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Interactive Brokers review

Experienced traders can enjoy powerful investing tools plus some of the lowest brokerage fees around.

Earn interest on your cash balance and get access to competitive brokerage fees.

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Details

Interactive Brokers is a platform is targeted toward advanced investors. It offers an impressive range of tools and low fees for active or professional investors. The company has two platforms: IBKR Lite (aimed at casual investors, with no commissions on US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs) and IBKR Pro (aimed at more experienced traders, with an extensive suite of advanced trading features).

What investments does Interactive Brokers offer?

Through Interactive Brokers, you can invest in the following products:

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Futures
  • Forex
  • Metals
  • Bonds
  • ETFs
  • Mutual Funds
  • EFPs
  • Hedge Funds
  • Robo Portfolios

Who is Interactive Brokers best for?

Interactive Brokers is best suited to active or professional traders. Experienced traders will enjoy features like low brokerage fees, access to extensive investment vehicles, portfolio tracking, live updates and company notifications.

Account types and structures

Investors using this platform have a wide variety of account configurations to choose from based on their preferred investment strategy, financial goals and country of residence. Both cash accounts and margin accounts can be configured for customers in the categories below (visit IBKR’s website for more information).

  • Individuals
  • Joint account holders
  • Trusts
  • Partnerships

IBKR Lite and IBKR Pro

In a market full of online brokers slashing commissions, Interactive Brokers launched IBKR Lite, a plan that offers a simplified trading platform for more casual investors. Unlike IBKR Pro, this plan offers unlimited trades on US exchanged-listed stocks and ETFs with no commissions. For both plans, you’ll pay a fee for trading mutual funds, options, futures, fixed income and other such investments.

IBKR Pro is aimed at more experienced traders and comes with access to WebTrader, an easy-to-learn online trading platform that offers a powerful suite of advanced trading tools, market data, charts, news and more. IBKR Pro account holders can also use customized API software to design their own trading applications and market-monitoring programs.

What features does Interactive Brokers provide?

  • Earn interest on idle cash. Interactive Brokers pays interest on cash sitting in your account. Earn up to 0.5% interest on balances of $14,000 CAD or more (the rate varies depending on your exact balance).
  • Wide range of order types. Interactive Brokers offers more than 100 order types and algorithms to help you execute faster trades and limit risk.
  • IBot feature. The trading platform includes an easy-to-use chatbot with voice activation that responds quickly to market and company queries and can place orders for you.
  • Research. Access news and research from such sources as Morningstar Equity Ownership, Zacks Investment Research and Seeking Alpha. You can also elect for paid subscriptions to additional sources.
  • Traders Workstation (TWS). This is available only to IBKR Pro users. If you’re an IBKR Lite user, you’re limited to Interactive Brokers’ web-based Client Portal or mobile apps.
  • Fractional Shares. Interactive Brokers now supports US fractional shares in TFSA and RRSP accounts.
  • Debit Card Offering. With the Interactive Brokers Prepaid Mastercard, you can spend or borrow directly against your account.
  • Portfolio Builder. An additional platform application in the Traders Workstation that allows you to create custom portfolio strategies using historical data and research.
  • Impact Dashboard. If you are interested in impact investing, you can use this tool to measure how your portfolio aligns with your values and goals. This is available on Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Mobile and Client Portal.

What can you do with Portfolio Builder?

Portfolio Builder is an application that:

  • Allows you to easily compare and test your portfolio against a benchmark index.
  • Gives you a live news feed and real-time notifications of takeovers, earnings, options expirations and more.
  • Lets you compare your portfolio and strategy with other leading investors.
  • Lets you adjust your strategy until the historical performance meets your standards.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Multiplatform desktop and mobile support. If you have an IBKR Pro account, you can use Interactive Brokers’ trading platform, the Traders Workstation (TWS), on both desktop and mobile.
  • Access to a wide variety of investments. Unlike other trading platforms where you need multiple accounts to trade different products, Interactive Brokers allows you to access stocks, options, futures, FOPs, ETFs, warrants, SSFs, forex, metals, indices, fixed income and mutual funds.
  • Invest in global markets. You can buy and sell stocks and other securities from over 30 different countries using one account 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. Currently, trades in over 20 currencies are supported.
  • No minimum to open a cash account. You don’t need a minimum deposit to open a cash account.

