Interactive Brokers review
It offers advanced charting tools, but some features come with fees.
Interactive Brokers offers a full investments package with low fees for active or professional investors and traders. Depending on which pricing model you choose, you’ll either pay no or low commissions on US stocks and ETFs. You’ll also get access to 135 markets in 33 countries, some of the lowest margin rates and more than 100 order types and algorithmic trading.
- Consider Interactive Brokers if you’re a professional investor who wants to diversify in global markets or use advanced research tools.
- Look elsewhere if you want a simple approach to investing or if you want to trade cryptocurrencies.
What we think of Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers is as sophisticated as it is robust, making it an ideal platform for experienced traders in need of research tools for complex trades. It’s got all of the standards, like stocks and ETFs but also offers access to international currencies, bullion — even hedge funds for accredited investors.
It’s tough to talk about IB without praising its extensive features. But this platform truly shines for three distinct reasons:
- It has five unique trading platforms.
- It’s renowned for its powerful research and analytics tools.
- It offers international access to 135 markets in 33 countries.
Now, all that said, Interactive Brokers is far from perfect. Its pricing structure is convoluted, and investors warn that its tools come with a steep learning curve. For these reasons, I wouldn’t recommend Interactive Brokers for newbies. It’s a solid bet for advanced traders, but its offerings may be overkill for those new to the market.
What investments does Interactive Brokers offer?
Interactive Brokers offers a wealth of investment products, including:
- Stocks and ETFs. Trade in 135 markets with zero commissions on US-listed stocks and ETFs.
- Options. Pay $0.15 to $0.65 per options contract, depending on how often you trade.
- Futures. Buy and sell futures in over 35 global markets.
- Currencies. Trade 23 currencies worldwide with a minimum commission of $2.
- Mutual funds. Access more than 40,000 funds, including over 8,300 no-transaction-fee options.
- Hedge funds. SEC-recognized accredited investors and qualified purchasers can invest in hedge funds.
- Metals. Tap into London’s bullion market for over-the-counter (OTC) gold and silver.
Interactive Brokers unique features
Interactive Brokers offers a unique feature that exceeds its competitors: access to 135 markets in 33 countries. No other broker comes close to this. For comparison, Charles Schwab provides access to 30 global markets, while Webull doesn’t offer foreign markets at all.
If you want to diversify your portfolio and avoid inflation in the US, investing abroad may be worth considering.
You can access:
- Stock markets in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and more.
- Bonds in Europe and Hong Kong.
- Warrants in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland.
- Options in Australia, Canada and Mexico.
- Index options in Belgium, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom.
- Futures in Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and more.
Who is Interactive Brokers best for?
Interactive Brokers has the potential to suit a wide range of investors thanks to its two distinct services: IBKR Pro and IBKR Lite. Experienced traders will enjoy IBKR’s low brokerage fees, access to extensive investment vehicles, portfolio tracking, live updates and company notifications. And beginners can use IBKR Lite — a simplified version of Interactive Brokers’ software aimed at casual investors.
IBKR Pro vs. IBKR Lite
Amid a sea change of online brokers slashing commissions, Interactive Brokers launched IBKR Lite, a simplified trading platform for casual investors. The platform offers unlimited trades with no commissions on stocks and ETFs listed on US exchanges. Trade mutual funds, options, futures, fixed income and other such investments for a fee.
The company rebranded its platform for experienced traders as IBKR Pro. Take advantage of tools such as advanced charting, an options strategy lab and heat maps of stock performance.
Fixed fees are $0.005 per share for stocks and ETFs, with a $1 minimum commission and a maximum of 1% of total trade value. High-volume traders may be eligible for lower fees on IBKR’s tiered-fee structure.
- Choose IBKR Pro if you’re an active trader with experience navigating investment research and analytics tools.
- Choose IBKR Lite if you’re new to trading and want simplified commission-free stock trading.
Pros and cons
Here’s what makes Interactive Broker a powerful platform:
- Multiplatform. Use your IBKR Pro Traders Workstation trading platform on both desktop and mobile, or place trades through the Client Portal or IBot.
- Broad access. Unlike other trading platforms, you can access stocks, options, futures, FOPs, ETFs, warrants, SSFs, forex, metals, indexes, fixed income and mutual funds through one account.
- Wide range of order types. Execute faster trades and limit risk through more than 100 order types and algorithms.
- Low brokerage fees. IBKR Lite lets you trade US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs for free, while IBKR Pro offers fixed pricing of $0.005 per share with a $1 minimum per order. Tiered commissions start at $0.0035 per share with a minimum of $0.35 per order.
- Low margin-lending rates. IBKR Pro margin loan rates are 0.75% to 1.59%, depending on the balance. IBKR Lite rates are 2.59% regardless of balance.
Interactive Broker also comes with its fair share of hitches:
- High learning curve. To optimize your account through TWS, you must thoroughly understand what you want to get out of it — no easy task for beginners. On top of this, the setup is complex enough that even advanced traders may find the process takes 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 fees that depend on the options you choose.
- No cryptocurrencies to trade. IBKR lets you trade Bitcoin futures, but you can’t buy Bitcoin directly or any other cryptocurrency.
Fees and costs
Interactive Brokers markets itself as the lowest-cost trading platform on the market. That may be true, but watch for pricing loopholes for stocks, ETFs and warrants.
