review, we tested the Client Portal since it is more user-friendly and easier to use than Webtrader. For IBKR Lite users, only the Client Portal is available.

The Client Portal is available in multiple languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovakian, Spanish, Traditional Chinese.

Look and feel

The Client Portal platform is particularly user-friendly and intuitive. You will easily find every feature even if you have just started trading. On the negative side, it is not customizable at all.

Login and security

Interactive Brokers provides several options for safe logins:

  1. You can use two-step authentication through SMS messaging.
  2. IB Key is a two-step authentication feature available through IBKR Mobile.
  3. A bit old-fashioned way is the Secure Login System, where you get a plastic code card.

Search functions

The search function is easy-to-use and works better than on the desktop platform.

All you have to do is type in the preferred asset’s name, and you can see a list of exchanges and products. The search bar can be found in the upper right corner.

Placing orders

Client Portal offers many order types. If you prefer more sophisticated orders, you should use the desktop trading platform. Available order types are:

  • Limit
  • Market
  • Stop
  • Stop Limit
  • Limit-on-Close
  • Market-on-Close
  • Trailing Stop
  • Trailing Stop Limit

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

You can also use a lot of order time limits:

  • Day
  • Good-til-Canceled (GTC)
  • Immediate or Cancel
  • Market-on-Open
  • Limit-on-Open

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts and notifications, but only through the built-in chat. We think that it would be better if users could set alarms when they set up their order.

Portfolio and fee reports

Portfolio and fee reports are transparent. The portfolio tab gives a clear overview of your performance, including historical profit/loss balance and the fees you paid.

Interactive Brokers review
Mobile trading platform

The Interactive Brokers mobile trading platform has a lot of functions and a useful chatbot, but its user interface could be better.

Pros Cons
• Two-step (safer) login • User interface is a bit complex
• Good search function
• Good variety of order types

IBKR Mobile, Interactive Brokers’s mobile trading platform, is available both for iOS and Android. In this review, we tested it on Android.

The number of available languages is almost the same as at the web trading platform, only Slovakian is not supported.

Look and feel

The mobile trading app is handier compared to the web platform. On the other hand, its overall look and user-friendliness lags behind the competitors’ mobile platforms.

Login and security

You can use a two-step login, which is safer than a simple login. Furthermore, if your device has a fingerprint sensor, you can also use biometric authentication for convenience.

Search functions

The search function works well, just like at the web trading platform. You can access the search button easily from any menu.

When you type in the asset you are looking for, the app lists all asset types. For example, if you search for Apple, you can choose between Apple stock, futures, options, warrants, as well as CFDs.

After you have chosen the product are you interested in, you will be greeted by an information and trading window, which shows:

  • Asset market information
  • An interactive chart with technical indicators
  • Related news
  • Some fundamental data
  • Summary of the latest analyst report
  • The buy and sell buttons that transfer you to the order panel.

Placing orders

IBKR Mobile has the same order types as the web trading platform.

Alerts

You can set alerts only via the chatbot, which is not the most intuitive method.

Special feature – Chatbot

The most innovative and exciting function within the app is the chatbot, call IBot. You can use the chatbot to execute or close an order, or to get basic info quickly.

The chatbot understands basic commands, such as “apple price” or “buy 1 apple share.” On top of this, you can also search for company fundamentals, like dividend yields or PE ratios. Some of the functions, like displaying a chart, are also available via the chatbot.

Interactive Brokers review
Desktop trading platform

Interactive Brokers provides a desktop platform for IBKR PRO accounts with many customizable options and advanced execution functions. However, the platform is not user-friendly and is more suited for advanced traders.

Pros Cons
• Clear fee report • Not user-friendly
• Good customizability (for charts, workspace) • Poor search function
• Good variety of order types • Too complex for beginners

Interactive Brokers’s desktop platform Trader Workstation (TWS) is so advanced that even a separate review would not be able to cover all of its features. Nevertheless, we tried to provide you with a comprehensive summary of TWS.

In the desktop trading platform, you have literally every feature you could desire. Whether you were dreaming of replicating your favorite ETF or trading with chatbots – with Interactive Brokers, you can do them both.