Cons

  • Steep learning curve. To optimize your account through TWS, you’ll need to really understand what you want to get out of it, which is no easy task for beginners. On top of this, the setup is complex enough that even advanced traders will find the process takes some time to get right.
  • Real-time data may cost you. Interactive Brokers boasts extensive live data feeds and customizable company notifications. But data and news may involve extra fees based on which options you choose.
  • Minimum deposit for margin accounts. You need at least $2,000 USD (or the equivalent in non-USD funds) to open a margin account. There is no minimum amount required to open a cash account.

Pricing and Fees

Interactive Brokers markets itself as having the lowest cost trading platform on the market. That may be true, but there are loopholes to watch out for.

The fee tables below are for stocks, ETFs and warrants. Trades for options, futures, forex, fixed income and more come with their own fee structures.

Broker or commission fees

With IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite fixed-rate pricing, the commissions you pay include exchange and regulatory fees.

With IBKR Pro tiered pricing, you’ll pay exchange, regulatory and clearing fees.

Subscriptions to real-time streaming market data is free in some instances, but you may need to pay for them when exchanges charge Interactive Brokers for the data.

CAD fixed brokerage fees for IBKR Lite

Cost per stockMinimum commission per orderMaximum commission per order
US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs$0.00$0.00$0.00
Non-US-exchange-listed stocks/ETFs$0.01$1.000.50% of trade value

CAD fixed brokerage fees for IBKR Pro

Cost per stockMinimum commission per orderMaximum commission per order
No-transaction-fee ETFs$0.00$0.00$0.00
Stocks$0.01$1.000.50% of trade value

CAD tiered brokerage fees for IBKR Pro

If you choose the tiered fee structure — available only for IBKR Pro — your brokerage fee decreases the more you trade per month.

Fees vary based on what and where you’re trading, with different fee schedules for different countries and options. Additional clearing and exchange fees depend on which exchange the security is listed on.

CAD commissions for Canadian stocks, ETFs, ETPs and warrants
Monthly trade valueCost per shareMinimum commission per orderMaximum commission per order
First 300,000 shares$0.008$1.000.50% of trade value
300,001 – 3,000,000 shares$0.005$1.000.50% of trade value
3,000,001 – 20,000,000 shares$0.004$1.000.50% of trade value
20,000,001–100,000,000 shares$0.003$1.000.50% of trade value
>100,000,000 shares$0.003$1.000.50% of trade value

International stock trading fees

IB’s fees on international stocks depend on which country the stock is listed in and whether you’ve chosen a tiered or fixed fee structure. Stocks listed in the US and Canada charge brokerage fees per stock rather than value. Most stocks listed in Europe and Asia-Pacific use trade value to set the fees.

Online stock trading

How do I get started?

It’s relatively simple to open an Interactive Broker account, but there are a few interesting eligibility requirements.

Eligibility

  • To open most types of accounts, you need to be at least 21 years old. Customers aged 18-21 can open cash accounts as long as they meet all other requirements.
  • Confirm that you have good or extensive knowledge of the product you wish to trade including at least 2-5 years of trading experience. If you can’t confirm this, IB may ask you to conduct simulated trades using the demo version first.

Required information

When you’re ready, provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Date of birth
  • Contact details and residential address
  • Annual net income
  • Total assets
  • Employer name, address and phone number
  • Bank details for funding
  • Proof of identification, such as passport, driver’s license or national identity card
  • Investment objectives and details about experience
  • Estimated net worth (including the value of your residence)
  • Estimated liquid net worth (not including the value of your residence)

Funding your account

You can transfer money into your Interactive Broker account via:

  • Wire transfer
  • Bank ACH transfer from your bank
  • Online bill payment
  • Automated Customer Account Transfer Service
  • Account Transfer on Notification (ATON)

There are also options available for transferring US, European and Asian securities to your IB account.

How to open a stock trading account

I’ve made my first trade. Now what?

  • Take advantage of research. Interactive Brokers offers a wealth of research from various sources — free and paid. Keep up with the newest developments to properly track your investments.
  • Use Interactive Brokers’ educational resources. Trader’s University offers webinars, short videos, courses, tools and more to help you broaden your trading knowledge. Visit the IBKR Expert Community for market commentary and data.
  • Contact customer support. If you need help with your account, contact Interactive Brokers via phone, email or chat.

How do I contact Interactive Brokers support?

You can contact Interactive Brokers by phone, chat or email. Phone and chat are available Monday through Friday, while only chat is available on Sunday. Hours vary depending on contact method. [/fin_hide]

Bottom line

If you’re an experienced trader looking for a platform that offers low fees for high-volume trades, IBKR might be exactly what you’re looking for. But if you’re just learning and testing the waters, you may want to compare other trading platforms.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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