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Interactive Brokers Review 2021
9.5
Best broker for online day trading

Summary

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

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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, Interactive Brokers is considered safe. 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 and Best broker for day trading for 2021, based on an in-depth analysis of 70+ online brokers that included testing their live accounts. Check out the complete list of winners.

Interactive Brokers pros and cons

Interactive Brokers has low trading fees, one of the lowest on the market. It covers a wide selection of markets and products and a lot of great research tools.

Nevertheless, we recommend this broker mainly for advanced traders, as the account opening process is complicated and the desktop trading platform is not user-friendly. In addition, the inactivity fee is quite high and most users can only make deposits and withdrawals via bank transfer.

ProsCons
 Low trading fees Complicated account opening process
 Wide range of products Complex desktop trading platform
Many great research tools       . High forex fees
Interactive Brokers main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulationUSA, Ireland, UK, Luxembourg, Hungary, India, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong
💰 Trading fees classLow
💰 Inactivity fee chargedYes
💰 Withdrawal fee amount$0
💰 Minimum deposit$0
🕖 Time to open an account1-3 days
💳 Deposit with bank cardNot available
👛 Depositing with electronic walletNot available
💱 Number of base currencies supported22
🎮 Demo account providedYes
🛍️ Products offeredStock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures, CFD, Crypto,
Warrants, Structured Products
Overall Rating 9.5

Fees

4.2

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

ProsCons
 Low trading fees Inactivity fee    .
Free stock and ETF trading for US clients        .
 Low margin rates

 

Interactive Brokers fees snapshot
AssetsFee levelFee terms
US stockLow$0.005 per share, min. $1, max. 1% of trade value. Free for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.
EURUSD  .LowTrade value less than $1 billion: 0.2 bps * trade value; min. $2
Mutual fundAverage$14.95 per transaction or 3% of trade value, whichever is lower
Inactivity feeHigh$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.

How we ranked fees

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

First, let’s go over some basic terms 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 and 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 the most important fees are commissions.

We also compared Interactive Brokers’s fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Saxo Bank and TradeStation. 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 trading fees are low. This is beneficial if you do 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.

Starting the end of 2019, US clients can also choose a new service plan, called IBKR LITE. With this service plan, they 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.

Interactive Brokers stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade

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

Interactive Brokers stock fees
MarketCommissionMinMax
North America
US$0.005 / share$11% of the trade value
CanadaCAD 0.01 / shareCAD 10.5% of the trade value
Mexico0.1 % of the trade valueMXN 60No
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
Belgium, France, Xetra (stocks),
Italy, Netherlands
0.1% of the trade value€4€29
Switzerland0.1% of the trade valueCHF 10No
Spain0.1% of the trade value€4No
Austria0.1% of the trade value€4€120
Poland0.1% of the trade valuePLN 15No
Norway, Sweden0.05% of the trade valueNOK/SEK 49No
Portugal0.15% of the trade value€6No
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania0.2% of the trade value€10No
Hungary0.1% of the trade valueHUF 200No
Asia-Pacific
Australia0.08% of the trade valueAUD 6No
Hong Kong0.08% of the trade valueHKD 18No
Japan0.08% of the trade valueJPY 80No
Singapore0.08% of the trade valueSGD 2.5No
India0,01% of the trade valueINR 6INR 20

 

If you prefer stock trading on a margin, you should check Interactive Brokers’ margin rates.

What is the margin rate? Margin rates are charged when you trade on margin. 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’ margin rates are low. Margin rates vary based on your account base currency and the amount you borrow.

Interactive Brokers margin rates are low.

Interactive Brokers annual margin rates
USD margin rate          .
GBP margin rate
EUR margin rate

Margin rates drop for higher debit balances.

Interactive Brokers annual margin rates, USD
Debit balance    .Rate%
$200,000,000.01 –       0.75%
$3,000,000.01 – $200,000,000                   .       0.75%
$1,000,000.01 – $3,000,000       0.75%
$100,000.01 – $1,000,000       1.09%
Under $100,000      1.59%

Forex fees

Interactive Brokers’s forex fees are low.

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.

Interactive Brokers forex benchmark fee of a $20,000 30:1 long position held for one week
                 $8.1          $7.8
                 $8.8          $6.2
                 $8.8          $7.1
EURCHF benchmark fee                 $7.7          $5.3
                 $10.6          $8.9

 

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 amountCommissionMin
USD ≤ 1,000,000,0000.20 basis point of the trade value$2.00
USD 1,000,000,001 – 2,000,000,0000.15 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 > 5,000,000,0000.08 basis point of the trade value$1.00

Fund fees

Interactive Brokers’ mutual fund fees are average; however, thousands of US mutual funds (including funds from Allianz, Blackrock and Schroder) may be purchased without a transaction fee.