The desktop trading platform is available in multiple languages, but fewer than the web trading platform. For example, Dutch and Slovakian are missing.

Look and feel

To be honest, this is by far the most complex platform that we at Brokerchooser have ever reviewed. This platform is ideal for you if you consider yourself a professional user. If you are a beginner or someone who seeks long-term investments, you may have difficulty navigating all of TWS’s features.

Despite its complexity the platform is highly customizable, for example, you can set up your own templates.

Login and security

It has the same security features as the web trading platform. You can turn on two-step authentication, which makes the platform safer to use.

Search functions

The search function is the platform’s weakest feature. Search results are not structured and it is quite difficult to filter out the product you are looking for.

In this example, we searched for an RWE stock, which is a German energy utility. However, when we typed in “rwe,” all the structured and derivative products were listed in the results as well, which made it harder to find the real stock.

Using the chatbot is great substitute solution. When you search for RWE directly through this feature, it will direct you to the stock listed on the main stock exchange.

Placing orders

Trading through TWS, IKBR PRO offers many different order types.

Order types at Interactive Brokers

Limit Mid Price Market Market-to-Limit
Stop Stop-Limit Trail Trail-Limit
Relative Retail Price Improvement Snap Market Snap To Midpoint
Snap to Primary Market-on-Close Limit-on-Close IBALGO
Hedge (with Forex, or Pair Stock)

On its desktop platform, Interactive Brokers provides Smart Routing, a great feature that detects the best possible route (e.g. exchange) for your trades automatically. TD Ameritrade also has a similar service.

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

The order term options also include some special types beyond the usual ones:

  • Good ’till Canceled (GTC)
  • Good-Til-Date (GTD)
  • Market-on-open (MOO)
  • Limit-on-open (LOO)
  • Immediate-or-cancel (IOC)
  • Fill-or-Kill (FOK)
  • Day ‘Til canceled (DTC)

Alerts and notifications

Alerts and notifications can be set in the ‘Configuration panel.’ You can select email, SMS, or mobile pop-up notifications.

You can also set additional alerts, for example for price changes, daily profits or losses, executed trades, etc.

Reports on the Interactive Brokers desktop platform are really transparent, just like on the web platform.

Interactive Brokers review
Markets and products

Through Interactive Brokers you can access an extremely wide range of markets, with every product type available.

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes
CFD Yes Yes Yes
Crypto Yes Yes Yes

Interactive Brokers has a great selection of products, with an exceptional range of ETFs and bonds. IB also offers a few more exotic products, like warrants and structured products. It only lags behind its competitors in terms of its FX pair and CFD selection.

Regarding accessible stock exchanges, the Israeli Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been added for ETF and stock trading. Since we last checked, IB provides access to almost 140 exchanges worldwide, with alternative services as well, such as Interactive Advisors. This is an asset management service, a mix of robo advisory and social trading.

Stocks and ETFs

Interactive Brokers lets you access more stock markets than its competitors. This includes major stock markets like the NASDAQ, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the London Stock Exchange (LSE), but also minor ones such as the Warsaw Stock Exchange in Poland or the Mexican markets. Other than regular stocks, penny stocks are also available.

Besides stocks, you can also trade with more than 13,000 ETFs at IB. This is much less than it was in early 2020, but it is still the most extensive selection among competitors.

Stocks and ETFs

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock markets (#) 78 36 30
ETFs (#) 13,000 3,100 5,400

Since December 2020, fractional shares are available at Interactive Brokers for individual accounts on all trading platforms. This means you can trade with only a portion of a share which is a great feature if you want to cut share costs.

Forex

Interactive Brokers provides a vast selection of more than 100 currency pairs; only Saxo Bank has more.

Currency pairs

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Currency pairs (#) 105 182

Funds

Through IB, you have access to more than 250 fund providers including big market names like Blackrock and Vanguard. Only Swissquote offers more fund providers than Interactive Brokers.

Fund providers

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Fund providers (#) 257 17 68

Bonds

Interactive Brokers gives you access to a massive number of bonds. Out of all government and corporate bonds available at IB, 1.4 million are so-called municipal bonds: these are fixed income investments issued by local US governments, cities, states or counties, but they are tradable only for US residents. The table below does not include municipal bonds in the overall number of bonds product, but even so the number of bonds available is still higher than at competitor brokers.