Trades for options, futures, forex, fixed income and more come with their own fee structures.
IBKR Lite brokerage fees
|Minimum per order||Maximum per order|
|US exchange-listed stocks and ETFs||$0||$0|
IBKR Pro brokerage fees
If you open an IBKR Pro account, you can choose between fixed and tiered pricing structures.
Commissions you pay include exchange and regulatory fees.
|Cost per share||Minimum per order||Maximum per order|
|Stocks||$0.005||$1||1% of trade value|
IBKR Pro tiered brokerage fees for US stocks, ETFs, ETPs and warrants
Available only for IBKR Pro, tiered pricing means 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. With IBKR Pro tiered pricing, you’ll pay exchange, regulatory and clearing fees.
|Monthly trade value||Cost per share||Minimum per order||Maximum per order|
|First 300,000 shares||$0.0035||$0.35||1% of trade value|
|300,000-3,000,000 shares||$0.002||$0.35||1% of trade value|
|3,000,001-20,000,000 shares||$0.0015||$0.35||1% of trade value|
|20,000,001-100,000,000 shares||$0.001||$0.35||1% of trade value|
|100,000,000+ shares||$0.0005||$0.35||1% of trade value|
Other account fees
Other fees to be aware of include:
- Maintenance fee. IBKR Lite accounts don’t have maintenance fees. If you open an IBKR Pro account, you can pay up to $10 a month in maintenance fees. Any commissions you pay on trades are subtracted from the maintenance fee — so if you pay at least $10 in commissions, you won’t be charged a maintenance fee.
- International share trading fees. IB’s fees on international stocks depend on the 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.
- Data fees. Subscriptions to real-time streaming market data are free in some instances, but you may need to pay when exchanges charge Interactive Brokers for the data.
How do I sign up?
Follow these steps to get started trading with Interactive Brokers:
- Head to the Interactive Brokers website.
- Select Open an account.
- Choose a username and password, and select Create account.
- Enter and confirm your email address.
- Select an account, such as an individual or retirement account.
- Fill in your personal information, including your name and address.
- Review the agreements and disclosures.
- Fund your account and submit your application.
It’s relatively simple to open an Interactive Broker account, but there are a few unique eligibility requirements. You must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have confirmed knowledge of the product you wish to trade — you may be asked to conduct simulated trades using the demo version first.
- Possess liquid net assets of at least $20,000 if you’re over 21.
When you’re ready, provide personal and financial details that include:
- Your name and date of birth.
- Contact details and residential address.
- Asset and income details.
- Employer name and address.
- Proof of government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license.
- Bank details for funding.
- Investment objectives and details about your investing experience.
The Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation offers a comprehensive suite of research and analytics tools:
- TipRanks. IBKR clients get access to TipRanks analysts via the Fundamentals Explorer tab in the desktop trading platform. There’s no fee to use this feature, which otherwise costs $359 annually. If you use another broker and pay to see the TipRanks analysts, switching to IBKR may be worth it.
- Account window. View your account balances, available funds, market value and portfolio data from a single dashboard.
- Watchlists. Craft personalized watchlists to monitor market quotes in real-time.
- Alerts. Set alerts by price, time, margin and volume.
- Risk navigator. Calculate and review your risk exposure across multiple assets.
- Options analytics. Monitor options price fluctuations across a number of risk dimensions.
- Industry news. Access news and research from Morningstar, Reuters, Dow Jones, Zacks Investment Research and Seeking Alpha.
- Paper trading. Test trading strategies without risking capital.
Interactive Brokers offers the following tools for its automated investing service:
- Interactive Advisors. Interactive Advisors is IB’s robo-advisor service. With a minimum deposit of $100, you can leverage dozens of automated portfolios tailored to your investment goals. Annual management fees range from 0.08% to 1.5%, and investments are automatically rebalanced every quarter.
- Portfolio Builder. Use Portfolio Builder to compare your portfolio against a benchmark index and other investors, plus gain access to a live news feed and real-time notifications of takeovers, earnings, options expirations and more.
Is Interactive Broker legit?
Yes. Interactive Brokers is a multinational brokerage firm founded in 1977 and headquartered in Connecticut. It’s authorized and regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and a member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
Interactive Brokers reviews and complaints
Interactive Brokers is not accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, it earns an A- rating based on internal BBB criteria that include the company’s response to five customer complaints.
Interactive Brokers earns a 2.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot as of March 2021. Many clients complain that customer support is slow to resolve issues and how the platform often runs into technical problems.
How do I contact Interactive Brokers support?
Contact Interactive Brokers in three ways:
- Call 877-442-2757 weekdays from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT or Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
- Chat live with a rep through your Client Portal 24/7 on weekdays or Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
- Email through the message center anytime for a response within 24 hours.
Compare with other stock trading platforms
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*Signup bonus information updated weekly.
Interactive Brokers offers an extensive list of tradable securities, multiple platforms, comprehensive news coverage and robust research offerings, making it well-positioned to serve professional traders. Its Portfolio Builder tool can help you adjust ongoing investments, and you can test new strategies risk-free with its paper trading feature. The platform is equipped with just about everything you need to execute swift, well-informed trades.
That said, its fee structure is more complex than most. Be prepared to invest some time learning the software, or you’ll need to consider another brokerage firm.