The minimum size of the initial fund orders is $3,000, while the subsequent minimum order size is $100.

When you purchase a fund that is not in the ‘free to buy’ category, a simple price structure applies that includes all regulatory and exchange fees.

Interactive Brokers commission for a $2,000 fund purchase

The fee structure is percentage-based and can have a minimum and a maximum. Note that for European mutual funds, the pricing is a bit different:

Interactive Brokers fund fees
Country of the fundFeeMin   .Max
US funds3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower$3$14.95
US funds with no transaction fees    .0%$0$0.00
European funds0.1% of the trade value€4€29.00
Global funds3% of the trade value or $14.95, whichever is lower   .

Bond fees

Interactive Brokers has generally low bond fees.

Interactive Brokers commission of a $10,000 government bond trade

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

Interactive Brokers bond fees
BondsVolumeCommission MinMax
US CorporateFace value ≤ 10,0000.10% *

face value

$1

$250 or 1% of trade value, whichever is lower

US TreasuriesFace value ≤ 1,000,0000.02% *

face value

$5No
EuropeTrade value ≤ 50,0000.10% *

trade value

€2No
Hong Kong GovernmentTrade value ≤ 15,000,0000.08% *

trade value

HKD 18No

Options fees

Options fees at Interactive Brokers are generally low.

Interactive Brokers stock index options commission of 10 contracts

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

Interactive Brokers options fees for stock index options
MarketCommissionMin
North America – all options
US, monthly contracts <= 10,000$0.65 / contract$1.0
Canada, monthly contracts <= 10,000CAD 1.25 / contractCAD 1.5
Mexico (AMXL)MXN 25 / contractMXN 25
Europe – index options
UKGBP 1.7 / contractGBP 1.7
Germany€1.5 / contract€1.5
Belgium, France€1.5 / contract€1.5
Italy€3.0 / contract€3.0
Netherlands€1.5 / contract€1.5
NorwayNOK 12 / contractNOK 12
Spain€0.8 / contractNo
SwitzerlandCHF 2.8 / contractCHF 2.8
Asia-Pacific – index options
AustraliaAUD 2.0 / contractAUD 2.0
Hong KongHKD 30 / contractHKD 30
India0.01% of the trade valueINR 6
Japan0.12% of the trade valueJPY 100
Singapore$2.85 / contract$2.85
South Korea0.2% of option valueKRW 1,000

 

Futures fees

Interactive Brokers’s futures fees are low.

Interactive Brokers stock index futures commission of 10 contracts

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

Interactive Brokers futures fees for stock index futures
FuturesCommission
North America
US Future and Future Options$0.85 / contract
US – CME: MES, MNQ, M2K
CBOT: MYM
NYMEX: MGC, SIL
$0.25 / contract
CanadaCAD 2.4 / contract (min CAD 2.4)
MexicoMXN 25/ contract (min MXN 25)
Europe
Belgium€4.5 / contract (min €4.5)
France, Germany€0.40 – 0.80 / contract
Italy, Netherlands, Spain€3 / contract (min €3)
SwitzerlandCHF 4 / contract (min €4)
UKGBP 1.7 / contract (min GPB 1.7)
Asia-Pacific
AustraliaAUD 1 / contract (min AUD 1)
Hong KongHKD 30 / contract (min HKD 30)
JapanJPY 400 / contract (min JPY 400)
SingaporeSGD 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.

Interactive Brokers CFD benchmark fees, for a $2,000
long position held for one week
$2.8$1.5
$3.1$2.1
$2.9$21.7
$9.0$22.8

 

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
CFDsMonthly traded amount   .CommissionMin
US share CFDs≤ $300,000$0.005 per share$1.0
European share CFDs≤ €10,000,0000.05%€3.0
Australian share CFDs≤ AUD 10,000,0000.05%AUD 5.0
Hong Kong Share CFDs    .≤ HKD 300,000,0000.05%HKD 12.0
Japanese Share CFDs≤ 9,000,000,0000.03%JPY 100.0
US 500 index CFD0.005%$1.0
UK 100 index CFD0.005%GBP 1.0
Japan 225 index CFD0.01%JPY 40.0
Forex CFD≤ 1,000,000,0000.20 basis points * trade value$2.0

Crypto fees

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

  • You can trade Bitcoin futures at the CME Group and on the 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 may be 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 from time to time.
  2. Choose from among several 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 size of the inactivity fee depends on many factors.