Bonds

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Bonds (#) 72,900 38,000 870

Options

As with other product types, Interactive Brokers has an extremely wide range of options markets. You can access the biggest options markets, like the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) or the CME Group, as well as smaller markets, such as the Korea Stock Exchange (KSE) or the Mexican Derivatives Exchange (MEXDER).

Options markets

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Options markets (#) 33 5 13

Futures

Interactive Brokers offers an extensive selection of futures products and markets. There are now 32 markets available, which is more than what competitors provide. Similarly to options, you will find both major and minor markets.

Futures markets

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Futures markets (#) 32 23 15

Disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 69% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Only clients who are trading through Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited are eligible to trade with CFDs. Compared to other products and competitors, IB offers an average range of CFDs, mainly stock and stock index CFDs.

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Stock index CFDs (#) 13 29
Stock CFDs (#) 7,100 8,800 900
ETF CFDs (#) 675
Commodity CFDs (#) 19
Bond CFDs (#) 5
Futures CFDs (#)

Cryptos

At IB you can trade with Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs and Bitcoin Futures:

  • Bitcoin and Ether ETNs are traded on the Stockholm Stock Exchange and the US OTC (Pink) markets
  • Bitcoin Index is available on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange(CBOE)
  • Bitcoin futures are available on the CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange(CBOE)

If you want to know more about crypto investing, we recommend our crypto blogpost.

Interactive Brokers Saxo Bank DEGIRO
Cryptos (#) 2 2 2

Asset management service

Interactive Advisors, IB’s own asset management service, allows you to copy professional portfolio managers, letting you automatically make trades as professionals do.

You can choose from many portfolio managers to find the one that fits you best, with real-time portfolio performance available.

The minimum investment depends on the portfolio you want to invest in: the lowest investment amount starts at $5,000.

Interactive Brokers review
Research

Interactive Brokers has almost limitless research possibilities, but the user interface is overly complicated, hard to follow and not well designed.

Pros Cons
• Good interactive chart • Not user-friendly
• Trading ideas
• Data on asset fundamentals

The quality of the research available is good and you always have the freedom to choose between third-party providers.

Recommendations

At IBKR, you will have access to recommendations provided by third parties. These research tools are mostly free, but there are some you have to pay for.

Several famous news sources, like Thomson Reuters, Morningstar and Dow Jones, are available for free.

Since January 2020, Interactive Brokers incorporated two new recommendation tools called Validea and TheLeadingEdge. They provide real time analysis, in-depth reports and model portfolios for a monthly subscription. You can enable these features via your Client Portal: to do so, select Menu-Settings-User Settings and then Research Subscriptions.

Fundamental data

Interactive Brokers provides a broad selection of fundamental data on all of its platforms. These include income statements for the past six years, a dividend calendar and peer group companies, for example.

Charting

The charting features are almost endless at Interactive Brokers. There are 120 technical indicators; however, similar to the platforms, the charting tool is not user-friendly.

Other special technical tools include:

  • Stock/ETF benchmarker: helps you to benchmark your stock or portfolio versus a selected benchmark
  • Mutual fund and ETF replicator
  • Volatility lab
  • Option probability lab: a group of option analysis functions
  • VaR, Sharpe: portfolio performance analyzers

News feed

You have access to:

  • News
  • Dailysummaries
  • Multiple economiccalendars

Interactive Brokers has its own news domain called Traders’ Insight. It also provides integrated third-party news and recommendations to its desktop platform.

Upon entering the platform, you have the option to read daily summaries of the markets through the Daily Lineup. This feature helps you to be informed about the latest news and analyst recommendations. An Earnings and an Economic Calendar are also helpful quick shortcuts to start off your day.

The Economic Calendar informs you about upcoming events that will have an economic impact. The feature can be accessed separately at any time from the menu, though the design could be better. If you look for an all-around economic calendar that includes upcoming national holidays for the year 2020, find it here on IB’s page.

Interactive Brokers review
Customer service

Interactive Brokers customer service is good. They can be contacted via phone, email, live chat and an automated ‘iBot’ and provide fast and relevant answers. However, most options are not available 24/7.