Interactive Brokers non-trading fees
Deposit fee

The inactivity fee depends on your account balance and your age, while other waivers may also apply:

Interactive Brokers’ inactivity fee
Account balance less than $2,000Account balance above $2,000Account owner is younger than 25 years old
Monthly inactivity fee$20*$10*$3*
Potential waiversNone

1) Waived in the first three calendar months

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

1) Waived in the first three calendar months

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

*If you generate a commission during the calendar month, then the actual inactivity fee will be the difference between the commission you generated and the default 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.

Account Opening

3.4

IB’s account opening process is fully digital and the required minimum deposit is low. On the negative side, the process is complicated, and account verification takes relatively long.

ProsCons
 Fully digital Not user-friendly
No minimum deposit for most account types       . Confusing messages throughout the process     .

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 do short sales. Trading on margin means that you are trading with borrowed money, also known as leverage.

Account types

Interactive Brokers offers many account types, which differ in the ownership and the service provided.

Account types based on ownership

The account types fall into two big groups considering the account’s ownership:

  • accounts for individual traders and investors
  • accounts for institutions

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

Interactive Brokers account types
Account typesShort description
IndividualsAccount is owned and used by a single individual
JointAccount is owned and used by two individuals
TrustAccount is held by a Trustee (separate legal entity) for your benefit
IRAIndividual retirement account, which is only available for US clients
UGMA/UTMAAccount 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 OfficeAccount for an individual who is a Family Office Manager
Small BusinessAccount for small corporations
AdvisorAccount for an individual who manages both client administration
and the client’s money
Money ManagerAccount for an individual who is hired on behalf of another advisor.

Cash, margin, portfolio reg account types

After you selected the ownership of your account, you can choose between cash, margin, and portfolio reg accounts.

IBKR LITE and IBKR PRO

Besides the various account types, you can choose between 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
FeaturesIBKR LITEIBKR PRO
CommissionUS exchange-listed stocks and ETFs are commission-free, while other products have fixed or tiered pricingFixed or tiered pricing for all products
Account feeNo account feeUp to $10 account fee per month
Trading featuresClient Portal, IBKR Mobile and IBot are available, but the desktop trading platform is notAll platforms are available, including the desktop trading platform

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 a complicated process, with often 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.

Interactive Brokers review – Account opening

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 - Account opening - InfographicInteractive Brokers review – Account opening – Infographic

Can you open an account?

Select your country of residence to see if you can open an account at Interactive Brokers Review 2021!

Deposit and Withdrawal

3.5

Interactive Brokers offers many account base currency options and one free withdrawal per month. The main drawback is that you can only use bank transfer.

ProsCons
 No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available    .
 Several account base currencies
First withdrawal each month free     .

Account base currencies

Interactive Brokers provides many account base currencies, which is great if you want to trade assets in various currencies.

Interactive Brokers account base currencies
Australian DollarBritish PoundCanadian DollarChinese Yuan
Czech KorunaDanish KroneEuroHong Kong Dollar
Hungarian ForintIndian Rupee (only in India)Israeli ShekelJapanese Yen
Mexican PesoNew Zealand DollarNorwegian KronePolish Zloty
Russian RoubleSingapore DollarSouth African RandSwedish Krona
Swiss FrancUS Dollar

When compared to its competitors, you can see that IB’s base currency selection is similar to that of Saxo Bank, while TradeStation offers fewer base currencies.

Base currencies at Interactive Brokers vs similar brokers
                   22          26              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. They 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.

Another way is if you convert your funds using Interactive Brokers’ currency conversion feature, called FXCONV:

  • What happens if you want to buy a stock that is in USD and your base currency is EUR? In a margin account, you can do this without conversion; as soon as you buy the stock, you’ll have a negative account balance in USD, and your EUR will serve as collateral. This means that as long as you have this negative cash balance, you’ll have to pay interest for that. If you want to avoid this, you can convert your money at any time using the FXCONV function.
  • In this example, in the desktop TWS platform, you’d type in EUR.USD, select IDEALPRO (for a cash transaction), then go to ‘Advanced’ and select FXCONV as a destination, and you’d sell the amount you need.
  • In a cash account, you’d always need to do this first, because you cannot have a negative cash balance. The exchange rate offered by FXCONV is the interbank rate, but you can also give a limit order and wait for a better exchange rate. IB charges an extremely low commission of around 0.1 to 0.2 basis points of the trade value, subject to a minimum of US$2 per trade.

COMPARE DIGITAL BANKS

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, though, 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
YesYesYes
NoYesNo
NoNoNo

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 review - Deposit and withdrawal - DepositInteractive Brokers review – Deposit and withdrawal – Deposit

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
YesYesYes
NoNoNo
NoNoNo

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 currencyWireBACS/GIRO/ACH/EFT/SEPA
USD*101
EUR81
GBP71
CAD122
CNH607
HKD958
NZD, SGD151
AUD15N/A
CHF11N/A
CZK300N/A
DKK30N/A
HUF6,000N/A
ILS30N/A
JPY1,600N/A
NOK, SEK50N/A
MXN100N/A
PLN40N/A
RUB330N/A
ZAR200N/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.’

Integrated Investment Management

Interactive Brokers has expanded account features for US residents with the introduction of the Interactive Brokers debit card and the Integrated Investment Management program. These 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 Portal and then ‘Transfer & Pay’, then open the ‘Debit Card’ menu.

Trading Platform

4

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.

ProsCons
 User-friendly Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)       .
 Clear fee report
Two-step (safer) login        .
Interactive Brokers platforms to choose from
Trading platform       .Score         .Available    .
Web4.5Yes
Mobile3.8Yes
Desktop3.0Yes

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, as 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 several languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovakian, Spanish and Traditional Chinese.

On December 7, 2020, Bloomberg News reported that Interactive Brokers had a major outage resulting in its users being unable to trade for several hours. The error was reportedly caused by a “high availability” data system provided by another company, which IB didn’t name. On the positive side, IB informed clients right away and apologized for the technical issues.

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.

Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platformInteractive Brokers review – Web trading platform

Login and security

Interactive Brokers provides several options for safe login:

  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 slightly more 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. Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platform - SearchInteractive Brokers review – Web trading platform – Search

Placing orders

The Client Portal offers many order types. 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 overview.

If you want to place even more sophisticated orders, you should use the desktop trading platform.

You can also use several order time limits:

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

Interactive Brokers review - Web trading platform - Order panelInteractive Brokers review – Web trading platform – Order panel

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 alerts at the same time as they set up their orders.

Portfolio and fee reports

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

 

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.

ProsCons
 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 on the web trading platform; only Slovakian is not supported.

Look and feel

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

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform

Interactive Brokers review – Mobile trading platform

Login and security

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

Search functions

The search function works well, just like on 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.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Interactive Brokers review – Mobile trading platform – Search

After you have selected the product you are 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,
  • and 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.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Order panel

Interactive Brokers review – Mobile trading platform – Order panel

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, called IBot. You can use the chatbot to execute or close an order, or to get basic info quickly.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Chatbot

Interactive Brokers review – Mobile trading platform – Chatbot

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 other functions, like displaying a chart, are also available via the chatbot.

Interactive Brokers review - Mobile trading platform - Chatbot charting

Interactive Brokers review – Mobile trading platform – Chatbot charting

 

Desktop trading platform

Interactive Brokers offers a desktop platform for PRO accounts, with great customizability and advanced order execution, but it’s not user-friendly and caters more to advanced traders.

ProsCons
 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’ll try 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 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

In many respects, 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, though, 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.

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform

Interactive Brokers review – Desktop trading platform

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 RWE stock, a German energy utility. However, when we typed in “rwe,” all the structured and derivative products were listed among the results as well, which made it harder to find the actual stock.

Using the chatbot would be a 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.

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform - SearchInteractive Brokers review – Desktop trading platform – Search

Placing orders

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

Order types at Interactive Brokers
LimitMid PriceMarketMarket-to-Limit
StopStop-LimitTrailTrail-Limit
RelativeRetail Price ImprovementSnap MarketSnap To Midpoint
Snap to PrimaryMarket-on-CloseLimit-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 overview.

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

  • Good ’til 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)

Interactive Brokers review - Desktop trading platform - Order panel

Interactive Brokers review – Desktop trading platform – Order panel

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.

Portfolio and fee reports

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

Markets and Products

5

Through Interactive Brokers, you can access an extremely wide range of markets, and all product types are available.