Pros Cons
• Phone support • No 24/7 support
• Live chat
• Fast response time

You can contact Interactive Brokers via:

Customer service is available in several regions and languages, namely in English, Russian, Chinese, Indian and Japanese.

Regional Service Desks and hours of operation

Location Number Hours of operation (Time Zone)
United States 1 (877) 442-2757 Toll free
1 (312) 542-6901 Direct dial
14:00 (Mon – Fri) – 02:00 (Tue – Sat) (Europe/Berlin)
19:00 (Sun) – 01:00 (Mon) (Europe/Berlin)
Canada 1 (877) 745-4222 Toll free
1 (514) 847-3499 Direct dial
14:00 – 23:30 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Europe 00800-42-276537 Toll free
+41-41-726-9500 Direct dial

+44 207-710-5695 Direct dial United Kingdom

09:00 – 18:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Russia 8-800-100-8556 Toll free
+41-41-726-9506 (Russian)
08:00 – 17:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Hong Kong +852-2156-7907 Direct dial 02:00 – 11:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Australia +61 (2) 8093 7300 Direct dial 00:30 – 10:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
India +91 22 61289888 Direct dial
+91 22 39696188 Direct dial
02:30 – 14:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
China +86 (21) 6086 8586 Direct dial 03:00 – 12:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Japan +81 (3) 4588 9700 Direct dial
+81 (3) 4588 9710 Direct dial (English)
01:30 – 10:30 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)

We had lots of problems with customer service when we tested it in 2020, with long wait times one of them. On one occasion, we sent an inquiry in English and received an answer email only after four days – in Russian.

In 2020 we tested the chat, email and phone support, three times. Since 2020, the Interactive Brokers customer service improved a lot, we did not encounter any major problems. Email responses arrived within a day. The wait time for a representative in a live chatroom was rather long (e.g. more than three minutes), but after they came online, the experience was smooth with relevant answers.

The waiting time for a phone call was around one minute.

Also, since we last checked, the Inquiry Response Center got a facelift: now known as Message Center, it has improved a lot in design. We liked the modern look of the interface.

Despite all of the above, the lack of 24/7 availability is still a problem.

Interactive Brokers review
Education

Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of quality educational materials and tools, including videos, courses, webinars, a glossary, and even a demo account.

Pros Cons
• Demo account • Courses only available after registration
• Trading platform tutorial
• Educational videos

At Interactive Brokers you can learn in the following ways:

  • Paper (demo) account
  • Online courses
  • Webinars
  • Educational videos
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • Glossary
  • News

Once you set up a trading account, you can also open a Paper Trading Account. This is a demo account: all paper accounts start with $1,000,000 in virtual money, which you can use to experiment with IB’s platforms and trading services. Similar to this is IBKR Mobile’s Read-only mode, which lets you check out the mobile interface, although you won’t be able to make any trades. In summary, we think these are great services, and the best way to learn how a trading platform works.

In addition to the above services, you can choose from multiple courses based on your trading skills. There is also a glossary that helps you to understand technical terms, unfamiliar expressions and acronyms.

Interactive Brokers review
Safety

Interactive Brokers is regulated by several financial authorities, including top-tier ones like the SEC in the US and the UK’s FCA. Its parent company is listed on the Nasdaq Exchange.

Pros Cons
• Listed on stock exchange None
• Negative balance protection
• Regulated by top-tier financial authorities

Is Interactive Brokers regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by multiple top-tier financial authorities, like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Is Interactive Brokers safe?

To be certain, we highly advise that you check two facts: how you are protected if something goes wrong and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

Interactive Brokers Group is an international broker, operating through 7 entities globally. This matters for you because Interactive Brokers provides negative balance protection, and the investor protection amount and the regulating authority differ from entity to entity.

Interactive Brokers provides negative balance protection for forex spot and CFD trading, but only for retail clients from the European Union. Professional and non-EU clients are not covered with any negative balance protection

Interactive Brokers legal entities

Covered by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)

Country of clients Protection amount Regulator Legal entity
European countries* £85,000 Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited
USA $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Interactive Brokers LLC
Canada $1,000,000 Interactive Brokers Canada Inc.
Australia No protection Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) Interactive Brokers Australia PTY LTD
India No protection Securities and Exchange Board of India (BSE) Interactive Brokers (India) PVT. LTD.
Japan No protection Financial Services Agency (FSA) Interactive Brokers Securities Japan Inc.
Hong Kong No protection Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission Interactive Brokers Hong Kong Limited

*If you are from Europe, the picture is a bit more complicated. The regulator and the protection amount also depends on what you are trading with:

  • If you trade with forex, CFDs, non-US stock index options or futures, you are protected by the FCA, up to £85,000.
  • If you trade with stocks, bonds, funds or US stock index options, you are protected by the US investor protection, i.e. $500,000, with a cash limit of $250,000.

As you can see, the details are not very transparent. Our best advice is to ask customer service from time to time about the protection amount of your actual portfolio.

Background

Interactive Brokers is based in the USA and was founded in 1978. During the last more than 40 years, despite multiple economic crises, IB managed to stay on top on the brokerage market, which is a good sign for the broker’s safety.

Interactive Brokers Group (the holding company of the different entities) is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. The listing makes the broker more transparent, as it has to publish financial statements regularly.

Being listed on the Nasdaq and regulated by both the UK’s FCA and the US SEC are all great signs for Interactive Brokers’s safety.

Interactive Brokers review
Bottom line

Interactive Brokers is one of the biggest US-based discount brokers, regulated by several top-tier regulators globally. We recommend this broker for advanced traders.

On the plus side, IB has a vast range of markets and products available, with diverse research tools and low costs.

There are some drawbacks though: there is a high inactivity fee and the account opening process is complicated. The desktop platform is complex and hard-to-understand, especially for beginners.

If you have experience navigating complex platforms and you like transparent low-cost trading, Interactive Brokers could be a great fit for you.

Interactive Brokers Review 2020

Interactive Brokers is one of the largest brokerages in the US, offering online trading to clients around the globe. They have a range of sophisticated trading platforms, educational resources, market research and analysis. Funding options are limited when compared to other online brokers.

Interactive Brokers Review 2020, Pros & Cons
  • Multiple regulations in several countries
  • Trading on cutting edge platforms across multiple devices
  • Research & analysis from reputable third party firms
  • Comprehensive trader education packaged as ‘knowledge base’ &Traders’ academy
  • Multiple trader tools are provided
  • Limited payment options; no PayPal or other modern online payment options
  • Clients from about 10 countries are not accepted
  • Customer support response time
  • No fixed spread accounts
  • Restricted leverage

In this detailed Interactive Brokers review, our online broker research team have covered some of the most important aspects for you to consider when choosing the best broker for your online trading needs.

Interactive Brokers is not ranked in our best forex brokers, best stock brokers, best cfd brokers, best crypto brokers or best online brokers categories. You can use our free broker comparison tool to compare online brokers including Interactive Brokers.

Interactive Brokers Review: Summary

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a US brokerage known for its competitive trading fees and commissions. It was founded in the United States in 1978 but today, the broker has expanded its operations to many countries. The head office is located in Connecticut, US with international offices in Australia, Canada, Honk Kong, India, Japan, UK, Switzerland, Estonia, Hungary, Russia, China and Liechtenstein.

Interactive Brokers company equity capital is in the billions. Its shares are publicly traded as IBKR on the NASDAQ exchange.

Interactive Brokers uses its own proprietary ‘SmartRouting’ technology to search for the best market prices available. This helps to ensure that orders are executed at the best possible prices. It connects to around 125 markets in 31 countries. The broker states that it executes over 859,000 trades every day.

Over the years, Interactive Brokers has won over 100 industry awards for its brokerage services. The awards are mostly in the areas of low brokerage fees and overall performance.

Interactive Brokers Review – Awards

Interactive Brokers Review: Regulation

INTERACTIVE BROKERS LLC is a member NYSE – FINRA – SIPC and regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.com

INTERACTIVE BROKERS CANADA INC. is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organisation of Canada (IIROC) and Member – Canadian Investor Protection Fund. It operates the website; www.interactivebrokers.ca

INTERACTIVE BROKERS AUSTRALIA PTY LTD is licensed and regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) with the license number AFSL 453554. It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.com.au

INTERACTIVE BROKERS (U.K.) LIMITED is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with the license number 208159. It operates the website: www.interactivebrokers.co.uk

INTERACTIVE BROKERS (INDIA) PVT. LTD operates www.interactivebrokers.co.in. It is member of NSE, BSE.