Interactive Brokers asset classes
YesYes
YesYesYes
YesYesNo
YesYesYes
YesYes
YesYesYes
YesYesYes
YesYesNo

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

IB provides access to roughly 150 exchanges worldwide, including with its alternative services, such as Interactive Advisors. This is an asset management service that is 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) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), as well as minor ones such as the Warsaw Stock Exchange 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 an extensive selection among competitors.

Interactive Brokers stock and ETF selection
Stock markets (#)     .78285
ETFs (#)13,0003,1002,300

In 2020, Interactive Brokers introduced the possibility to buy and sell fractional shares of stock, which allows traders to invest small amounts and still diversify their portfolio. This is also useful if you want to keep things simple, because you can invest a total round amount like $100 and they will buy the exact fraction of shares to fill this purchase order.

Forex

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

Interactive Brokers forex selection
Currency pairs (#)105182

Funds

Through IB, you have access to more than 250 fund providers, including big market names like BlackRock and Vanguard.

Interactive Brokers mutual fund selection
Fund providers (#)      .2601755

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, but even so, the figure is still higher than at competitor brokers.

Interactive Brokers bond selection
Bonds (#)     .60,00040,000

Options

As with other product types, Interactive Brokers offers an extremely wide range of options markets. You can access the biggest ones, 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).

Interactive Brokers options selection
Options markets (#)     .332310

Futures

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

Interactive Brokers futures selection
Futures markets (#)     .322311

CFDs

Disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 59.5% 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 CFD selection
Stock index CFDs (#)1329
Stock CFDs (#)7,1008,800
ETF CFDs (#)675
Commodity CFDs (#)    .19
Bond CFDs (#)5

Cryptos

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

  • Bitcoin and Ethereum 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 crypto selection
Cryptos (#)    .227

FCA bans the sale of crypto-derivatives to UK retail consumers from 6 January 2021.

Asset management service

Interactive Advisors is IB’s own asset management service, which 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.

Research

3.5

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

ProsCons
 Good interactive chart Not user-friendly
 Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals    .

The quality of the research available at Interactive Brokers is good and you can always choose from various third-party providers as well.

Recommendations

On the IBKR platform, 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 prominent news sources, like Thomson ReutersMorningstar and Dow Jones, are available for free.

As of January 2020, Interactive Brokers incorporated two new recommendation tools, called Validea and TheLeadingEDGE. These 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.

Interactive Brokers review - Research - Charting

Interactive Brokers review – Research – Charting

Other special technical tools include:

  • Stock/ETF benchmarker: helps you to compare your stock or portfolio to 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
  • Daily summaries
  • Multiple economic calendars

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

Upon entering the platform, you can read daily summaries of the markets through ‘Daily Lineup’. This feature helps you to be informed about the latest news and analyst recommendations. There is also an Earnings and an Economic Event Calendar that are helpful shortcuts to start off your day.

Interactive Brokers review - Research - News

Interactive Brokers review – Research – News

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

Interactive Brokers review - Research - Economic calendar

Interactive Brokers review – Research – Economic calendar

Mutual Fund Search Tool

As of June 2020, Interactive Brokers has launched the Mutual Fund Search Tool on their website. This tool enables clients to browse and select international mutual funds by country, fund family and whether the fund charges extra commissions. With the ‘Fund Type’ filter, you can also search for funds based on their structure (e.g. only bond, only equity, or mixed investments).

Interactive Brokers review – Research – Mutual Fund Search

Investors’ Marketplace

Another new addition available from June 2020 is the Investors’ Marketplace. This is an overall networking tool, helping investors, brokers and hedge fund account holders, as well as others, to connect. The purpose of the connection can range from education to careers, advisory, administration and technology.

Tax Optimizer, Shortable Instruments and alternative news sources

US residents can take advantage of IB’s Tax Optimizer, which lets clients choose their best tax method based on IRS reporting rules after trading. This includes maximizing long-term gains or minimizing long-term losses.

The Shortable Instruments (SLB) Search tool lists the available shortable securities within the web platform and the size borrowing volume that is provided for these securities. (SLB stands for Securities Lending/Borrowing.) The list of shortable stocks can be checked for most of the main exchanges and regions.

Lastly, if you would like to subscribe to professional data bundles, under the Research and News subpage you can choose from over 80 news and data outlets, like Morningstar, The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha and more. There are both free and for-pay data packs available, which can be a great addition to your research work.

Customer Service

3.5

Interactive Brokers’s customer service could be better. You can contact them via phone, email, live chat and an automated ‘iBot’, and receive mostly relevant answers. However, waiting times can be long and most options are not available 24/7.