INTERACTIVE BROKERS HONG KONG LIMITED is regulated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and is a member of the SEHK and the HKFE. It operate the website: www.interactivebrokers.com.hk

Interactive Brokers strictly complies by all the regulatory laws guiding each jurisdiction. But generally, all clients’ funds are deposited in segregated accounts which are separate from the broker’s accounts.

All clients are properly verified using ‘Know Your Customer’ guidelines. No individual registration is complete without a ‘proof of identity’ and a ‘proof of address.’ New clients are required to upload a scanned copy of their government issued identity cards and also a utility bill.

The various Interactive Brokers websites and platforms are digitally secure. This is because of the firewalls and Secured Socket Layers (SSL) implemented. The aim is to ward off any intruder or internet hacker that may want to steal clients’ identity or steal user sensitive information.

Interactive Brokers Review: Countries

Interactive Brokers does not provide services to residents of some countries like Afghanistan, Burundi, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Yemen, etc. Some Interactive Brokers broker features and products mentioned within this Interactive Brokers review may not be available to traders from specific countries due to legal restrictions.

Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Platforms

Client Portal

This is a simple web based platform for account management and trading. It could be considered the best platform for beginner traders. Here are some of its features:

  • View account info, portfolio performance, trade history, etc in real time.
  • Order management; place orders, modify or close orders easily.
  • Customisable charting on different timelines.
  • Live news is streamed on the platform.
  • Comprehensive product information is available for every asset.

Interactive Brokers Review – Clients Portal

IB Trader Workstation (TWS)

This is the flagship proprietary platform designed for frequent traders who are experienced and require multiple tools and flexibility. It is only available to Interactive Brokers PRO clients. It is available as a downloadable desktop platform for Windows, MAC OSX and Linux.

Here are some of the features of the TWS:

  • Enables traders, investors and institutions to trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds on over 100 global markets from a single account.
  • Customisable charts on several timelines, technical indicators and analytical tools.
  • Full reporting of account balances, P & L, trade history, etc.
  • Over 100 order types and Algos.
  • TWS Mosaic gives access to trading, order management, chart, watchlist and portfolio tools all in a single, customisable workspace.
  • Professional news and analysis from Reuters, Dow Jones, Trading Central, bezinga, etc.
  • 26 Advanced trading tools such as FXTrader, BookTrader, SpreadTrader, Volatility Lab, etc.
  • Analytical tools such as Market Scanners, ChartTrader, etc.

Interactive Brokers Review – Trader Workstation

IBKR Mobile

Trade on the go with Interactive Brokers mobile trading apps. They are designed for users who have Android or iOS devices. Here are a few of the IBKR mobile app functions:

  • Gives access to 125 markets across the globe.
  • The IB key two-factor authentication (2FA) gives extra security to the app.
  • Easily trade multiple instruments and view charts on several timelines.
  • Integrated real-time market scanners and alerts with email notifications.
  • Uses IB SmartRouting technology to bring the best available prices to clients.

Interactive Brokers Review – Mobile Trading Platform

This is a software assistant that can place orders using words and text commands. It is powered by Artificial intelligence that recognises the natural language text commands and acts on it immediately. It is available on the following platforms:

  • TWS Desktop
  • IBKR Mobile
  • Client Portal
  • Website

Interactive Brokers – IBot

IBKR WebTrader

This is the browser version of the desktop TWS. It is only available to Interactive Brokers PRO clients. Here are some of its features:

  • Access to 125 global markets from a single account.
  • Simpler than the desktop TWS and protected by a firewall.
  • Advanced order management.
  • Full reporting in real time e.g. P & L, position, account status, margin requirements, etc.
  • Advanced tools like market depth, BookTrader, Market Scanners, Contract Search, etc.
  • Asset specific news and fundamentals from sources like Reuters and others reliable firms.
  • Customisable interface to suit only your style, favourite layouts and instruments.

Interactive Brokers Review – WebTrader

IBKR APIs

This is for investors who script their own trading softwares or uses other third party softwares. It is only available to IBKR PRO clients. The IBKR API software is available for downloads only on desktop computer running Windows or Mac/Unix. It supports the following languages: Java, C++, Python, C#, ActiveX, DDE. Other API solutions offered by IB are REST API, FIX CTCI & W.T Web API.

Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Tools

Research & News

Interactive Brokers has incorporated several third party news and research providers into the TWS platform. Some are free but most require monthly subscriptions. There are currently about 87 services. The free services are available even on demo accounts. Here are some of the services available:

  • Alliance News: Free trial and then $25 for News in English and $20 for Italian news.
  • Bezinga News: Bezinga Crypto news and Bezinga Pro are free. But Bezinga Pro API Professional is $250
  • Profession Bundle: This comprises of Dow Jones new, Trading Central, briefing.com, MT Newswires, The Fly news; all for $155 per month
  • Non Professional Bundle: It comprises of Dow Jones news, Trading central, The fly news; for $55.
  • The Fly News: Free trial, then, $21 monthly.
  • MT Newswires: Free trial, then $100.
  • Street account: Free trial, then $315 for street account.
  • 24/7 Wall Street: Free insightful news and commentary for equity investors.
  • Access wire: Free real-time analytics.
  • Alexandria Research: Free text analytics and sentiment assessment tools.
  • AltaVista Research: Free research on ETFs.
  • com: Free but it has subscription services.
  • Capitalise: Free automated trading platform.
  • Dow Jones: Free news for North America but has several subscription services.
  • Econoday: Free market analysis from experts.
  • Edison Investment Research: Free research on improving company visibility helping improving investors’ knowledge.
  • Estimize: Free financial estimates platform sourced from amateur analysts.
  • ETFguide: Free technical forecast on ETFs, stocks, bond , commodities, etc.

Investors’ Marketplace

This is a marketplace where investors and clients can meet in order to transact. Investors can search for different services, view the requirements and appraise the services before making a decision. There are over 600 investment services, over 320 research services, over 450 technology services, 200+ administrative services and over 400 business development services.

Apps, Tools & Widget

These consist of tools that are needed by traders to enhance their trading experience. The tools are:

  • Traders’ Calendar App: Shows the trading holidays and asset expiration dates of many instruments.
  • Options Calculator App: Users input the options price and other parameters in order to learn the impact.
  • Options Strategies App: Shows the profit and loss of options combinations. Users can select inputs and test.
  • Probability Lab: Analyzes the market probability distribution. It is used by options traders.

Interactive Brokers Review: Education

Knowledge Base

This is a comprehensive resource made up of articles, questions, answers, videos and a glossary. It contains over 700 articles arranged alphabetically. There are over 80 training videos. The knowledge base has a search area that can be used to search for resources. A glossary with over 1,200 trading terms and definitions are available.

Traders’ Academy

The Traders’ academy is designed for professionals and investors who need knowledge on the TWS and other trading knowledge. The academy is only for registered clients. There are a total of 39 courses and 247 lessons. The lessons are made up of articles, videos and quizzes. It is categorized as follows:

  • Investment products.
  • Trading and investing: consisting of trading tools, financial planning, advisor tools and portfolio management.

Interactive Brokers Review – Traders Academy

Several webinars are scheduled on the website. Over 200 previously recorded webinars are available.

Short Videos

This is a collection of videos that teaches the TWS to clients. There are over 150 videos on the platform. Also, there are over 140 videos in Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German and Japanese languages. There are 13 videos on account management and 28 videos on institutional trading.

Courses & Tours

This section has 10 videos on forex strategies, options, technical analysis, etc.

Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Instruments

IBKR did not list its assets index but it boasts of thousands of instruments from hundreds of markets from all over the world. Here are the markets available:

  • Stocks from 100 markets from 26 countries.
  • Digital Options.
  • Futures from over 30 financial markets.
  • Forex; trade in 22 currencies.
  • 2 Metals; Gold and Silver.
  • Over 38,000 corporate bonds.
  • ETFs from 28 exchanges in 14 countries.
  • Over 10,000 Mutual funds.