ProsCons
 Phone support No 24/7 support       .
 Live chat Slow support
Relevant answers      .

You can contact Interactive Brokers via:

  • Live chat
  • Phone
  • Instead of email, you have to use the ‘Message Center’ that is accessible from the Client portal

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

Our experience with customer service was mixed. It was especially problematic in January 2021, when IB migrated its EU users from the UK to other entities.

Regional Service Desks and hours of operation
LocationNumberHours of operation (Time Zone)
United States1 (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)
Canada1 (877) 745-4222 Toll free
1 (514) 847-3499 Direct dial
14:00 – 23:30 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Europe00800-42-276537 Toll free
+41-41-726-9500 Direct dial+44 207-710-5695 Direct dial (United Kingdom)
09:00 – 18:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Russia8-800-100-8556 Toll free
+41-41-726-9506 (Russian)
08:00 – 17:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Hong Kong+852-2156-7907 Direct dial02:00 – 11:00 (Mon – Fri) (Europe/Berlin)
Australia+61 (2) 8093 7300 Direct dial00:30 – 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 dial03:00 – 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 2018, with long wait times being one of them. On one occasion, we sent an inquiry in English and received an answer email only after four days — in Russian.

In 2019 we tested the chat, email and phone support, three times each. Compared to 2018, 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.

In January 2021, customer services collapsed for Europeans as lots of clients had to migrate from the UK entity to another one because of Brexit. Messages went unanswered for 5-10 days and it was not possible to contact IB by phone either.

IB provided vague and often confusing messages as to how the migration works and what can and can’t be done after migrating an account. Many users said they were not able to convert currencies following the migration process.

We expect customer support to return to its baseline service level after the Brexit mess is dealt with, but it was still shocking to see the level of mismanagement.

Also, lack of 24/7 availability is still a problem.

Interactive Brokers review - Customer Service

Interactive Brokers review – Customer Service

Education

4.5

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

ProsCons
 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

Interactive Brokers review - Education

Interactive Brokers review – Education

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. Overall, 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.

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.

ProsCons    .
 Listed on stock exchangeNone
 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 if a brokerage is safe, we highly advise that you check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • what the background of the broker is

How you are protected

Interactive Brokers Group is an international broker, operating through multiple 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
Country of clientsProtection amountRegulatorLegal entity
UK£85,000 *Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)Interactive Brokers (U.K.) Limited
USA$500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) **Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)Interactive Brokers LLC
EU countries in Northern and Western Europe (incl. Italy and Spain)€20,000Central Bank of Ireland (CBI)Interactive Brokers Ireland Limited
Austria and Luxembourg€20,000Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF)Interactive Brokers Luxembourg SARL
EU countries in Central/Eastern Europe & Cyprus & Malta & Greece€100,000 ***Central Bank of Hungary (MNB)Interactive Brokers Central Europe Zrt.
CanadaCAD 1,000,000Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)Interactive Brokers Canada Inc.
AustraliaNo protectionAustralian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)Interactive Brokers Australia PTY LTD
IndiaNo protectionSecurities and Exchange Board of India (BSE)Interactive Brokers (India) PVT. LTD.
JapanNo protectionFinancial Services Agency (FSA)Interactive Brokers Securities Japan Inc.
Hong KongNo protectionHong Kong Securities and Futures CommissionInteractive Brokers Hong Kong Limited
SingaporeNo protectionMonetary Authority of SingaporeInteractive Brokers Singapore Pte. Ltd.

*If you are from the UK, 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.

** 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.

*** Client accounts at IBCE are protected by the Act CXX of 2001 on the Capital Market at an amount of up to EUR 100,000. The amount paid by the insurance fund is:
100% up to the limit of the EUR equivalent of one million HUF (equivalent to EUR 2,800 on 12th December 2020),
Above one million forints: 1 million forints and 90% of the part above one million forints to a maximum of EUR 100,000.

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.

In recent negative news, Interactive Brokers was fined $38 million by US regulators in August 2020 for not monitoring hundreds of millions of wire transfers that were potentially used for money laundering purposes. In addition, IB also failed to report on some potential manipulations regarding microcap securities.

Bottom Line

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

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

There are some drawbacks, though: there is a high forex fees, and the account opening process is complicated. The desktop platform is complex and hard to get a handle on, especially for beginners.

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

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Interactive Brokers Review 2021
Interactive Brokers Review 2021

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