Interactive Brokers Review: Trading Accounts & Fees

Interactive brokers offer several account types to individual and corporate bodies. The broker lists the following client types:

  • Individual Investor or Trader
  • Trust Accounts
  • Registered Investment Advisor
  • Hedge Fund
  • Money Manager
  • Proprietary Trading Group
  • Family Office
  • Small Business
  • Friends and Family Advisor
  • Introducing Broker
  • Incentive Plan Administrator
  • Compliance Officer
  • Administrator
  • Educator
  • Referrer

No matter the type of client, there is likely an account for you. Generally, we will look at the major individual retail account types. They are as follows:

  • IBKR Lite: This account is designed for individuals, joint or IRA clients. There are no required minimum balance, no inactivity fees and no commissions on US stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Clients can only use the ‘Client Portal’ or ‘IBKR mobile’ platforms for trading. IBKR Lite accounts cannot access the TWS.
  • IBKR PRO: This is the major account designed for high volume professional traders. Account holders are offered the lowest costs and best possible prices. Interest is paid on idle cash and clients’ trade on the flagship IB Trader Workstation platform as well as the WebTrader, mobile and API platforms. However, inactivity fees are charged if the trade commissions paid within a month is less than $10, the balance is charged. Inactivity fees are not charged for accounts with a balance of $100,000 or more.

As broker fees can vary and change, there may be additional fees that are not listed in this Interactive Brokers review. It is imperative to ensure that you check and understand all of the latest information directly from Interactive Brokers before opening a trading account with this brokerage.

Interactive Brokers Review: Customer Service

The Multilingual customer support desk operates from the various Interactive Brokers offices. They are mostly available 24/5. Over 15 phone lines are available for clients from different countries to get support. Other channels are instant web chat, email and Ask iBot FAQs.

Interactive Brokers are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Interactive Brokers Review: Deposit & Withdrawal

IB does not accept third party transfers, money orders, cash or post-dated checks.

  • Check: IBKR accepts checks drawn on a US bank and in USD. The check must be made payable to IB LLC or IB HK.
  • Bank Transfer: This is the major payment option accepted by IBKR. The only problem with this method is that is takes about 3-5 working days before the broker receives the funds.

Interactive Brokers Review: Account Opening

In order to trade with Interactive Brokers, visit the correct website for your country. Click on ‘Open Account’ which is at the top right hand side of the website. Choose the account type and fill the form that displays.

Interactive Brokers Review – Account Registration Form

Click ‘save and continue’. You will be asked to verify your email to continue the registration. After email verifications, there will be another form with more questions on personal information, addresses, tax info, source of wealth, security questions, etc. After completing all forms, you will receive an email confirming your successful registration. From then on you are able to make a deposit into your IBKR brokerage account and commence live trading.

Interactive Brokers Review: Conclusion

Interactive Brokers has one of the largest electronic trading platforms in the United States. The broker states that its mission is to make investing easy and transparent while saving you time and money. In the last 40 years, the broker has grown to a global, multi asset and a well known online brokerage firm.

It is regulated in several countries where it has an operational office and abides by the rules of these strict regulators. Investors’ funds have some protection and the operational environment is digitally safe. With the IB SmartRouting technology, traders are offered the best available pricing and best possible execution speeds. There are thousands of markets to trade on the several platforms.

Interactive Brokers flagship Trader Workstation (TWS) is a sophisticated platform designed for professionals. Its myriad of tools and features are inexhaustible.

The number of third party news and analysis providers will surely inundate any trader. For New traders, a comprehensive trader academy is provided. The training courses and videos are sufficient to give beginner traders satisfactory knowledge to commence trading.

However, the payment options available are very limited compared to other brokers. Interactive Brokers could benefit from including some modern electronic payment methods like PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, etc. Their commission fees are also not the cheapest.

The risk of loss in online trading of stocks, options, futures, forex, foreign equities, and fixed income can be substantial.

Min $1 Deposit

Interactive Brokers is one of the largest brokerages in the US, offering online trading to clients around the globe. They have a range of sophisticated trading platforms, educational resources, market research & analysis. Funding options are limited.

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